Part of the mission of the Tusculum Institute is to illustrate the role of preserved buildings within their communities, both in the present and in the past. In the 18th century, Tusculum was built as a modest plantation house. The Crawford family turned the wooden structure into a home which included their extended family and the enslaved population. To contextualize the history of this household we turn to studying the families in the neighborhood and, in turn, the local community of New Glasgow/Clifford and Amherst. All American houses have a similar context - connections among related and unrelated people who, in turn, connect with places and things. Below we introduce the historic layers of the Tusculum household.

 



A house...

Tusculum was built in the mid-18th century when the Piedmont was still considered the frontier. The younger sons of Cheasapeake gentry took advantage of the new opportunities to buy land from the British crown (even though the native peoples had a multi-thousand-year claim to the area). One of these 'sons' was David Crawford. His ancestors arrived in Virginia from Scotland in the 17th century. In the 1750s, David (the son of Captain David Crawford) built Tusculum when he was in his 50s. He and his wife, Ann, had 13 living children, but most were grown before he finished Tusculum. The house is an example of a traditional wood-beam construction.

A home...

The 18th century generation of Crawfords who lived in this house were David (c. 1697-1766) and Ann Anderson Crawford (1708-1803) and one of their sons, David, Jr. (1734-1802). David, Jr.'s son, William Sidney Crawford (1760-1815), lived in this house with his wife, Sophia Penn, and their 11 living children. In the 19th century, Elijah Fletcher married into the Crawford family through his 1813 wedding to Maria Antoinette. Elijah, managing the estate, inherited Tusculum after his father-in-law died. Later in the century Elijah's son, Sidney, inherited and farmed at Tusclum. The photo shown here illustrates the 20th century inhabitants: the Williams family (descendents of Elijah Fletcher's sister, Lucy). Each of these generations made Tusculum their home.

A neighborhood...

The inhabitants of Tusculum were surrounded by Amherst County farmers and businessmen. Their nearest neighbors were quite some distance away. One such family was the Penns. In the 18th century, Gabriel Penn purchased the Glebe (at the intersection of 151 and today's Route 29). Penn was Indiana Fletcher's maternal great-grandfather. Indiana was the oldest daughter of Elijah and Maria Fletcher. Another noteworthy neighbor was Col. Samuel Meredith, who moved into Winton in 1779. The most notable neighbor was David Garland, a lawyer and landholder who served in Congress. Garland was the individual who convinced Elijah Fletcher to settle in New Glasgow, working as a tutor.

A community...

Tusculum was part of an ante-bellum community called New Glasgow (today called Clifford). Although only a small percentage of the late 18th- and early 19th-century buildings still stand, this town once contained dozens of residences, farms, stores, taverns, distilleries, schools. The other services included a tanyard, hotel, church, and even a race track. Take a virtual tour of New Glasgow.