The aristocratic Harrison family bought Berkeley in 1691. Benjamin Harrison III made it a prosperous operation, and in 1726 his son, Benjamin Harrison IV, built the three-story Georgian mansion. Benjamin Harrison V was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and thrice governor of Virginia. The next generation produced William Henry Harrison, the frontier fighter whose nickname "Old Tippecanoe" helped him get elected as our ninth president. His grandson, another Benjamin Harrison, took the presidential oath 47 years later. George Washington was a frequent guest, and every president through Tyler enjoyed Berkeley's gracious hospitality.
Berkeley was twice occupied by invading troops. A British army under Benedict Arnold burned the family portraits, practiced target shooting on the cows, and went off with 40 slaves. Gen. George McClellan's Union army trampled the gardens and chopped up the elegant furnishings for firewood. After the war, the Harrisons never returned to live at Berkeley.
John Jamieson, a Scottish-born New Yorker who had served as a drummer in McClellan's army, purchased the disfigured manor house and 1,400 acres in 1907. His son, Malcolm, completely restored the house and grounds to their appearance in the early days of the Harrisons' tenure. The plantation is now owned by the Malcolm E. Jamieson family. Allow 1 1/2 hours to see a 10-minute audiovisual presentation, take a 45-minute guided tour of the house, and explore the magnificent grounds and gardens.