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March 22, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

Saving Mount Ida

Mount Ida

Mount Ida (2014), Courtesy Mount Ida Farm

In the summer of 1995, James Brady Murray purchased the mansion house at Mount Ida in Buckingham County and moved it, in its entirety, to a similar site in Albemarle County. Today, Mount Ida sits on the foundations of the ruins of Pleasant Dawson’s home, built in 1799.  Once known as Bell Mount, Albemarle’s Mount Ida Farm consists of approximately 422 acres, including nearly a mile of frontage on the Hardware River.  Among other things, it serves as a popular wedding venue.

According to the owners of Mount Ida Farm:

The original house, built in 1795, includes the front door, hall and the portion of the house to its left. The historic addition to the right of the front door was originally built from 1830-1845. Exterior brickwork is all historic brick from Mount Ida, reclaimed and moved with the original house. The mortar color was meticulously matched to the original mortar with the bonding pattern and “penny” mortar joints faithfully duplicated from the original construction. Original elements include all sashes, jambs, doors, heart pine floors and most door hardware. Where window glass replacement was necessary, antique window glass was reused from early windows salvaged from other old houses. The walls are conventional hand-applied and -finished plaster, consistent with the historic construction. The basement ceilings were raised slightly to increase headroom and to accommodate modem HVAC climate control ductwork and utilities.

Exterior elements of the woodwork, cabinetry and moldings were designed by Floyd E. Johnson, FAIA, noted conservation architect who assisted on the restoration of Monticello and many other famous classical Virginia estates.


In 1986, Mount Ida was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and in 1987, was listed by the U.S. Department of Interior on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1995, with the condition of the house rapidly deteriorating, the Department of Historic Resources agreed to a process whereby the house would be meticulously disassembled, each part numbered, documentary photographs taken, measured drawings prepared and the house moved to a preapproved location. If such a move was satisfactorily completed, the Department agreed it would be relisted on Virginia Landmark’s Register and re-nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. It is believed that such action never before occurred with a listed Landmark.

To learn more about the restoration and relocation of Mount Ida, visit Mount Ida Farm.


Leave a Comment
  1. Carolyn Patterson / Mar 22 2014 12:24 pm

    Joanne – It is so interesting that you posted these details. We have a recently booked wedding group staying at the Inn who will be attending a wedding at the “Albemarle” Mt. Ida.
    This could be the ideal place for your next wedding! 🙂
    Happy spring!

    • Joanne Yeck / Mar 22 2014 2:03 pm

      The Inn at Monticello is a prefect complement to a wedding at the “Albemarle” Mt. Ida. Next trip to Albemarle, I want to visit Mt. Ida.

  2. Joanne Yeck / Mar 22 2014 11:05 am

    Fran, Many thanks for your thoughtful insights.

  3. Fran Harris-Hill / Mar 22 2014 11:04 am

    While James Brady Murray is to be commended for purchasing this beautiful mansion built in Buckingham about 1785 on Rt 610, the James River, to save it from demolition by deterioration, it upset me that it did not remain in Buckingham County. I understand that it was for sale for anyone moving it from the property. How sad that the only way to save it was to move it and we all know the cost involved in doing so. At one point, the lawyer for the family who owned Mount Ida in Buckingham almost sold the woodwork from one of the rooms. Thank goodness James Murray came to Mount Ida’s rescue. It is nowAlbemarle’s Mount Ida Farm. At least the building has been saved for future generations, unlike the last building at the Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute which was the first female college in the state of Virginia. Many of us begged and pleaded for the owners to save the building and were horrified to see it torn down. How sad for all of us. I’m happy this wonderful old mansion remains in Virginia but I cannot help but think of the revenue from weddings, dinners, etc this place could bring to Buckingham. How could Buckingham County let this one get away?

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