Urbanna Va

Getting to Know the Streets of Urbanna

It’s no secret that Virginia houses quite a bit of history, but what many people may not realize is that colonial port town, Urbanna, houses a great deal of that history itself. Seven buildings in town have been in continuous use since the colonial period. And four homes within the town limits are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Old Tobacco Warehouse, Landsdowne and the Wormeley-Lee Montague Cottage.

When checking out Urbanna, the following homes make great stops on walking tours of this historic town—nearly all were built in the 1700s and contributed to the vibrant port city.

The Old Tobacco Warehouse

This is one of the oldest surviving (built in 1766!) mercantile structures in America that’s associated with the sale of tobacco. Before the emergence of the Scottish factors, tobacco and other crops were shipped directly from the large plantations to England in exchange for goods on the return voyage.

The Gressitt House

If we had to guess, the Gressitt House was probably built in the 1740s, but we do know it was once the home of Urbannas’s Harbormaster. Not to mention, William Clark left here to join Meriwether Lewis in their expedition to the Northwest Territories. And you know Warner Hall has its own connection to Meriwether Lewis!

The Customs House

This house was the Customs House for the colonial port town of Urbanna. There was even a vault with a heavy wooden door and hardware under the basement stairs until 1935, and evidence of a window where custom office business was likely conducted.

The Bristow House

In 1876, Charles Palmer designed and built this house for Mr. and Mrs. R.S. Bristow, who established Bristow’s Store. The family was the first in Urbanna to have a camera and electricity, and the block outbuilding behind the house contained the batteries that provided electrical service to the house.

The Courthouse

The Courthouse is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Urbanna and one of only 11 colonial courthouses still standing in Virginia today. It was built in 1748 and still wears its original stain glass window.


The Landsdowne house is one of Virginia’s finest early Georgian-style mansions and it’s believed to have been built as early as 1750. The mansion was home to Arthur Lee, a prominent member of Virginia’s Lee family.

The Marble House

It was the owner of an oyster house and pickle factory, Lord Byron Van Wagernen, who built the Marble House at the turn of the 20th century. It’s one of the many notable Victorian-era buildings that attest to the prosperity that Urbanna enjoyed as an oyster processing center in the late 19th and 20th centuries. It gets its name from the use of marble that steamboats would carry to Urbanna from Baltimore to adorn porches, steps and basement.

Wormely-Lee Montague Cottage

Built in 1747, when Ralph Wormely bought the parcel, this house is believed to be the oldest surviving house in Urbanna. Arthur Lee acquired it in 1791 and may have used it as the Landsdowne plantation office.

Atherston Hall

Charles Palmer built this home in 1880 for Captain James H. Bohannon. Bohannon was the commander of the Legonia, an ocean-going schooner owned by William B. Hurst of Baltimore.

The Tavern

When the town Tavern was built in 1740, a night’s lodging cost either five pounds of tobacco or six pence. The Tavern was the site of a Civil War ball given for Confederate officers camped just outside of Urbanna, and when it came time for refreshments, all they had to serve was sweet potatoes. Local legend also has it that Patrick Henry delivered a speech from the steps of the Tavern.

Palmer-Chowning House

Charles H. Palmer crafted and designed many of Urbanna’s most distinctive buildings between 1874 and his death in 1904. His projects included Bristow’s Store, Baptist Church, the Bristow House, Atherston Hall, and his own home, the Palmer-Chowning House.

The Burton House

The Burton House was a popular place to stay in the 1870s, as passengers and cargo found their way to Urbanna. The town even became a popular place to vacation in the summertime.

Baptist Church

Charles Palmer built the Baptist Church in 1862 with his own hands and hand tools for 10 cents an hour. Prior to the building of this church, the courthouse had been turned into an interdenominational house of worship in 1852, or Anglicans worshipped at Christ Church, several miles outside of Urbanna.

For more information on Urbanna, call 804.758.2613 or email urbanna@gvtech.net.

Make reservations with us at Warner Hall and make the driving tour yourself!

Photo above by Heather Hughes Photography.

    • Warner Hall Entry Drive

      Reconnect, Restore and Rejuvenate!

      It’s time to Reconnect, Restore and Rejuvenate!
      And there’s no better place….
      Than the wide-open space…
      Of beautiful Warner Hall!

      Need some incentives? Check out these awesome specials.

      Spend three days in the bliss of our 38-acre waterfront paradise and get $75 off your third night.

      Spend a full week and only pay for 6 nights!

      Holidays excluded.

      Make your reservation online and mention the special of your choice. We’ll adjust the pricing when it comes in through cyber space. Better yet, want some conversation? CALL US! 800-331-2720.

    • Celebrate a “Special Occasion”

      A professionally arranged bouquet of gorgeous seasonal flowers, or a dozen roses with assorted greenery and keepsake vase, paired with a bottle of Chandon Champagne and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, all enjoyed in the privacy of your room will make the occasion not only “Special” but, “Simply Divine….”

      Advance Notice required (72 hours suggested)
      $135 including tax

    View All Specials & Events
    • There’s no doubt, it makes our day to know that keeping Warner Hall and its history alive for all to enjoy is so meaningful to all, from the descendants of the great men and women who lived here to the guests who lodge here. We recently received this lovely note of thanks and had to […]

    • We are certainly sad to see this vacation of ours come to an end. How lucky we were to have found this place. Warner Hall is exactly what the B&B experience should be. You have combined all of the essential elements of the perfect getaway. We will be back, many times I’m sure! Thank you! […]

    • Warner Hall not only equaled but exceeded our expectations. The warm Southern hospitality, the gracious surroundings, and the incredible cuisine combined to create a memorable birthday for Donna and for our friends. An outstanding evening of fellowship and food! You have paid attention to detail in the restoration, decoration and in the reception, hosting, “ghosting” care […]

    • Warner Hall Entry Drive

      Welcome Back Friends! We’ve Missed YOU!

      It’s time to Reconnect, Restore and Rejuvenate! And there’s no better place…. Than the wide-open space… Of beautiful Warner Hall! Looking for a Spring, Summer or Fall “Stay-cation” with your family and friends that is an easy drive? Of course, the safety, health and physical welfare of our guests and employees is at the forefront […]

    • Warner Hall Christmas

      A Colonial Christmas Celebration at Warner Hall for CHKD

      The Ware River Circle of the King’s Daughters and Sons will host their 30th annual Christmas Open House – A Colonial Christmas Celebration – at the Inn at Warner Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. The event benefits the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, local charities and the Ronald McDonald House. Tickets are $30 […]

    • Gloucester Main Street Bank Building

      Gloucester Main Street Re-Visioning Iconic Bank Building

      Restoring iconic buildings and breathing new life into them is, as you know, something that the Inn at Warner Hall greatly values. It’s our responsibility to preserve our past, and at the same time, grow into the future to build stronger communities. That’s why Innkeeper Theresa Stavens is honored to serve on the Feasibility Oversight […]

    View Blog