Castle Hill Costs $11.5M, but the Presidential Memories Are Priceless

Over 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson played the fiddle for James Madison in the parlor of a Virginia home. Madison was reported to have danced to the sweet sounds emanating from a Founding Father's fiddle.

Now you can own a piece of those historic memories. Located in Keswick, VA, Castle Hill is a slice of housing history, boasting a long list of famous and powerful people who have graced the property with their presence. It's currently on the market for $11.5 million.

Aside from its notable history, the price of the 280-year-old plantation also reflects a thorough renovation done by the current homeowners.

"They spent about 10 years putting it all back together and restoring the whole property," says listing agent Bob Headrick of Nest Realty Group.

The home had fallen into disrepair over the decades. And when a developer began eyeing the plantation's 601 acres for a new subdivision, the current homeowners bought the property and, along with an investor, placed an easement on the land. So, there won't be any surprise developments sprouting up around this historic home. Plus, thanks to the modern conveniences they added, a buyer won't have to live like he's re-enacting the Revolutionary War.

"They completely restored the home. … They upholstered the walls in the main public rooms. They put in a Christopher Peacock kitchen, put a new copper roof on the house, updated all the systems and completely restored and enhanced the gardens," says Headrick. "They really brought it up to twentieth-century standards."

Which wasn't easy. The property is a whopping 9,084 square feet, and it's actually two houses connected in an H shape. The main house is a white clapboard Colonial built by Thomas Walker in 1764. Walker was a wealthy explorer and doctor who was good friends with Jefferson's father; he became Jefferson's guardian when the future president's father died.

Walker's daughter married politician William Cabell Rives. In 1823, they added a Federal-style brick mansion to the property, connecting it to the white clapboard Colonial. The home draws inspiration from Madison's Montpelier, which can be seen in the spiral staircase.

The Rives family hosted a number of political figures, including Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. Heading into the late 19th century, the homestead entertained a number of literary figures after William Rives' granddaughter Amlie Rives received attention for her risqu writing.

In 1888 Amlie wrote "The Quick or the Dead?" -- an erotic best-seller about a widow who falls for her dead husband's lookalike. Before her death in 1945, Amlie entertained luminaries including Katharine Hepburn, H.L. Mencken, and Louis Auchincloss.

Now, Castle Hill's current owners use the property as both their main home and an occasional writer's retreat with guests including John Grisham and Sissy Spacek.

Aside from the history and the gorgeous grounds (which include a 10-stall horse barn and three detached guesthouses), the buyer will also inherit some of the furnishings, according to Headrick. There are original paintings, furniture, and chandeliers that will stay in Castle Hill. The home has been on the market since April 2014, but the owners aren't in a rush to sell. The agent says they're looking for the right person to take care of the historic homestead.

"No one needs to further enhance it. Everything that someone would want to do for that home has been done," Headrick says.