This grand entrance is a far cry from the working plantation founded some 170 years before George Washington became president. The first structure at Sherwood Forest was built in the mid-1600s, and around 1730, the central portion of this house was rebuilt on the original foundation. The house continued to grow until 1845.
President Tyler bought Sherwood Forest in 1842, and came to live here after he retired from the presidency in 1845. The 1,600-acre plantation was cultivated in wheat and corn. All of the original acreage, plus several thousand acres more, are still in the Tyler family.
President Tyler connected the dependencies to the Big House by adding the colonnade and the ballroom, thereby creating a typical Tidewater plantation: Big House, Little House, Colonnade, and Kitchen. The result is the longest frame house in America, 301 feet, the same length as a football field.
President Tyler's grandson, Harrison Ruffin Tyler, currently lives here with his family. For over 150 years, Tyler descendants have continually occupied and privately maintained Sherwood Forest. It is the only presidential home in America with this distinction.
Sherwood Forest holds every major architectural and historical distinction that can be bestowed by the national government. It is a National Historic Landmark, on the National Register, and on the Virginia Register of Historic Places.
In terms of details on the panorama above, note the dogs on pedestals on the front proch. The cast-iron figures were obtained from the Manor House on Gardiners Island around 1845-46. The entrance lamps hail from the "Modern Barouche" carriage of President Tyler, ordered by Julia Gardiner Tyler in 1845.