The History of Staunton Estate


Staunton Hill is the mansion house and estate built by Charles Bruce in the mid-nineteenth century.

The creative forces behind the Gothic Revival mansion were Bruce and his architect/builder friend, John Evans Johnson. Johnson created a castle-like structure that included battlements and turrets and an Italian marble facade. The actual building was executed by a well-known builder of the time, Josiah Dabbs.  Costing $75,000 to construct, the mansion was completed in 1848.  In addition, it was evidence of the wealth accumulated by the Bruce family in the generations following James Bruce' emigration from Scotland.  

The estate was used as a training field for the Confederate artillery during the War Between the States, and later emerged as a symbol of the survival of the prosperity of the "southern mansion."  Following Charles' death, his son William Cabell Bruce tenanted the land out, using the mansion solely as a vacation home.  Staunton Hill passed through the hands of several different owners from 1924 to 1933, and was operated primarily as a country club and hunting lodge. It again became the possession of the Bruce family in 1933 when David K.E. Bruce purchased the home.

Bruce served as Ambassador to France under six presidents and was responsible for implementing the Marshall Plan and organizing the Office of Strategic Services which is now the CIA.  In the 1970s, he became the first United States liaison officer to China and was later an ambassador to NATO. Their modeling added two wings intended to house family and friends who would visit Staunton Hill.  A Colonnade was added in the back as well as oversized, luxurious marble bathrooms patterned after the Ritz Hotel in Paris.  Fortunately, the submission of William A. Delano was chosen and the only major addition to the original layout was he west wing, which simultaneously created a courtyard on the north side of the house.  Staunton Hill remained a part of the Bruce family following the ambassador's death, and is currently resided in by his son, David S. Bruce.

This majestic property currently sits on over 273 acres of an 1848 Southern Virginia Plantation.  Boasting eleven bedrooms, ten and a half bathrooms in the Main House alone. A few of the many features of Staunton Hill are five cottages, library with leaded stained-glass windows, a conference center with bistro, indoor racquetball court, tennis court, and a pool.


Click to view an extensive virtual tour of the Staunton Hill Estate

Click to view an extensive virtual tour of the Staunton Hill Estate