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Corotoman

Home to the Cuttatwomen Indians for hundreds of years before the English began to move into Lancaster County, Corotoman overlooks the Rappahannock River on a point flanked by Carter’s Creek to its east and the mouth of the Corotoman River to its west.  John Carter I, patriarch of the Carter family, settled the lands in 1652-1653, developing the plantation and constructing the first buildings on the property before his death in 1669. John’s son Robert “King” Carter inherited the land in 1690 and made it the center of what would eventually become a vast 300,000-acre estate of forty-eight plantations or quarters, including the Indian Town and Hills Quarters north of Corotoman.
Originally constructed as a two-room, hall-chamber layout sometime in the latter 17th-century by either John Carter I or his son John Carter II, this house, often called the "Spinning House," stood at Corotoman until the 1920s.
Corotoman's foundations reveal the three-room layout of Carter's entrance hall, bedchamber, and parlor. Running along the right, or south side of the house, was an arcade and three pavillions.
Around 1720, Robert Carter began building a great Georgian mansion at Corotoman. Completed in 1725, “Corotoman” represented part of a new direction in early eighteenth-century Virginia architecture. At the center of the ninety by forty-foot house lay an entrance hall paved in black and white marble brought over from England. Flanking the hall on one side sat Carter's bedchamber, while a lavishly decorated parlor stood on the other side; both had large closets behind them. A gallery ran along the river facade, below which was an arcade and three pavillions, one in the center of the house and one at each end. Classical pediments and pilasters of stone and brick graced the exterior as well. The structure rivaled other important colonial mansions and affirmed Robert Carter’s status as the most powerful planter in a burgeoning Tidewater aristocracy.
Four years after Carter completed it, a fire destroyed the Corotoman mansion. The Maryland Gazette reported on February 11, 1729, that “The fine, large house of Colonel Carter, on Rappahannock, was also burnt lately. The particulars of his loss we can’t give you, but we are informed it is very great.” Carter never rebuilt Corotoman. He died three years later, and the property passed out of the Carter family in the mid-nineteenth century. At least one building erected in the late seventeenth century, however, stood until the early twentieth century. In the late 1970s, archaeologists led by Dr. Carter Hudgins excavated the foundations of the Corotoman mansion. A number of the artifacts discovered are displayed in the museum at Historic Christ Church. In the spring of 2000, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities acquired the site.
Archaeologists work to uncover the secrets of Corotoman in this late-1970's photograph. Visible above the site, looking southeast through the trees, is the Rappahannock River.

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