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A painted yellow brick Federal-style mansion above the banks of Bullskin Run near Rippon, Claymont Court is the largest of the seven antebellum Washington family homes in Jefferson County. It is now a conference center for the Claymont Society, an organization established in 1974 to develop organic farming and other activities to promote the establishment of sustainable communities.

Bushrod Corbin Washington, one of George Washington’s grand-nephews, built Claymont Court in 1820 on land once owned by Washington. Bushrod’s brother, John Augustine Washington, built the smaller Blakeley south of Claymont and across the Bullskin. Claymont burned to the brick walls in 1838, and Bushrod, then a Virginia state legislator, promptly rebuilt the interior. Records show that the entire Washington clan lived at Claymont during the Civil War. In 1870, Bushrod Corbin Washington’s grandson advertised the mansion for sale, and that branch of the Washington family moved away.

Subsequent owners enlarged the structure with upper floors on the east and west wings, and added a conservatory off the dining room. In 1899, novelist Frank R. Stockton purchased the mansion, where he lived for the last three years of his life. Elsie Bogardus Murphy amplified the terraced eastern formal gardens in the 1920s, and industrialist R. J. Funkhouser restored the interior in the 1940s. After Funkhouser, the mansion stood vacant at times, including as recently as 1970–74. Claymont Court was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It was purchased by the Claymont Society in 1974.

The largest dwelling in Jefferson County, the mansion is 250 feet long, has 16 columns, 59 rooms, and 25 fireplaces, a south-facing two-story veranda, and cottage dependencies at either end. It sits on 300 acres of land, and has a 450-foot cattle barn converted into a conference center, and a number of other outbuildings. Claymont Court, called ‘‘Ruddiemont,’’ is the setting for John Peale Bishop’s novel, Act of Darkness.

Read the National Register of Historic Places nomination.

This Article was written by Georgia Caldwell DuBose

Last Revised on June 14, 2017

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Sources

Bushong, Millard K. A History of Jefferson County, West Virginia. Charles Town: Jefferson Pub. Co., 1941.

Fairbairn, Charlotte J. Washington Homes of Jefferson County. Ranson: Whitney & White, 1946.

Cite This Article

DuBose, Georgia Caldwell "Claymont Court." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 14 June 2017. Web. 22 June 2018.

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