History

The Reynolds Homestead was built in 1843 as the Rock Spring Plantation in Critz, Virginia, by Hardin Reynolds, a successful farmer, merchant, banker, and tobacco manufacturer. Hardin and Nancy Cox Reynolds’s son, Richard Joshua (R.J.), founded the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, and their grandson, Richard Samuel, Sr., founded Reynolds Metals. The Reynolds Homestead has been designated a State and National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Registry of American Homes.

In 1810, Abram Reynolds made his way west and purchased 180 acres in Patrick County, he continued to purchase more land and in 1825 he purchased 598 acres of land near the small town of Critz, Virginia at the base of No Business Mountain. It was on this property that The Reynolds Homestead was built in 1843 as the Rock Spring Plantation in Critz, Virginia, by Hardin Reynolds, a successful farmer, merchant, banker, and tobacco manufacturer. Hardin and Nancy Cox Reynolds’s son, Richard Joshua (R.J.), founded the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, and their grandson, Richard Samuel, Sr., founded Reynolds Metals. The Reynolds Homestead has been designated a State and National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Registry of American Homes.

Abram and his wife, Polly Harbour Reynolds, had two sons, Hardin and David. After David died at age 25, Hardin became the heir to his father’s estate. Hardin and Nancy resided on and managed Rock Spring Plantation. They had 16 children, 8 of whom lived to be adults. Their oldest son, Major Abram David (A.D.) led a Civil War regiment at the age of seventeen, established his own tobacco factory, and was father to Richard S. Reynolds who transformed the metals industry when he founded Reynolds Metals. Hadin and Nancy’s second son, Richard Joshual (R.J.) established a tobacco empire in Winston Salem, North Carolina, about 50 miles south of his boyhood home.

Like other Virginia plantation, the Reynolds family used enslaved labor to cultivate tobacco and other crops, and perform other farm and household jobs. A cemetery for enslaved African Americans is located near the Reynolds Plantation home, and research has concluded there are at least 63 graves at the site, most marked only with field stones. Research is currently underway to learn more about the African Americans who lived and worked on the Reynolds Homestead.

One prominent member of the enslaved community was Kitty Reynolds, who served as nursemaid to Hardin and Nancy Reynolds’ children. She maintained ties with the family after emancipation and in 1878 when two of her sons were charged with the murder of a white man, they were defended by Andrew Lybrook, husband of Mary Reynolds, one of Hardin and Nancy’s children that Kitty had nurtured. The case against Kitty’s sons resulted in a number of appeals, and led to one of Virginia’s earliest U.S. Supreme Court civil rights cases. The resulting Supreme Court decision decreed all persons charged with a crime had the right to be judged by a jury selected without discrimination. The decision further resulted in the dismissal of fourteen Southwest Virginia judges who had refused to allow black Americans to serve on juries.

In 1970, Nancy Susan Reynolds, daughter of R.J., deeded the home and 717 acres to Virginia Tech, and a Community Enrichment Center and Forestry Resources Research Center were established on the property to serve the region.

The historic home is open for tours on weekends during April through October from 1 – 4 p.m. Tours during other times of the year can be scheduled by calling 276.694.7181.