The Grove

The John Preston House was the second house built on the Walnut Grove Plantation in western Washington County, Virginia.  It is a brick masonry structure that has four thousand five hundred square feet of finished space and is located on an acre and half of land. It sits along the Lee Highway directly outside the current city limits of Bristol, Virginia.  The style of the building is a transition between Greek Revival and Italianate.

Grove House

The house is a two-story, two rooms deep, brick load bearing masonry structure.  It has a three bay facade with a two story porch that is supported by double four by four posts wich are connected to each with "X" crossing latticework motif.  The front door is centered in the three bay facades.  The flanking bays have full triple hung sash windows on the first floor that begin at the finish floor elevation.  The front door and sidelights have carved rails and pilasters that incorporate Italianate details and accents. The house has five chimneys.

The interior layout is comprised of a grand center hall with two large parlors with fireplaces on the west side of the hall and a large library with built in bookcases and a fireplace on the east side of the hall.  The center hall has a grand winding staircase that leads up to the second floor.  There is a smaller hallway in the east section of the house that leads into the kitchen wing; it has a small secondary staircase that also goes up to the second floor and the attic.  The rear section of the house is comprised of small parlors and a dining room on the first floor while the second floor is similar in layout as the first floor with bedrooms surrounding the center hall.  The kitchen wing is simple with a large cooking fireplace and a small stairway which leads into a small sleeping area above.  The Grove was built by Colonel John Preston, the son of Colonel Robert Preston, who was the first surveyor of Washington County and one of the first influential citizens of Washington County and Southwestern Virginia.  Colonel Robert Preston came to Washington County in 1777 and became the Surveyor of the newly formed Washington County.  It was during this period that he obtained a land patent of seven hundred and seventy-two acres of land west of the Town of Abingdon.  He named this tract Walnut Grove. John Preston was born at Walnut Grove on July 8, 1781.  He was a graduate of Princeton University and a lawyer by education but never practiced his profession.  He was appointed justice of Washington County on January 17, 1804 and became the presiding judge of Washington County in 1820, a position he held for thirty-two years.  John served as a captain during the War of 1812 and later became the colonel of 105th Regiment of the Virginia Militia.

Colonel John Preston married Margaret Brown Preston, the youngest daughter of Colonel William Preston, who lived in Abingdon, Virginia.  John and Margaret Preston had fourteen children, five daughters and nine sons.  Before retiring as the judge of Washington County, John Preston built The Grove as his retirement home in 1850. From 1852 until his death in 1864, John Preston concentrated on farming at Walnut Grove.  Robert F. Preston, the oldest son of Colonel John Preston, lived at the Grove practically all of his life.  Robert Preston married Sarah Marshall of Philadelphia on December 5, 1827.  Colonel John Preston on his death willed to Robert Preston the plantation which is Walnut Grove property.  One daughter, Mary, married Captain Edmund Winston, and they lived at Walnut Grove.  Captain Winston was a surveyor. He surveyed the N & W Railway and much of Bristol. Mary Street, in Bristol, Virginia, is named for his wife, Mary, and Edmund and Winston Streets were named for himself.

Mary Street Methodist Church was also named for his wife.  Later the name was changed to Reynolds Memorial Church.  Elizabeth Preston, daughter of Dr. Robert F. Preston, married Fr. E. M. Sherfey from Wythe County, Virginia in 1855.  Their son Robert F. Sherfey inherited the property when she died.

In June 2000, the Children's Advocacy Center of Bristol/Washington County purchased The Grove with the intent of converting it into their offices.  The Children's Advocacy Center's mission is to combat sexual and severe child abuse by coordinating service for child victims and their families during the whole course of a child abuse case.