Do You Know Your History?


Help us uncover some of Battersea’s rich history. Are you a genealogist or a history enthusiast? Maybe you or your family have lived in the area a long time or you were born in or near Petersburg. If so, we’d like your help. We’re looking for information that might uncover more facts about Battersea and its Banister descendants. If you know of someone who has Banister ancestors or perhaps spent some time at Battersea as a child, please contact us. We’re looking for photographs, letters, furniture, or memorabilia.

Help us discover Battersea. Contact us with your story at 804.732.9882 or by email to




Battersea: A Brief Description

Battersea is a substantial stuccoed brick house located north of Upper Appomattox Street in the city of Petersburg, near the south bank of the Appomattox River. Even though the 35.5-acre property is bordered by a 19th-century neighborhood and a light industrial area, it still retains its historic rural character. The house was built in 1768 by Colonel John Banister, the first Mayor of Petersburg and a signer of the Articles of Confederation. Battersea was designed and built as a symmetrical five-part Anglo-Palladian house featuring a two-story central block, one-story wings that act as hyphens, and one-and-a-half story end pavilions. One-story columned porticos mark the entrances on the front, back, and sides of the house. The plan of the interior reflects the five-part massing of the exterior, presenting a symmetrical single-pile plan with rooms extending to either side of the central block. The designer of the house is unknown.


Battersea is one of the earliest and finest surviving examples of a five-part, Robert Morris-style Palladian house form in the United States, and is the earliest surviving, fully developed example of this house type in Virginia. Battersea represents a refined and original synthesis of ideas from Andrea Palladio and Robert Morris, copying neither but reinterpreting ideas from both to meet 18th-century American needs. The five-part house form was a basic manifestation of Palladianism in both Britain and America which enjoyed popularity in the United States during the 18th and early-19th centuries. Today, Battersea is a rare and unusually sophisticated survival of this form. Some of the finest early nineteenth century Classical-inspired architectural detailing resulted, distinctive in its period expression and craftsmanship, within the framework of the Palladian form. The later work shows a rare understanding of the derivation of the Palladian form and a clear intention to work within the parameters of this style and form. Battersea is therefore eligible for national significance under Criterion C in the area of architecture.