The Mitchell House in Bedford County, aka “Oakland”

I have driven by this stately old home near Bedford countless times over the past several decades and always found it fascinating.  It’s probably the oldest house along Rt. 460 between Lynchburg and Roanoke, and back in the 1980’s, I would frequently see its apparent lone occupant sitting on the side porch.   After many years, I never saw the old man again, and it soon became obvious that the house was abandoned.

The Mitchell House in 2004 in a drive-by photo…

In November of 2012, I finally paid a visit to the house and shot several photos, including of the family cemetery around back.  I also at the time learned through Facebook friend and local history “detective” W. Scott Smith that this house was built in 1826 by Dr. Thomas Mitchell.   It turns out that the old man on the side porch was Dr Mitchell’s descendant, a Mr. Grayson Mitchell, who passed away in 1994, and whose grave is among those in the family cemetery.  Dr. Mitchell and his wife Ann are also buried in the cemetery.  Ann’s small gravestone is still legible, but only Dr. Mitchell’s first name (Thomas) is visible on his stone.    (Correction 1/9/15:   The Thomas and Ann Mitchell buried in the family cemetery on the property are actually children of Dr. Thomas Mitchell’s son John Saunders Mitchell)

Dr. Mitchell’s office also sat on the property, in a small building along the roadside in the right corner of the front yard, which has now collapsed.    Demolished structures included a separate kitchen, slave/servant quarters, an ice house and a stable.  A small smokehouse still stands in the back yard.

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From a DHR submission (which also cites Bedford Villages Lost and Found, Vol. I):
Oakland was built in 1826 by Dr. Thomas Mitchell for his bride, Ann Dandridge Saunders, daughter of Col. David Saunders of ‘Pleasant Grove’.  The doctors’ office was a small one-story, one-room, side-gable frame building with beaded weatherboarding, brick foundation, and brick exterior end chimney. It stood in the ‘right corner of the front yard’.Dr. Mitchell received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and began practice in 1820. His son, John Saunders Mitchell also became a physician, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1852, and father and son practiced medicine during the Civil War. “Mrs. Mitchell had the most beautiful flower garden in Bedford County.” … Reportedly, all brick used in the construction of the house and buildings was made on the place.”

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roof of former doctor’s office (foreground) in the front yard
family cemetery
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grave of John Saunders Mitchell, son of the original owner of the house, and who also became a doctor

In 1974, the house lost a considerable amount of its front yard with the 4-lane expansion of Rt. 460.

view of the house from across Rt. 460

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Sadly, the historic home was destroyed by fire on New Year’s Eve of 2012, and it sits in ruins along the highway today.

The Mitchell House burns on December 31, 2012 (news media photo)
The Mitchell House burns on December 31, 2012 (news media photo)
post-fire view of central wreath and circle on ceiling of east room on main floor
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The Mitchell House in ruins, post-fire (Jan. 4, 2013):

UPDATE:   The remains of the Mitchell House were razed today, January 14, 2015.

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22 thoughts on “The Mitchell House in Bedford County, aka “Oakland””

  1. They should call Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke and let them salvage some of the architecture like that huge ceiling medallion. It’s a shame that the county historical society never got it and restored it to it’s former glory.

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    1. Or they can be checked out on instagram through #ttkillinspree (dont let the name throw you off) i have atleast 4-5 pictures that turned out well… minus the gorgeous piano that has been left behind in the front room

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  2. I live in Florida now, I used lived in Madison Heights and Evington, I drove the 460 and I remember that house. I wish it could have been preserved. It would have been a great place to visit.
    Maybe it can be brought to almost the original way it was.

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  3. I live close to the Mitchell House and on my may home, I noticed the front porch had been torn off and a big pile of debris piled up on the side and a Bobcat in the yard. I think they might be getting ready to tear it down. I love that house, I sure hope that it’s a renovation instead of a demolition, but the chances are pretty slim

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  4. The Mitchell house was razed today. I sure hate to see something that’s been around that long be destroyed. I can’t think of many Federal style homes that still exist in Bedford. I live right down the road from it on Twin lakes dr. There is a house on this road that was built in 1797 and it is occupied. It’s a solid brick construction also, a very neat house.

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  5. What a total wast , I watched the house go from a place that could be restored . By Dr. Bower, who only wanted to restore the old family home . Another member was so mad at him for some reason & swore that old home must never be aloud to go to him . she rather have the family home fall down, then be saved . & restored. the right way ! This seems to happen a lot all over .Members of family’s fighting over rights for ownership of old family homes !

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  6. My husband (Page Wilkerson) grew up next door to this home. I was in it one time after we were married when Mrs Icer Mitchell pass away and Mrs. Mitchell’s body was brought back home for the viewing I got to see that ceiling medallion it was beautiful. That was a beautiful old home. Page still talks about growing up on the Pike as rt. 460 it was called.
    They have now salvaged the brick from the house and build a wall around the cemetery. Looks very nice we were down there not long ago and was pleased to see how nice the wall turned out and love the gate for the entrance. This was done by Dr. John Bower who would liked to have restored the old house.

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  7. Wow, I drove past this house all the time on my way to and from VT and Lynchburg and am saddened by its fate of this farmhouse. Thank you for the history behind it, though.

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