( Originally Published 1932 )
River Edge, as it has been known for the last hundred years or more, is on Old Indian Trail road, now River Road South, in Charles City County. The property was a grant of ten thousand acres from the king to Colonel William Cole, Esquire. The grant included all land along the James River from Gunn's Run to Herring Creek. Due to the destruction of early county records which were burned during the War Between the States, there is no authentic record of the date or the builder of the present house. The deed of 1813 shows that there were four previous owners, and that in 1714 William Cole II, member of the House of Burgesses, gave his bond, with John Stith as security, to construct warehouses on this land, then known as Swine Yards. Thus it is presumed that the house was built in the early part of 1700. In 1769 William Cole IV sold four thousand of his ten thousand acres to William Byrd of Westover.
The architecture of River Edge is of the early English farm type, low and rambling with hand-hewn clapboards painted white, apple-green shutters held in place by scroll shutter dogs, and slate-colored shingles. In the basement is the original kitchen with its brick fireplace and bake oven. English ivy runs riot over walls and windows, while two clumps of billowy box are all that remain of a once beautiful entrance circle to the house. A stately elm stands sentinel in a grove of old locust trees that shade the spacious lawn.
In the distance through pines and cedars is seen the broad expanse of the lower James. The river landing is Wilcox's Wharf, anciently known as Swine Yards, from which a part of General Grant's army ferried across the James to Wind-mill Point en route to Petersburg in 1864.
There is nothing left of the original garden which was on the southeastern slope, which leads to the family graveyard.