For many years the question of an early Norvell plantation was raised.
In a 1937 issue of the William and Mary Quarterly, a picture of a house called Riverview appeared that was attributed to having been the Norvell home.
But this house was clearly not from the colonial era as a plantation would have been. It appeared to have been built in the late 19th century and the two side wings were added in 1914, according to property records.
Yet, where did this idea come from.
One source appears to have been a 1934 Sunday supplement of the Richmond Newspaper which featured an article, “Homes That Have Seen Centuries Pass,” by Priscilla Williams.
In it Ms. Williams states that Riverview was owned by Thomas Norvell and his wife Lydia Tucker in 1683 and that it ultimately passed to William Norvell, the member of the House of Burgesses during the Revolutionary period. Since William and his wife Rebecca Johnson Norvell had no children, it was left to William’s niece Catherine Norvell Lightfoot, the grand-daughter of Sarah Norvell and William Lightfoot.
The house is located near Norges, Virginia above Williamsburg on the York River. Other than these two documents in the 1930s, no other sources seem to confirm this tale.
Yet there may be some truth to this story as early maps of Virginia show settlements on the York as early as the 1680s, and one intriguing feature on the property is a small pond called “Lake Norvell.”
One can imagine that in an earlier time, the Norvells sat in another home on this site and viewed the York River as it leisurely flowed beyond their doors.
And, what a wonderful thing it must have been.