Level Green


Major Thomas Massie from New Kent County served in the American Revolution as aide-de-camp to General Nelson. In 1780, Massie married Sarah Cocke of Turkey Island. He helped finance Cyrus McCormick’s reaper, and promoted the Tye River and & Blue Ridge Turnpike. He was first magistrate of Nelson County and member of the General Assembly.

In 1788, Massie purchased a tract of 3,111 acres in upper Tye River valley from John Rose’s estate, the original planter. He also acquired a small gristmill and 25 acres adjoining the Rose land. Massie shunned tobacco. Instead, he grew wheat and built gristmills for grinding it, and planted the first Nelson’s orchards. In 1798, Massie built a small log house facing east on the plantation, as a temporary shelter. They lived in it until later completing the move on October 2, 1803 to Level Green.

Level Green, built in 1803 by local contractor George Williams according to family records, represents the architecture of late-eighteenth to early-nineteenth century Nelson County aristocracy. It is an example of the persistence of the late Georgian style with its massive from and interior details. The cornice with denticulated sections was the only one identified by the 1992 intensive level survey of Nelson County. Level Green is a frame, I-House with one-story wings. The two-story, nine-bay house stands on a low, brick foundation laid in three-course American bond on the center section, and irregular bond for the wings. Its sills are 18 inches square, the corners notched to fit and held together with hand made nails.

The house’s brick noggin is covered with plain weatherboards, although some of the original beaded weatherboards survive. The main section has a hipped roof while the wings have gable roofs. All are covered with composition shingles. There is heavy modillioned cornice on all section. There is one interior-end chimney on the east wing, an interior-end chimney on the east end of the main block, and one semi-exterior-end chimney on the west end of the main block. Windows are nine-over-nine light sash on the first floor, and six-over-six on the second floor.

A notable feature is the one-story, three-bay porch with fluted columns and pilasters. Modillons adorn the gable pediment. The front door has a transom of ten panes, two rows of five each. The door is centered on the porch. Three fluted columns on each side support the roof. Dentil cross the house under the eaves, and outline the A-framed porch and sides. Windows flank the porch, taller on the first floor.

The one-story wings were an early addition, constructed around 1820. The original ell was removed in the 1930s, and has been replaced by a shed-roof section and partially enclosed porch across the rear of the main section.


Single-pile, central passage plan with one room wings. The interior of Level Green illustrates the persistence of the late Georgian styles into the early nineteenth century in Nelson County. The original mantels are Georgian in style, while those of the wing additions are Federal style, and similar to those found at other houses of the Tye River Valley.

The paneled square entrance hall contains the staircase and its supporting structure: a two-flight, open-well stair with sturdy, square newel, turned balusters, and molded handrail. There are also decorative carved stair brackets.
The first floor rooms in the main section have a solid wainscot with projecting cornice. The wainscot continues up the first flight of the staircase but ends at the landing. Second floor rooms have a wide chair rail with projecting cornice and lower beaded edge. Six-raised-panel doors are found throughout the house and several retain the original brass, box locks. Several of the first floor doors are also grained. Windows and doors have a two-fascia architrave with crown molding on the outer edge.

A notable feature of the first floor rooms is the crown molding wall cornice. The section over the front door is denticulated. The parlor is the most decorative room in the house and features the same cornice molding with raised, denticulated sections over the mantel and windows. The parlor also has raised wainscot panels under each window. The mantel has a two-fascia fireplace surround on the projecting outer edge. There is a large, single, recessed panel frieze topped with a molded and denticulated cornice. The Federal style mantel in the east room in the main section is almost identical to the first floor ell room at Pharsalia and is probably a replacement that dates to the additions of the wings. Slender, fully round, fluted columns flank the fireplace opening and support consoles. There is a raised, reeded center frieze panel, and a five-part, stepped cornice. Second floor mantels are similar to the main parlor mantel but have a single-fascia firebox surround with projecting outer edge (instead of two-fascia) and molded cornice without dentils. The wings were later additions and have Federal style mantes. The east room had a vertical, beaded-board wainscot topped with a chair rail. There is also a beaded picture molding. The mantel has recessed panel pilasters, a five-part frieze, and molded cornice and mantelshelf. It is very similar to mantels found at Pharsalia, Mount Rouge, and Riverside. The west wing room has a solid wainscot with projecting cornice. The mantel features reeded pilasters, a five-part frieze, molded cornice, and shelf. Another interesting feature of the house is the spiral staircase that connects the west wing with the west second floor room. All the rooms have hardwood floors.


An interesting collection of outbuildings survives at Level Green. Near the main house is a double-crib log building used for many years as a carriage house. There is also a one-bay, frame smokehouse. A hipped roof covered with standing-seam metal, downbraces, kinpost truss roof-structure, rosehead nails, and a beaded door. Buildings that are more recent include a frame barn, chicken house, and several sheds. A family cemetery, surrounded by a fieldstone wall is situated some distance behind the house. The cemetery contains five marble chest stones and eleven marble markers. Entry to the cemetery is over the wall on the Laura Massie McComb memorial steps. Plant materials include yucca and periwinkle. Thomas Massie, builder of Level Green and Revolutionary War soldier is buried there.