MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Three plantations with deep roots in colonial Virginia are going up for sale, but with a twist: the latest sellers are the current governor of West Virginia and his family.
Jay Justice, now leading the Justice Companies while his father is governor, said the Virginia investment properties are for sale because farming was Gov. Jim Justice's main focus, while his is coal mining.
"As he's been elected and kind of taken out of our business operations, we made the decision to downsize in a very big way the agricultural side of what we're doing," Jay Justice said. "These properties were selected for some strategic and some un-strategic reasons to be sold. There's no, you know, fire sale, or need to liquidate the assets or anything like that."
The farming operations, primarily in corn and soybeans, remain significant, he said. The three plantations were originally listed late last fall with a real-estate company. The family has now chosen to hire a California-based auctioneer for more intensive and wide-ranging marketing aimed at reaching bidders for unique properties, he said.
Flowerdew Hundred by the James River in Hopewell, Virginia, was originally granted in 1618 to colonial Gov. George Yeardley of Virginia. His wife was Temperance Flowerdew. The plantation was an early English settlement. The property has 1,300 acres (2 sq. miles) and a 14,000-square-foot (1300-squre-meter) house with 12 bedrooms, a master suite, nine bathrooms and three half-baths.
According to Premiere Estates Auction Co., 880-acre (1-square- mile) Horseshoe Farm in Rapidan and 1,700-acre (2-square-mile) Rapidan Farm in Culpeper are each for sale intact or in up to five separate parcels.
Horseshoe Farm, with a 12-bedroom Greek Revival house built around 1859, traces its earlier history to an English land grant to Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood, who briefly served as governor of Virginia.
Rapidam Farm, with a main house, manager's house and tenant houses, has a servants' residence attached to the main house, swimming pool, tennis courts and formal gardens.
They were originally listed at $9.2 million for Horseshoe Farm, $12.2 million for Flowerdew Hundred Plantation and $18.8 million for Rapidan Farm.
Michael Schwartz of Premiere Estates said potential bidders have to submit a $100,000 cashier's check registration deposit with sealed bids to a Richmond law firm by June 28. The top one-third of qualified bidders then can submit best bids by June 30.
"We bought them as an investment. We farmed the properties. We continue to farm them," Jay Justice said. They've owned Rapidan for about 15 years, the others for six or seven. "We have tenants or actually employees that live on several of the properties, but we have never lived there ourselves."
"They're extraordinary places," he added. "They'll certainly make someone a very, very nice home."