Oak Ridge, Robert A. Lancaster

Home Site – Nelson County, Virginia

The original tract of land was called Nassau and was bought by Colonel William Cabell in 1780.  He purchased 2380 acres on both sides of Dutch Creek and Rucker’s Run and 1970 acres on the south fork of Rucker’s Run and the head branches of the Tye River.  In 1793 he gave 800 acres on Rucker’s Run to his daughter Margaret.  By 1800 the Nassau tract was known as Oak Ridge.

In 1798, Margaret Cabell (1770-1815) wife of Robert Rives, inherited part of the land comprising the Oak Ridge estate and Rives purchased the remainder of the land from the other heirs. 

Oak Ridge is located about 3.2 miles south of Lovingston, Virginia on Route 653 (Oak Ridge Road).


The original house was brick covered with wood.  It was 2 stories with a basement and was 59 x 45 feet.  The wood and brick front porch was 20 x 10 ft. and the back porch was 12 x 10 ft. It is presumed that most of the materials were imported from England and that Rives used local carpenters and his own enslaved workers to build Oak Ridge. The house had four rooms over four, with five rooms furnished with beds.  The first floor consisted of a parlor, passage, dining room, sitting room and chamber.  The 34 x 22 kitchen was 60 feet behind the east side of the house. The 15 x 15 smokehouse was 20 feet from the rear porch.  The one story brick and wood 18 x 15 office was 50 feet behind the west side of the house.  

Timeline of Oak Ridge Ownership

  • In 1790, Robert Rives (1764-1845) married Margaret Cabell (1770-1815), daughter of Colonel William Cabell and Margaret Jordan of Union Hill.  They lived at Edgewood in Warminster from 1791-1803. 
  • 1803-1845: Rives built Oak Ridge in 1801-1802 and they moved in in January 1803.  He lived there until his death in 1845
  • 1845-1863: Robert and Margaret’s daughter, Margaret Jordan Rives, lived at Oak Ridge until her death in 1862.
  • 1863: Robert and Margaret’s youngest son, Alexander  Rives (1806-1885) inherited Oak Ridge after his sister’s death.
    • Alexander’s second wife was Sallie Kearsley (married 1862), daughter of Dr. George Watson.  They lived at Carlton near Monticello.
  • Alexander’s widowed daughter, Isabella (1836-1899), lived at Oak Ridge. 
  • Alexander sold Oak Ridge on December 2, 1867.
  • In 1901, Thomas Fortune Ryan bought Oak Ridge and 1070 acres.  By 1928 he owned 4791 acres.  Ryan died in 1928 and his wife Mary lived there until her death in 1937. 
  • Oak Ridge was sold to Ryan’s grandson, Joseph James Ryan in 1938.  Upon his death in 1970, it was left to his nephew, Peter Brady who owned the place till 1989, although he never lived at Oak Ridge. 
  • In 1990, it was sold for $7 million and by John C. Holland of Norfolk.
  • As of 2018, Oak Ridge Estate has operated as a farm and event center.

Additional Photos

Oak Ridge chapel, 2006 & 2015. Photos courtesy of Archer Minard.

Oak Ridge, 2006. Photo courtesy Digna Gantt.