Just 10 mi east of Richmond, Shirley Plantation, on the James River, is the oldest plantation in Virginia, and the oldest family-owned business in North America. Founded in 1613 by a grant from the Crown, Shirley is still a working farm today. The current mansion was built in 1723 and is known as one of the most architecturally intact examples of 18th-century homes in the country, with one of the only surviving "flying staircases." But what brings this plantation to life,
and the main reason for its physical preservation, is the story of the women of Shirley, who tended the wounded Union soldiers encamped on their shores after the Battle of Malvern Hill. They took such good care of the enemy that General McClellan ordered Shirley to be left untouched, and thus it still thrives today under the management of the 11th generation of the family.