Author: Carl Lounsbury


Henry Cary (d. by 1750)

Henry Cary was one of the leading building contractors in Virginia during the first half of the eighteenth century. The son of the builder Henry Cary, Cary was probably born on his father’s plantation in Warwick County and likely learned the trade from his father. His first major project, late in the 1710s, was a church for Saint Paul’s Parish in what became Hanover County. A few years later he worked on the governor’s residence, a project begun by his father; repaired the Capitol; and, in 1723, likely supervised construction of the Brafferton building at the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg. It is one of the earliest examples of the “neat and plain” style that dominated late colonial Virginia architecture. Cary also worked on a chapel wing and a president’s residence for the college. In the 1730s he constructed his own large residence, Ampthill, on the James River in Henrico (later Chesterfield) County. Active in the Church of England, Cary also sat on the Henrico and Warwick county courts and was a sheriff of Henrico County. He died in the winter of 1749–1750, perhaps not long before his will was proved on March 2, 1750.


Henry Cary (ca. 1650–by 1720)

Henry Cary was a leading contractor in colonial Virginia. Born in Warwick County, Cary spent much of his life constructing public buildings. His major projects included the York County courthouse (1697) and a new prison and Capitol in Williamsburg (by 1705). His success in these projects led to his appointment in 1706 to oversee construction of the new residence for the governor. A dispute in 1711 with Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood over progress on the governor’s residence led to his dismissal from the project. With his career in Williamsburg effectively at an end, Cary retired to his Warwick County plantation. He died on an unrecorded date before September 1, 1720, when his will was proved in the county court.


John Ariss (ca. 1729–1799)

John Ariss was a builder, responsible for the design and construction of a number of Virginia and Maryland buildings in the eighteenth century. Born in Westmoreland County, he apprenticed with a local carpenter, probably studied architecture from books, and began advertising his services by 1751. He built a brick church in Charles County, Maryland, and in Fairfax and Frederick counties, and may have been involved with renovations to the main house owned by Philip Ludwell Lee. Little is known of his skills or what other work he did. In 1786 Ariss leased land in Berkeley County from his distant relative George Washington and built a house called Locust Hill. He died in 1799.