These log buildings are part of the original Walnut Grove plantation in northern Rockbridge County, the home of Robert and Mary Ann Hall McCormick Jr. and their children. On this plantation, Robert McCormick Jr. developed a mechanical reaper—an invention that helped revolutionize agriculture. At right, is the blacksmith shop where the reaper was built; at left, is the plantation's grist mill. Robert McCormick Jr. had his son Cyrus patent the machine in 1834, and improvements on the machine continued over the following decades. The reapers were first manufactured at Walnut Grove, until Robert's sons Leander and Cyrus relocated the family business to Chicago and expanded its operations.
The original plantation is currently owned by Virginia Tech, which operates the farm as the Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center, and maintains these buildings as part of McCormick's Farm and Workshop, which is open to the public.