The Chimneys, named for its two stone chimneys at each end, is regarded as one of the finest examples of Georgian Architecture in the city of Fredericksburg. The two-story house is framed with heavy timber with mortise and tenon joints secured with hardwood pegs. Spaces between wall studs are nogged with brick in the interior and exterior walls (on display in our back, right dining room). In the mid- to late 18th century Fredericksburg was a large port city in the colonies and The Chimneys’ hipped roof framing utilizes techniques common in the construction of ships’ hulls at the time. It’s decorative woodwork in the molding, millwork, and paneling is also particularly significant. The Chimneys was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
It was long believed that The Chimneys was built by John Glassell, a Scottish Merchant, after purchasing the property from Charles yates but documented evidence points to Yates as being responsible for the building of this landmark. Charles Yates was an English immigrant from a very distinguished family of teachers, some of which proceeded him to Virginia. Charles Yates was a dedicated Mason, which would explain the beauty and distinction of The Chimneys design. Most importantly, Yates was a shrewd and meticulous businessman. The location of the Chimneys was surely strategic as its original orientation faced the river where Yates most likely conducted his business as a merchant. Yates sold the Chimneys to John Glassell in 1771.
John Glassell was a Scottish merchant and a British Loyalist. He only owned The Chimneys for four years before he granted custody of the Chimneys to a relative, William Glassell. It is said that he planned to return to Scottland for a short time but his sympathies to Great Britain proved so strong that he never returned. William Glassell resided at the Chimneys from 1775 until his death in 1801. After William’s death, John Glassell appointed Daniel Grinnan the executor of the estate. During the 1800s, the house was bought and sold many times and housed many distinguished residents, one of which was Ellan Lewis Herndon “Nell” Arthur who lived in The Chimneys as a child and later became the wife of Chester A. Arthur (our 21st U.S. President).
It is fascinating to think of the rich history behind this home. The Chimneys has passed through many different people, from all over the world. Billiken’s Smokehouse is honored to have its name written on the pages of its history. After months of restoration, The Chimneys has become a part of our family and we look forward to filling its walls with great food and laughter for many years to come.