Lexington, Virginia
Real Estate Auction
Historic Thorn Hill

Virginia Landmark

Thorn Hill, c. 1792, is a Virginia Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The home was built by Colonel John Bowyer, an officer in the Revolutionary War and a central figure in Rockbridge County’s formative years. Among the prominent citizens who have owned Thorn Hill are Judge John Brockenbrough, founder of Lexington Law School, now the Washington and Lee University School of Law, and General E. F. Paxton, Commander of the Stonewall Brigade.

This auction offers the rare opportunity to own a historically significant property that, through the extensive restoration and improvements made by the current owners, offers the grandeur envisioned by Colonial Bowyer more than two centuries ago. 


Thorn Hill is comprised of 17.03± beautifully landscaped acres on a ridge offering panoramic views of the Alleghany and Blue Ridge Mountains. House Mountain and Hogback Mountain are prominent. The property is located five minutes from Lexington’s downtown historic district and less than half a mile from the Lexington Golf & Country Club. The home of Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute, Lexington was listed by Smithsonian magazine as one of the “20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013” and has been previously included in Forbes magazine as one the best places to retire. 

The original dwelling, circa 1792, is solid brick construction laid in Flemish bond in an “I” house configuration. It is estimated that the portico, original Doric columns and two-story one-bay wing were added to the west side of the home approximately twenty years later.  The double dentil molding at the top of the external walls is repeated inside the home.  The elegant 5,542± sq. ft. late Georgian home features four large bedrooms, the two original bedrooms on the second level and two on the third level. There are two full baths, two half baths, kitchen, breakfast room/pantry, dining room, living room, sunroom, deck and porches. There are six fireplaces with dampers and gas English coal fire buckets.

The home was masterfully restored and renovated by the current owners in 2004 – 2005 at a cost of more than $1,000,000. The original windows, flooring, moldings, mantels, paneling and flooring have been preserved. Architectural storm windows cover the original windows. In 2004, the front portico was restored with new columns, floor and steps. The owners incorporated the original limestone foundation, sandstone steps and pie-shaped brick from the columns into the garden walls, steps and walkways. Premium systems, including plumbing, electrical, HVAC, lighting, security, audio, video, internet, satellite television and cable television have been installed for complete comfort and convenience. Multi-zone heating is supplied by a combination of radiant in-floor tubing, gas-fired hot-water radiators and forced air. Four heat pumps provide cooling. Lighting is Lutron computer-controlled.

Dependencies include stables and kennel, hay barn/granary, paddocks, early kitchen which has been converted into a studio with screened porch, a two-car garage, equipment and garden sheds, and a servants’ cottage that is of the same period as the home.

Old oak trees, boxwoods and lilacs grace the grounds. Other varieties of trees include walnut, chestnut, magnolia, maple, dogwood, catalpa, mulberry, spruce and pine. Daffodils, irises, peonies and daylilies add color from spring until autumn when trees on the estate and the surrounding mountains burst with color.

The Home

MAIN LEVEL:  Both the front and rear doorways are hung with three-panel, raised panel double doors. The first level of the home has twelve foot ceilings. All of the woodwork is Georgian in character. Guests are welcomed into the 230± sq. ft. foyer with handsome stairs leading to the second level. The focal point of the 400± sq. ft. living room is the fireplace flanked by two niches. All of the woodwork in the living is original. The faux wood grain painting is contemporary. The 360± sq. ft. dining room has a fireplace with fluted pilasters on the chimney piece. The kitchen and pantry were originally a parlor and back stair. The custom-designed butternut cabinetry hides a Viking refrigerator, KitchenAid dishwasher and microwave oven. Tiles made by a Roanoke artist complement the Aga range with two ovens and Aga companion range with two convection ovens. Countertops are granite. A breakfast room/pantry with sink, KitchenAid refrigerator and Fisher & Paykel dishwasher adjoins the kitchen. The sunroom on the rear of the home overlooks gardens and the barn complex. A deck with hot tub provides a private sanctuary for relaxing.


The second level has ten foot ceilings and features a 20’ x 18’ master bedroom and luxurious 15’ x 14’ master bath with marble two-person shower, soaking tub, two vanities and heated towel bar. There is also a 400± sq. ft. bedroom and half bath on this level. Each bedroom and the master bath has a fireplace. 


The attic of the home has been converted into two large bedrooms and a bathroom. The bath has a tile shower and custom vanity.


The estate offers a court of dependencies for equestrians, artists, farmers and gardeners. The early kitchen and servants’ cottage, which is believed to have later served as a loom house, are constructed in harmony with the original home. The barns are late nineteenth to early twentieth-century. The garage is contemporary.

Garage: A breezeway leads from the house to the insulated two-car garage which has attic storage and electric openers.

Early Kitchen/Studio: The early kitchen has been reconstructed by the current owners. It    has been converted into a light-filled studio with cathedral ceiling and large windows for enjoying the mountain views. A screened porch has been added. An electric heat pump provides heating and cooling. The original cooking fireplace with extended hearth was creatively repaired by old metal carriage rails. This structure could be easily transformed into a guest cottage.

Horse Barn and Kennel: The barn, which was formerly a dairy barn for Thorn Hill Dairy, has an office, bathroom, six stalls, wash stall with hot and cold water, two run-in stalls, a run-in shed and dog kennel with heated floor. The dog doors open to covered runs. Heating and air conditioning are provided by a heat pump. The barn has a fly elimination system, is wired for video surveillance and has a washer and dryer. Adjoining the barn are three dry lots with paddocks. Nelson drinkers supply water to the stalls, dry lots and paddocks.  

Hay Barn/Granary:  This great old barn with beautiful timbers has three run-in stalls, each with a dry lot.  There are two adjoining paddocks. Water is supplied to the stalls, dry lot and paddocks by Nelson drinkers. The barn has a fly elimination system.

Servants’ Cottage:  The servants’ cottage, which has not been restored, has a living room with fireplace on the main level and stairs in a corner leading up to a sleeping loft. There is a separate outside entrance to the cellar which has a fireplace and wooden bars in the windows. The foundation is stone.

Sheds:   A gardening shed and two equipment sheds complete the court.

Directions to the Property

From the North: Take I-81 Exit 188B (Lexington, U.S. Rt. 60 West). Go 2.0 mi. on U.S. Rt. 60 West toward Lexington. Turn left on U.S. Rt. 11 South and go 0.9 mi. to stop light. Continue through stop light onto Rt. 251, Thornhill Road. Property is 1.0 mi. on the right. Address: 1196 Thornhill Road, Lexington, VA 24450.

From the South: Take I-81 Exit 180 (Natural Bridge). At end of ramp, turn onto U.S. Rt. ll North toward Lexington. Follow U.S. Rt. 11 North for 8.6 mi. to stop light. Turn left onto Rt. 251 South, Link Road, which becomes Thornhill Road. Property is 1.0 mi. on the right. Address: 1196 Thornhill Road, Lexington, VA 24450.

Basic Terms & Conditions of Auction

  1. REGISTRATION: Bids will be accepted only from registered bidders. Registration begins at 4:00 PM. Please bring a driver’s license for identification.
  2. AUCTION SALE: The property is being sold subject to seller confirmation. ALL SALES ARE FINAL. All property is sold “AS IS, WHERE IS.” Potential bidders should perform such independent investigation with respect to the property as they deem necessary or appropriate.
  3. ANNOUNCEMENTS: Announcements day of sale take precedence over all prior communications, verbal and written, concerning this sale.
  4. BIDDING: The auctioneer will determine all bid increments. All decisions by the auctioneer regarding bid acceptance are final.
  5. FINANCING: Purchase of the property IS NOT CONDITIONED UPON THE BIDDER OBTAINING FINANCING. Bidders should arrange any necessary financing prior to bidding and be capable of paying cash at closing.
  6. BUYER’S PREMIUM: A Buyer’s Premium will be charged. The Buyer’s Premium is five percent (5%) of the high bid amount. The Buyer’s Premium is added to the high bid amount to determine the contract sale price.
  7. REAL ESTATE DEPOSIT: A deposit in the amount of ten percent (10%) of the contract sale price (high bid plus Buyer’s Premium) will be required on day of sale. The deposit is payable by cashier’s check or pre-approved personal check made payable to Woltz & Associates, Inc. Escrow Account. Personal checks will be approved if the Buyer presents, at time of registration, a letter from its bank stating that the Buyer is a customer of the bank and that the account on which the check is drawn is in good standing.
  8. CLOSING DATE FOR REAL ESTATE: The balance of the purchase price is due at settlement on or before December 9, 2013.
  9. TRANSFER OF TITLE: The real estate will be conveyed by general warranty deed free and clear of liens subject, however, to any rights of way, easements, conditions and restrictions of record.
  10. INSPECTIONS: Inspection of the property is at the potential bidder’s own risk.
  11. LEAD-BASED PAINT: The home on the property was built prior to 1978 and may contain lead paint. Inspection may be performed by potential bidders prior to sale day. Applicable lead paint documents and information are available from the Auction Company. Bidders will be provided a lead paint disclosure in the Real Estate Bidder Packet and agree to waive the ten (10) day right to inspect after the sale.
  13. BIDDER PACKET: The Auction Company will have a Preliminary Bidder Packet available at the previews, online and upon request.
  14. GENERAL: The information contained in this brochure is subject to verification by all parties relying upon it. No liability for its accuracy or any error or omission is assumed by the Auction Company or the Seller.
  15. WEBSITE: Visit www.woltz.com for additional photographs, floor plans and other information about the property.