Bedford, VA- On Monday night, December 31, 2012, at about 9:30 p.m. a fire destroyed much of the remains of the historic Mitchell House located about two miles east of Bedford along the south side of US Route 460 (East Lynchburg-Salem Turnpike). Built in 1827 the house was the residence of two prominent doctors in the 18th and 19th centuries. The two story red brick structure sits on a slight rise overlooking the well-traveled road. It has been vacant since the mid-1990s when its last resident died but has been in the same family for almost two hundred years.
The cause of the recent fire is undetermined and the Bedford County Fire and Rescue fire marshals are looking for information that could help with their investigation as they continue to work on this case. The fire was quite large when it was first reported to 911 and it is believed that others passing by earlier may have seen something. Anyone who may have seen someone around or near the house on the evening of December 31st or with any information regarding this fire is asked to call the Bedford County Fire and Rescue office at 540-587-0700.
Bedford Co., VA - When a vacant home caught fire New Year's Eve in Bedford County, a piece of the county's history went up in flames.
The Dr. Mitchell House, also known as Oakland, was engulfed when firefighters arrived around 9:40 Monday night. The conditions inside were so dangerous, command ordered firefighters out of the building 15 minutes later. It took another 40 minutes to control the intense flames.
The two-story, federal era home was built around 1826 by Dr. Thomas Mitchell. Thomas Mitchell was a Civil War doctor and member of the General Assembly, according to his 93-year-old great granddaughter, who is the home's current owner. John Saunders Mitchell, the son of Thomas Mitchell, was the home's second owner and was also a physician before and during the Civil War.
"I had seen it sitting there for years and wanted to record it before it disappeared or anything happened to it," said Travis McDonald, Director of Architectural Restoration at nearby Poplar Forest.
Travis McDonald, who heads up the architectural restoration team at Thomas Jefferson's nearby retreat home, might have been just in time. In 2011, McDonald led a field school at the house.
"I did worry because there was evidence of people coming and going and taking furniture and other things," said McDonald.
A caretaker says he often has to run off trespassers and thieves. The deputy fire marshal says it's too early to say whether someone set the fire.