The Idlewild mansion in Fredericksburg, VA is also called Downman House. Idlewild mansion was built in 1859 and served as Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s headquarters on May 4-5, 1863, during the Civil War’s Chancellorsville campaign.
Idlewild has been in ruins since it burned in April 2003 after vandals set it on fire. Idlewild again suffered damage from a smaller porch fire in August 2006.
The property has been added to the Virginia Landmarks Register and is being considered for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
For more information regarding its history click the link below.
Here I was, walking around uncharted territory. I was visiting family in Fredericksburg, VA and decided to explore. Surrounded by cookie-cutter shaped homes and gated communities, I decided to find something out of the norm. Boy was I in for a trip. Not too far away from where I was visiting was a location known as Idlewild. As I wandered, I first encountered a set of abandoned cars. I knew I was headed in the right direction.
I kept on walking while continuously scanning the surroundings, making sure I was alone.
Few yards down, I stumble across this book, titled Heaven Made. It was such an oxymoron to see this book laying in the ground next to decomposed buildings. For some reason, seeing this book, made my heart beat faster. I made sure to scan my surroundings.
The property was scattered with abandoned houses, mansions, and barns, dating back to early 1860’s.
After wandering around for a while I finally stumbled upon the mansion. My heart was racing with fear and excitement at the same time. Several horror movies flashed in front of my eyes with every step I neared. Knowing that General Robert E. Lee once wandered through the halls once fueled my sense of adventure. Once again, I scanned my surroundings rigorously, looking for any signs of life. Every time I visit an abandoned place I become paranoid. I always think that a serial killer, vandal, homeless person, and/or ghost will attack me.
The classic “Do not enter” sign was posted on the fence that surrounded the entire property. My heart rate increased some more.
I took a big gulp and sneaked in through a hole in the fence, previously made by another. The property contained the mansion and few other smaller buildings.
By this point, I was sh***ing myself. With every noise I heard I instantly jumped. Being in an unfamiliar state, surrounded by a rich history, and signs of recent dwelling, all combined together to make me very anxious. After taking some final shots, I decided it was time to leave. I traced my steps back and stopped by another abandoned house to take some final shots.
Overall, the experience was thrilling. I came out safe with a camera full of history. When I came home I researched the Idlewild mansion and decided never to visit it again.