William Thornton Estate Ruins
Located in aptly named Pleasant Valley, just west of Sea Cow’s Bay, are the ruins of an estate house where William Thornton drew the design of the U.S. Capitol building. Thornton, a Quaker, was living at his Pleasant Valley plantation in March 1792 when Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson advertised a contest to design the U.S. capitol building and president’s home, which would be built in the new city of Washington.
By the time Thornton learned of the contest and sailed to Philadelphia with his design, the contest was closed. But the commissioners, who had not been impressed by any of the other designs, waived the deadline and accepted his entry. Thornton won $500 in gold and a plot in the new city.
Little remains of the Thornton estate, which is privately owned and used as a storage facility for a local water company. A few crumbling walls are visible through the trees.
To find the Thornton Estate, turn off Drake’s Highway at the E&D Convenience Store in Pleasant Valley, also called Palistina, and pass the Cable and Wireless complex. The road crosses a small stream and turns to the right before passing the estate ruins on the right.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Virgin Islands, 4th edition