CIRCA 1725

The Lynnhaven House is considered by some to be one of the most well-preserved examples of early Virginia vernacular architecture, surviving nearly 300 years of Tidewater history. The home was built by Francis Thelaball, a middling plantation owner and ship's carpenter, for his family.

The property passed through the Thelaball to Boush and Oliver families, and was eventually donated to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) by the children of William W. Oliver III and Alice Millner Oliver in 1971, as a way to honor their parents' legacy. Mr. Oliver is credited with saving the Lynnhaven House by adding minimal modern conveniences to the 18th-century structure, and preserving the historic building. In 2006, the City of Virginia Beach began operating the site and, in 2008, took over ownership of the property. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources holds a preservation easement on the property.

Architectural and design details of The Lynnhaven House include brick jack arches, a closed-spindle staircase with teardrop pendant, and ship’s lap floor construction, all revealing a builder concerned with quality as well as artistry. It is furnished to interpret the period Francis and Abigail Thelaball lived in the home along with their five sons, an apprentice, and several enslaved people, and accurately illustrates the lifestyle of colonial Virginia.

Guided tours vividly describe the roles of the household members and what daily life was like for similar families at the time. Visitors will also learn about the Tidewater world of the early 18th century. Please call us if you have any questions or are interested in learning more about our educational programs that are available to schools, scouts, and homeschooling groups.

Interested in learning about renting the historic Lynnhaven House, Lynnhaven Colonial Education Center and surrounding grounds and gardens for your next wedding, party or other private event? Email our Program and Events staff at, or call 757-385-5100, for more information.

Closed for restoration. ​During this time, the Lynnhaven Colonial Education Center will be open for select programs and events. Please call (757) 385-5100 if you have any questions.