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Our Mission Statement

The purpose of The Avenel Foundation is to rescue, preserve, and protect Historic Avenel, a Bedford legacy, and to make this museum house, a unique landmark in Virginia, available for educational, social, business and other appropriate community uses.

The Story of Historic Avenel

Located in the heart of the city of Bedford, Avenel has been a centerpiece of social, cultural, and political life for over 180 years. Avenel is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.

Avenel has the feel of both the Federal and Greek Revival architecture of its time. Back then, the two-story brick plantation home sat on close to seventy acres, and was a focal point for both the social and political scene. Avenel is one of Bedford's crown jewels that continues to make history each and every day.

The original plantation known as Avenel was built circa 1838 by William M. Burwell and his wife, Frances Steptoe Burwell. Once Avenel was completed, the Burwells along with their two young daughters, Letitia (Lettie) and Catherine (Kate), moved in with Frances’s widowed mother, Mrs. James Steptoe, and her son Edward. The Burwells then had two more daughters, Mary Frances (Fan), and Rosalie (Rosa). Unfortunately, their only son, James Steptoe Burwell, died at less than one year old.


In 1906, Avenel was purchased by J. W. Ballard. The home remained in the Ballard family until 1985, when it was purchased by the Avenel Foundation.

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