New view: Photog captures tornado-smashed 'Sylvania' from sky

The tornado that roared through the Green Springs Historic District of triple-punched Louisa County gave Hook contributing photographer Skip Degan an opportunity to pilot a fixed-wing aircraft over the scene two days later.

Flying on Saturday morning, October 15, Degan captured an image of the wreckage after what the National Weather Service describes as an F-1 tornado tore past "Sylvania," a circa 1746 plantation house.

The image shows that formerly Mount Vernonesque Sylvania lost its roof, its portico, and a tree as well as sustaining other damage to the property.

The tornado roared through the 6700 block of U.S. 15, also known as James Madison Highway, nearly two months after a one-two punch of 5.8 earthquake and Hurricane Irene struck within days of each other.

Ironically, Louisa officials learned just a day before the tornada that FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, had denied funding to individual property owners who suffered uninsured losses in the quake.

Compounding the irony, as the Daily Progress' Bryan McKenzie reported, was that the 41st measured aftershock struck at magnitude of 3.0 during the bad news meeting with FEMA. And just when you thought the insults had ended, on Friday the 14th, Barack Obama, the U.S. President on a southern bus tour to rally voters, declined Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's invitation to visit the natural disaster-plagued county.

One bright spot is that country music superstar Alan Jackson, following an online contest, has agreed to play a free concert in Louisa county. Exactly where, when, and how that might happen, however, remains to be seen.

Nobody was injured in the tornado, but one ardent storm-chaser posted some relatively-sizzling video on YouTube.

–edited for print to add the Mount Vernon resemblance at 10:06am, Tuesday, October 18

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7 comments

That house looks to me to be from about 1915. Anyone know if there's a 1746 cabin on the inside?
Something like that?

The house had a completely different look with the roof on. It was plantation style with columns coming from the roof overhang reminiscent of Mount Vernon. It's definitely from the 1700's.

Just to be clear, Louisa officials did not learn the day before the quake-as this article states-or the day before the tornado-as I believe this article meant to state-that FEMA funds were denied. That information was passed along over a week ago. The meeting during which the 3.0 aftershock hit was about FEMA's denial of aid and Louisa's appeal.

Sylvania, as local points out, is definitely a mid 18th century home. The tornado tore off the roof, front porch and back porch, and toppled columns, giving it a quite different appearance. This home is part of the Green Springs National Historic Landmark District, a unique collection of 18th and 19th century homes prized by architectural historians and preserved in a pastoral setting virtually unchanged for more than 150 years.

I love my natural disaster-plagued home. Thanks for the coverage.

The roof and portico that was on the house was added sometime in the 20th century. If you can find an old photo you will see that the original house looked much much different (and more 1700's) than the one we've all driven past the last couple of decades.

I will look for an old photo, Vaughn. Thanks for the info.

Hmmm...yes, interesting but confusing. I asked a few local history buffs via email. Let y'all know what they have to say...