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By Kenneth H. Cook

About three miles west of South Boston, on the north side of the Dan River, an inconspicuous farm road turns south off the River Road. The half-mile driver, once lined with stately ailanthus trees, now all but gone, ends at a mossy stone wall enclosing a shady park of some thirty acres, in the center of which, riding the crest of a low hill, stands "Berry Hill", the majestic home of the Bruces.

The completeness of the plantation composition is remarkable. It is even more remarkable that a house of such grandeur should so long have remained almost totally unknown outside the Halifax County area. The reason for this seems to be its remoteness from the other great mansions of the Commonwealth.

In antebellum days the Berry Hill plantation comprised over five thousand acres, and included most of present-day South Boston. (A portion of Main Street and Wilborn Avenue once was a Berry Hill farm road!). Its various tracts were acquired partly by James Bruce of Woodbourne, one of the wealthiest men of his day, and partly by James Cole Bruce, his son by his first wife, Sarah 'Sally' Coles, daughter of Walter Coles, Esq., of Mildendo.

Their marriage ceremony took place