Rose Hill was originally built by Martin Nalle (1777-1843) in the first decades of the 19th century.  The exact dates are unclear, but the construction techniques including the hand split sub-plaster lathwork suggest that it was before the 1820s.

Oral histories from the family recollect that the “Old Hall” was the first structure to be erected around 1810.  The Nalle family lived in this one story, one room, frame building while the main house was constructed over a period of about 7 years.

The mansion house is a 2 ½ frame structure with a back wing and dormer windows and has two large chimneys on either end.  It has a full basement with subterranean masonry walls of local stone and brick believed to have been fired on site and composed of local red clay quarried somewhere on adjacent property.

Martin and Eleanor Nalle had twelve children.  Martin was both a plantation owner and business man who also owned Nalle’s Grist Mill on nearby Mountain Run.  Eleanor died in 1826 and was the first to be buried in the Nalle cemetery located to the north of the main house.  Martin died in 1843.  The “Nalle cemetery” contains at least 16 graves and was actively used by the Nalle family up until the late 1930s.  In 1853, Phillip Pendleton Nalle (1816-1907) also buried at Rose Hill sold the property to his business partner Alfred Lomax Ashby before moving to Greenville Mansion, which he built several miles south of Rose Hill.

Mary Jane Ashby (1842-1904) was the daughter of Alfred Lomax Ashby and Marry Ellen Jones.  In November 1868 Mary Jane married Thomas Rosser Covington (1845-1912).  He was a veteran of the 9th Virginia Calvary and was born at Dragon Hill plantation in Essex county Virginia.  Mary Jane and Thomas Rosser had five children, Mary Eleanor Covington (Mamie), Walter Gregory Covington, Alfred Lomax Ashby Covington, John Austin Covington, and Irene Covington (see family lineage).  John Austin Covington (1881-1956) had three children, Alfred Broaddus Covington (1910-1993), Carl Ashby Covington (1914-2000), and Mamie Eleanor Covington Wells (1924-1997).

Not much is known about the events at Rose Hill between 1853 and the Civil War, but it is known that slave labor based plantation activities continued and no discernable architectural changed occurred.  In addition to tobacco and wheat, the property was used to raise horses making it a useful site for later occupation by the Union Calvary forces of General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick’s Third Division in 1863-1864.

Brick fragments artifacts and oral memories suggest that the slave quarters were located somewhere to the southwest of the main house below the current barn.  Oral recollections also suggest that several of the former slaves remained to live on Rose Hill after the War and they are buried on the property in unmarked sites.