Newport News was a small community located in Warwick County until late in the 19th century. Established as a town in 1880, it was incorporated as a city in 1896. Warwick County, one of the eight original Virginia shires formed by 1634, became extinct in 1952 when it was designated the city of Warwick. It merged with Newport News in 1954.
Matthew Jones, an early settler of Mulberry Island, owned this tract by the mid-seventeenth century. He also operated a mill at the head of Poquoson River in York County. His grandson Matthew Jones II (1690-1728), of Isle of Wight County, inherited the land and built this house about 1725. A cousin lived here until Jones's sone Scervant Jones inherited the estate, including livestock and slaves. Scervant Jones, who died in 1773, served as a county magistrate and tobacco inspector. His son, Allen Jones, was a Yorktown merchant and lived here during the American Revolution until his death in 1787. Bourbon then passed through several owners; Colonel Thomas Tabb acquired it in 1887 from Henry Francis. Tabb sold it in 1893 to William R. Webb, who remodeled the house. In 1917, when Camp Eustis was established, the U.S. Army used Bourbon as a weather station and for officers' housing.
Bourbon is the only known surviving earthfast structure in Virginia. Its design reflects the transition from the early colonial manor house toward the gentrified Georgian plantation mansion. The original dwelling had exposed decorative framing with clustered chimneys on each end. The supporting timbers, set in the ground (hence earthfast), rotted in the humid climate. Bricks were fired on Mulberry Island for the decorative Flemish bond brickwork laid above the water table and English bond below. Bourbon's hall-parlor floor plan — one room served as a bedchamber and the other as a kitchen — was typical of the period. By 1730, the house had been transformed into a T-shaped dwelling with a one-story gable-roof, a central two-story enclosed porch, and a lean-to addition on the rear. The house also contained a new arched front door and a projecting tower entrance. Inside, the space was also altered. The hall became a parlor for entertaining, while the service activities of the slaves were moved from the hall to outbuildings including a separate kitchen. Bourbon stood unchanged until Webb's 1893 remodeling raised the main section to two stories. A restoration in 1994 repaired decades of neglect.