Chiswell Dabney Langhorne, familiarly known as "Chillie" (pronounced Shillie), was born in Lynchburg, VA, where his father John Scaisbrook Langhorne was a successful businessman.

At the beginning of the Civil War, the elder Langhorne formed his own cavalry unit, but his son chose the infantry. In 1863 when the arsenal opened in Danville, Chillie was assigned there. In 1864 he married Nannie Witcher Keen of nearby Cottage Hill in Pittsylvania County, and the young couple remained in Danville for a number of years.

At the end of the war, faced with poverty and what would soon be a growing family, the hard-working, personable Chillie willingly accepted any available job. One of those jobs led to local acclaim and a place in history. As an auctioneer, Chillie came up with the idea of chanting the auctioneer's call, which revolutionized the way tobacco was sold.

In 1874 after nearly ten years of hard work and perseverance, Chillie was able to build this house for his family. A few years later he moved the family to Richmond, hoping for more opportunities. It took a while for something substantial to come along, but eventually he landed a job as a railroad contractor.  He bought a house in Richmond and an estate, Mirador, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Free of financial worries, Chillie could now enjoy life as both a prominent city dweller and a country gentleman, and he could offer his family a life of luxury.

C. D. Langhorne died in 1919, before his daughter Nancy was elected to Parliament. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.