Gloucester: Land of River and Streams
The waterways of Gloucester County have been witness to the lives of the Powhatan Indians and Capt. John Smith, to Revolutionary battles, to visits by Thomas Jefferson, to historic mansions and watermen’s cottages, to the cultivation and proliferation of the daffodil and to the contemplation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Our tour this year offers an overview of that history. This tour is sponsored by The Garden Club of Gloucester on Saturday, May 3, 2014 from 10 a.m to 5 p.m.
Holly Knoll, at 6498 Allmondsville Road, is a Georgian mansion commanding a sweeping view of the York River at Cappahosic. The house was built for Robert Russa Moton when he retired to Gloucester County in 1935.
Moton, a son of slaves, worked and sent himself to Hampton Institute. While there, Booker T. Washington, the preeminent black educator of the time, became a mentor and friend. Dr. Moton became the second president of Tuskegee Normal School when Washington died in 1915.
Under his leadership Tuskegee came of age. He enlarged the endowment from 2.2 million to 7.7 million. This growth allowed Moton to make enormous improvements in Tuskegee’s academic offerings: in the mid-1920s the first college level courses were inaugurated, and not long after, the Institute bestowed its first Bachelor of Science degrees in Education
After his retirement, Moton’s invitation “come to Cappahosic!” was heard by many black educators and civil rights activists. Plans were hatched for the United Negro College Fund, and it is said that part of Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I have a Dream” speech was written under the live oak tree. Holly Knoll was listed by USA Today as one of the top 50 places to visit in the history of the Civil Rights Movement.
In 2005, Kay Coles James, a distinguished veteran of state and federal government service, had a vision for use of the site for a “Gloucester Institute,” a place for training young, highly accomplished minority college students in the skills needed for leadership, through conferences, seminars, and lectures. The collective wisdom and beautiful site inspires all visitors to Holly Knoll. Owner: The Gloucester Institute
White Hall, at 5631 White Hall Road, has undergone many changes over its 300-year history. The current owners have overseen additions, restorations, and the latest amenity, a barn devoted to hospitality. The barn has been the site of an impressive list of charity events benefitting, to name only a few, the King’s Daughters, the Virginia Symphony, the Virginia Living Museum, and the American Revolution Museum coming to Yorktown.
The original land grant given to Sir Francis Willis dates to 1690. The earliest part of the house, the English basement, houses Charles Banks’ wine cellar, guest rooms and a billiard room. An exposed wall to the basement shows the Flemish bond brick foundation, as well as the original hand-hewn timbers.
A fire in 1814 destroyed the original west wing. An architecturally balanced east wing was added in 1992, and the west wing rebuilt. Great care and attention were given to ensure that the new wings were made with bricks that match the original handmade ones, and that windows and doors replicate the old ones, as well as moldings, wood trim and even door locks.
The drive to the house is lined with old cedar trees and the grounds boast ancient magnolias, boxwood and some of the oldest crape myrtles in Virginia. The river porch overlooks an expansive lawn due east to the Ware River and beyond to Mobjack Bay. White Hall is a registered Virginia Landmark and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Owners: Mr. and Mrs. Charles Banks
Shadow Hill, at 7236 Joseph Lewis Road, has one of the best vistas of the York River from the Gloucester County side, which is viewed over the bluestone deck of the pool. Over the bluff and the boathouse, there is an osprey nesting platform and views of the uninhabited Mumfort Islands. The garden includes a white- columned pergola, manicured borders and a live oak on the river side. On the entry side there is a circular drive and a shaded walkway to the back. The white brick cottage style home was originally built in 1929. The current owners have renovated it thoroughly since they bought it as a vacation cottage in 1992. The last transformation included a new stairway, opening up the attic to create a bedroom and large sitting area that overlooks the river, and a new master bedroom. The home is furnished with contemporary furnishings in shades of pink and blue and features a collection of nautical maps on the walls. Owners: Dr. and Mrs. Tom Jamison.
King William County: Fox Trails in Western King William County
The Garden Club of the Middle Peninsula proudly presents the public tour “Fox Trails in Western King William County” on Friday, May 2, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm as part of Historic Garden Week in Virginia. Five properties—three of which are associated with the Fox family, early settlers of the county—will be open to the public for this special event. The tour celebrates the floral design talents of local garden club members and the antebellum and agricultural history of King William County. Only 15 minutes off I-95 between Richmond and Fredericksburg and 15 minutes from Route 360 the tour is easily accessible from all directions and convenient for bus tours.
Roseville Plantation, 3736 Herring Creek Rd. Aylett, VA, 23099
Built in 1807 by John Fox, Roseville Plantation and its original five out-buildings gives visitors a glimpse of early agricultural life in Virginia. The 100-year old red cedars lining the drive lead to the white frame home while apple, cherry and pear trees punctuate the yard and gardens. Surrounding the house are the horse barn, summer kitchen, granary, chicken houses, smokehouse, privy, and school house. The owners have restored many of the out-buildings and furnished them in a manner representative of their original use. Open for the first time by owners Bob and Nancy Hubbard.
Retreat, 4783 Herring Creek Road, Aylett, VA 23009
Built in 1808 by James Fox, Retreat is a two-story brick home that has grown into a gracious living space with its later additions. Fine English, French, Chinese, and American antiques abound throughout the elegantly appointed rooms and the walls are enhanced with original watercolors and oil paintings. The owners have an extensive collection of American sporting and Native American art. Old wicker furniture on the back veranda brings back memories of a gentler time. Open for the first time by owners Bill and Suzanne Thomas.
Belle Forest, 976 Nelsons Bridge Rd., Hanover, VA 23069
Sitting on 350 acres, Belle Forest was built in 2004 and welcomes visitors with its gracefully appointed rooms. Home of “Engel Family Farms,” this modern working farm is part of an extensive production agriculture business. Showing their love for their business, the Engel family has a collection of precision level Ertel farm equipment toy models and tractors from the 1940s and 50s once owned by the owner’s grandfather that will all be on display. Open for the first time by owners Kevin and Denise Engel.
Whar Dat Farm, 434 Sandy Fields Rd., Aylett, VA 23009
The magic begins with the first glimpse of the Jacobean chimneys peeking over the woods. Around the bend the modern Tudor manor home built in 2000 comes as an unanticipated pleasant surprise. But the surprises continue with seven Gillette inspired garden rooms complete with sculpture, fountain, and masses of flowering perennials. The interior of the home is just as charming as the exterior. Rooms are filled with antique pieces and original works of art and unexpected bits of whimsy bring smiles. Open for Historic Garden Week by Lewis and Poohdie Miller.
Hebron Baptist Church, 10171 King William Road, Aylett, VA 23009
Built in 1854, this Greek Revival church, which counts the Fox family as early members, was witness to the Civil War. Stragglers from General Grant’s Army, who moved from the North Anna River through this area toward Cold Harbor in the summer of 1864, fired a shot through the east front door woodwork leaving a permanent scar while another shot hit the pulpit. An inscription from a Union soldier was also written in the church Bible, which now rests on the communion table. During the May 2 tour, refreshments will be served at the church between 2:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Hebron Baptist’s Civil War history will also be told through period costumes and floral arrangements by an award-winning floral designer to interpret either the dress or the occasion for wearing it. A collection of Civil War artifacts and memorabilia will also be on display.
Richmond County: Everything Old is New Again
Visitors to homes in Richmond County on Wednesday, April 30, during Historic Garden Week, will enjoy a mix of historic, waterfront, and restored houses. Four of the six homes open for the 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tour are occupied by the newest generations of the homes’ original owners, giving a fresh look to these majestic estates. Another home, Sugar Hill, was recently created by combining two old houses scheduled for demolition. The owners of Sunset, a new home, have continued a family tradition of building handmade kayaks and racing canoes. This tour is hosted by the Garden Club of the Northern Neck and the Garden Club of Virginia.
Sabine Hall, 1692/1694 Sabine Hall Road
Sabine Hall was built c. 1738 by Landon Carter, the fourth son of Robert “King” Carter of Corotoman. Originally a classic Georgian brick structure, Sabine Hall reflects alterations by both the builder and later generations. Inside the front door, the great hall is filled with family portraits, including one of King Carter. Sabine Hall sits on a ridge above the Rappahannock River, with six terraces sloping toward the water. The garden retains its original 18th century design. The house has always been owned and occupied by direct descendants of Landon Carter and is both a Virginia and a National Historic Landmark. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Carter Wellford IV and Mr. and Mrs. Peter Drayton O’Hara, owners. Carter Wellford and Mercer O’Hara are brother and sister.
Mount Airy, 361 Mill Pond Road
Acclaimed as one of the most beautiful Palladian houses in Virginia, Mount Airy was begun by John Tayloe II in 1761, and the house, completed in four years, consists of a main two-story building connected to symmetrical dependencies on either side by curved passageways. A recessed loggia with four Doric columns leads to the front door, which is flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows. Inside the home a large collection of family portraits detail the history of the Tayloes, the tenth generation of which recently took up residence with their young family. Each room offers a garden view, with age-old English boxwood as the background for daffodils, heirloom roses and a profusion of iris. Several outbuildings and one wall of the orangery remain, as does the distinctive 18th century stone stable which housed many Thoroughbreds in colonial days. Refreshments will be served at the stable. Mount Airy is both a Virginia and a National Historic Landmark. Mr. and Mrs. J. Tayloe Emery, owners.
Sugar Hill Farm, 7066 Newland Road
A prime example of historic preservation, Sugar Hill Farm is a marriage of two Federal style houses, Forest Grove c. 1820 from Essex County and a planter’s house c. 1772 from Campbell County. Both houses were in disrepair and scheduled for demolition. The structures were cataloged, dismantled, cleaned and transported to the Northern Neck for reconstruction. The houses were painstakingly reconstructed with an eye to period detail into one residence, combining all the charm and integrity of old with the modern amenities of today. Of particular interest are the grain painted wainscoting, the marbleized mantle, matchstick moldings and hand carved fluted columns. A colonial designed raised bed vegetable garden was built in 2013. Mr. and Mrs. M. David Bostic, owners.
Grove Mount, 755 Grove Mount Road
Grove Mount, a fine example of a Georgian plantation home, was built c. 1785 by Robert Mitchell and his wife Priscilla Carter. Priscilla was the oldest daughter of Robert “Councilor” Carter of Nomini Hall. Grove Mount is constructed of frame and brick nogging with a full cellar and foundations laid in English bond. To the west of the house stands the original dairy. Inside and out, Grove Mount remains basically unchanged since it was built. With few exceptions, the interior woodwork is original. Sited on a high ridge, Grove Mount offers spectacular views southward to the Rappahannock River. Terraces, gardens, a lily pond, and mature plantings create a lovely setting. Grove Mount is a Virginia Historic Landmark. A new generation has recently taken residence. Mr. and Mrs. M. Kirwan King II, owners.
Sunset, 211 Headley Road
Completed in 2011, this new home boasts Arts and Crafts and Victorian touches. Whale tail gables are modeled after a local home built in 1910. Featuring panoramic vistas of the Rappahannock River, the home has a water view from each room. Continuing a century old family tradition, the owners create handmade kayaks and have an extensive collection of kayaks and racing canoes. A collection of related artifacts and pictures is on display in the studio, including an array of photographs tracing the history of the family’s long involvement in kayak building. Mr. and Mrs. Jon Dockins, owners.
Suggetts Point Farm, 2296 Suggetts Point Road
Suggetts Point Farm is a classic river house, built in 1900-1902 and remodeled in 2010. Located on a point, with tides that cause oysters to mature quickly, the site is a “good oyster ground.” The owners’ grandparents, Charlie and Seawilla Lewis, purchased the house and the surrounding 200 acres because of the almost one-mile of waterfront and the “Point,” where the shoreline curves back in a 90 degree turn. Charlie Lewis harvested oysters for over 40 years from the Point, and the family continues this tradition today. In the same family since the 1940s, the current owners bring a new generation to the stewardship of this family farm. The summer kitchen, a separate building with tongue and groove walls and ceilings, has been used for storage for the last 50 years. Prior to that, the owner’s uncle used the building to work on his novels. Originally surrounded by cornfields, the owners’ grandparents planted the English boxwood along the sides of the road down to the river. Mr. and Mrs. Colin Wilkinson, owners.