Saturday, July 22, 2017  

The Chronicles of Urbanna
The Lamp Posts, the Winter, and Walesa Point  

At Walesa Point this December, you may have felt like Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy did, having free reign at the Professor’s enchanting house in the English countryside. You could touch the faux-fur blankets, the quilted drapes, the lovely towels, and the new leather chairs. You could sink into a sumptuously over-stuffed chair, be dazzled by delicate, fine silverware, admire the perfect wall paper, or feast your eyes on a whole room of antique furniture. Walesa Point was transformed into a winter wonderland for the holidays for the Historic Urbanna Holiday Homes Tour. Yet, just like the adventures in The Lion, the Witch, and  the Wardrobe, the show at Walesa Point, and the Tour itself, all began with some lamp posts.

Once upon a time in Urbanna, the residents decided to light up Main Street with new lamp posts. According to Mayor Beatrice Taylor, this would be the first in a long and successful line of beautification projects. Ms. Taylor, the first female mayor in Urbanna’s 400 year history, served on the Town Council at that time. The Council, along with the Beautification Committee, raised money mostly through grants to buy lamp posts for Main Street. Being successful with their first project, they decided to amplify their vision. Ten years later finds Main Street remade, as well as the marina.

The Old Tobacco House, now restored, serves as the Visitor Center. The current project is to complete work on Virginia Street down the hill leading to the marina, including items such as new drainage systems, sidewalks and, of course, lamp posts. The final part of the project will be to update Cross Street.

Are Urbanna’s trees magical like those in Narnia? Does money grow on them every year to use towards Urbanna’s makeover? Mayor Taylor says that, in fact, they have used ordinary means, guided by extraordinary people, who “get done what they say they’ll do.” The Historic Urbanna Holiday Homes Tour is part of those means. The Tour, in about its 10th year, raises money for beautification projects in Urbanna. Each year, several homes and historic sites around Urbanna are chosen for the adventurous Tour.

Walesa Point was opened to the public for the first time this year. Walesa Point, situated on the James Ross Plantation, was built in the 1930s by Walter L. and Lottie Crass Sams. Walesa Point was chosen as the designer showcase home, and it was full of Christmas candy—for the eyes, that is. Local designers gave rooms a very merry facelift for the visual pleasure of all who were lucky enough to complete the Tour.

On the slightly bumpy ride on its unpaved driveway, Walesa Point’s first stop appeared—The Pool House. The structure sports an indoor pool (of course) which was enclosed in the early 90s. The Garden Club updated this room with richly upholstered furniture and gorgeous greens. The slight Art Deco feel made you expect Lex Luthor to emerge at any moment with a sniffer of cognac. Or even better—maybe Superman would rise from the pool wrestling with kryptonite. With stores in Saluda and Urbanna, The Garden Club provides garden and home accessories (no kryptonite, however) at fabulous prices.

Entering the historic house, the foyer offered a grand entrance with riveting wallpaper, a perfect match with the dark paneling and heart pine floors. Nancy Myers from Interior Innovations in White Stone created this striking space. Gazing up the open stairway, Ms. Myer’s work garnished the hallway and an upstairs bedroom and bathroom. The cheery fabrics and furniture were very welcoming against the backdrop of the barrenness winter brings to Walesa’s outdoors.

A second and third bedroom were opened for viewing upstairs. One was designed by Lewis Trimble of Kilmarnock. Mr. Trimble has returned to the Northern Neck after working in New York City for a top art dealer. The juxtaposition of Mr. Trimble’s extensive art and design experience and his exposure to antiques through his family’s business was clear in the bedroom he designed. The furniture and art spanned six different decades (1930s-1990s) and a myriad of countries, including a daybed by Maison Jansen, who designed for JFK. The largest bedroom was filled with various treasures by Rolling Road Antiques of Urbanna. While a bed was nowhere in sight, who needs it when you could be entertained by an antique checkers set? Other fascinating articles included a charmingly kitch stuffed Coca-Cola® sign and a lamp full of appropriate Christmas balls.

Following the mistletoe back down the stairs and through the foyer led to another elaborately transformed bedroom, the Master Bedroom. Steve Hedrick from Hedrick Gathright Designs in Richmond hand-selected antiques from the West End Antiques Mall, said Matt Earle, the manager of West End Antiques Mall. The theme for the room was the Eccentric Uncle, a world traveler and writer. Pieces from all over the world and different centuries graced the room, which waited for the Uncle to return from his latest global extravaganza and sit in his royal-looking chair, tapping away the adventure on an ancient typewriter. Could the Eccentric Uncle be C.S. Lewis?

Adjacent to the foyer, a small but powerful room lay: the Gun Room. Chris Trimble, the older brother of Lewis Trimble, amped up the force of this room with eye-catching antiques. Chris Trimble’s Handcrafted Furniture located in White Stone focuses on antiques from the 18th and early 19th centuries, artfully chosen as demonstrated by the Gun Room, as well as custom furniture and furniture repair.

Perhaps what was hunted at Walesa Point ended up on the dining room table, situated in the same wing of the house as the Gun Room. The spacious Dining Room, which hosts a bay window and a view of Robinson’s Creek, was lavished by Tammy Delk Van Clief of Snug Harbor Interiors. Her chosen theme was Dr. Zhivago, a fine choice for the coming winter weather at Walesa Point. Sparkling dishes and wares were contrasted against plush, warm fabrics that perhaps would inspire the Eccentric Uncle to hop on a train to Siberia.

The Dining Room’s life at Walesa Point has been supported by the stylish kitchen and butler’s pantry, adjacent to the dining room. The black and white kitchen was spiced up in Christmas colors, decorated by Make Thyme of Urbanna. The reds and greens enhanced the already fabulous white enamel six burner stove. The butler’s pantry and roomy kitchen porch were designed by Cyndy’s Bynn of Course, also located in local Urbanna. Specializing in elegant gifts, flowers and fashions, Cyndy’s Bynn brought festive boxwoods and accents to these much-used spaces. Off of the kitchen lay an expansive wrap-around porch, embellished by Annie Rooney, which provides a grand spot to curl up in an antique chair and read. Annie Rooney’s is an antiques and collectible store in Mathews County, specializing in English and Hungarian antiques.

The most spacious room on the first floor is the Great Room, with cathedral ceilings, exposed beams and a classic stone fireplace. Chesapeake and Crescent Home of Kilmarnock adorned the room with elegant and cozy décor, leaving the room ready for a visit from Santa Claus, and a crowd of people, coffee, and gifts on Christmas morning. Or the perfect place for Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy to sit down for high tea in the winter.

Crossing the yard from the main house, the Guest House was also bequeathed some holiday, and artistic, cheer. The Guest House, with two rooms and a substantial porch, was designed by Brad Stephens. The Brad Stephens Collection focuses on “found” pieces, from a metal guitar made by an inmate at Folsom Prison to a 19th century French barber’s chair. Brad Stephens especially enjoyed the small porcelain sink on the wall of the Guest House, which flowed with his vibe of vintage industrial objects still bringing use and beauty to our daily life.

Overall, participants of the Historic Homes Tour were truly gifted with a rich spectacle of art and design at Walesa Point this year. Its first opening was a magical one. Who knows what the lamp posts in Urbanna could inspire next?