The Essex County Countryside Alliance is proud to present a Harvest Home Tour on Saturday, November 8th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The houses that will be opened are Wheatland, Elmwood, and Kinloch, all in Essex County, and Rose Hill located in Caroline County. Vauters Church will also be open, and box lunches will be available in the parish hall.
Elmwood, the oldest of the four houses, was built in the late eighteenth century in a mixture of Georgian and Federal styles. It is one hundred feet long, over thirty feet wide, but only one room deep. It is built of brick laid in Flemish bond. The front facade has a center gable with a Palladian window over the door. The beautiful interior decorations, perhaps the finest in the county, are in a classic style with Ionic pilasters, large overmantels, and archways.
Stories differ as to whether it was built by Muscoe Garnett for himself or for his son, James Mercer Garnett, but the land was bequeathed to James in Muscoe’s 1803 will. At James Mercer Garnett’s death in 1843, the house passed to his grandson, Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett, who served in both the U.S. and Confederate governments. After the Civil War, it sat empty for decades, saved from damage by tales of a prowling ghost. It was reopened and restored by M.R.H. Garnett’s grandson and namesake in the 1940s. The farm is still owned by the Garnetts, and in the cemetery behind the house are buried six generations of the family.
John Saunders bought the store at Loretto in 1832 and built the business into the most successful store between Tappahannock and Port Royal. He added a tract of land called Hawkins in 1846 and built a new Greek Revival house, which he named Wheatland. It is frame, two stories over an English basement, with two story porches on both the riverfront and the back. This house has interior chimneys, with six fireplaces per chimney, and marble mantels on the first floor. Wheatland was almost lost to foreclosure after the War Between the States because of Saunder’s debts to Baltimore merchants, but bought by a member of the family and has stayed in the family through various branches.
Saunders’ wharf is the only steamboat wharf left in Essex, because it was built into the shore with no dock. It was the most important part of what made John Saunders so successful as a merchant. The wharf gave him free access to shipping to and from Norfolk and Baltimore, both for his own schooners and the steamboats.
The original Kinloch was built by Richard Baylor in the late 1840s. Consulting with Baltimore architect Robert Cary Long, his new house would be the largest and most expensive antebellum house in the county. Built in Greek Revival style, it was a sixty by sixty foot cube, three stories over an English basement, with twenty one rooms. It had two interior chimneys, with eight fireplaces per chimney, and marble mantels on the two main floors. In 1927, the Baylor family sold the property, 2936 acres with the house, to Langbourne M. Williams, whose widow sold it to Lee D. Butler in 1941. Unfortunately for history, Kinloch burned in 1947. When faced with the astronomical cost of rebuilding the mansion, the Butlers decided instead to take the old kitchen and build around it.
The new house, designed by Washington architect Charles Morton Goodman, was built in a Modern Contemporary style, very different for
this area. The old cooking fireplace was made the centerpiece of the two story section of the house; the new house added around it is one story. Ribbon windows in the main room give sweeping views of the lawn, which still contains
the old sundial. The Butlers sold the property in 1995, and the house has
been used as a lodge and event location.
Rose Hill is in Caroline County and was formerly known as Gay Mont. It was built by John Miller ca. 1725 on a hill just north of Port Royal. Originally, it was a plain two story frame house with brick end chimneys, but the next owner, John Hipkins added wings, joining them with a portico across the front. Hipkins’ grandson, John Hipkins Bernard, inherited the property, and when he married Gay Taliaferro, he renamed the home Gay Mont to honor her. They added an octagonal music room to the rear of the house in the 1830s. The house burned in June 1959, and when Frances Bernard Upton Patton, great-granddaughter of John Hipkins Bernard, and her husband James S. Patton bought the property, they rebuilt the house on the same footprint. At Patton’s death, the property was left to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities who sold it to John Cay, who has taken back the original name of Rose Hill.
Vauters, originally spelled Vawter’s, is the only remaining Anglican-built church in Essex. It was originally thought to have been built in 1719, with an addition in 1731. Recent architectural evidence seems to say that the entire church was built ca. 1731, under the tenure of the Rev. Robert Rose. The church is built in a T style with three gables. The brick is laid in Flemish bond (alternating headers and stretchers) with a high water table. The south entrance has a triangle pediment; the west entrance has a rounded pediment with pilasters. The original box seats are there, but their height was cut down in the nineteenth century. The three story pulpit was cut down to one story.
The church closed after the Revolution, but unlike the two Anglican churches of South Farnham Parish, it was not destroyed for its brick. Mrs. Muscoe Garnett claimed the church as being on her property and saved it. It was reopened under the new Diocese of Virginia as a Protestant Episcopal Church in the 1820s. The church was under the Rev. John P. McGuire with new services beginning in 1822.
Tickets the day of the tour will be
$35 for all five buildings and can be bought at Vauter’s Church. They are $30.00 if pre-ordered, and $20.00 for a single house. Lunches are available for $10.00 with your choice of either a turkey croissant or ham biscuits. The lunch comes with a small salad, pound cake and drink. Pre-order lunches with Mary Guess at 804-769-7118. Lunches can be picked up at Vauter’s Church. If you have any questions, please call 804-443-3528 or 804-443-2454.