Visitors will enjoy a special part of springtime in the Middle Peninsula of Virginia as they drive along the highways of King William County where open fields bordered by forests adjoin well-kept farms and homes. Dogwood trees add their white blush to the green hues of spring trees in the forest and along the road sides. The bright colors of azaleas and tulips compliment early blooming shrubs. Three homes are located on the Pamunkey and two on the Mattaponi.
Windsor Shades—On the Pamunkey River, Windsor Shades, 1685 Sweet Hall Road, c.1745, was a tavern/inn where Marquis Lafayette and George Washington were guests. In 1753, a ferry ran from this site on the Pamunkey to New Kent until 1927. The house retains much of the original 18th century woodwork and is furnished with 18th and 19th century antiques. Its English basement features one of the largest fireplaces in Virginia.
Two wings have been added under the guidance of an architect associated with restoration projects in Williamsburg. Visitors will enjoy a boxwood maze that stands on one side of the house where magnolia, pecan and crape myrtle trees shade it. Open for the first time, its grounds and 80-year-old outbuildings are surrounded by formal and informal gardens. The owners are Mr. and Mrs. Carl R. Fisher.
Lester Manor Village—102 Lester Manor Lane, established in the early 1700s, is also on the Pamunkey. During the steamboat era, a large fish factory was located there and fish were shipped throughout the Northeast. In 1859, a rail line was built making it a main transportation artery for the area. A small village consisting of a hotel, tavern, country store and post office developed on the site. There was a club for prominent families throughout the Northeast who were associated with waterfowl hunting. Although the original village is gone, there is currently a depot station with a 1918 steam locomotive and three rail cars sitting on old railroad lines. Opposite the Lester Manor Store there is a carriage house with carriage, a stagecoach building, blacksmith shop, a log outpost, totem pole and two teepee representing the Pamunkey Native Americans. Open for the first time, the owners are Mr. and Mrs. Carroll Lee Walker.
Chericoke—959 Chericoke Road, has been owned by the Braxton family since 1757. Carter Braxton built the first manor house in 1760. He was one of the Virginia signers of the Declaration of Independence. The manor house burned in 1776. Carter Braxton is buried on the property. His grandson constructed the present Federal-style brick home in 1828. It was restored in 1987 by Mr. and Mrs. John T Siegel, Jr. and is furnished with a collection of American and English antiques.
Several original outbuildings have been preserved. One of two guest houses was a tenant house for slaves. There is a dairy barn and a smokehouse. Lovely herb, vegetable and flower gardens are part of the grounds design. Mrs. Alice Horsley Siegel is owner and direct descendant of Carter Braxton.
High Bank—The Mattaponi River is the site of High Bank, 310 Old Fraziers Trail, a contemporary home, built in 2005. The Low Country front and back porches offer scenic views of the river and the Mattaponi Indian Reservation. Inside, the space is designed to make living and entertaining a delight. It affords space for an eclectic collection of old and new furniture. There are family pieces from the Shenandoah Valley, Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia placed beside English antiques. Original oils and watercolors by Virginia artists, along with a collection of Portuguese painted porcelains are displayed through out the interior. Open for the first time, the owners are Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Smith, Jr.
Wakema—Wakema, 2301 Wakema Road, dating from 1663, has been the site for commerce and trade on the Mattaponi River. In 1764, William Frazier ran a ferry to King and Queen and operated an ordinary. He built a warehouse for inspecting tobacco and a shipbuilding facility which furnished sailing ships for the Virginia Navy during the Revolutionary War. It was a steamboat stop during the late 1800s and early 1900s when warehouses and a pickle factory were situated there. There has been a succession of owners. The present house was built in the l860s. In 1886, William Bray established a post office called Wakema on the property. Today fenced grazing pastures and barns are home to rescued dogs, goats sheep and chickens. Open for the first time, the owners are Mr. and Mrs. Miles Baker.
Other Places of Interest—Other places of interest are the King William County Historic Courthouse and Museum. The courthouse is the oldest courthouse of English foundation in continuous use in the United States. The museum is considered one of the best small museums in Virginia.
Old St. John’s Church was completed in 1734 and was the parish for the new King William County formed from King and Queen County. Beautifully restored today by citizens of the county, it features its original stone floors and clear glass Gothic windows. The Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian Reservations are the homes of two of eight Virginia tribes. The Mattaponi Reservation has a museum and the Riverside Pottery. The Pamunkey Reservation also has a museum, as well as the recently restored Old School House, the Pottery School, and The Fish Hatchery. The Town of West Point was the site of an Indian village named Cinqueteck.
It was destroyed during the Civil War. Only four homes survive from that time. It was incorporated in 1870 and is now a thriving commercial port and resort destination. Christ Church, Middlesex, 1714, is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is in neighboring Saluda and is the site of a brick wall that was donated by the Garden Club of Virginia in 1942 with proceeds from Historic Garden Week.
Advance tickets by mail, until April 15, may be purchased for $25 from Elizabeth “Randy” Brown, P.O. Box 2764, Tappahannock, VA 22560. Please send a self-addressed, legal size stamped envelope with check made payable to Garden Club of Middle Peninsula. No refunds. Telephone 804-443-2033.
Full ticket, day of tour, $30. Single-site admission $12 at any location.
Box lunches available for $12.50 on prepaid basis until April 9. Make checks payable to Faith Bears of Colosse, Attention: Gaynelle Smith, 2394 King William Road, West Point, VA 23181. Lunch served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Colosse Baptist Church on Rte 30, 5.1 miles east of King William Courthouse.
Refreshments: Picnic area and refreshments at King William Courthouse from 2 to 4 p.m. Tables, facilities and parking available all day. Directions: All houses are located off Route 30. Maps will be available at all locations. Houses may be visited in any order.
The Garden Club of the Northern Neck invites you to Architectural Diversity Along the Rappahannock on Wednesday, April 21, 2010, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Celebrating the 77th Historic Garden Week in Virginia, this exceptional tour will take you along the Rappahannock River and its tributaries, visiting outstanding homes of architectural significance. Richmond County’s history is represented by the colonial plantation homes near the town of Warsaw as well as the historic houses in and around the village of Sharps. Five of the properties are on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
The tour is set in Richmond County, located on the historic Northern Neck with the scenic Rappahannock River providing its southern boundary. Richmond County has a rich history, dating back to 1608 when Captain John Smith, as a prisoner of Chief Powhatan, visited the county. In 1641, an English settlement was legally permitted. Formed in 1692 during the beginning of Virginia’s “Golden Age,” Richmond County’s growth and prosperity mirrored that of the state. During this time of peace, growth and affluence, the children of successful farmers or merchants began to inherit and acquire vast landholdings of their own. Thus began an era of construction of elegant homes along the Rappahannock and its tributaries.
Sabine Hall, one of the finest Georgian mansions in the colonies, was built circa 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. In the late1700s a south wing and Roman-style portico were added. In the 1820s Robert Wormley Carter II added a large portico on the landside and a classical pediment on the riverside. The north wing was added in 1929, when the home became a two family dwelling. Just inside the front door, the great hall is bright and hung with family portraits, including one of King Carter. Sabine Hall sits on the ridge of the Rappahannock River, with six terraces sloping towards the water. Featuring paths, parterres and English boxwood, the garden retains its original 18th century design. Sabine Hall has always been owned and occupied by direct descendants of Landon Carter and is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. It is currently owned by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Carter Wellford IV and Mr. and Mrs. Peter Drayton O’Hara.
Mount Airy is acclaimed as one of the most beautiful Palladian houses in Virginia. John Tayloe II began construction in 1753 on land the Tayloe family had acquired in 1682. The entire architectural plan, completed in ten years, included a main two-story house connected to symmetrical dependencies on either side by curved passageways, a formal forecourt facing a deer park, and terraced gardens. Although cautioned about using soft, local sandstone, Tayloe did just that, choosing to build Mount Airy of local brown sandstone, three feet thick and quarried on the farm. The house is trimmed with contrasting buff sandstone, quarried from Aquia Creek near Fredericksburg. A recessed loggia with four Doric columns leads to the front door which is flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows. Interior furnishings include particularly fine dining room furniture and an unusually large collection of family portraits. Refreshments will be served at the 18th century stone stable which housed many thoroughbreds in colonial days. Mount Airy remains in the Tayloe family, with eight generations having lived there. Both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark, Mount Airy is owned by Mrs. H. Gwynne Tayloe, Jr.
Menokin, circa 1769, was the Georgian home of Patriot Francis Lightfoot Lee, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his wife, Rebecca Tayloe. Upon their marriage, Rebecca’s father, John Tayloe II of nearby Mount Airy, gave the Lees the Menokin plantation and began construction of the manor house and its dependencies. In 1771, the Lees moved into Menokin and lived there until their deaths. Over the years, Menokin went into decline. On July 4, 1995, T.E. Omohundro gave the mansion, woodwork, and 500 acres to the Menokin Foundation. As Menokin is stabilized and rebuilt, it will be used to train future generations of preservationists, architects and craftsmen. Currently, the site serves to inform the public about building practices in the 18th century. The restored best chimney piece and other samples of the original woodwork, architectural drawings, and photographs are displayed in the Martin Kirwan King Conservation and Visitors Center, also on the property. Menokin, a National Historic Landmark and on the Virginia Landmarks Register, is owned by The Menokin Foundation.
Milden Hall, built by William Peachey in 1803, is a five bay Federal home named for Milden Hall in Suffolk, England, the Peachey family ancestral home. The estate was owned by the Peachey family from 1692-1824. The original house on the estate was built around 1700; this structure burned and was replaced by the present brick house with English basement. In dry weather the outline of the site of the original house can be seen on the property. The house is laid in Flemish bond and hand-hewn chestnut beams are exposed in the English basement. Some original woodwork and mantels remain, and the home has been furnished with simple antiques. There is a fine view of the Rappahannock River through an allee of old pecan trees. The house was restored in the 1930s by the Council family and in the 1960s by the Williamson family from Pittsburgh. Milden Hall is owned by Mrs Townsend Harrison and Mrs. William T. Reed III, and family.
Woodford, built by Billington McCarty, Jr. circa 1756, is an important example of Virginia’s transitional vernacular architecture, combining elements of the simple cottages of colonial times with the more formal Georgian construction. The walls of the older section, laid in Flemish bond with glazed headers, were whitewashed at one time and allowed to weather, leaving a soft mottled texture. The clipped gable roof on the original portion of the house is one of Woodford’s exceptional features. Located on scenic Farnham Creek and landscaped with shade trees, evergreens and magnolias, Woodford’s 46 acres are surrounded by water on three sides, creating a peninsula of fields, woodlands, and marshes. Aged boxwood surround the house, form a “room” off the porch, and line an old brick walk. In the living areas, English and American antiques and reproductions reflect the simple elegance of the exterior. Woodford is included in the Historic American Building Survey, the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. The home is owned by Mr. and Mrs. John K. Boidock.
Indian Banks, circa 1699, is a Georgian mansion with Jacobean influences. Historically the property is the oldest brick structure in Richmond County and one of the oldest in the Commonwealth. Indian Banks was built by a member of the Glasscock family on land that was originally part of a 200 acre grant to Thomas and Jane Glascock in 1652. The house is constructed of dark red brick in Flemish bond. Recently, green glazed accent bricks have been discovered, suggesting a much more vibrant original coloration to the home. The roof is a steep hip; large chimneys rise on either side. The serpentine jack arch located above the river front door is a unique feature and the projected belt course around the entire house is found only in one other home in New England. Timber used throughout the house is of hand-hewn white oak, dovetailed at the joints. Original H L hinges, eighteen pane windows, built-in window seats and 17th century mantles remain. The site is one of the principal villages of the tribe of the Powhatan Confederacy as shown on the 1609 map drawn by Captain John Smith. With the exception of the addition of modern conveniences, the original structure has remained the same over the years. A one story addition with kitchen was added in the 1970s. Indian Banks is on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. The home is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Dean Garretson.
This year marks the Garden Club of Virginia’s 77th Historic Garden Week, April 17-25, 2010. For information regarding tours throughout the state, please go to www.vagardenweek.org. Proceeds from tours across the state go towards the restoration and preservation of historic grounds and gardens. In the Northern Neck, both Christ Church in Lancaster County and Stratford Hall Plantation in Westmoreland County have benefited from this funding.
May 2010 will mark the 10th annual Just Gardens tour to benefit The Haven Shelter & Services, Inc. In the previous nine years, this tour has been a favorite spring event for thousands of garden lovers from across Virginia and beyond. By the end of this year’s tour, the Just Gardens Committee will have donated in excess of $100,000 to The Haven. Wow—what an accomplishment! These funds have gone directly to the construction and maintenance of The Haven’s new shelter facility. This year, on May 14th and 15th rain or shine, six gardens located just north of Kilmarnock will be open for the tour.
The 2010Featured Gardens
“Sunrise Bay,” the home of Sylvia and Robert Sawyer, is reached via a crapemyrtle-lined drive. There are many beds featuring flowering trees and shrubs, peonies, perennials, climbing vines and pots overflowing with blooming summer annuals in an abundance of colors. A wide view down Prentice Creek to the Bay forms the backdrop of this cottage garden. Grasses edge the shoreline and stepping stones meander among the beds on all sides of the house. Several benches are placed in scenic spots so visitors can enjoy the garden and the view.
“Chicacomico,” the home of Janice and Jere Litsinger, has three huge, very old silver maples and a bald cypress tree. A boxwood garden, originally installed in the 1930s, lends a formal touch. An inviting guest house, with its own garden, perched at the water’s edge, will entice visitors to relax and enjoy the views in all directions. In the language of the Powhatan Indians, the word “Chicacomico” means “dwelling on big water.” The Litsingers’ panoramic view looks out on Dividing Creek and beyond to the Chesapeake Bay, and a visitor’s first impression is definitely “big water!”
“Swan Song,” the home of Bill and Betty Wright Armbruster, is a low-maintenance “everyday garden” with very special features. The front is primarily shade with large cedars and pines and a Japanese cherry that highlights one side of the front door. The back is bathed in sunshine with waterfront views. Perennials and pots of flowers enhance the deck and lawn area. Tucked away beyond the herb garden is a whimsical outdoor room just waiting to be explored.
Margaret and Ted Curtis’s garden began as a perennial garden in 2000 and has been transformed into an all-season landscape. Visitors enter through tall pines that are under-planted with hollies, viburnum, callicarpa and Japanese maples. In early spring, this area is blazing with azaleas. Take a moment to relax in the meditation garden before discovering the other garden areas that flow into each other and are tied together with various ornamental grasses.
The garden of Carol and Ron Taylor is located on Dividing Creek with extensive water views out to the Chesapeake Bay. This young garden is a wonderfully eclectic inspiration for bay-friendly gardeners. Daffodils and daylilies are clustered under trees marking the property border, with added color from a collection of containers that edge the deck. The herb and vegetable gardens, with raised beds and sculptural accents, are defined and protected by white fences. This carefully designed and chemical-free garden demonstrates how a waterfront property can be Bay-friendly, manageable and delightful. This property offers a wealth of technical ideas to address irrigation and drainage issues.
“The WaterHouse,” home of Janet and Klaus Boese, is a rose enthusiast’s dream. Featuring some 100 rose bushes, the ‘New Dawn’ climber covering and arbor is one spectacular sight. A small wildflower meadow, a fruit orchard and a vegetable garden are on the north side. Ornamental cherry trees offer a huge splash of color and native growth flourishes along the shoreline of Dividing Creek. All the various spaces flow together smoothly to create the sense of a landscape much larger than 2 acres.
Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 on the days of the tour. Advance purchase by mail is possible until May 7. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope (#10 business size) and a check, payable to The Haven, to: Just Gardens, P.O. Box 429, Irvington, VA 22480. Brochures and advance ticket sales will also be available in early March at the following locations: The Haven Shelter & Services, Inc. Administrative Office, Shoppe for Haven’s Sake Thrift Store, 5726 Richmond Road, Warsaw, VA; The Dandelion, Irvington Road, Irvington, VA; Greenpoint Nursery, Rte. 3, Lively, VA; Wildest Dreams, Rte. 200, Burgess, VA; The Pedestal, 18 South Main St., Kilmarnock, VA; River Birch Gifts, Rte 3, White Stone, VA. On tour days tickets can be purchased at all the gardens. Tickets are non-refundable.
If you are interested in having your garden included in future tours, please let us know. We are always looking for interesting gardens and hope to expand our tours to include other counties in the future.
The Haven is a non-profit organization which provides services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in the rural area of the Northern Neck of Virginia. The mission of The Haven is to prevent and eliminate all types of domestic violence and sexual assault and stalking. To meet that end, they provide advocacy and shelter for identified victims of partner abuse and sexual assault, provide support services to victims and their families and enhance public awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault through community outreach and education. For more information, call Sandy Longest, Community Relations Coordinator, at The Haven Shelter & Services, Inc., 804-333-1099, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website at www.havenshelter.org.