Featured Property

August 15, 2016

38012 Delta Farm Lane, Middleburg, Loudoun County, Virginia
Price: $16,000,000

Located five miles from the town of Middleburg, the Meadowkirk Property is 358 gently rolling acres of hunt country, with 2-1/2 miles of frontage on the scenic Goose Creek, which includes cliffs where arrowheads have been discovered and an ancient Indian camp. The property is fully fenced, beautifully landscaped and includes a stocked pond.

The Stone House was built by Benjamin Franklin Carter (B.F. Carter) in the early 1800s. The Stone Barn on the property was burned by Union troops because Carter was supplying grain and food to Confederate troops, including Mosby’s Raiders. The back was German lap siding, the gable end partially collapsed at some time, probably during one of several fires and was rebuilt with wood.

The Main Yellow House is Georgian, exemplary of the style, with shutters inside (blinds) and blinds outside (shutters) as defined in the 1800s. The yellow building on the drive to the stone barn was probably a schoolhouse during Carter’s time and was probably stone, finished in stucco when the main house was constructed in 1905. The stone shed was probably a spring- house or possibly a smoke house, although there is little evidence of that since the inside is so clean. The stone house is possibly more recent than that, since it is in such good shape and shows no evidence of major changes or repairs.

The American Indians frequented the area for millennia and used the rock outcroppings along Goose Creek during the winters because they face south and hold warmth during the winter. A previous resident of Delta Farm say there are markings on some rocks that date to American Indian times in the area.

Details on the different houses on the property:
The Manor House: Circa 1905, 8 bedrooms, 8 full baths and 2 half baths, 6 fireplaces, 10’ ceilings, heart of pine floors, copper gutters, metal roof, and 2-level flagstone terrace.
The Inn: Constructed in 2009, a beautiful facility with traditional hotel-type guest accommodations, features 20 guest rooms each with 2 beds and private bath. Also includes a conference room, large living room with a kitchenette and elevator access.
The Stone Barn: Originally a 19th century bank barn completely renovated and expanded. This is the property’s largest meeting space with 2 floor-to-ceiling glass walls, which can accommodate 120 people, and includes a dining center, commercial kitchen, and indoor and outdoor fire circles.?
Cottages: 3 cottages constructed in 2009. Each cottage sleeps up to 18 people, bunk style, 2 large bedrooms, each with restrooms and showers, large meeting space, and indoor fireplace.
Other Improvements: 19th century stone and frame guest house, log cabin circa 1850 with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, and fireplace, 2 new staff houses, farm office, tenant house, pavilion for rustic dining or meetings, Brinton Observatory, pool and dressing rooms, water treatment plant, equipment shed, stone smokehouse, stucco shed, stone root cellar, generators, and 2-car garage.
Contact Sheridan Macmahon for more information.
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Bethlehem, Pa.: A New Capital for Industrial Heritage

August 10, 2016

The Aug. 2 opening of the National Museum of Industrial History makes Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles north of Philadelphia …

Located in a former Bethlehem Steel mill, the National Museum of Industrial History opened in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, this month.

The Laurel Highlands: Close Encounters of the Wright Kind

August 1, 2016

The semi-rural area, roughly 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is a convenient and relatively undiscovered destination for getaways from D.C.

Fallingwater, Duncan House and Kentuck Knob

July 27, 2016

Three Frank Lloyd Wright houses are open to the public in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands.

Kentuck Knob.

The Laurel Highlands: Close Encounters of the Wright Kind

The semi-rural area, roughly 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is a convenient and relatively undiscovered destination for getaways from D.C.

Fort Ligonier.

Mementos from a Sentimental Journey: Shell Work

June 22, 2016

Here in the mid-Atlantic states the ubiquitous seashell symbolizes the arrival of summer. Wherever there was watery life there is …

Summer Day-cation Ideas

When the stress of life reaches its brink, it’s nice to have a day away to clear your mind …

The Charms of Antique Watch Fobs

June 8, 2016

In the mid-1700s, men’s waistcoats had several pockets and it was fashionable to carry a watch in each pocket …

A 60s-era use of pocket-watch fobs, several worn together as a bracelet.

’50 Great American Places’: Motivating Moments, Neatly Packaged

May 5, 2016

“Historical literacy,” according to public historian and R Street resident Brent D. Glass, “is more than simply knowing the names of leaders or when famous battles were fought. It involves understanding the context of historical events and how events are connected.”

Having devoted his career to the cause of historical literacy, the director emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History decided to take action in a direct and personal way: He wrote a book.

Published this spring, Glass’s “50 Great American Places: Essential Historic Sites Across the U.S.” doesn’t read like a lecture from your American history teacher, unless you had an unusually inspiring one. In an inviting, conversational style, Glass captures some of the atmosphere of the places his entries describe.

Better yet, many of his Great American Places are well-chosen surprises.

Yes, Great American Place No. 1 is the National Mall, here in D.C. But No. 50 is “Malls of America.” Glass uses the plural because that entry covers the history of the enclosed shopping mall, from the 1956 debut of modernist architect Victor Gruen’s Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota, to the gargantuan Mall of America, which opened in 1992 in nearby Bloomington.

Along the way, the reader gets a capsule history of suburbanization, with a cross-reference to the phenomenon’s 19th-century roots, nurtured in books like “The American Woman’s Home,” written in 1869 by Catharine Beecher and her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe (Stowe’s Hartford, Connecticut, home, along with that of her neighbor, Mark Twain, is Great American Place No. 25).

By grouping sites both geographically and thematically, Glass has written an enjoyable volume for the hammock (or the bathroom) as well as a guidebook. You may want to get one copy for the car and one to keep handy at home.

The entries between the Mall and the Malls are roughly chronological. Glass checks in at the Liberty Bell (No. 9), the Alamo (No. 18) and Pearl Harbor (No. 41, get it?), but also touches down at key spots in the history of American art, science and social change.

Famed biographer David McCullough, who met Glass — then head of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission — in 1989 at the centennial of the Johnstown Flood, calls attention in the book’s forward to the choice of a farmhouse in Red Cloud, Nebraska, as Great American Place No. 26 (“Willa Cather’s Great Prairie”):

“[Pioneer woman] Annie Pavelka and her story were the inspiration for Willa Cather’s famous masterpiece ?My Ántonia,’ and to stand there beside the storm cellar into which she rushed her children when tornadoes struck is to feel the ?power of place’ in no uncertain terms.”

As much as anyone, McCullough has shown that history doesn’t have to go down like medicine. Well-written narratives can motivate us both to want to learn more and to experience in person the places that shaped our nation. Glass’s book contains many such motivating moments, neatly packaged for 21st-century lives.

World Away Weekend: Rappahannock County

As so aptly described by one local denizen, “Life in Little Washington reminds one of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon or Jan Karon’s mythical Mitford.” Rappahannock County, Virginia, with its quirky villages, unspoiled scenery, outdoor activities and stellar cultural and culinary offerings, is close enough for a daytrip or a world-away weekend.

Rappahannock Central, a beautifully restored 1930s apple-packing facility in Sperryville, in the far western part of the county, is a bustling crossroads of art galleries — including the studios of River District Arts — and local shops. There is even a brewery and a distillery.

On the culinary side, Heritage Hollow Farms’ new storefront offers 100-percent ecologically farmed grass-fed and grass-finished beef, lamb and pork. Mike Peterson, a former executive sous chef in Aspen, and his wife Molly, a professional photographer who fell in love with the county’s scenery, discovered that they could work together to produce succulent food, raised with integrity. They do not use antibiotics or hormones, and their livestock live comfortable lives on healthy pasturage and non-GMO feed.

Also relatively new is Wild Roots Apothecary, which offers slow brewed, handcrafted herbal and floral syrups at its creatively earthy store. Their artisanal syrups combine Lemon-Cardamom, Elderberry-Lavender and Rosehip-Hibiscus flavors. They also offer botanical teas and locally sourced body nectars.

Known for the five-star Inn at Little Washington, the county offers other overnight accommodations — less pricey, but cozy and charming in their own ways.

Gary Aichele, that very same quoted “local denizen,” happens to run the Gay Street Inn with his wife Wendy. The 1850s farmhouse, on the edge of Little Washington, offers Shenandoah Mountain views, a relaxing stay in beautifully appointed rooms and a hearty country breakfast. The front porch and serene gardens are the perfect spots for morning coffee or afternoon wine.

Also in Little Washington, the Foster Harris House, an early-20th-century farmstead, offers high-end amenities and delicious private dining. One evening in 2004, Diane and John MacPherson decided the time was right to flee their corporate lives and open a business that combines their passions for food, wine, cycling and entertaining.

The rooms are elegant and comfortable and dinner unites the elements that inspire chef John’s culinary muse: fruits and vegetables from the rich soil of Rappahannock County, surprising flavors, bold splashes of color and family traditions. With just one seating a night in the intimate dining room, the five-course, prix-fixe menu is available by reservation for $89 per person or $129 with wine pairings (tax and gratuity not included) every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Foster Harris House also offers two- or five-day Tours de Epicure, as much about good food and wine as they are about pedaling through the beautiful countryside.

Just outside of town, surrounded by lush pastures with views to the Blue Ridge Mountains, sits the Middleton Inn. Built in 1840 by Middleton Miller, who designed and manufactured the Confederate uniform during the Civil War, the property is a classic country estate where your pet can be as comfortable as you are.

Even though Rappahannock County has fewer than 7,000 inhabitants, it is home to two theaters. The arts are intricately woven into the texture of the community, thanks in part to RAAC (the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community). RAAC promotes a series of cultural programs throughout the year and supports the RAAC Community Theatre. May will feature playwright John Logan’s Tony Award-winning play “Red,” about egotistical genius Mark Rothko, the Abstract Impressionist painter.

Just across the street is the intimate 213-seat Theatre at Washington, Virginia, presenting an eclectic mix of musical and dramatic performances, usually on weekends. This spring’s line-up includes Grammy Award-winning acoustic guitarist Laurence Juber (June 11) and flutist Emlyn Johnson in a celebration of the centennial of Shenandoah National Park (June 17).

Listed by Trip Advisor as the number-one thing to do in Little Washington, R.H. Ballard Shop and Gallery is always stocked with unique and wonderful things to buy. The shop combines quality French textiles, great design, vintage finds and fine art. Robert Ballard, who runs the shop with his wife Joanie, is a painter who originally hails from San Francisco. He shows some of his own works in the gallery, as well as art by local, regional and nationally recognized artists.

There is always plenty do see and do in Rappahannock County, and springtime is a most beautiful time of the year for exploring the county.

Michelle Galler owns homes in Georgetown and in Washington, Virginia, and is a realtor and antiques dealer in both locales. [gallery ids="102222,130537,130532,130524,130517,130510,130562,130502,130550,130545,130556" nav="thumbs"]