Richmond, Virginia

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I had one very busy day in Richmond a few weeks ago, but I learned and saw a lot. Most interesting to me were the statues of soldiers on horses all the way down Monument Avenue. There are several statues but the one of General Robert E. Lee is the largest and was the first installed along Monument Avenue. If a statue is facing north, the soldier died in the Civil War; if the statue faces south, the soldier lived, as in the case of Robert E. Lee. No other city in the world has statues commemorating a war that it actually lost,which is an interesting fact!

Richmond was the Capital of the Confederacy, a commercial center for the slave trade, and the site of several major battles – in fact, the entire downtown was burned to the ground, days before Abraham Lincoln walked the streets. Richmond, Virginia was “ground zero” during the Civil War. This makes it a rich and powerful region to tour, and the ideal place to begin a multi-state Civil War and Emancipation immersion.

grand-staircase

The Jefferson Hotel was supposed to open on November 1, 1895, but at the last minute it was realized that November 1 was a Friday, and it was considered bad luck to start anything on a Friday. So the hotel was opened on Halloween, 1895 instead. The staircase in the center of the hotel is the one said to have been copied for the “Gone With the Wind” scene later in the movie, where Rhett Butler carries Scarlett up the grand,beautiful staircase.

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In his autobiography, The Moon’s A Balloon (1972), Academy Award-winning actor David Niven described a trip from New York to Florida in the late 1930s, when he decided to spend the night at the Jefferson Hotel. Niven said that, as he was signing the guest registry in the lobby, his eyes snapped open with amazement when he noticed a full-sized alligator swimming in a small pool located six feet from the reception desk.The alligators at the Jefferson became world famous. Old Pompey, the last alligator living in the marble pools of the Jefferson’s Palm Court, survived until 1948. Bronze statues of the alligators now decorate the hotel. Its restaurant, Lemaire, has a theme of alligator motifs.

Hart Associates

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Of course the first thing you want when building a house is a great architecture firm.We were lucky-we already knew Jen Hart of Hart Associates and knew that she really likes what we like:to make a new house look old. Jen’s touches and thoughts will hopefully lead our house to look like it was always there when people drive by- they will think it is a farmhouse  built a century ago. Jen and  her team are also very involved with the barn and reconfiguring that when the frame arrives from Pennsylvania.

The foundation for both house and barn are in-next step is to start the framing for the house. Then it will get very exciting!

The Apple Never Falls Far From The Moved Tree

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There were 5 apple trees that had been planted about 50 years ago on the property. We had Onyx Construction (who is doing all of the landscape work,stone walls and site work) take a look at the 5 trees and they determined that 3 of them were worth moving-the new driveway is going exactly where the trees had been located.

The days before the move were very interesting-they really spent a long time very carefully digging around the roots,watering and then finally one day they were up in the air flying to their new location. That was in July and they seem to be fine-hopefully they will all make it and be in their new home at least another 50 years.

Woodstone Barn

 

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The next piece was figuring out how and where to get an older barn and be able to relocate it to our property. Quite by chance we located a company that does exactly that. Colonial Barn Restoration-check out their website,it is amazing what they can do to a barn!They have located a barn for us from Pennsylvania-3 miles from where my husband grew up,so it is very special.

Here is an excerpt  from their website describing what they do:

As the price of land rises, people in this area subdivide their land into smaller and smaller lots. We have been involved with a number of projects where an antique barn was located on a subdivided lot. The owners wanted to keep the barn with the original house on the property so we moved the barn over on the same property. Since then we have learned the ins and outs of moving buildings and have moved several. Moving buildings in one piece is very economical. The state of Massachusetts even takes down power lines for free to help facilitate the move.Often times our clients want to move a barn frame a long distance or there are too many trees in the way to move it to its new location in one piece. We have lots of experience taking apart and reassembling barns in new locations.When we take a barn completely apart we have a chance to inspect every structural element and make any needed repairs. We can also make slight changes to the frame to satisfy building code restraints or change the layout slightly for modern uses. We have a design and engineering team to help make these changes.We often use reclaimed lumber for repairs so that they are not as apparent.

 

The Building of Woodstone Farm

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So many decisions when building a house.We met all winter and spring this year with the architects,landscape architect,builder….one thing we were sure of was that we wanted a house that looked like it had always been there. In our case, a federal style farmhouse seemed to be the right thing. One day we drove around Lincoln MA looking at houses and styles off architecture-doorways,windows,moldings,trim work. These are pictures from that excursion.

Window Boxes in Edgartown

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Summer may be over for this year but you can certainly start dreaming about next summer ! Here are some ideas for window boxes that I saw in Edgartown….Happy Labor Day!

Edgartown on the Vineyard

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One of the greatest moments of summer for me is to take my rental bike on our annual anniversary trip to Martha’s Vineyard and just ride around Edgartown and look at the houses,gardens and incredible views….Obama was there on the island as well but it really did not affect the traffic or us tourists!

The Charlotte Inn Gardens

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The Charlotte Inn in Edgartown and it’s gardens are spectacular-I felt absolutely inspired from my weekend there for when I get back home!

Working on Downton

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The only thing that is good about this terrible period of time with no  new Downton is that more is coming in January 2015 and that they are working on the scenes as we speak….

When last we left Downton Abbey, the Crawley family was teaming up to rescue the Prince of Wales from a royal scandal, while Paul Giamatti was making his first appearance as Cara’s boorish brother.

From the looks of it, the British drama is about to enter its P.G. Wodehouse years, with the ornate finery of the pre-war era giving way to a more casual definition of elegance. (That means tweed. Lots and lots of tweed.)

To pass the time without smartphones, the cast relies on classic English parlor games to pass the time, just like the aristocracy of yore.

“Playing Wink Wink Murder – that helps at dining room table scenes,” revealed Michelle Dockery who plays Lady Mary.

Dockery was also keen to dispel reports that, as her TV husband Dan Stevens did, she’s about to leave Downton.

“I’m here ’till the end,” she told the magazine, “whenever that may be.”

Downtown Abbey‘s fifth season will premiere in America in January 2015, according to PBS Creator Julian Fellowes has said he hopes the show will be broadcast simultaneously in the U.S. and the U.K.

“It’s mind-boggling to me that now we have 16 million viewers in China,”  says Joanne Froggatt (who plays the maid Anna) at a panel discussion on the Paramount lot hosted by the TV Academy in May.

Among their fans you can count Julia Roberts, who hugged Julian Fellowes at a party (“it’s the highlight of my life so far,” he joked); Mick Jagger, who told Laura Carmichael he loves the show, per Robert James-Collier (under-butler Thomas Barrow); and Jon Hamm, who thrilled Phyllis Logan (housekeeper Mrs. Hughes) by giving her a kiss.

Among the common folk, Fellowes related how a woman followed him at a Barnes and Noble and begged, “please make Lady Edith happy.”

-excerpts from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter

 

Ash Lawn-Highland

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Ash Lawn-Highland, located near Charlottesville Virginia and adjacent to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, was the estate of James Monroe, fifth President of the US. Purchased in 1793, Monroe and his family permanently settled on the property in 1799 and lived at Ash Lawn–Highland for twenty-four years. Personal debt forced Monroe to sell the plantation in 1825.

President Monroe simply called his home “Highland.” It did not acquire the additional name of “Ash Lawn” until after his death.

The estate is now owned, operated and maintained by Monroe’s alma mater, the College of William and Mary.

Encouraged by his close friend, Thomas Jefferson, Monroe purchased a deed for one thousand acres (4 km²) of land adjacent to Monticello in 1793 for an equal number of pounds from the Carter family. Six years later, Monroe moved his family onto the plantation, where they resided for the next twenty-four years. In 1800, Monroe described his home as:

“One wooden dwelling house, the walls filled with brick. One story high, 40 by 30 ft. Wooden Wing one storey high, 34 by 18 ft.”

Over the next 16 years, Monroe continued to add onto his home, adding stone cellars and a second story to the building. He also expanded his land holdings, which at their greatest included over 3,500 acres (14 km²). However, by 1815, Monroe increasingly turned to selling his land to pay for debt. By 1825, he was forced to sell his home and the property.

The home today consists of a one-story, three bay by three bay, original frame section connected to a two-over-two central hall addition by a short wide hall serving as a parlor. The addition dates to the mid-19th century. The front of Ash Lawn faces north toward Monticello, which is visible from the front porch. Also on the property are a contributing gable-roofed ice house, a gable-roofed cabin with an exterior end brick chimney, and a smokehouse with a pyramidal roof.

Highland was featured in Bob Vila’s production, Guide to Historic Homes of America.

Today, Ash Lawn–Highland is a 535 acre (2.2 km²) working farm, museum, and a performance site for arts, operated by the College of William and Mary. It is open to the public year round, though with limited hours from October through March.

-Wikapedia excerpts