After we got up and got our things together, we bid Mrs. Roy “Au revoir” and headed down to Robert’s house, the antique dealer from Petersburg. His house was built in 1879. When he purchased it, it had been converted into an apartment building.
Robert walked us around the yard showing us the flowers he had and the architectural details of his home. In the back, he showed us the area where the carriage house used to stand. Today, all that is left is a single wall of this late 1800s building. Just to the front of it stood a more modern carriage house that was built in the 1930s. This building has been converted into an small office building.
Robert’s back yard was filled with flowers and trees. He walked us to the back section where he had a line of bushes that made another section of the backyard into a small secret garden.
We made our way back around the house and up to the front door. This door reminded me of La Villa Romaine’s front door. It was about 12 feet tall and had an inner and outer set of doors. Once inside the hallway reminded me again of a smaller version of La Villa Romaine’s hall. The room wasn’t as large, but it had a similar basic layout. We first entered the Formal Parlor and were greeted with tons of wonderful antiques. What would have been the day room at La Villa Romaine had been turned into another Formal Parlor at Robert’s house.
Next we moved into the library. Here Robert had his own personal antiques as well as items for his booth. It was so hard not to look and buy! There were so many things I could have taken home! We then moved into the Formal Dining room. This room also had more antiques. Robert was showing me his china with a gold border and had stated that he was thinking of changing his china. Of course my first thought was how many place settings do you have! I am always thinking about Belle Grove! He also showed us a set of Ship Bells that would have been used to call passagers to a meal. I wonder if that would work at Belle Grove?
One thing that Robert was very proud of was his ceiling medallions. He knows Mrs. Roy and has seen hers. He told us that most of her ceiling medallions are reproductions. He stated that he has five original medallions in his home. I missed getting one of the though. I missed the one in the library. I think it was because I was so busy looking at the antiques!
After our tour of the downstairs, we headed upstairs to see his room set up. This is where Robert’s house and La Villa Romaine differed. Robert’s floor plan didn’t have the long hallway as La Villa Romaine. It had a short landing area for a hall with four smaller rooms off from it. Three of the rooms were bedrooms and one room Robert had devoted to his Lionel train collection. This room was in the works so we didn’t take pictures up on the second floor. But once it is completed, it will be something wonderful to see!
We thanked Robert for opening his home and promised to return soon. Robert and I have been talking about going to an auction he knows about in the area to look for some good buys for Belle Grove. I have to say, meeting Robert was really good luck for us!
After our visit with Robert, we headed back over to the Old Towne area of Petersburg to walk around a bit and look at more antiques. After all the tours and walking, we decided to get a lite lunch before heading out. So I suggested we stop at the Blue Willow Tea Room on Old Street. Since I have been shopping for tea items and we are going to be doing tea socials at Belle Grove, I want to try as many tea rooms to get ideas for our teas.
The tea room was warm and inviting and filled with tea antiques and art. The ceiling detail was also very eye catching. We settled on having a Full Afternoon Tea. Pam, our wait staff, offer me several selections of hot teas and I decided it was going to be an Earl Grey day. Brett isn’t much for hot tea, so he enjoyed a cold beverage of real Ginger Ale.
Our first course was two homemade scones with Devonshire cream and Carrot Jam. The scones were one plain and one blueberry. Our next course was a soup du jour. I selected a cold gazpacho and Brett had a cheese and broccoli. I missed taking a photo of these. When we got them, we both ate them up so fast. They were delicious!
Our next course was the tower of food. The bottom section were our tea sandwiches. The center was a selection of pastries. The top section was our sweets and fruits.
For our tea sandwiches, we had Brie Wraps with lettuce and tomato, Ham and Cheese on Rye with a Devilish Mustard, Pickled Cucumbers and Radish on a French Bagette with a Herb Spread, and Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese and Dill on a Small Bagel. For our pastries, we had Cheese Pennies, Chicken Salad in a tart cup, Spanakopita, and Canapes with Pesto, Tomato and Mozzarella. For our sweets and fruit we had Cream filled Cannoli, Rowena’s Almond Pound Cake with Raspberry Sauce and Whipped Cream, Fudge Brownies and a Fruit Skewer.
The food was divine! It doesn’t look like a ton of food, but by the time we finished, Brett said he felt stuffed. I enjoyed every bit and was taking notes in my head as we ate. I had told Pam, our wait staff about Belle Grove Plantation and she had informed the owner, Sid about it. He made a point to stop at our table and invited us next door to Pennington Antiques which was connected to the tea room after our tea. As I was paying, Pam offered to take us back into the kitchen to show us around and we met “Hersey” another member of the wait staff. Kirsten (Hersey) spent some time talking to us about our plantation and talking about running a tea room.
We then made our way next door to Pennington Antiques and spoke to Sid for a few minutes. It didn’t take long for Brett and I to start wandering around the store looking at the antiques and discussing if we could use any items there for Belle Grove. Afterwards, we headed back to the car and started towards our next stop.
I have to say, visiting Petersburg over the last two weekends has really opened my eyes to the location. It doesn’t seem to get the tourism that Williamsburg or Richmond might get, but I think people are really missing out on a great stop. The people are really open and friendly. The places to see are endless. And the city and its people seem to really care about improving their places. And most of all the cost doesn’t break the bank!
So if you are traveling down I-95 and need a place to stop for the night, or are into antiques and history or would just love a wonderful cup of tea with great Southern hospitality, Brett and I would recommend a stop in Petersburg!
A Little Unscheduled Stop