Decisions, Decisions

05/03/13 6:20 PM

crazy smiley

Wow, the last few days have been pretty much a blur for us! We had a last minute meeting at the plantation on Sunday and didn’t make it home until close to midnight. But the meeting was good and now we working on scheduling contractors to come in to do last minute minor repairs, painting, system changes, landscaping and furnishing the plantation.

Our goal is to get as much scheduled and done now before the March 19th Public Hearing so we can hit the ground running after that. The Public Hearing meeting on March 19th is the last one to get our final approval for zoning. After that, we can get our business license and get all the other stuff done.

Our Osprey Babies from 2012

Our Osprey Babies from 2012

We have our list going on what needs to be done to get the door open. First, we have to get the Osprey Nest removed from our chimney and moved to a new location. Hopefully we can get this done before they return for the year. The Osprey generally returns around March or April so our time is running out. There is an Osprey nest here in Chesapeake that is located within view of the highway. I have been watching that site for their return. This morning, I saw one of them! I just hope we aren’t too late!

The next thing we need to do is get all the systems checked out in the Mansion. This mansion was restored between 1997 and 2003 and had upgraded systems added. We are completely wired for anything and have a geo-thermal system. But since the restoration, no one has lived in the Mansion. So things didn’t get used.


We also need to do some painting inside and out. The Mansion has settled some over that last ten years and a few stress cracks have shown up on some of the archways. That is an easy fix. We also will be changing the color of two of the rooms. Outside, we just need to touch up some of the paint and repaint the rails white.

Sunset at Belle Grove

Sunset at Belle Grove

While all this is going, we have to get the contractor to install the new driveway, parking and storm water drainage. We also need to get the bricks out of the ground so we can get the grading on the grounds done. Then we need to install the sidewalks and arrival space with the bricks we pulled. There are also three trees we need to remove. Then there is the landscaping. We need to get our plan down and get the owner to approve it so when you arrive at the plantation, it will be beautiful again.

And while that is going, we have the interior designers working on getting the furnishing we want. Colors, fabrics, chairs, tables, beds, pictures and on and on! We also have to get with a book dealer to get our library stocked!

We also have to get the website finished and photographs done of the plantation for the website.


Then there are the decisions….

Do we want this color or that color? Do we like the flowers, trees and shrubs the landscaper has picked out? If not, we do we want? Do we want a gravel driveway or paved gravel or a tar and gravel driveway? Do we want to use brick or pavers for the sidewalk? When we get the trees cut down, what do we want to do with the wood? Where do we want the formal garden to start? What glasses do we want? Can we get the silverware we want to use? Antiques or reproductions?


These are the questions that are running through our minds these days.

We need your help!

We are going to ask for your advice every day or so on Facebook.

If you go to our fan page, you can help us pick out some of the things we are going to place in the Mansion!

It’s kind of like you are shopping with us!

Thank you for all your help!

Please visit our Facebook Fan Page

Facebook Link

Please “Like” us and “Share” us with your Facebook Friends!

The more advice we get… the better we can make Belle Grove!

Don’t forget our Cookie Contest!

We have gotten some really great entries already!

Hurley has been licking the computer with all the wonderful recipes!

Hurley Taste Test

Click on James Madsion and find out how you can enter and win a $100 Visa Gift Cardย 

and be

The Official Belle Grove Plantation Cookie!

Cookie Contest Image

No Entry Fee, but Donations are very much appreciated for our Restoration Fund!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes, Hurley | 40 Comments »

40 Comments on “Decisions, Decisions”

  1. terry1954 Says:

    girl you are making me tired!!! LOL, Look you have pulled off the impossibles for so long now I have no doubt this will all come together in a timely manner. You just keep marching forward!!!!

  2. Thank you Terry! I think I need a vacation! Whew…

  3. terry1954 Says:

    you better grab it before it opens up!!!

  4. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. dfrantz1953 Says:

    Best of luck!!!! I can’t wait to take a trip out to see you when it is finished!!

  6. Thank you! We can’t wait to see you! Don’t forget to check facebook for our first question!

  7. Dianna Says:

    wow, Michelle, I get tired just reading your to-do list. Good luck with everything!

  8. Thank you Dianna! I may need to go to the Smithfield Wine and Beer fest just to relax! Don’t forget to check Facebook for the question!

  9. John Says:

    Whew!!! No shortage of work.

  10. Tell me about it!

  11. Dianna Says:

    Have fun if you go; we’ll be going to a wedding in Edenton, NC that day!

  12. We will miss seeing you!

  13. I’m tired just thinking about it, Michelle – and you keep blogging on top of all that! All power to you both (well, I guess it’s really a threesome!!). LOL.

  14. Thank you David! I hope to at least breath a little more come April!

  15. I’m amazed at all you handle. The results look to be superb. Keep on keeping on. What a fulfilling quest.

  16. Thank you! It will get done, one way or another!

  17. I’m a believer!

  18. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Can not wait til it is complete and come for a visit.

  20. We can’t wait to have you come! Thank you!

  21. Don’t minimize the importance of the plants and other decisions like paint colours and furnishings. Beyond their importance for the visitor in the moment, they will be photographed heavily because of the historical significance of the plantation. This will be integral when people are picking wedding venues in different seasons. For photographers particularly the height and colour of the shrubbery is important for closeups and also for panorama shoots. As you are staging different areas think of that. A good portion of the wedding shoot is often the before the scenes bridal section and you might want to bear that in mind. A lot of photographers are doing nifty things looking out windows and in mirrors. Just some thoughts my photog and event planner friends always talk about.
    Sooo sooo very exciting a time. What a labor of love. Now, excuse my lack of knowledge but assuming the plantation is already on a historical registry?

  22. Thank you! Lots of good advice! (of course now I am starting to worry about these decisions…lol) Yes we are on the Virginia and National Landmark Registry.

  23. Have you been worried about zoning? As I am doing thei necessary things to open my wine bar, I worry that I might sink all this money and time into the space and then might not get my Albholic Beverage License timely. If anyone contests my notice (that is currently running in a local newspaper), it could delay everything 6 months.

    Good luck with all of this – I can’t wait to see it.

  24. Oh I can understand that worry! I have been keeping myself busy and trying not to think about it. Our first zoning meeting was so stressful that I think I was ready to have a heart attack. Of course when the Planning Board and all the locals came out to support us and when we got a total approval from the board, I did have a few tears in my eyes.

    Just keep looking forward. It will work out. Let us know how you are doing in your venture too!


  25. J Batch Says:

    I have previously emailed offering my services, and noticed you were interviewing contractors.. I am a Historic Restoration specialist. I work and live in the area. I have followed with great interest your efforts, and hope I may be of some help. Thank you, Jim Batchelder 540-846-0350 virginiaplantation posted: ” Wow, the last few days have been pretty much a blur for us! We had a last minute meeting at the plantation on Sunday and didn’t make it home until close to midnight. But the meeting was good and now we working on scheduling contractors to come in to d”

  26. Jim, I remember you and I still have your email. We just aren’t at that stage yet. The mansion is completely restored so we don’t have a lot to do with it. Just minor repairs, painting and system checks. However, we will need you soon after we can the doors open to look at our outbuildings.

    Thank you for following us and keeping in touch with us.


  27. Jane Sadek Says:

    Yep – you have your hands full.

  28. Yep… I am there!

  29. sarahlouisek Says:

    Lots to do, but the fact that you love the plantation makes the tasks more pleasant. Time will fly, and you will be open in no time.

  30. Yes, I have to say you are so right. Doesn’t stop me for worrying over the “right”

  31. bigsurkate Says:

    You and your project are amazing! I hope you get to buy this some day, and not just lease it. You have poured your heart and soul into this project, and it has been a delight to watch it take shape. I definitely want to come see it, sometime after it opens!

  32. Thank you so much! It has been a great pleasure to share our passion with everyone too! It has been the support of readers like you who have kept us going so long! We can’t wait to see you at the plantation!

  33. lynnwyvill Says:

    Love the animation at the top of the post! It feels like that at times when you have so much to do. And you have a lot to do!!!!! But I can tell how excited you are. Good luck with everything!

  34. Thank you! I am feeling like that more and more each day as we draw closer to that Opening Day!

  35. lynnwyvill Says:

    I was going to say, “don’t work too hard,” but I have a feeling that’s like telling you not to breathe! Make sure you take breaks and look around and say “WOW!” maybe test one of those cookie recipes!

  36. Thank you for thinking about me! I did take a break last night to enjoy dinner and movie with my daughter. But today its back to work!

  37. lynnwyvill Says:

    I’m so glad to hear you took a break! What did you see?

  38. We went to see Oz, the Great and Powerful in Imax 3D. It was really good.

  39. Oh nice! Think we’re headed there this weekend to see the Oz! Been dreaming about staying at your place. What’s ETA for opening? Can we bring the kids?

  40. We are looking at May 1st if we can get everything in place in time. We are still discussing kids. Oz was really good!