Gloucester County

Sep. 9th 2012

Holly Hill Antiques

In the coming weeks, we are going to be up at the plantation with several activities that we have going on, so we took advantage of this down weekend. Brett caught up on a few chores at our house in Chesapeake as well as catching a few college football games. I decided to head out for a day of antique shopping. I have just a few more plates to match to tea cups to complete my sets for the afternoon tea at Belle Grove. So I headed up to Gloucester to hit a few places I haven’t been yet.

My first stop was in Yorktown at The House Key Antiques and Interior Design. This is the company that will be assisting us in filling Belle Grove with wonderful antiques and interior décor. I spent about an hour discussing my ideas and wants for Belle Grove and getting some “homework” for us to do in order to help Susie and George in fulfilling our desired look for the plantation. With us having to wait four months for zoning, we are going to do as much as we can to prepare and find what we need so we don’t have too much more of a delay in opening Belle Grove.

I then headed to a local flea market called “Stagecoach Market and Antiques” located in Gloucester, Virginia. We have driven past this flea market many times on the way to Belle Grove and I wanted to stop and see what they had. There were some nice permanent shops there. One of these shops called “Catherine’s Place” had some really wonderful pieces. It was there that I found my first treasure of the day.

Catherine’s Place

After looking through a few more shops, I headed out to the Historic Glouchester downtown area. This is another location we have seen signs for as we drove to Belle Grove that I have wanted to see. Gloucester is a historic town that was formed in 1651 in the Virginia Colony. The county was named for Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester, third son of King Charles I of Great Britain. Before the English arrived this area was inhabited by a Native American tribe in an area called Werowocomoco, a stronghold of the Powhatan Nation.

The English settlers would at arrive at Jamestown in 1607. These settlers would soon come  into conflict with the Native Americans as they competed for resources. In late 1607, John Smith was captured and taken to Powhatan at Werowocomoco, his eastern capital in the present day Gloucester County. According to legend, Powhatan’s daughter Pocahontas saved John Smith from being executed by the tribe there.

Gloucester Court House

The center of Historic Gloucester has an area called Gloucester Court House. Here you will find a main street filled with quaint shops and dining. There is also a Court House Circle that has several colonial buildings and the Visitor Center. It was in Gloucester Court House that I made my next stop. “Wisteria Lane” had been recommended to me by someone at Stagecoach Market. What a wonderful shop! They have artwork, books and tons of silver! I wasn’t looking to purchase silver pieces this day, but now I have a place to go to find what I am looking for.

Wisteria Lane

My last stop was up the road a ways from Gloucester Court House. Located about four miles up John Clayton Memorial Highway, I found a wonderful historic farm, called Holly Hill Antiques that was filled with antiques as far as the eyes could see. The house located on this farm was built in 1880. There is a large barn, a very old shed and several smaller dependencies behind the house and barn. Every one of these buildings was filled with antiques!

Holly Hill Antiques

Holly Hill Antiques

Holly Hill Antiques

I started in the barn and spent a good thirty minutes walking up and down areas with every kind of antiques. There was art work, furniture, house ware, and even several wooden mermaids from old boats. I found several tea cups, which I didn’t buy because I have all I need right now. But there were no plates really in the barn. There were a few silver tea pots, but just not the right kinds I wanted for Belle Grove.

As I stepped out of the barn, I met one of the employees who shared with me some of the information of the house and buildings. Tara told me that the house was also open and would have what I was looking for as far as plates. She also directed me to one of the dependencies that might have some plates as well. I stopped first at the dependencies, but it was filled with mostly old kitchen items like cast iron pans and such.

Holly Hill Antiques

As I made my way up towards the house, I came up to one of the trees in the yard. Looking at this tree reminded me of our trip to Mount Vernon. It was as large as the trees we had seen there. Standing nearby was another employee who it turns out lived in the house as a child. I told her that this tree reminded me of the trees at Mount Vernon and that I bet it was here in the early 1700s as those at Mount Vernon had been. She agreed and said that she had no doubt it was.

Holly Hill Antiques

As I walked into the house, I was amazed at the amount of antiques in each room. Dishes and artwork were abundant. It was in the dining room that I found my second treasure of the day.

Holly Hill Antiques

Holly Hill Antiques

Holly Hill Antiques

Holly Hill Antiques

I made my way up to the second floor passing homemade quills hanging on the landing rails. It was funny, but I found myself looking more at the house than the antiques most of the time.

Holly Hill Antiques

Holly Hill Antiques

Holly Hill Antiques

Holly Hill Antiques

Holly Hill Antiques

I think the wallpaper amazed me the most. What wonderful old patterns it had. Upstairs there were four rooms and a bathroom in the back wing of the house. It even had a servant’s staircase that was blocked by antiques. I think I spent a good hour or two just looking around. Another thing that amazed me was the family pictures. Albums and wall-mounted pictures were all over the place. Looking at them, I wondered if they had lived there and what their lives must have been like.

Holly Hill Antiques

As I walked back to the car, Tara wished me a good day. I know that I didn’t see half of what this farm has to offer. I can see another trip here soon! If you love antiques and want a true treasure hunt, I wound highly recommend a detour down John Clayton Memorial Highway to this historic farm.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 20 Comments »

Middle of the Week Vacation

Jul. 16th 2012

The Inn at Warner Hall
Gloucester, Virginia

Okay, no getting jealous about this one!

Tomorrow night (Tuesday night), Brett and I are going to be staying at the Inn at Warner Hall in Gloucester, Virginia. You may remember it from our previous post, Nothing ventured, nothing gained posting. Brett has a meeting on Wednesday in Saluda, Virginia with VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) to discuss our entry into the plantation from State Route 301. After that meeting, he is meeting with our surveyor/engineer to discuss the site plan for zoning. So we thought it would be allot easier for him to get there if we slept closer. (That excuse is good as any… haha) After breakfast, I will be returning to Chesapeake and my current job to work.


But we are hoping to be able to look a little closer at Warner Hall and how they have things set up. So far it is the closest to what we want for Belle Grove. We are also hoping to talk with the owners and innkeepers. We hope to gain some answers to questions and learn as much as we can from their experience. I also hope to get some more photos of Warner Hall. It is just so beautiful! And we will be staying in the Robert E. Lee room! There was no James Madison room, so this is the next best thing!

The Robert E. Lee Room
The Inn at Warner Hall
Gloucester, Virginia


************One Quick Note!**************

Our Indiegogo campaign will be ending in just 7 days! Please consider a small contribution towards helping us Save our History and restore our three outbuildings!

Thank you!

The Smokehouse

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 37 Comments »

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Jul. 9th 2012

Swan Tavern – Yorktown, Virginia

On Sunday, we decided to head up to Yorktown and Gloucester, Virginia to look at some antiques. Our first stop was at an antique store in Yorktown, the Swans Tavern. This location is on the waterfront of Yorktown in a historic district. The building itself is an 18th century colonial and it offers 18th and 19th century antiques. I think I could have bought the whole place, but our budget would not allow us to. But it was a great place to see and gave us some ideas for our décor.

Then we headed up to Gloucester to an Antique Market that we have passed many times on our drive to and from Belle Grove. It just seemed that we could never make it back in time to walk this antique mall before it closed. As we were driving, I started thinking about the colonial homes in the Yorktown area and it dawned on me that there was a colonial home not too far from Gloucester. So as we were driving I pulled up my GPS and looked to see the location of this home. Score! It was only four miles from the market we had planned to go to. So I made the suggestion to Brett that we might detour to see what this house looked like. We knew it was an inn and as future Innkeepers, we are always looking to see what others are doing so we can get ideas of what we want to do. Research… it’s so much fun sometimes!

Augustine Warner, Great, Great Grandfather of George Washington and owner of Warner Hall

The inn is called The Inn at Warner Hall and was built sometime in or around 1642. It was a 600 acre land grant given to Augustine Warner for transporting twelve people to the new colonies from England. Sound familiar? Belle Grove was part of a 5,000 acre land grant for transporting 162 people from England.  It was here that Augustine Warner lived and expanded the property to several thousand acres until his death in 1674. The house would pass to Augustine Warner II and then to his daughter, Elizabeth and her husband John Lewis. As the family grew so did the plantation. The house would extend with two side brick dependencies wings. One wing was the plantation kitchen and laundry and the other was the school, tutor’s room and the shipping office.

There were two fires that would destroy the main house, one in 1740 and one in 1849. After the 1849 fire, only the brick dependencies and outbuildings remained. Before the turn of the century, the Cheney Family would purchase and rebuild the Colonial Revival mansion on the same foundation and using the same floor plan as the Lewis home.

Augustine Warner was George Washington’s great, great grandfather through his father’s mother, Mildred Warner Washington. Mildred was the daughter of Augustine Warner II. Augustine Warner is also an ancestor of Robert E. Lee. He is also a direct descendent of Queen Elizabeth I through the Bowes-Lyon family and the Earl of Strathmore. It is for this reason that Warner Hall is called the home of the Queen’s American ancestors.

Drive way into Warner Hall

When we arrived at the front gate of Warner Hall, the grounds and house were hidden behind some larger bushes that line the road. But it makes for a spectacular first view! Again we were awe struck by the beauty of the grounds and house. Brett pulled into the drive and I quickly called to see if we might be able to come in and view the house. We were greeted warmly by Amanda who quickly welcomed us to come on to the house.

Inn at Warner Hall

As you drive up to the house, you have long white fencing lining the drive. At the entry gate, you pull into a small courtyard and with views of the fields and river just beyond the house. We got out and walked up to the door, making note to ourselves of things we really liked and thought that would work well at Belle Grove.

Front Door

The large front door opens to the main hallway and grand staircase. Amanda came out and greeted us and we told her of our venture with Belle Grove. She was so accommodating and helpful. She gave us leave to walk around the house and offered us a cool drink and snack if we wanted. She explained that the innkeepers wereout of town for the day, but that they would return on Monday.

The Washington Suite

She walked us back to the first room on the main floor, the Washington Suite. There she allowed us to ask questions about their operation and gave us alot of insight on how theirs worked. This information was so helpful to us. Even now as we work towards our goal, we still find that we are always learning and improving on our own ideas. She then allowed us to move around the house and grounds on our own and even told us that we could visit the other rooms upstairs if the doors were open.  Brett and I walked around and quickly become separated as he headed upstairs and I was down taking endless pictures of how their home looked.

Living Room

Living Room


Dining Room

Dining Room

Sitting Room

As I made my way up the grand staircase, I could see how well thought out the décor was and how beautiful the views from each window was. On the second floor, we viewed the Mildred Warner room, Bacon’s Retreat room, and the Meriwether Lewis room. On the third floor we viewed the Robert E. Lee room and Austin’s Desire room. Each room was beautifully done and had everything you could have wanted for in comfort. The housekeeping staff was just as accommodating as Amanda and cheerfully took the time to answer our questions. You can tell customer service is a top priority at this inn!

Grand Staircase

Windows on the Staircase Landing

Austin’s Desire Room

Again Brett and I ended up getting separated as each of us viewed rooms and would stop to talk to one of the staff. As I made my way back downstairs I realized I had no idea where Brett had gone. So I jumped on my cell and called him. Amanda popped her head out of the kitchen area and let me know that Brett was in the pantry with the Chef, Eric. Yes, I wanted to see the kitchen! The kitchen at Warner Hall is a very extensive commercial grade kitchen. The pantry, which is just off the kitchen in one of the brick dependencies, was filled with equipment and dishes for all their needs. Eric introduced himself and was as warm and open as the others. He answered our questions and gave us insight on questions we had been working on for our plantation. I think I was most impressed that he was a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America!

Ring Wing where The Washington Suite is located – This is part of the original brick structure that survived the fires

Left Wing where the kitchen and pantry are located – This is part of the original brick structure that survived the fires

As we left, Eric shared his email address and invited us to email him with any questions we might come up with. Then as we walked out, Amanda thanked us for stopping by and encouraged us to call and talk to the Innkeepers, Troy and Theresa. We left filled with new ideas and new answers to questions. Had we not ventured to this beautiful plantation, we would never have gained the insight and knowledge and ideas for our own plantation that we now have.

Front Gate Entry

Front Gate Entry close

View of the Front Drive

We would whole heartedly recommend you stay here if you are in the area. The level of service and the beautiful and historic surroundings makes this plantation a must see on your visit to Virginia and the Historic Triangle area (Yorktown, Jamestown & Williamsburg)!

After we left, we did stop by the Antique Market in Gloucester. Again, I scored! This time I found a tea port and three cups! We are almost done with the tea cups I need for our afternoon tea serve. We have just nine more to go! In a way, it is kind of sad; I won’t need to look for them anymore. But soon, we will be on to bigger and better purchases as we start to fill the house with its furnishing.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 28 Comments »