Wow! What a weekend! By the time we got home late Sunday night, we just crashed! Monday found us both just dragging along so we hit the bed early again Monday night. But what a fun time we had over the weekend!
We arrived at the plantation on Saturday to see the caretaker working on the grounds after a storm had moved through earlier in the week. We had not heard about it, but apparently there had been a storm with high winds that swept up the Rappahannock River. We ended up losing another part of a tree that was damaged earlier this summer. Now this pretty old tree is lopsided and Brett and I both know one more good wind and it will be all down. We talked with the caretaker and he is going to get with the owner about going ahead and removing it. How sad it is to see it go! It is located along what would have been the road from the fields to Emmanuel Church before nature took over the road. You have to wonder how many people walked by this tree over the years.
We also lost a branch for two more trees along the field side of the circular drive way. One wasn’t too bad, just a small branch. But the other was from a Red Oak that had lost a small branch earlier in the summer. This tree, we have been told, was there before the Civil War. The branch we lost this time wasn’t too bad and the tree still looks strong so we hope it will continue to be that way.
After assessing the damage and walking around in the house a bit, we sat outside on the front steps for awhile and chatted with the caretaker and his friend that had stopped by. His friend gave us more insight into the area. He currently lives just across the highway at the Walsingham plantation. He had worked on the Woodlawn plantation for a while, but as his family grew, he had to move to a larger place. We also took note that the “Babies” were gone. Dolley and James, our osprey are still around, but they are now “empty nesters”.
Late in the afternoon, we pulled ourselves away from the plantation and headed to Historic Fredericksburg. We have never been there, so we thought it would be good to go for the weekend to get to know the place. It only took us 25 minutes to get there! I didn’t realize how close it really was! As we drove into town, my mouth dropped open! Historic homes and buildings everywhere! We drove to Caroline Street which is kind of like the main street downtown. As we drove down Caroline Street, I was making notes of where the antique stores were. I had to stop counting because there are so many of them!
As we pulled up to the Schooler House Bed and Breakfast, I knew I had picked the right one! What curb appeal this house has! It is a Victorian home with a wrought iron fence and small garden in front. Directly across the street is the Rising Sun Tavern that was built by George Washington’s younger brother, Charles Washington. It was built in 1760 and became a tavern in 1792. During the American Revolutionary War, this was a popular stop. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison stopped many times here.
We were warmly greeted at the door by the innkeeper, Andi. She invited us in and gave us a quick tour of the house. What a place she has! You can tell that she has given thought to each item there and how it brings this Victorian gem alive! When we shared with her that we were getting ready to start our own bed and breakfast, she expressed excitement and wanted to make time later that evening to sit down and talk. That is one thing I have to say about most innkeepers. They are so helpful to other innkeepers and aspiring innkeepers. It’s almost like becoming part of the club. I just love that part of about being in this industry.
She walked us into the kitchen, the true heart of this house and introduced us to the new Inn dog, Enzo. At just nine weeks old, he would melt your heart with just one look! He was in the back yard and walked along with us as we toured her back porch area and garden sitting room.
As we headed back to the staircase, I turned and looked at a pile of historic books sitting in the hallway for visitors to use. I almost fainted! There on top of all these books on the Civil War and history of Fredericksburg was a book about the diaries and letter of Helen Bernard Stuan and her sisters! Yes, the daughters of John Hipkins Bernard of Rose Hill Plantation (also known as Gaymont)! I knew then that we were supposed to be there! When I expressed my surprise and excitement, I explained to Andi that I had just posted a picture of Helen on our blog the night before. It was the first time I had seen her picture. And then to see her again was just magic! Andi also was excited for me and gave me the book to keep! I knew then that Andi and I would become fast friends.
Andi walked us up the staircase and pointed out the artifacts that she and her late husband found when they had worked on the garden and in the house. She had them mounted in shadow boxes and frames just like what we want to do with Belle Grove! There was also art work everywhere! I didn’t get a chance to ask who they were by, but the style remained me of a Monet. They were bright colors and just gave the room a warm feeling.
Then she showed us our room. Schooler house has just two rooms. Ours was Willie’s Room at the front of the house. I have to say, I think we got the best room! It has a white cast iron queen bed with wonder pillows! The room was filled with antiques and pictures of times past. There was a nice bathroom and just off the bathroom was a small sitting room. The room was warm and comfortable and I was so glad I had found it!
After we got our things settled, we asked Andi where she would recommend us to go for dinner. She quickly told us of a place called “Foode”. So after we got directions, off we went back downtown. We were going to walk, but decided to drive back, even though it was just about four or five blocks away. I am so glad we did! We got to drive back up Princess Anne Street that runs parell to Caroline Street. What beautiful homes we saw! But because Princess Anne Street is a little busier, we decide to come back later to take pictures.
We parked close to the place where we came in on Caroline Street when we first drove in. As we started down the street, I started looking for an antique store to pop into. It was late in the day, around 5:30 so I was afraid we had stayed too long at the plantation and I had missed the antique stories in Fredericksburg. And I had so wanted to take home just one antique from here! We did find about three of them that were open. I quickly walked through them, mostly looking for teapots and plates and stopping to ask each one if they had anything “James Madison”. I struck out on all accounts.
Just before we got to our place to eat, we came across a wine store that sold Virginia Wines. Of course we had to stop there. I wanted to see if they carried Ingleside Wine, which they did. We found one of our favorites, “Sweet Virginia Rose”, which is kind of a sweeter red dessert wine. So I asked what time they closed and told Brett we would stop on the way back to the car. I thought it would be nice to share a bottle of “Sweet Virginia Rose” with Andi as we shared our experiences.
We arrived at “Foode” just a block later. When I first saw it, it reminded me of some of the restaurants in New Orleans that are tucked away in small alleys. Our favorite one, “Courtyard of Two Sisters” in New Orleans French Quarters is that way. Sadly though, “Foode” was quite busy, a good sign that it must be great. So instead of waiting for a table, we headed back towards the car to another place we had seen.
We ended up at “Capital Ale House” on Caroline Street. When we walked into the door, my first thought was that it looked like an upscale Irish Pub. There is a long bar that extends down most of the front room with a refrigerator cases of almost every beer and ale you can think of. The store front has two open windows with high top tables for people to sit and watch the world go by. We were greeted and seated within minutes.
Our waiter warmly greeted us and explained that he was training someone as well. He took our drink order and allowed us time to read the menu. Brett decided to order one of the hard apple ciders and I stuck to iced tea. As we glanced over the menu, the first thing that caught our eye was an appetizer of deviled eggs. I don’t think I have even seen devil eggs on a restaurant menu before so we were intrigued. These deviled eggs offered not only the delicious taste we all have come to enjoy at Thanksgiving dinner and picnics, but included a topping of crab meat. We had to try them! When they arrived, I have to say that the presentation didn’t jump out at me, but the taste more than made up for it! They also had a sprinkling of Old Bay seasoning. It was a delight!
Brett ordered an entrée of Bratwurst and Knockwurst with white and purple sauerkraut and potatoes. I am not a fan of sauerkraut so I don’t make it often for Brett. He grew up enjoying it in Ohio so this was a treat for him. But I have say, the purple sauerkraut was surprising delicious. It lacked the sour pickled favor I have come to expect from the white sauerkraut. It had more of a sweet pickled favor and I think I could enjoy a plate of it.
I ordered classic macaroni and cheese with Jamestown ham added. This macaroni and cheese was made with rigatoni and topped with bread crumbs. The sauce was a white cheese sauce that was hard to put down. It was a very enjoyable dish.
As we finished, our “training” waiter came to take our dishes and offer us dessert. After he brought us the check, we got a chance to talk with him for a minute. Come to find out, he is a new assistant manager for “Capital Ale House”. Turns out when they hire a new manager, they train them in every aspect of the restaurant. So not only can he manage, but he can cook your meal! I was so impressed! We shared that we were working on “research” for our new bed and breakfast and that we wanted to find places that we could recommend nearby. After our visit here, this is going to be one of them!
We headed back to Schooler House to drop off the car and take an afternoon walk. As we walked, we saw historic houses as far as the eye could see! We walked down one side street and came upon the Rappahannock River that flows through Fredericksburg. It was so peaceful and beautiful, just as it is when it passes our plantation just down river from there. In the distance we could hear a call of a bird that wasn’t as familiar as the osprey at the plantation, so we were left guessing what it was.
We made our way back up to Princess Anne Street and started heading back downtown. The historic houses started out as small, simple Victorian homes. There wasn’t much in the way of architectural detail to them, but you could clearly see that they were from the late 1800s. As we started up a small hill, we suddenly were surrounded by larger historic homes. The front step on the first one caught our eye. Though it was white, it looks very similar to the Riverside step on Belle Grove. Each house we saw just took our breath away. Before long we found ourselves walking block after block looking forward to the next surprise.
When we arrived at Lewis Street, we got another wonderful surprise. It was the home of Mary Washington, mother of George Washington! This is the home that Mary Washington stayed in towards the end of her life. George Washington purchased this home for her in 1772 for $275. It was located close to her daughter’s home at Kenmore Plantation and her son’s tavern. It was here that George came to receive his mother’s blessings before he took the oath of office. She lived here until her death in 1789. We were not able to tour it or the Rising Sun Tavern because we got to Fredericksburg too late, but I am sure we will be returning soon.
As we walked over another block, we came up on the Fredericksburg Baptist Church. This church was used during the Battle of Fredericksburg as a Union Hospital. It was badly damaged, but through the efforts of the church congregation, it was repaired and saved.
On this same street, we came across a colonial home built in 1817 called the “Dogget House”. As we were walking by the owner had just stepped out of the door. Being nosy as I am about historic homes, I peeked past him into the front hall. I introduced myself and told him about our love of historic homes and our plantation. He told us about the history of this wonderful home. One of the things he shared with us was that Doris Buffett had purchased this home in 1988. She is the sister of Warren Buffett. He also told us that the small dependency on the corner, which is currently being used as an office by a local judge, has Civil War graffiti on the side where soldiers scratched their names into the brick.
We headed back to Schooler House and met up with Andi for the evening. Andi shared her experiences with running her bed and breakfast and knowledge of the area. I wasn’t aware of all the events that Historic Fredericksburg has! She told us a story about how during one of these events, she was on the phone with someone and there was lots of gunfire going on. The person on the line asked what was going on. Andi said she laughed and just said, “They are fighting the civil war…, again.”
I was also able to share some of our experiences as well as some of our food with her. I told her about our blog and about the fun we had sharing our experiences. She was so intrigued by the blog that she decided right then to start one for her house! So you will have to check out her house blog soon! I decided not to cover her history in this post so she has something to share with all of you!
After a wonderful night’s sleep, we woke to the smell of a delicious breakfast. Sorry, no night time visitors this time! We hurried to dress and came down to a beautiful table. We started with berries and yogurt. She also had a hot pot of tea waiting for me. I want to know how she knew I liked Earl Grey! It was so good! Then it was Spinach Quiche and a side of bacon. I am so sorry; it looked so good that I didn’t stop to take a picture! But believe me, it was to die for!
After some wonderful conversation with the other guests and with Andi, it was time for us to head back to the plantation. But we couldn’t leave until I had a chance to just a couple of photos of Enzo. What a ham! He seemed to really enjoy his “photo shoot”.
If you find yourself in Fredericksburg, I would highly recommend a stay at Schooler House, if they aren’t booked! This bed and breakfast and its innkeeper will truly remind you what sets bed and breakfasts apart from staying in a hotel!
Once we got back to the plantation, we walked around and enjoyed our time as we waited for our appointment to arrive. We had set up an appointment to meet with a local couple who will be getting married soon. I had received a request through our Facebook from her asking if they might be able to do their wedding photos there. What was even more special about this couple is that the young lady has a relative that once worked for the Turner Family during the 1800s on Belle Grove! What a wonderful surprise!
When Jenn and Nick arrived, it was so wonderful to see the excitement in their eyes! It was just like Brett and I when we first saw Belle Grove. They had also brought along her “Nana”. I think Nana was more thrilled than all of us. We walked around the house and I talked about the history of Belle Grove Plantation. For me, it is just so much fun to share this history with people that really love this plantation. It makes all the historic research worth it.
Once our daughter and her boyfriend arrived, Brett took Hurley for a run around the plantation. We tried to get some video of him, but he was just too excited to be there. It is so funny how Hurley seems to get all worked up when he arrives. I took Alexa and her boyfriend on a short tour of the house and grounds. By the time we finished, I think Hurley was finally tuckered out.
We loaded up the cars with Hurley and Alexa in the backseat and we headed back to Chesapeake. It really was a great weekend. We met so many new people in Fredericksburg and had a chance to spend some time at the plantation we love so much. As we drove over the bridge, I looked back towards the banks of Belle Grove trying hard to see it through the trees. One day, I won’t have to look back for it. I will be there.