Tuesday, September 26, 2023

September 26, 2023~ Poplar Forest, Forest, Bedford County, Virginia

September 26, 2023 ~ Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest is one of only two homes that Thomas Jefferson designed for his personal use. He inherited this Bedford County Plantation from his wife's(Martha) father in 1773(In 1763, John Wayles, Martha's father, left substantial property to her. John and Betty Hemings fathered a child Sally😲) Jefferson basically completed building his retreat in 1812. Octagonal in shape(and the first octagonal house in America), this jewel is now designated as a National Historic Landmark. It has been completely restored, after a fire that destroyed almost the entire structure. 

My friend, Kaye, and I were greeted by a docent, Jim Wright, who guided us on the house tour. Friendly, knowledgeable, excited to share, a local retired physician, and 'relatively new' in his position, our intuitions told us he LOVED his volunteer job! 
The name 'Poplar Forest' predates Jefferson's ownership. An abundance of the stately Tulip Poplar trees remains today. (Photo below also includes a portion of the carriage turnaround, lending up to the Main House.) The carriage turnaround was made of quartz and red clay mortar.

Note the variation in pattern and stones leading up to the front steps. (The smoother flatter rock was used, allowing for a steady and perhaps safer exit from the carriage). This entrance is known as the North Portico Entrance.
Below is a map of the site.(Courtesy of pamphlet)  
The Paper Mulberry Trees, #6, ⬆️, caused me to ponder. Is there a connection to Mulberry Row at Monticello? And look at #2, ⬆️, known as the 1814 "Wing of Offices". The similarities to Monticello's South Pavilion Kitchen and Cellar are astounding! His invention of the "terras roof" feature, allowed the flat roof to be useable. 
Look at all of those bricks! 240,000 of them😮!
We entered Poplar Forest through the North Portico. One of Jefferson's favorite architectural shapes was the use of the octagonal design.  
*Thomas Jefferson spent 14 years in his retirement going back and forth to Poplar Forest. How could he have such an exquisite place and keep it so private? Monticello had become very public, and he wanted seclusion on this 5000 acres retreat. Very few people visited PF.  It was during this time that Thomas Jefferson purchased the nearby famous Natural Bridge (1774) from England.

All interior walls at Poplar Forest are 12" thick; the 10 doors are made from Virginia walnut; the dining room includes an octagonal shaped table, a skylight, and the unusual ornamental moulding of ox skulls alternating with the face of Apollo. 

Jefferson's Monticello 2-way bed chamber was also used in his design of at Poplar Forest. (bed accessories not included in PF) 
The furnishings at Poplar Forest are mostly reproductions. A first time visit for me, Poplar Forest was well worth the visit!


Sunday, September 24, 2023

September 24, 2023~ Burke's Garden


Sunday afternoon drives are the best, especially when you end up in Tazewell Co Va. 

Need a change of pace? 

How about a change of scenery?
As described in a Tazewell Co webpage: "Known as 'Vanderbilt's First Choice', 'God's Thumbprint', and the 'Garden Spot of the World', beautiful BURKE'S GARDEN is Virginia's highest valley and Virginia's largest rural historic district."

Before you go, be aware: 1. This place is a step back in time. 2. You have to be intentional about getting to this place. 3. Take a set of written directions with you. 4. Temps are at least 10-12 degrees cooler than the Roanoke area. 5. You might just decide to stay, as it is heavenly. 

Wide open spaces, very few cars, even less humans, Burke's Garden provided a relief from any and all anxieties of life. Surreal, actually, like a yoga class in the car🤣!. The unincorporated community in Tazewell Co, currently has a population of 300. It is the home of Appalachia backcountry Amish(Western Kentucky, not Ohio or Pennsylvania). Wifi........hmmmmm. sketchy. 

The sounds of horse hooves pulling buggies were abundant on Sunday. Here is the story:

Shawnee Indian history prevails in this bowl-shaped place. Burke's Garden sits 3000' above sea level. We visited here 10 years ago, and rode our bicycles around the 12 mile loop. Today..... we were content to enjoy the slow car ride around the loop😁..Average high temps... mid 50s. Cattle, livestock, camels, fertile land .......and fresh air! Quirky signs! 
The Burke's Garden Post Office now houses an artisan's guild, displaying local arts and crafts(run by a woman who fled from a government job in McClean 3 years ago........ Imagine that!)
German immigrants first made this a backcountry frontier outpost as they came to settle here in the late 1700s. Some of the descendants still live in the valley today. 
This place is completely off the grid of modern life. No stop lights, no cable television, no post office, no newspaper delivery, and limited cell phone service.  The Central Lutheran Church and its cemetery are both on the National Registry of Historic Places. The cemetery was founded around 1827 and the church was built in 1875. It served as a Union church for several denominations, Lutheran being the more dominant one. 

The fall foliage precedes our area.

The camel farm, according to a local source, closed during the pandemic, as did several farms.
The Amish farms, however, still flourish.

Head out to Burke's Garden for a day of R&R. We packed a lunch, and dined at the cemetery😮. Go before the weather freezes. It's rather isolated up there, and you might not make it.... or get out!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

September 21, 2023~James Monroe's Highland-AshLawn

James Monroe's famous quote: The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.  

James Monroe's estate was approximately 5 miles away from Monticello. After a lengthy tour of Jefferson's Monticello, we drove to Ash Lawn-Highland.

James Monroe, Founding Father, was the 5th president of the United States. Formally known as the estate 'Ash Lawn-Highland', it was renamed in 2016, to communicate the relationship to its first owner.

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

The yellow wing, above, was added on by later owners. The addition was not part of Monroe's main house, which was completely destroyed by fire.

"The property today includes the 1818 guest house, and 1850's addition, and an 1870s Victorian style farmhouse."  

The grounds are spectacular.
Boxwoods stand 10-12' high.
Statues are lovely.

Interior rooms were well furnished to represent period times.↓↓↓

A guided tour was available, but our time was limited. We enjoyed our walk.