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The Garden Club of the Northern Neck
     Historic Garden Week in Virginia will mark seventy seasons of tours throughout the state in April 2003. The Garden Club of Virginia, the parent sponsor, expects over 40,000 guests to visit the gardens, homes, and historic landmarks. 

     The Garden Club of the Northern Neck is sponsoring the Westmoreland County tour, Celebrating 350 Years: Take a Tour Through Time on Wednesday, April 23, 2003, from 10 AM to 5 PM. This tour highlights five homes built on lands traced to original patents: older homes preserved through centuries of care and those of a more current time settling into the fabric of the area. 

     By 1634 the House of Burgess had organized the Virginia Colony into eight counties under the jurisdiction of county courts. Nearly 20 years later, Northumberland County’s population of traders, adventurers, and English settlers had increased so that it seemed feasible to establish separate counties: Lancaster County (1651) and then Westmoreland County (1653). Westmoreland was created as a common sense convenience and necessity: for the 400 or so, who then lived along this southern shore of the Potomac River, traveling through lands covered almost entirely by forests the distances to reach the courts would not as great. Some of the county’s first prominent citizens came from Maryland as Protestant refugees, notably John Mottram, Nathaniel Pope, Walter Broadhurst, Thomas Speke, and Andrew Monroe.

     Research has established that Native Americans had lived here for thousands of years, first mostly as nomadic hunter and gathers and later in villages in agricultural settings. Capt. John Smith, exploring the Rappahannock River in 1608, went ashore at Leedstown and found an established settlement. By the time of the county’s early beginnings, the Native American community had lost a foothold in the area, pushed further away into uncleared land, and disappeared.

     In the 17th century, virgin forests and fertile lands beside tidal river and creeks became sites for farms and plantations. In time, villages and towns sprang up along crossroads: trails became roads, and waterways became highways for steamboats and ferries. Early land patents to Andrew Monroe and John Washington established roots for two future presidents. The emigrant Richard Lee’s descendents became patriots and leaders seeking freedom for a fledgling nation. In 1766 a group of men gathered at Bray’s Church to draft the Leedstown Resolves, a written protest against the Stamp Act Tax. This important document was a forerunner in the struggles for American independence a decade later.

     Anchoring the tour in the northern end of the county and sitting along a high point of the ridge overlooking the Rappahannock River valley is Ingleside Plantation, c. 1835 Its special charm lies in its Jeffersonian-Federal style of architecture, its park-like setting and its classical approach through an avenue of mature willow oaks. Azaleas, camellias, hollies, ponds, vineyards, horses, statuary are all part of the pleasant garden scene. The house was originally built to be the Washington Academy of Westmoreland, a boys’ school. Today this impressive house reflects the changes and additions made over the years converting an academic building into a gracious private residence. This property is a Century Farm and a Virginia and National Historic Landmark. Mr. and Mrs. Carl F. Flemer, Jr., owners. 

     Nearby is St Peter’s Episcopal Church, Oak Grove, on Rt.3, King’s Highway, where guests will find light refreshments, maps, tickets, and further information about the tour.

     Atwilton is located on the outskirts of Montross. The hilltop setting of this handsome Georgian style house provides expansive views of the grounds, horse pastures, and a fishing pond with its gaggle of geese. Azaleas and dogwoods line the winding approach to the house. Cutting gardens, farmlands, barns, beautiful pin oaks, and mature boxwoods will capture your attention. The interior is furnished with antiques and reproductions; of special interest are a number of family pieces from Stratford Plantation during the Stuart period of ownership from 1828 to 1932. Exiting the farm, visitors drive by the cottage home of the owner’s son’s family. Mrs. S. Dorsey Edwards, Jr., is opening the house for the first time for Historic Garden Week.

     Enjoy Ferry Hill’s idyllic location as it affords a panoramic view of Pierce and Nomini Creeks as they wind out to the Nomini Bay and Potomac River. The rolling landscape includes a boxwood maze and perennial gardens. Built c. 1750, the house is a combination of an original dependency that survived British attacks during the War of 1812 and wings added by subsequent owners. Throughout the house are beautiful antiques, paintings, pastels, china, silhouettes spanning 200 years, and china passed down through generations. Early water transportation gave the house its current name: the ferry at the foot of the hill crossed to Nomini Church. Owners: Mr. and Mrs. Phillip A. Hoge and Mr. and Mrs. George J. Ripol.

     King Copsico Farm, part of an original tract patented in 1658, retains its Native American name. The view from the residence across a seven- mile stretch of the Potomac River is spectacular. Walk along the lawn to see the impressive shoreland structures built to protect the house and farm from erosion. Half of the acreage is cultivated: the rest is in timber. Constructed as a summer home in 1939, two additions have transformed the house into a livable dwelling of mixed architectural styles furnished with fine American and English antiques. A wide variety of trees and small gardens dotting the property is evidence of the owners’ keen interest in horticulture and conservation. This Century Farm is open for the first time for Historic Garden Week by the owners Mr. and Mrs. W. Tayloe Murphy, Jr.

     Near the Information Center in Hague, visitors will be intrigued by Mount Pleasant, c. 1886, and its intricate design of late Victorian residential architecture. This beautifully restored three-story house, built in the Queen Anne style, has clapboard siding cut from local cypress: an array of colors accentuates the house’s detailing. . It has a steeply pitched gabled roof featuring many dormers, four brick chimneys and a sweeping veranda. The interior of the house offers a rare glimpse of America’s Gilded Age in rooms containing original fireplaces and mantels, walnut woodwork and period pieces. Built on land once patented by Richard Lee, founder of the noted Lee family, it remained in that family for 6 generations. A Virginia Landmark, Mount Pleasant is open for the first time for Historic Garden Week. The owners are Mr. and Mrs. William T. Carden.
     Block tickets for the tour are $20. A single house admission is $10. Tickets and maps are available at each house, at the Information Center located in the Cople Parish House, Hague, at the intersection of Coles Point Rd. (Rt. 612) and Cople Hwy. (Rt. 202) and by advance purchase. Box lunches can be picked up from 10 AM to 3 PM from the Cople Parish House. Pre- paid box lunch reservations must be received by April 12. A combination box lunch and house tour ticket is $28. For reservations please send checks to GCNN, Box 86, Kinsale, Virginia 22488.
     For bus or group tour information, please contact Mrs. Dillard C. Laughlin, chair for the 2003 Historic Garden Week in the Northern Neck at (804) 472-4835 or Mrs. Robert A. Harris, III, co-chair, at (804) 472- 3121; call Mrs. Harris or email: rahrah@sylvaninfo.net for general information.
    Since 1929, Historic Garden Week has provided funds for the restorations of many historic gardens and grounds. Today it oversees more than three-dozen historic sites. Restorations in the Northern Neck include the grounds at Historic Christ Church and the formal east garden at Stratford Plantation. 

     References include Westmoreland County Virginia by Walter B. Norris, Jr., Journal and Letters of Phillip Vickers Fithian, Four Centuries of Little Known Washington Parrish History by Carl F. Flemer, Jr., Virginia’s Northern Neck by John C. Wilson, A Visit to Stratford and the Story of the Lees by Alonzo T. Dill and Mary Tyler Cheek, and interviews with individual homeowners, and historian Virginia Clapp.

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