Virginia Living - April 2023

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APRIL 2023 $ 8.95 WWW.VIRGINIALIVING.COM EDNA LEWIS’ SOUTHERN RECIPES COME HOME p . 52 ALPACAS STEALING HEARTS ACROSS VIRGINIA p . 96 JOHN & YOKO INSIDE THE ESTATE SHOPPING TOUR p . 92 PLAY IT, LIZZO! p . 21 | POWHATAN’S LONGHOUSE p . 37 | POPLAR FOREST p . 84 Lamb the On Spring shines at Easter dinner. 800-838-1766 Experience the benefits of the naturally warm, mineral-rich springs at the Warm Springs Pools. The Take the Waters Wellness Retreat package includes a soak in these historic bathhouses, a day pass to the Spa’s adults-only Serenity Garden, an inspiring guided hike of the Cascades Gorge, and 10% off all spa services. REST RELAXATION THE ART OF AND
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LY H W E l CO me S YO U

Named as one of The South’s Best Cities on the Rise and Best College Towns, we invite you to get a feel for our city, filled with beautiful unexpected views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, walkable public gardens and historic sites rooted throughout our neighborhoods.
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Charlotte. Those who wander are never lost. Pint-size pathfinders will discover that every day is met with new adventures in the Queen City. Made for nature novices, fresh air followers and eccentric explorers, sometimes getting lost is just what you need to find a new direction. Plan your trip at

Virginia’s Alternative to the Outer Banks Contact us for details of our Discovery Visit Package 844.620.2900 info @ Set upon 1,720 lush acres along the Chesapeake Bay, Bay Creek is a master-planned community that brings families together to live their best life through a connection with its coastal landscape, nature, phenomenal club amenities managed by Troon Privé and active lifestyle programming. From exploring sparkling bay waters to hosting friends for dinner on the porch of your welcoming new coastal home, Bay Creek is the easy-going, elegant lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of. We invite you to explore this natural wonderland in a place where residents connect, forge friendships and pursue their interests and passions. There is truly nothing like it on the coast of Virginia. Homesites from the low $100s Homes from the $400s Model Homes Open Daily Obtain the Property Report required by Federal Law and read it before signing anything. No Federal agency has judged the merits or values, if any, of the property. This is not intended to be and does not constitute an offer in any state or jurisdiction where prohibited by law. Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Prices and square footages are provided for reference only but are subject to change and not guaranteed. Renderings are artist’s conceptual illustrations and are subject to change. Sales by Bay Creek Realty/Broker. ©2023 Bay Creek. All rights reserved.

Built for care that doesn’t miss a beat. Built for Logan.

From securing a purple belt in karate to taking part in outdoor track, what got high schooler Logan’s heart racing wasn’t what you’d expect. But thanks to our team of specialists and her own determination, we were able to identify and permanently correct her rare heart defect.

Our new Children’s Tower will be dedicated to offering the unique care kids and teens like Logan need, so they can get back to doing what they love. From surgery and acute care to emergency visits, we are building an entire city block dedicated to kids. Construction is nearly complete, but we still need your support to help bring it to life.

Built for kids. Built by you. Donate today at


A most tranquil and private 278+ acres with approximately two-thirds mile of James River frontage. The centerpiece is an impressive brick Georgian home, circa 2000, constructed with expert craftsmanship, and many significant architectural details. A spectacular offering: pastures and hay fields, surrounded by deep hardwood forest, along with fertile James River bottomland for gardens. MLS#634311


Stunning 317 acre estate that has it all—location, views, water, and stunning main residence. The 15+ acre lake is centered among lush rolling fields of rich grass, a spectacular 5-bedroom home, large metal barn, log cabin, stunning party barn, and a 2-bedroom cottage. Located 25 minutes west of Charlottesville, this exceptional property is a one-of-a-kind, not to be replicated, gem. MLS#631962


A southern Albemarle estate with 1.5 miles of frontage on the James River with 540± acres of highly fertile, gently rolling landscape. A historic farmhouse dating to the late 1700s is perfectly sited on a knoll offering extensive views of the river. The land is open and wooded with a barn and equipment building. Under conservation easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. MLS#630470


Meticulously maintained home on 57 private and protected acres, 6 miles northeast of Charlottesville. Residence features 4-6-bedroom, 5-full and 2-half bathrooms, large open floor plan on the main level, gourmet kitchen and generous master suite. Panoramic views of the Southwest Mountains and to the west are winter views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. MLS#638292


753-acre country estate with impressive circa 1904 manor home, 25 miles south of Charlottesville and UVA. Ample equestrian, farming, and/or recreation opportunities with the ideal mix of woodland, pastureland and cropland along with streams and ponds. 48-stall horse barn, indoor riding arena, fenced paddocks, riding trails, and other dependencies. Additional offerings available.


Superbly maintained 333-acre farm near the Blue Ridge Mountains in western Madison County. This magnificent property contains rolling to hilly pastures and grazing land, wooded mountain land, 2 homes and a complement of necessary farm buildings to sustain many agricultural endeavors. Currently runs as a grazing farm for beef cattle. NOT IN CONSERVATION EASEMENT! MLS#630435



Farm, Estate and Residential Brokers

EDGEMONT ◆ Circa 1796

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is this Palladian inspired masterpiece called Edgemont. Surrounded by 572 acres of rolling Virginia farmland, with the Hardware River running through the lush fields, is a home whose design is reputed to be the only complete remaining private residence attributed to Thomas Jefferson. Includes a pool, pool house, two guest houses, manager’s house, separate executive office, tennis court, stables and a barn. Listed on the National and State Historic Registers, the property is extremely well located 15 miles south of Charlottesville, the University of Virginia, and exceptional hospitals.

NORTH WALES ◆ Circa 1776

Unparalleled in its beauty and charm, North Wales is an exceptional 1,471± acre Virginia estate surrounded by breathtaking rural countryside, yet is less than one hour to our Nation’s Capital and 45 minutes to Dulles International Airport. Evidence of the estate’s historical significance for period design and superb craftsmanship is showcased by intricate moldings, elaborately carved mantels and 18’ ceilings. Includes a stone carriage house, farm and equestrian improvements, and a shooting preserve. Under a preservation easement and listed on the Historic Registers, this extraordinary property is a rare offering of a National treasure.

WWW.MCLEANFAULCONER.COM 503 Faulconer Drive, Suite 5 Charlottesville, VA 22903
p: 434.295.1131 e:


The Magical Manor Tour

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In 1980, John and Yoko searched Virginia for a grand estate.

We’ve Been Fleeced!

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Adorable and friendly, alpacas are big business in Virginia.

p. 57

p. 96



News and notes from the Commonwealth.


Our Top Ten picks.


Swell soirées around the state.



As her third novel debuts, Jeannette Walls reveals her passion for Virginia.


Werowocomoco: The 30-year search for Powhatan’s longhouse ends in a backyard.


A black bear walks into a bar... Not yet, maybe, but bear sightings are on the rise.


Pearisburg: A hiker’s mecca.



Orange County honors Edna Lewis, the Grande Dame of Southern Cooking.

p. 92

p. 42


The inspired Easter feast, kids’ culinary classes, and more.


From American sake to moonshine and a new merlot blend.


The Black Sheep: In Manassas, it’s the jewel in Farm Brew LIVE’s crown.


The king of Appalachian cuisine, Travis Milton.



The Georges in Lexington welcomes an expansion.

77 D É COR

From colorful glassware to placemats, spring tabletops bloom.


Cocktail gardens, outdoor kitchens, and Historic Garden Week’s 90th anniversary.


A beach condo gets a colorful dose of old coastal soul.


At last! Poplar Forest’s 30-year restoration is ready for its close-up.



The latest advances taking Virginia’s schools to the next level.


My Short Life as a Guide: Pope Pius XII’s utterly fictitious visit to Ashland.

 Find our our latest curated resource: Top Dentists 2023 list at

12 VIRGINIA LIVING APRIL 2023 IDENTIFICATION STATEMENT: VIRGINIA LIVING (USPS) ISSN 1534-9984 Virginia Living is published bimonthly by Cape Fear Publishing Company, 109 E. Cary St., Richmond, VA 23219. Periodical postage permit 021-875 at Richmond, VA. (clockwise from top left): illustration by jackie parsons . photos by: kyle l a ferriere, by ryan donnell, odd + even studio, scott schuman, 614 studio
| APRIL 2023
p. 33
ON THE COVER: Spring lamb dinner. Photo by Fred + Elliott. Additional styling by Katie Taylor. At Double 8 Alpaca & Llama Ranch, alpaca Elkton and yearling llama, Max Scherzer, get ready for a hike in the woods. p. 84
The Best of Both Worlds Visit Warsaw and Richmond County, Va. Enjoy the small town vibes in Warsaw or immerse yourself in nature with our pristine waterways and idyllic surroundings of Richmond County. Who says you can’t be an outdoor adventurer and a townie? Come see what everyone’s talking about.

PUBLISHED BY Cape Fear Publishing Company

109 East Cary Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219 804-343-7539,

PUBLISHER John-Lawrence Smith




MANAGING EDITOR Madeline Mayhood


DIGITAL EDITOR Konstantin Rega


CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Larry Bleiberg, Erica Jackson Curran, Kinsey Gidick, Don Harrison, Caroline Kettlewell, Frank Morgan, Tricia Pearsall, Peggy Sijswerda, Phyllis Theroux, Michael C. Upton, Eric J. Wallace

COPY EDITOR Ashley Hunter


SALES MANAGER Matthew Marjenhoff 804-622-2602, Warren Rhodes 804-622-2603, Clay Thomas 804-622-2609,








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J. MICHAEL WELTON explores Chief Powhatan’s once-hidden headquarters and Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Dwell.

SCOTT SCHUMAN specializes in food, travel, and portrait photography and captured adorable alpacas for our feature. His work has appeared in Travel+Leisure, Washingtonian, Bon Appétit, Saveur, and others.


Famous Firsts of Virginia: Among the 29 surprising things you’ll discover that originated in Virginia: “Taps,” camouflage clothing, the toll road, and the ice cream cone. Like we’ve been saying: It all started here in the Commonwealth.

Virginia Weddings: A stylish mix of trend and tradition informs the celebrations in our 2023 wedding issue—our best yet. Meet 10 real-life Virginia couples and find out how they made their big day both meaningful and beautiful.

Top Ten Articles 2022: See what articles our readers loved most in 2022. Our Top Ten list includes Cou Cou Rachou bakery, which brings a taste of Paris to Charlottesville; a tour of Smithfield with its historic lighthouse and downtown shops; and the surprising history of Vint Hill Farms in Warrenton, where WWII code breakers helped win the war.

Favorite Books of 2022: Don’t miss our list of the Virginia authors that keep us turning pages. From Adriana Trigiani’s The Good Left Undone to Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead—a contemporary retelling of the Dickens classic—to the quietly stirring Selected Books of the Beloved by UVA professor Gregory Orr.

Online Exclusives: Top of the Trades 2023: Just out on, our curated guide to the cabinet makers, home builders, and interior designers in the Commonwealth.

Find Smith & Branson’s nifty needlepoint 16 oz. Tervis tumblers at

Connect with us on to see all of the latest news and stories from Virginia Living, plus exciting giveaways and exclusive content. Have news to share? Tag us @VirginiaLiving

ERIN GIFFORD'S three hiking guidebooks includes Virginia Summits, coming in May. She explores the hospitable trail town of Pearisburg for this month’s installment of Destinations.

RYAN DONNELL, D.C.-based photographer and master of location portraits, elevates our profile on writer Jeannette Walls. In addition to Virginia Living, his clients include Sesame Workshop, Runners World, Fortune, and more.

DAWN KLAVON is a journalist, author, and media director, who crafts stories about people, restaurants, and lifestyles. Follow along as she eats and drinks her way through Farm Brew LIVE’s crown jewel, The Black Sheep.

STACY ZARIN GOLDBERG studied photography and art at Pratt Institute in New York City and the Corcoran Gallery in D.C. Widely published and exhibited, she trained her artistic eye on a reimagined Virginia Beach condo.

VOLUME 21, NUMBER 3 April 2023
LEGALISMS Virginia Living is a registered trademark of Cape Fear Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 2023, all rights reserved. Reproduction without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited.
photo by kyle l a ferriere
In the Hunt Room at the Cavalier Hotel: a pair of taxidermy raccoons.
5425 Richmond Rd. (Rt. 60) Williamsburg, VA 23188 Discover Your Style IN A BOHEMIAN OASIS Shop top manufacturers and custom furniture while saving 40-60% off other retailers. We believe your home should be filled with timeless pieces that fit any style and budget. Our team of talented designers can help curate pieces and provide design tips to make your space a place you’ll never want to leave. Visit our expanded showroom today!

Where to Begin…

John & Yoko, Madison & Lizzo, Jefferson, Depp, or Alpacas?


I’ve had a front row seat to Virginia’s past and present—and the view from this issue is impressive. Let’s start in 1980, as John Lennon and Yoko Ono take a marvelous manor tour—had you heard?—through Gloucester and Mathews counties.

In this untold Beatles blockbuster by writer Don Harrison, you’ll ride in the limousine with the Lennons and a pair of young real estate agents as they roll through Upper Shirley and Poplar Grove singing “Yellow Submarine.” Which historic estate did they choose? Hint: Why stop at one?

Heading west to Poplar Forest, Champagne is chilling as artisans put the finishing touches on a decades-long restoration of Jefferson’s jewel box estate near Lynchburg. When esteemed architectural historian Travis McDonald accepted the job, the hiring committee guesstimated a twoyear turnaround.

“Would you like it done right?” McDonald inquired, politely. The committee demurred, and 34 years later, we’re pleased to share an exclusive preview of McDonald’s masterwork— with thanks to writer J. Michael Welton—ahead of April’s unveiling.

Our statewide crush on alpacas went viral

Letters to the Editor


I worked with Michael Phelps’ father in the Maryland State Police and our daughters swam against Michael’s swim club in Baltimore, nickname: The Tomatoes. At that time he had already competed in his first Olympics. If I hadn’t read your magazine at our dentist’s office, you most likely would not have known about this miscue (“Famous Firsts,” Feb. ’23). Also, we were so impressed with Virginia Living’s February issue that we subscribed to your magazine.

during the Depp vs. Heard trial when a Virginia owner took hers to the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse. In our feature, writer Peggy Sijswerda explains how Virginians fell for these Peruvian charmers and how you can now walka-paca, bottle-feed one, or throw an alpaca wedding at select farms around the state.

Shopping for a school? For our State of Education report, our special projects editor, Vayda Parrish, helmed a team of crack reporters to create this impressive resource. You’ll discover how campus business incubators are hatching real-world entrepreneurs long before graduation—and find the latest news from the top schools in the state.

I’d love to tell you more—like how Grammywinner Lizzo and James Madison came by that priceless crystal flute. Instead, pour yourself a glass of Virginia sake (yes, the story’s here) and spend an evening or three savoring what is our favorite issue yet. If you agree, drop me a line to let us know. We’re glad you’re with us.

upcoming Open Studio Day, April 2nd, and to join us at our Spring Gala celebration on June 17th.


Congratulations on all your great work for 20 years. Hard work paid off. Sending peace and many more successes.

Detail from “Showy Showoff,” June. ’22


May I express my gratitude for Caroline Kettlewell’s contributions to your beautiful and interesting magazine? I’ve been a fan of her articles on Virginia plants and animals for many years. The illustrations that accompany each Natives article adds a sparkle to the subtle humor of her prose. She is unique—as is Virginia Living! Thank you both for giving us such a treat.

—Mike College, Smith Mountain Lake Editor’s Reply: Thank you, Mike. Claiming Phelps as an honorary Virginian was wishful thinking on our part. We appreciate your gracious clarification.


Thank you for “A Place to Create” (Feb. ’23), which highlights the important work of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. We’re especially proud that our 50th Anniversary Fellowships will offer 50 nocost residencies each year for artists of color who are new to VCCA. We invite your readers to visit us on our

Drop Us a Line


We love hearing from our readers. Send your comments by email to or write us a letter and mail it to Letters to the Editor, 109 E. Cary St., Richmond, VA 23219. Please include your name and city of residence. Letters may be edited for length or clarity.


Would you like to sell copies of Virginia Living in your shop, tasting room, or office? Send an email to our favorite circulation manager, Angela Shapiro at and she’ll be happy to share the details.

17 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING Editor’s Letter
(from top) photos: courtesy of andrew centofante, by kyle l a ferriere. illustration by michael witte.
An historic interpreter, Valarie Gray-Holmes originated the role of Angela at Jamestown. We were honored to feature her in “The 400-Year Commute,” which appeared in our 20th Anniversary issue (Dec. ’22) The Georges’ owner, Ann Parker Gottwald (right), with artist Sunny Goode in one of the Lexington boutique hotel’s 12 new guest rooms.

Natural galleries and outdoor spaces under the stars available for ceremonies, receptions or both.



The Upperville Colt and Horse Show celebrates 170 years of equine excellence, June 5-11.


“There’s something so special about riding where so many of the great horsemen have ridden,” says Michael Britt-Leon, winner of the $25,000 Salamander Hotel USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Upperville Colt & Horse Show in 2022. This year’s event, the 170th, takes place June 5-11 and will attract more than 1,900 horses and riders from around the world to compete for a total of $500,000 in prize money.

“Upperville draws big names, but it still maintains its community feel,” says Katie Prudent, the 1986 World Champion in team show jumping. “It is a very special old-style horse show. I love it.” A designated World Champion Hunter Rider show, it was honored as “Horse Show of the Year” in 2021 by the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame.

The oldest and perhaps most prestigious equestrian competition in the country, it was founded in 1853 by Colonel Richard Henry Dulany, whose ancestors fought beside George Washington in the Revolutionary War. When Dulany asked Louis Comfort Tiffany to design the trophy for the innaugural event, the celebrated craftsman was so impressed that he created the cup himself, charging only for the silver.

In addition to Sunday’s $213,300 Grand Prix finale, the event will include Jack Russell Terrier races, an antique car expo, a children’s leadline class, and a top-drawer lineup of retail vendors.

Cannon Creek, 2022 USHJA International Hunter Derby Champion. Konstantin Rega  | Photo by Taylor Pence Photography
Be Explore unique experiences to energize your mind, body and spirit and relax with every fiber of your being. Tutor your tastebuds with fresh new flavors. Set an intention for a good workout…or a great round of golf. And celebrate like there’s no tomorrow – all at our Northern Virginia wellness resort. Discover your self at CURIOUS. CHALLENGED. INSPIRED. 44050 Woodridge Parkway I Leesburg, VA 20176 | | 703.729.8400


Designer Heather Chadduck Hillegas takes a fresh approach to historic interiors.

Colonial Williamsburg’s oldest residence, the Nelson-Galt House, will unveil an exciting interior makeover in April.

Designer-in-residence Heather Chadduck Hillegas has transformed the 17th-century house using fabrics from the new Williamsburg x Schumacher line along with paint colors from Benjamin Moore’s Williamsburg® Collection.

“It’s humbling to contribute to Colonial Williamsburg’s living history, and exciting to find fresh inspiration in its buildings and collections,” says Chadduck Hillegas, the second-ever designer to be honored by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation with this prestigious role. She’ll also collaborate on the creation of new fabrics,

PLAY IT AGAIN, LIZZO! How Madison came by that crystal flute.

IN A BOLD TWEET, Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, shared James Madison’s priceless crystal flute and issued a tempting invitation: “@lizzo we would love for you to come see it and even play…”

The Grammy-winning pop star, an accomplished flutist, tweeted back: “IM COMING CARLA! AND IM PLAYIN THAT CRYSTAL FLUTE!!!!!” And she did, at the Capital One Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. in September. As the sound ricocheted around the world, we wanted to know the backstory.

What was Madison doing with a crystal flute in the first place? It turns out, the flute was a gift from Parisian watchmaker Claude Laurent, who’d won a silver medal at the 1806 Paris Industrial Exposition for his flute with exceptionally clear sound. He’d handcrafted this one in

1813 to honor Madison’s second inauguration.

By 1815, Laurent followed with a polite inquiry: “Mr. President, I took the liberty of sending to you about three years ago, a crystal flute of my invention,” he wrote. “Please allow me to express to you the desire that I would learn if it has reached you ...?”

Had Madison failed to acknowledge Laurent’s gift? Was his thank-you lost in the mail? We’ll never know.

But unlike Jefferson, who played the violin, and Washington, the zither, our fourth President was no musician. “As far as we know, he never played it,” says Hilarie Hicks, senior research historian at Montpelier, Madison’s home in Orange. “It was probably more of a curiosity.”

After Madison’s death, the flute passed to a collector,

paints, light fixtures, and home accessories sold under the WILLIAMSBURG brand.

“We couldn’t imagine a better partner,” says Kiri Franco, director of licensing at Colonial Williamsburg. “Heather’s approach offers a fresh take on tradition that nods to classical design, but has a timeless, relaxed feel that’s as comfortable as it is elegant.”

Located on Francis Street, the Nelson-Galt House will be open for ticketed tours during Historic Garden Week, beginning April 18, and over the Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day weekends. ; —by Vayda Parrish

modern conveniences of the day.

who later bequeathed it to the Library of Congress. Although Lizzo’s crystal-flute moment was fleeting, Hicks says the Grammy Awardwinner is always welcome to play it again—this time, at Montpelier. —by Konstantin Rega


The Library of Virginia holds our “community history.”

WHAT BEGAN IN 1823 as storage for law books at the State Capitol now houses “the most heavily visited archives in the United States,” says Sandra Treadway, Librarian of Virginia. With more than 101 million books and manuscripts from church cookbooks to governors’ papers and land deeds—it’s a trove of “community history. Virginia’s story is America’s story,” she says. “Even if you live in California, if your family’s been in this country long enough, you’ve got a Virginia ancestor.”

To mark its remarkable 200-year milestone, a new exhibition, 200 Years, 200 Stories, will share highlights from the collection. And look for the Library’s van, touring the state from March to October. Says Treadway, “It’s a way for us to go to people, even as this Library is open to everyone.” —by K.R.

photos (from top): by annie schlechter, courtesy of library of virginia, by shawn miller/library of congress The 1895 Library’s reading room and references areas were outfitted with the

Yellow Jackets play sports AND found clubs. They win research fellowships AND join weekend tailgates. Our students are supported by a network of faculty, coaches, and staff who are driven by the power of AND —and they pursue their passions without sacrificing their freedom to discover new paths.

• 55+ courses of study

• 18 Varsity Division III sports

• 100+ clubs and organizations

RMC now has direct admission to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in our new state-of-the-art facilities.


Our 4-YEAR DEGREE GUARANTEE means you’ll graduate in four years—or we pay for the classes left to get you there.

• Nationally-ranked career center

252-337-5423 757-220-3256
Recognized by Virginig Living editors as a Top of the Trades business for 2021, 2022, and 2023.


Spacek and Fisk star in Sam & Kate.

IN SAM & KATE , UVA alum, actress, and musician Schuyler Fisk teams with six-time Academy Award-nominee Sissy Spacek—who also happens to be her mother.

The multigenerational rom-com heats up when the mother-daughter pair meet father-son co-stars Dustin and Jake Hoffman. As the title characters, Jake and Fisk explore romance, but the drama that unfolds captures the movie’s poignant tagline: “Sometimes it’s hard raising parents.”

Sam & Kate is the fourth on-screen pairing for Fisk and Spacek, who live near Charlottesville. The pair last appeared together in 1994’s Trading Mom

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, the movie was directed by Darren Le Gallo, husband of actress Amy Adams.


Macabre and moody, The Pale Blue Eye spotlights Virginians.

INSPIRED BY EDGAR ALLAN POE’S FLEETING tenure as a West Point cadet in 1830, novelist Louis Bayard wondered, “What the hell was this poet doing in this regimented, orderly, military environment?” Bayard’s 2003 novel, The Pale Blue Eye, puts the young Poe at the center of a series of grisly cadet murders, as he helps the lead detective unravel the case.

Now a movie, The Pale Blue Eye features an ensemble cast including some of Virginia’s finest. Poe himself lived in Richmond and attended UVA in Charlottesville, writer and director Scott Cooper (Crazy Hearts, Gods and Generals) is from Abingdon, Bayard grew up in Springfield and consulted on Cooper’s script, and Robert Duvall, Middleburg’s Academy Award-winner, plays a professor of the occult.

Veteran detective Augustus Landor, played by Christian Bale, recognizes Poe’s intelligent insights and enlists him to help to solve this macabre murder mystery. As the young Poe, actor Harry Melling, (Harry Potter’s Dudley Dursley), bears an uncanny resemblance to the poet. Twisted by subterfuge—and a pretty young woman— Poe is caught, quite literally, between love and death, as he narrowly escapes his turn as the next victim.

In real life, Poe was dismissed from West Point after six months, a departure, says Poe scholar Scott Peebles, that had “more of an effect on his literary career than his experience there.” Set in the snow-covered Hudson Valley, the film’s beautiful gray scale is interrupted only by the regiment’s cadet brilliant blue uniforms.

After a limited release in six countries, The Pale Blue Eye is now streaming on Netflix. —by


Richmond-based filmmakers score a Prime deal.

An orphaned baby ocelot offers British war veteran Harry Turner a shot at redemption in Wildcat, the moving documentary from Richmond filmmakers Melissa Lesh and Trevor Beck Frost, now on Amazon Prime.

Emotionally broken after a tour of Afghanistan, Turner retreats to Peru’s Amazon to volunteer at a wildlife rehab center where founder Samantha Zwicker charges him with raising the young cat and—in what would be a first—returning it to the wild.

The Hollywood Reporter cited Wildcat’s “remarkable animal footage and potent emotion,” comparing it to the 1962 classic Born Free. And the dealmakers at Amazon

snapped up the film for $20 million after it earned raves at film festivals in Aspen and Telluride and captivated audiences at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.

“We owe so much to Virginia—Richmond and the James River, in particular— it’s where we met kayaking, and the subject of my first film,” says Lesh. “If it hadn’t been for living in Virginia, we could never have afforded to make this film.”

Frost and Lesh are opening a wildlife filmmaking hub in Richmond, where they plan to develop their own projects while mentoring the next generation of conservation filmmakers. —by Tricia

photos (clockwise from top): by scott garfield/netflix © 2022, by trevor frost, courtesy of tmdb In Wildcat, Harry Turner teaches Keanu, a baby ocelot, how to be wild. Christian Bale plays a detective who enlists Poe (Harry Melling) to help solve a series of murders.
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Atlantic sturgeon is back.

WHEN HE TAGGED HIS 2,000TH Atlantic sturgeon in May, “sturgeon general” Matt Balazik marked an exciting milestone. Balazik, founder of the sturgeon program at VCU’s Rice Rivers Center, produces the data that guides the fish ecologists dedicated to its restoration and protection.

Decimated by the caviar “black gold rush” of the late 1880s, along with centuries of overfishing, sturgeons became known as “ghost fish.” Even today, the fish remains on the federal endangered species list, despite recent population upticks.

Once plentiful, sturgeon are credited with sustaining Jamestown’s settlers. Indian boys were said to rodeo-ride across rivers on the fish—which grow to 14 feet in length, weigh 800 pounds, and live for 60 years.

Knows as “living dinosaurs,” sturgeon are believed to have first evolved 200 million years ago during the Early Jurassic period. With a vacuumcleaner mouth, fused head shield, shark-like skin, lobed tail, and boney plate of armor, they look like an evolutionary grab bag of pieces and parts.


Richmond’s James River Park celebrates 50 years.

ONCE A TANGLED STRETCH of wilderness, James River Park (JRP) now hosts more than two million people each year on more than 600 acres, spanning seven miles. The world took note:

Outside Magazine hailed Richmond as the “Best River Town in America.” Blue Ridge Outdoors has gushed that the Class II-IV whitewater that roils past downtown is the “best natural urban whitewater in the country.” As hosts of the XTERRA triathlon, the city was catapulted onto the international stage. And Trail Runner Magazine honored its running trails with the title, “Best in Dirt.”

Balzic uses transponders to produce real-time migration data as the sturgeon move along the Atlantic coast. And for sturgeon nerds, like a recent Virginia Anglers Club audience, his work to identify the genes that drive sturgeon spawning patterns is fascinating stuff —by Tricia

How did it happen? Ralph White, the Park’s first superintendent—and sole employee, for years—led the Park’s transformation and helped put Richmond on America’s outdoor adventure map. White secured city funding and inspired the legions of volunteers who rallied to help


Jym Coleman, Giles Garrison, and Ralph White. build the paths, trails, bridges, pocket parks, and boat put-ins that sent Park usage soaring—and expanded the conversation around Richmond beyond history.

Richmond’s reputation as an outdoor mecca continues to shine, thanks to the shared vision of White’s star successors Nathan Burrell and Bryce Wilk.

Today, as it celebrates 50 years, the Park’s new superintendent Giles Garrison is focused on rolling out new programs to improve access to the park and attract even more visitors. “We want to make JRP a park for every resident,” she says, “and we want every child in the city to feel that it’s their own.”, RVA.Gov/Parks-Recreation —by T.P.


In Guardians of the Valley, Dean King traces the birth of our national park system.

WITH HIS LATEST BOOK , historian and Virginia Living contributor Dean King takes readers to the Yosemite Valley of the late 1870s, where the pristine wilderness inspires a spiritual awakening in the young Scottish naturalist, John Muir. But a decade later, when Muir returns to Yosemite, he finds it plundered by miners, tour operators, loggers—and anyone who stands to profit from the land.

With help from his friend, the urbane Robert Underwood Johnson, editor-in-

chief of The Century Magazine and later, U.S. Ambassador to Italy, Muir makes an impassioned plea for Yosemite’s protection. In time, this unlikely pair inspires Teddy Roosevelt to launch our national park system.

King’s story of two men who join forces to save America’s wilderness from destruction is as moving as the friendship that inspires it. King is now developing a documentary feature for Netflix.,

photos (clockwise from top left): by jamie brunkow, by kyle l a ferriere, by david parrish,
of © bettmann/corbis
Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir at Yosemite.
Dr. Matt Balzik catches an Atlantic sturgeon. to right:
Presented A touring exhibition produced by U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Flying Fish

Virginia Living ’s Top Ten

Our favorite events popping up this spring.

1  MARCH 20 - APRIL 16


NoVa: From the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s “A Cheery Cherry Jubilee” to kimono dress up at Tysons Corner, time to celebrate the season.


3  MARCH 31- APRIL 1


Bristol: The eighth annual festival honoring music lover James Wimmer brings together bluegrass and gospel artists from around the state for a two-day jam session at Delta Hotels Bristol. 276-935-7975,

4  APRIL 1- 2


Gloucester: Millions of blooms, along with music, mutts, and vendors galore are in store for this 37th annual spring celebration in the town’s historic district. 804-693-2355,


Virginia Beach: The Historic Cavalier Hotel hosts its annual brunch buffet, with visits from the Easter Bunny and egg hunts on the Great Lawn. 757-425-8555,



Abingdon: The Washington County Virginia Master Gardeners host their annual marketplace, with flowers, plants, garden décor, birdhouses, and more available from a slew of local vendors. 276-676-6309,

8  APRIL 22


2  MARCH 23


Winchester: These entertaining athletes are known worldwide for their high-flying stunts, antics, and skills on the court. 540-535-3588,

Richmond: Virginia’s own Floyd-based singer-songwriter passes through, bringing the “No Signs of Slowing Down’’ tour and her country music with an edge to a hometown crowd. 804-612-1900,

Lynchburg: Sip endless varieties of Virginia wine, enjoy all-day live music, peruse the work of artisans and crafters, and feast on the offerings of local food vendors at this 12th annual event. 434-473-7319,

9  APRIL 22

Also check out, Pirates Invade Yorktown Weekend, April 23 and 24.


Middleburg: Saddle up for this quintessential spring season-welcomer, Virginia’s oldest steeplechase, where thousands of fans gather as the daffodils and dogwoods of hunt country begin to bloom. 540-687-6545,

10  APRIL 27


Tysons: Broadway vocalists Chris Jackson and Aisha Jackson, along with pianist duo Steven Mann and Ray Wong, join the National Philharmonic to celebrate the velvety voice of a pop and jazz legend. 703-343-7651,


Discovering a sweet tradition in Highland County.

MOVE OVER MRS. BUTTERWORTH. With seven area “sugar camps,” Highland County—Virginia’s maple syrup sweet spot—is tapping trees and gearing up for its 63rd Maple Festival in March. The county-wide event starts in Monterey (an hour northwest of Staunton) with tours and demonstrations at 10 area camps, an artisan fair, live bluegrass and clogging— and plenty of pancakes.

To collect sap from the trees during the freeze-thaw months of late winter and early spring, farmers traditionally

used pails and spiles (taps). Although these methods have been modernized, it still takes 40 gallons of sap to produce a single gallon of syrup. Look for syrups infused with sophisticated flavors like cardamom, ginger, coffee-amaretto, and lavender from Bear Creek Farms. To support this rich cultural tradition, visit for a Virginia maple syrup trail passport. The festival runs over two weekends, March 11-12 & 18-19.

Valerie Lowery of Back Creek Farms in Monterey.
photos (clockwise from top): courtesy of yorktown tourism, by fred+elliot photography, courtesy of shenandoah university
Globetrotter Mario “Bounce” Moody, #57.
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50th Anniversary Gala and Neon After Party

Chrysler Museum of Art

Five hundred Museum supporters gathered to celebrate a half-century of Chrysler’s world-class art collection. Cocktail hour, featuring a violin duo, preceded dinner and a live auction hosted by Sotheby’s, which raised $178,000 for the Museum’s new School and Teacher Programs Endowment. More than 300 additional guests danced the night away at the after-party, enjoying an open bar and late-night bites.

Richmond Cattle Baron’s Ball

Keystone Acres

The annual American Cancer Society fundraiser, Virginia’s biggest country western event, raised $1.3 million, bringing the benefit’s all-time total to $6,173,000 over the last six years. Guests enjoyed live music from Nashville recording artist Jon Langston, dancing, and cuisine and cocktails by Mosaic Catering and Events. The silent and live auction featured more than 425 packages and items, including a new car donated by Haley Automotive Group.

ArtsFairfax Awards

Capital One Hall

This sold-out luncheon attracted nearly 400 guests to raise a record $186,000 for Fairfax County arts and culture organizations and programming. Honorees included philanthropists Gary and Tina Mather; host venue, Capital One Hall; Fall for the Book Festival; and Mark Brutsché, Young Actors’ Theatre’s artistic director. Also in attendance, county executive Bryan J. Hill, who announced Danielle Badra as the 2022-24 Fairfax Poet Laureate.

 NORFOLK  CHESTERFIELD  TYSONS Anthony Antoine and Andrew Freiden—NBC12 Event emcees. SPREAD THE WORD Tell us about your charitable event, and we might share it here! Submit your event details to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay with a County Proclamation. U.S. Congressman Gerry Connolly Event Chairs, Harry (President Haley Automotive Group) and Julie Carrion, Kimberly Jackson, Executive Vice President ACS Southeast Region.
photos by glenn bashaw photographer, tater feigley, ae landes photography
Doug (CEO Haley Automotive Group) and Ginger Pridgen. Stephen Neil from the Synergy Twins playing an electric violin. L-R Beverly Cosham, Chairman Jeff McKay, Congressman Gerry Connolly, Mark Brutsche, Virginia State Senator Jennifer Boysko, Supervisor Walter Alcorn, Linda Sullivan, Scott Cryer. L-R: Stephen Gavula, Stefanie Jenkins, Anne Fletcher, Jonathan Griffith, BOS Chairman Jeff McKay, Supervisor Dalia Palchik, Linda Sullivan, Scott Cryer. Joan Brock, philanthropist and gala presenting sponsor, with Corey Piper, Ph.D., Brock Curator of American Art. L-R: Erik Neil, Director, Chrysler Museum of Art; Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander, Ph.D.; Senator Mark Warner; Paul D. Fraim. L-R: Stephen Kirkland, Executive Director, Nauticus; Sarah Jane Kirkland, President and CEO, CIVIC Leadership Institute; Cole Werkheiser, Senior Associate, Pembroke Realty Group; Michael Berlucchi, Chrysler Museum of Art; Maggie Love Thomas; Martin Thomas, Jr., Norfolk Vice Mayor. L-R: Reverend Dr. Harold Cobb, Jr., and wife Sheilah Cobb; Ashlin Wilbanks and Wayne Wilbanks, Chairman of the Chrysler Museum of Art Board of Trustees and Co-Founder & Managing Principal, Wilbanks, Smith & Thomas. L-R: April Foster, Brent Foster, Carter Hall, Gary List, Luanne List from CD Hall Construction.

DMV's Biggest Dog Walk Event!


Time flies when you visit the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Northern Virginia. Explore the Museum’s vast and iconic collection, and you’ll feel like you’ve earned your wings. Free admission, parking $15.

Scan for more information @airandspace @airandspace @airandspacemuseum


Come experience 4801 Ocean Front Avenue at the “Gold Coast” of Virginia Beach’s North End. Owned by a high-end designer, this quality home presents custom touches, attention to detail, and an abundance of upgrades - including a new roof, new windows, and new appliances. Enjoy outdoor entertaining in the private side courtyard with a fountain and trellis plus a lovely veranda. Upon entry, pass through a grand foyer with a beautifully designed double staircase and make your way to a gourmet kitchen with a Viking range. This storybook property offers an elevator, large windows perfected with custom window treatments and elegant lighting perfectly positioned to highlight rich hardwood floors. From a roof top deck, take in 360 degree panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and historic Cavalier Hotel lights at night - sure to be a favorite by all who visit. Take luxury to new heights.

OFFERED AT $4,995,000




$6,500,000 | MLS 634509

Exceptional 739-acre estate exuding sophistication and allure, gifting the esteemed with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge & Allegheny mountains. A verdant tree lined driveway makes your acquaintance before revealing Greyledge, a Virginia Landmark which was US President Calvin Coolidge’s second choice for a Summer White House home. Boasting 9,723 SF, this 2 story Greek Revival is one of the finest ever built, meticulously cared for, and recently renovated to a pristine level rarely seen. Soaring, 12-foot ceilings offer spectacular views in every direction, bearing witness to the majesty of the mountains, lush landscaping, and massive sparkling 6-acre lake with Koi, trophy size Bass, and Catfish. Greyledge offers complete privacy, majestic views, and an unparalleled lifestyle.

JUSTIN H. WILEY | 434 981 5528

PETER A. WILEY | 434 422 2090


$2,390,000 MLS 633952

Headquarters, circa 1837, is located west of Charlottesville in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, one of White Hall’s/Browns Cove’s most historically significant and best preserved properties married with a tastefully designed 2005 addition. The 5 bedroom, 4 bath home sits on 50 acres of pasture and mature hardwoods with stunning views of the pond and surrounding mountains. The estate includes a manager’s house, stable, utility barn, and numerous other dependencies. Incredibly private surrounded by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Doyles River frontage. Property can also be purchased with 428 acres for $4,990,000. JUSTIN


$1,775,000 | MLS 629514

A hunting & sportsman’s retreat with an accredited sporting clay course. Located on 114 acres on the James River, the main home is a brick colonial with hardwood flooring, crown molding, double-galleried porches and improvements such as infrared sauna, solar panels and generator. The property further features a pond, fully renovated guest cottage, putting green, pitching range, 30 deer stands, horse barn and club house. Situated adjacent to the charming hamlet of Norwood, the surrounding area is picturesquely rural, and primarily comprised of historic estates and working farms.

MATTHIAS JOHN | 434 906 4630

$10,500,000 | MLS 622844

One of Virginia’s preeminent estates, Verulam is nestled on 503 acres in the breathtaking foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, conveniently located just 4 miles from the University of Virginia and modern amenities of Charlottesville. The Classical Revival manor offers an easy elegance with both formal and informal spaces that flow seamlessly to bucolic grounds, formal Charles Gillette designed gardens and handsome pool complex. Additional amenities include a charming guest house and restored dairy barn turned grand event venue. The farm abuts 1,000+ additional acres of protected land including the Ragged Mountain Reservoir Natural Area.

JUSTIN H. WILEY | 434 981 5528

PETER A. WILEY | 434 422 2090

ORANGE VA | 540 672 3903 CHARLOTTESVILLE VA | 434 293 3900 WILEYPROPERTY.COM 2314 E. Parham Road, Henrico, VA 23228 804.261.1970
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Creating Beautiful Smiles



In her new novel, the Glass Castle author explores home and history: “With Virginia, it’s a love affair.”

In the movie version of her 2005 memoir, The Glass Castle, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts play her nomadic parents while Brie Larson stars as Walls herself. The theater run spurred the book to an astonishing 459 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Now, Walls brings us Hang the Moon, set in the 1920s during Prohibition. After a tragic exile, Sallie Kincaid, daughter of The Duke, the biggest

man in a small Virginia town, returns home to confront family secrets. Walls’ own roots run to Arizona and West Virginia, but it’s Virginia that’s stolen her heart. “I think some people have an internal landscape,” she says. “There’s just something about green mountains that stirs my soul.” Ahead of her book’s debut, Walls chatted up a storm with us about family, Food Lion, fly paper, and more.

 S POTLIGHT  V IRGINIANA  N ATIVES  D ESTINATIONS Photography by Ryan Donnell Jeannette Walls and her dog Raleigh in the dining room of her Orange County home.

Virginia Living: You moved here from New York City. What was it about Virginia?

Jeannette Walls: We could live anywhere, but Virginia feels like home more than any place I’ve ever lived. My husband was the one who said, if you’re going to be a writer, you should get out of New York City.

I will always love New York, but it feels like an old boyfriend with whom I broke up amicably. With Virginia, it’s a love affair. People step up for you here. When my husband broke his arm, three people showed up to ask, “what needs mowing?”

We moved to a 33-acre farm in Culpeper. I’m not a city slicker, but I was a little nervous about handling that much land. Then we moved to Orange and started with 100 acres. Now we’re up to 320. We keep honeybees and have 11 chickens, three horses, two dogs, and nine cats who just showed up. Every day I feel like pinching myself.

VL: Your novel is set in the fictional Virginia town of Caywood. Where is it?

JW: In the Blue Ridge foothills. I borrowed heavily from Franklin County. There was a famous female moonshine runner there. Willy Carter Sharpe could take a mountain road at open throttle. She also got herself arrested a few times.

VL: Speaking of mountain roads, automobiles figure prominently in Hang the Moon .

JW: I looked at the newspapers to figure out what people were talking about between 1915 and the early 1920s. The Richmond papers, especially, covered automobiles and roads the way newspapers might cover the Internet today. The automobile led to a transformation in America. Women who could drive then were an anomaly.

VL: What spoke to you about Prohibition?

JW: As Mark Twain put it, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes. We keep fighting these battles, trying to legislate how we live. But it rarely goes the way we think—the law of unintended consequences emerges.

I read hundreds of books on the period. I think the cure for nostalgia is research. Virginia actually went dry four years before Prohibition started, prompted by basically good people who felt that the world was becoming a scary place.

Prohibition was a nativist movement to remove the threat of “the other”—the Italians with their wine or the Germans with their beer. The Prohibitionists thought, ‘if we outlaw liquor, then people won’t be spending time in saloons. Crime will stop. Jails will be empty. Then we’ll take the money we’re spending on jails and put it toward education.’ Then the Ku Klux Klan got involved in the 1920s. What could possibly go wrong?

thought was near perfect—who turns out to be full of contradictions.

VL: You write flawed characters with great compassion—especially in your memoir.

JW: That’s where you find the beauty—in the tension of those mixed emotions. The Duke had compassion but he could also be ruthless. Nobody is all good or all bad.

One of my favorite books is The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed. Here Jefferson is this incredibly great man. He did a lot of good. But then he has this contradictory side.

Maybe that’s one thing I love about Virginia. It’s steeped in history and contradictions, so it’s a constant inspiration.

VL: Was there any interesting research that didn’t fit into the book?

VL: Sallie Kinkaid sounds a lot like you.

JW: A lot of her comes from me. I definitely have a hot head. It’s the West Virginia mountain girl in me. We’re scrappers, for better or for worse.

The biggest challenge was getting into the head of this young woman who lived 100 years ago. I wanted Sallie to be open-minded and kind, but she couldn’t be woke. I’ll probably get in trouble with her love of guns. But for women up in the mountains, knowing how to shoot a gun was essential for their survival.

VL: For Sallie, family is like shifting sand. Is this a truth we all face?

JW: Okay, honey, you hit the nail on the head. This talk about blood being thicker than water? It can be. But, yes, it’s about figuring out where we fit into our families.

Very often families—like society—try to put us in roles we’re not suited for. At what point do you say, ‘I reject this’? Women’s roles were changing at the time so, in a larger sense, this was also happening all over the country.

Somebody once told me we become adults, not when we’re of age to vote or drink. It’s when we realize our parents are flawed human beings. Sallie has to reconcile with her father—someone she

JW: Fly paper! Hotels were advertised as “flyproof.” Small towns had entire committees devoted to controlling flies. I couldn’t understand why houseflies were such a big issue. But then I noticed that the popularity of fly paper greatly diminished with the advent of the automobile. And the answer made perfect sense: There wasn’t as much horse manure around.

VL: There were calls to ban The Glass Castle in schools. The book was listed among the 10 Most Challenged Books in 2012. How did you respond to that?

JW: This is a scary world; so I get it. We all want the best for our children. We just disagree on how to do that. My plea to people who want to ban books is to share our knowledge. Through the magic of storytelling—survival stories especially— we give children the tools to navigate hardship.

I was giving a talk to a group of high school students in a suburb of Dallas, where one of the parents had objected to The Glass Castle, saying it was very upsetting and triggering. And bless their hearts, the students said, “We need to know that these kinds of families exist.” They overrode the parents’ objections.

The solution to the culture clash we’re living in now, is in finding common ground.

Constance Costas is the editor of Virginia Living

photography by ryan donnell
Jeannette Walls and her husband, author John Taylor, with their Irish sport horse, Chuck Yeager, named after one of Walls’ heroes.
“With Virginia, it’s a love affair. When my husband broke his arm, three people showed up to ask, ‘what needs mowing?’”
—Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls’ Top 10 Virginia Favorites

1. Our chestnut tree: A blight in the early 1900s nearly wiped out the chestnut trees. We discovered one, more than 70 feet tall, in our woods. It’s the second biggest chestnut in Virginia, so that tree represents hope.

2. Patois Cider, Albemarle: It’s like fine Champagne. Patrick Collins, the proprietor, makes it with wild apples and pears, some picked from our property.

3. Food Lion, Orange: The first time someone chatted me up, I thought, What is going on here? Now, I know most of the customers and clerks by name. Sheila, the manager, has got my back.

4. Adriana Trigiani: A big-hearted writer who tells big stories. If you love her books, come to one of her readings. Adriana is a force of nature.

5. Brian Morse, Afton: The cofounder of Virginia Forestry and Wildlife Group helped convert our forlorn hay field into a wildlife meadow where birds, bees, and other pollinators now have frolicking block parties.

6. Pixley Automotive, Culpeper: The dealer wanted $2,000 to fix our Dodge pickup. Zebulon Pixley did it in 90 seconds and refused our offer to pay. We’re customers for life. Plus, Zeb’s a race car driver.

7. Batesville Market, Batesville: This old-school country store is a great place to hear music.

8. The Barbeque Exchange, Gordonsville: Craig Hartman’s incomparable pulled pork has become a tradition before each Thanksgiving and Easter.

9. Grelen Nursery, Somerset: Co-owner Zeke Galvin is a kindred spirit who shares our obsession with natural beauty.

10. Afton Overlook, Rt. 250: Stop here to admire the view of Rockfish Valley. It’s Shangri-La in Virginia.

“Nobody is all good or all bad. Virginia is steeped in contradictions, so it’s a constant source of inspiration.”
—Jeannette Walls
Jeannette Walls relaxes on the hayloft stairs in her barn’s tack room. Far left: A Mark Twain bookend presides over Walls’ collection of antique binoculars.
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Power House

Long elusive, Chief Powhatan’s longhouse turned up in Lynn and Bob Ripley’s backyard.

RANDY TURNER IS A PATIENT MAN. For nearly 30 years, the archeologist from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources was certain he knew the Gloucester County location of one of Virginia’s most elusive historic sites.

He just couldn’t set foot on it.

Turner surveyed a number of areas that surrounded his targeted site, but to no avail. It got to the point where he was run off from another site 25 miles away—with a shotgun—because he lacked permission to be there.

It was a teachable moment, one that affected how he approached his target going forward. “In 1973, I tried searching the site, but the owner wasn’t there and I had no access,” he says. “I’d periodically stop by to see if the owner was around, but it never happened.”

All that changed in 2002, when he got a call from Gloucester archeologists Dave Brown and Thane Harpole. “They said: ‘You’ve got to see this!’” he says.

They were talking excitedly about Bob and Lynn Ripley’s collection of artifacts—hundreds of them—dating from the 1400s to the early 1600s. For years, Lynn had walked the beaches and fields of their 300-acre York River property, picking up ceramic shards, pieces of stone tools, and small arrow tips. She’d collected so many that they turned their garage into a staging area, with drums and buckets and boxes so filled to the brim that they started cataloging each piece. They knew they were onto something.

“When I got there, it blew me away,” Turner says. “As an archeologist, I’m trained in scientific

perspective, but this was one of the biggest moments of my career. It was very exciting.”

Lynn’s walks, it turned out, covered 50 acres that once served as Indian Chief Powhatan’s headquarters.

On the banks of Purtan Bay, the site is surrounded by water on three sides, about 15 miles up the York River from Yorktown. As Turner

walked the elevated property, he was certain he’d found the Chief’s spiritual, military, and economic headquarters. “It was more or less as Powhatan left it, and largely untouched—but it was easy to visualize a Native American settlement there,” he says.

On it was a site later identifed as the longhouse that precisely matches the place Captain John Smith identified in writings and maps, as Powhatan’s home. And if anyone would know, Smith would: he very well may have been brought there after his capture by Powhatan’s men in 1607.

Its name is Werowocomoco, which in one interpretation means “the place of the antler wearers,” according to Martin Gallivan, anthropology department chair at William & Mary.

“They wore them during important religious ceremonies there,” he says.

Gallivan was invited to join Turner, Brown, Harpole, and Danielle Moretti-Langholtz in the Werowocomoco Research Group, formed to assess the potential for excavation there. The group asked for recommendations from the Virginia Council on Indians—a body established in 1982 to advise the governor and General Assembly on Indian affairs. “They were very supportive.

37 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING HOME grown VIRGINIANA images courtesy of national park service
“When I got there, it blew me away. As an archeologist, this was one of the biggest moments of my career.”
—Randy Turner
Artist rendering of a longhouse at Werowocomoco. Right: Aerial view of the modern-day site. The archeological team at the site of chief Powhatan’s longhouse. Arrow tips and ceramic shards found at Werowocomoco. Members of the Werowocomoco Research Group (left to right): Thane Harpole (Fairfield Foundation) Dr. Danielle Moretti-Langholtz (William & Mary), Dr. Dave Brown (Fairfield Foundation), Dr. Martin Gallivan (William & Mary), and Dr. Randolph Turner (VDHR).

We were the first to come to them with that kind of request,” Turner says. “It became a collaborative project.”

That’s because Powhatan presided over 15,000 of their ancestors, who once lived in 32 communities along the eastern part of the state. A god-like figure, Powhatan inherited six to eight Virginia districts, then expanded them through war, marriage, and intimidation. “He was a pretty powerful guy,” says Anne Richardson, current chief of the Rappahannock Tribe.

Werowocomoco was Powhatan’s center of power—his White House. There, from 20032010, Gallivan and his team excavated a number of deposits from riverfront homes dating to 1200 A.D. Then they found one twice the size of the others, about 1,000 feet from the water’s edge. “John Smith said it was 30-score from the river,” Gallivan says.

Native people may have continued to live on the site, or visit it, after Powhatan left, says Jody Couser of the Chesapeake Conservancy, a strong supporter of Werowocomoco. But by the 1650s, English families were living there, farming and harvesting timber, which continued for centuries.

it when you step on that land,” says Chief Mark Custalow of the Mattaponi Reservation. When complete, the survey will have covered 55 acres of land.

Today’s Virginia tribe members are key players in determining Werowocomoco’s future. “I take my cues from seven tribal nations and what’s important to them,” says Chance.

Copper fragments, matching the chemical makeup of copper found at Jamestown, were among the additional artifacts Gallivan found. Colonists traded copper with the Indians, who valued its shiny red hue as a prized sign of status. “It was used as a body adornment, like a pendant around the neck,” he says.

In one famous image of Chief Powhatan, he sits on an elevated platform in his longhouse, holding forth as those surrounding him listen. It’s likely where John Smith said Powhatan’s daughter, Pocahontas, intervened, saving him from being clubbed to death. “I’m not sure it happened as Smith described it, but if it did, it happened in the structure we found at the site,” he says.

Another interpretation of his rescue is “political theatre,” Gallivan suggests. “Powhatan was saying: ‘You’re now my son, and I want you to relocate Jamestown to here, where you’ll be safe, well taken care of, and part of my world.’” Smith was being initiated into the Powhatan community.

The myth of the fair maiden as rescuer is probably just that, according to Turner. “You didn’t hear about it until the other characters had died,” he says, “when no one was around to contradict him.” Still, Smith was a good negotiator, trading copper and beads for bushels of corn for the Jamestown settlers. “He was good at convincing people to help him,” Chief Richardson says. “He got natives to help map the territory, and he did a pretty accurate job with the actual locations of towns. That’s what he’s most known for.”

In 1609, Powhatan abandoned his York River settlement. “He wanted to distance himself from the colonists—as they would often show up unannounced, being only 15 miles away,” Gallivan says.

In 2016, the Ripleys turned Werowocomoco over to the National Park Service (NPS), and it was placed on the National Register. Currently, the property is managed by the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail for the NPS.

“One day we’ll be very excited to welcome visitors to experience the fascinating history here,” says Cindy Chance, cultural anthropologist with the National Park Service. “But we’re early in that process. Right now, we’re doing the necessary research to protect these nationally significant resources.”

That research includes conducting a geophysical survey, using ground-pentrating radar and magnetometry to see what’s below the surface of the site, which is viewed with great reverence as a spiritual center. “It is a sacred place—you feel

The Park Service will conduct its first field trip with tribal families and later, Gloucester County Public Schools. “We may be ready to test this summer,” Chance says. “And we may be ready for the 2023-24 school year.” In addition, a tribal youth internship program, open to ages 18-35, is rebuilding connections to the land.

Remarkably, the excavations that took place between 2003-2010 covered less than five percent of Werowocomoco’s acreage. “We’ve only scratched the surface,” Turner says. “The National Park Service will have a ball over the next 100 years over what will be discovered.”

J. Michael Welton is the author of Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand (Routledge, 2015). His articles have appeared in The New York Times , The Washington Post , Metropolis , Dwell , and The News & Observer in Raleigh.

grown VIRGINIANA images courtesy of national park service
A god-like figure, Powhatan inherited six to eight Virginia districts, then expanded them through war, marriage, and intimidation.
Rappahannock Chief Anne Richardson speaks at Werowocomoco for an event celebrating federal recognition of the tribe. Artist rendering of Werowocomoco pre-colonization.

Active Cemetery. National Treasure. Outdoor Museum.

Throughout the years, Hollywood Cemetery has served as a place to remember, to mourn, and to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on. While it is a historical site, the initial purpose of Hollywood Cemetery’s founders continues on. Multiple burial options are available throughout the cemetery’s 135 acres, including lots, niches, and a scattering garden.

Making arrangements in advance is a wonderful way to give you and your family peace of mind both now and in the future. Unlike the common grid-like layout of modern cemeteries, Hollywood Cemetery offers a picturesque garden setting amongst rolling hills, valleys, and stately trees. By pre-planning, you can protect your loved ones from the emotional and financial burden of making arrangements for you.

Contact our cemetery office for more details on burial options in Hollywood Cemetery.

Office Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm

412 South Cherry Street  Richmond, VA 23220 804.648.8501 

Photo by Bill Draper Photography
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Where the Bears Are

As more prowl Virginia’s neighborhoods, it pays to be bear wise.

WHEN YOU PUT UP a bird feeder in a suburban neighborhood, it’s a sure bet that the squirrels, or even a pesky raccoon, will have a go at it. What you may not expect, however, is to look out the window and spot a bear snarfing your sunflower seeds.

But such sightings are becoming more common, thanks to a sustained program of recovery for the Commonwealth’s black bears. Nearly extirpated by 1900, they were confined to just two small remnant populations in the Great Dismal Swamp and the mountains of western Virginia. Today, with our bear population approaching 20,000, these charismatic natives are found in nearly every part of the state.

Last year, black bears were spotted in neighborhoods in Arlington, Richmond, and Chesapeake; they’ve shown up in Virginia Beach, and

another roamed Northern Virginia this past fall. More bears mean more bear-human encounters. And while it might feel thrilling to spot a bear in the distance during a hike in the woods, a bear eviscerating your trash or dismantling your meaty-smelling grill is another thing altogether. Whether you’d call this a bear problem or a people problem depends on your point of view, but wildlife officials say a good way to avoid either one is to know a few things about black bears.

One is that they have an acute sense of smell— seven times more sensitive than a bloodhound’s. And that sense of smell is key to the second thing you probably actually already know about bears: they like to eat.

They’re particularly peckish in the spring, after the lean winter months, and in the fall, when they’re packing on the pounds to get through the upcoming winter. During this time, a bear may

feed for up to 20 hours and gain as much as two pounds every day. But really, there’s no time of year when a bear that’s out and about is going to turn down an easy meal.

What you don’t want to do, then, is make your yard the equivalent of an ursine buffet. When a bear finds a reliable food source, it will keep returning, and once that bear becomes habituated to humans and their food, the likelihood of a bear-human encounter increases.

Bears are particularly peckish in the spring, after the lean winter months.

Researchers have found that relocating nuisance bears isn’t effective, unfortunately. If a bear knows there’s a place where there’s food to be had, it will find its way back across remarkably long distances, risking run-ins with traffic or other bears along the way.

While bears tend to be naturally shy, a threatened bear is a dangerous bear. If you live in a bear-friendly area, and even more importantly, if you actually see a bear in your yard, snacking at your bird feeder or grocery shopping in your trash—you’ll want to discourage it from hanging around, or coming back.

Fatal black bear encounters are, in fact, surprisingly rare. Since 1900, fewer than 100 deaths have been documented in all of North America. Still, to avoid the dubious honor of becoming “Customer Number 100,” it’s best not to approach a bear in your yard, and for heaven’s sake, don’t send your dog out to scare it off. Banging on pots and pans or shouting can be enough to send a visiting bear on its way.,

Caroline Kettlewell is an insatiably curious writer who has written on all manner of topics, from endurance athletes to electric vehicles; she has a particular interest in stories about science, health, and the natural world.


ȕ An estimated 900,000 black bears roam the wild, from northern Mexico to Alaska and Canada.

ȕ Black bears are omnivorous and opportunitistic. While they prefer fruits, berries, nuts, and insects, they will happily dine on garbage, animal carcasses, or the occasional small pet.

ȕ Bears can live up to 30 years in the wilderness.

ȕ Adult male black bears typically weigh 200–500 pounds, while females weigh 100–250. In winter, they can lose 30 percent of their body weight.

ȕ Black bears occupy a greater range of habitats than any other bear worldwide. As habitats go, a black bear looking to den may, in fact, find your unlocked garden shed ideal for a long winter’s nap.

ȕ Bears are crepuscular—which means they’re generally most active at dusk and dawn.

ȕ Bear spray is effective, but only at close range, 50 feet or less. Practice removing the safety cap before you need to use it.


Appalachian Trail Town

Pearisburg is a hiker’s mecca.
Harris and Gogo welcome hikers to Wood’s Hole Hostel.
hikers arrive, they’ve had a hard trip,” she says. “They need to get their hearts and souls warm.” HOME grown DESTINATIONS

On this early spring morning in Pearisburg, I sink into an Adirondack chair on the deck of the Inn at Riverbend. I listen to the New River rippling below me as it flows toward the rugged Appalachian Mountains rising in the distance. Deer frolic in a dew-covered meadow.

When I’d arrived dirty and rumpled the day before, after hiking a wooded stretch of the Appalachian Trail, Riverbend’s innkeeper, Jeanne Jeffers, flashed me a knowing smile. “Our theme is relax, renew, refuel,” she told me. Now freshly showered after a good night’s rest in a sumptuous corner room with spectacular views, I linger over coffee and embrace her words wholeheartedly.

When Jeffers’ husband, John Dush, summons the inn’s guests to breakfast, I realize that I am ravenous and ready for a second cup of Riverbend Blend; the Inn’s custom coffee is roasted in small batches in nearby Riner.

Breakfast is Served

Dush has laid out fresh pears, chocolate zucchini muffins, and vanilla yogurt topped with freshly grated ginger root. Now, he’s manning the griddle, turning out strips of smoked bacon and fluffy blueberry pancakes. I drizzle them with orange cardamom syrup before taking a bite.

I’m in heaven.

Couples are drawn to the Inn, and I’m joined around the table by a pair of newlyweds from Spotsylvania County and a long-married couple from North Carolina. When I mention my plans to tackle the 10-mile hike up nearby Sugar Run Mountain, both couples say they haven’t thought much beyond breakfast. Instead, they’re content to let the day unfold.

The Inn at Riverbend also attracts Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, who are covering the 2,194 miles between north Georgia’s Springer Mountain and Maine’s Mount Katahdin in one go. It’s “a grueling and demanding endeavor,” the trail’s website cautions, the “equivalent to hiking Mt. Everest from sea level and back 16 times.”

In springtime, when the thru-hikers begin

popping up like crocuses in Pearisburg, they’ve put 600 miles behind them—and they happily stray the two miles to the Inn, where a private room with plush bed linens and a hot shower awaits.

Several years ago, Jeffers says, a retired federal judge booked a few nights there. He’d hiked the 600 miles and, once he arrived, “he just kept adding a night,” she recalls. “Eventually, he told me, ‘I think I’m done.’” The judge never did get back to the Trail.

Trail Community

I’ve come to hike, too, but the Appalachian Trail, affectionately known as the AT, isn’t on my to-do list. Instead, I’m checking off hikeable summits and reveling in brilliant mountain vistas for a guidebook I’m writing on Virginia’s tallest peaks. Pearisburg, founded in 1806, is one of the welcoming trail towns in Virginia, home to some 550 miles of the Appalachian Trail, more than any other state it passes through. About 50 of

The Inn at Riverbend overlooking the New River.
“Our theme is relax, renew, refuel.”
—Jeanne Jeffers, Inn at Riverbend
Inn at Riverbend owners Jeanne Jeffers and John Dush.

those miles run through Giles County, home to Pearisburg.

Ralph Robertson has hiked over 800 miles along the AT through Virginia and neighboring states. From trail overlooks, he identifies specific mountains, rivers, and towns, even miles in the distance, in his charismatic drawl. A local outdoorsman, Robertson attributes his deep knowledge to two things, “I’m nosy, and I like to talk a lot,” he says. “If I see a hill, I can’t rest until I get back there and find it.”

He gets a lot of questions, too, often about hiking shoes. “Well, what kind of shoes are comfortable on your feet?” he shoots back. He claims he could walk barefoot on his area trails.

The thrill of kicking off your shoes is shared by many hardy and determined thru-hikers. Once they reach Pearisburg, there’s no better feeling after the 636-mile journey from Georgia.

Pearisburg is a popular stopping point, whether it’s to restock at the Food Lion or fill up on tacos and tortillas at La Barranca Mexican

Grill, one of my favorite spots in town. Of course, hungry hikers aren’t picky, so the local Dairy Queen and Hardee’s also do the trick. The few hotels in Pearisburg include the no-frills hostel, Angel’s Rest Hiker’s Haven. Basic accommodations there also include hiker luxuries like WiFi and a laundry room.

With the Hikers Comes Spring

For Samantha McCroskey, owner of Sugar + Flour, a Main Street bakery known for its piping hot cinnamon rolls, early- to mid-spring is a special time of year. “When the hikers come through town, it’s a sign that spring is finally here,” she says. “They come in to warm up, get a hot drink, and charge their devices before getting back on the Trail. It’s such a fun time of year.”

The AT cuts through less than one mile to the west, so the weary backpackers that find their way onto Main Street are quickly drawn to McCroskey’s breakfast rolls, coffee, lattes, and chai teas.

A few doors down from Sugar + Flour, at Pearis Mercantile, hikers stock up on freeze-dried meals, stove fuel, and insect repellent. The Mercantile, also a gift shop, has most anything hikers need to get back on the trail quickly, even sleeping bags and tent repair kits.

Warming Hearts and Souls

On my way up Sugar Run Mountain, I pause less than three miles in at Wapiti Shelter, one of 62 rustic hiker shelters that dot the AT in Virginia. There, I chat up a section hiker, a man in his 50s who’s been on the trail for just a few weeks. Unlike the thru-hikers, he’s taking a few years to complete the entire trail, checking off a new stretch of miles each year.

He’s also trying on trail names for size. Fellow hikers have bestowed him with both “Doc” and “Boomer,” but he’s not ready to commit to either one. A trail name is a nickname long-distance hikers earn from their fellow travelers.

A few hours later, as I steer my car down a bumpy, gravel road toward Wood’s Hole Hostel, a popular spot a short walk from the AT, I spot him again and offer a ride. He tosses his heavy pack into my trunk, and we make our way to the hostel.

“If I see a hill, I can’t rest until I get back there and find it.”
—Ralph Robertson
Local outdoorsman Ralph Robertson atop Angel’s Rest just before sunrise. Wood’s Hole Hostel owner Neville Harris prepares her surface for homemade pizza dough. Below: Sleep well knowing your breakfast will be perfectly seasoned. A warm fire and a game of chess await guests at Wood’s Hole Hostel.

Tucked deep into the woods, Wood’s Hole feels more like a commune than a hostel, but that’s part of the appeal. Owner Neville Harris is known up and down the trail for her warm, home-cooked meals, like vegetable soup and Mexican lasagna— and even warmer trailside hospitality.

Harris’ grandparents opened the hostel in 1986. A certified massage therapist and yoga teacher, she now runs the place and offers free yoga classes on request. A downward facing dog must feel amazing after a long day spent lugging a 30-pound pack along the trail.

At Wood’s Hole, a night in the bunkhouse



Sugar + Flour, Pearisburg: Make a stop on Main Street for made-to-order lunch specials and warm, gooey cinnamon rolls.

Facebook: Sugar + Flour, LLC

The Bad Apple, Pembroke: This speakeasy-style restaurant boasts craft cocktails, award-winning wines, and sophisticated fare.

The Palisades Restaurant, Eggleston: Set in a one-time general store, enjoy locally sourced cuisine, including seasonal pizzas.

Bluegrass BBQ, Pembroke: Legendary barbecue joint with epic sides like mac ‘n’ cheese, collard greens, and sweet potato casserole.

starts at $22 per person, while private rooms in the main house go for $77. Glamping tents are also available. Breakfast and dinner come with suggested donations instead of prices. Harris doesn’t want money to burden hikers’ weary minds. “When hikers arrive, they’ve had a hard trip,” she says. “They need to get their hearts and souls warm.” Donations to her online Trail Magic Jar allow Harris to offer beds to hikers who can’t afford a night’s stay. She also hosts community breakfasts and dinners, asking only for help with cooking and cleanup. “Generosity, it’s such a cool thing,” she tells me. “It’s really a gift to yourself.”


Wood’s Hole Hostel and B&B, Pearisburg: Not just for AT hikers, this charming and welcoming log cabin homestead was built in the late 1800s with chestnut trees from the property.

Inn at Riverbend, Pearisburg: Rejuvenate at this seven-room inn with views across the New River and Appalachian Mountains. Mountain Lake Lodge, Pearisburg: Nobody puts Baby in a corner at this pet-friendly historic stone lodge. Opt for a cottage or cabin alongside Mountain Lake where much of Dirty Dancing was filmed.

Angel’s Rest Hikers Haven, Pearisburg: Close to everything in town, this family-friendly haven was built by hikers for hikers. With private rooms and a bunkhouse, overnight rates start at $25.


Cascades Falls: Hike to 66-foot-tall Cascades Falls on this out-and-back hike along Little Stony Creek (easy).

Wind Rock: A half-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail leads to big views near Mountain Lake Lodge (easy).

Bald Knob: A hike to the top of Bald Knob rewards hikers with vibrantly colored sunsets (moderate).

Angel’s Rest: This wooded hike on the Appalachian Trail delivers hikers to two overlooks with breathtaking views (strenuous).

Toni “The Torch” Vickers prepares a Bad Apple Margarita with Mt. Defiance Agave, fresh lime juice, honey, and house-made apple syrup (from Doe Creek Farm apples).

Culinary Delights

You might think the dining scene in a region best known for hiking trails, fishing, and kayaking would be ho-hum. But you’d be mistaken. Once I cleaned up after my hike, I made the short drive to The Bad Apple, a speakeasy-style restaurant in nearby Pembroke, which, let me tell you, is no easy find. By design, even the front door is obscured, but it’s all part of the mystique.

The Bad Apple occupies a 1940s-era barn on Doe Creek Farm, a working orchard founded in the late 1800s. The barn sat dormant for years until the restaurant repurposed it in November 2019. “There’s a totally different feel when you walk in,” says Allison Hollopter, one of the restaurant’s owners. “The Bad Apple is about no worries and good times. It’s an escape where you come to lose place and time.”

I order the Low Country Shrimp and Grits— shrimp, andouille, and bacon served over a creamy bed of grits. “I tried to take it off the menu once— to refresh our entrées for a new season,” says Hollopter, who describes it as a definite favorite with regulars. Then came the backlash. “Oh man, I was getting personal phone calls. We haven’t taken it off since.”

The Bad Apple is also known for hand-crafted cocktails, like the Hay Burner and Bad Apple Old Fashioned. Both are made with spirits from Vir-

ginia distilleries—the exclusive focus on Virginia wines, beer, and spirits is a Bad Apple hallmark.

Days Well Spent

I make my way back to the Inn at Riverbend for a pleasant night’s sleep, dreaming of the next morning’s coffee and breakfast at the Inn, which happens to be among those certified Virginia Green by the state.

I was set for another mountain hike too, with my sights on Pearis Mountain, where lavender phlox line the path to Angel’s Rest View Rock. This perfect boulder is one that angels—and hikers—can stand on for a spectacular view of the New River and Pearisburg.

The hike to Angel’s Rest was gorgeous, definitely as-advertised, and my work was complete. I had checked off three guidebook-worthy hikes, but I would be back soon, maybe for another cup of Riverbend Roast with a side of sunrise pinks and oranges from the deck of the Inn.

Erin Gifford is the author of three hiking guidebooks, including Virginia Summits , which will be released by Falcon Guides in May 2023. She contributes to The Washington Post , Northern Virginia Magazine and USA Today ’s GoEscape , among others.

The Bad Apple’s signature Low Country Shrimp and Grits, served with a Bad Apple Pie cocktail (Twin Creeks Moonshine, house-made apple and cinnamonclove syrups, and cream). Left: Blueberry pancakes with orange cardamom syrup at the Inn at Riverbend. Sunset over Angel’s Rest in Pearisburg.

“The Bad Apple is about no worries and good times. It’s an escape, where you come to lose place and time.”

—Allison “Peanuts” Hollopter

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A new menu trail honors Orange County’s icon.

By sharing the foods of her Virginia childhood, Edna Lewis became the Grande Dame of Southern cooking. She earned accolades from Les Dames d’Escoffier, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and the James Beard Foundation—where she inspired their first-ever Living Legend Award.

“Edna Lewis makes me want to go right into the kitchen and start cooking,” Beard himself once said. And in 2014, the U.S. Postal Service noted her culinary contributions with an Edna Lewis stamp.

In an era when few women were professional chefs, Lewis’ ascension as one of the most important culinary voices of the 20th century is nothing short of

remarkable. One of eight children, she was born in 1916 in the Orange County community of Freetown, which was founded by her grandfather, a former slave. The small community of families lived and farmed together, slaughtering hogs, tending kitchen gardens, and foraging for nuts and berries, guided by the seasons.

“Whenever I go back to visit my sisters and brothers,” Lewis wrote in The Taste of Country Cooking (1976), her second cookbook, “we relive old times … and when we share again in gathering wild strawberries, canning, rendering lard, finding walnuts, picking persimmons, making fruitcake, I realize how much the bond that held us had to do with food.”

By Kinsey Gidick  | Photo by John T. Hill from the collection of Ann Stewart

Orange County plans to erect a historical marker at Bethel Baptist Church on Petersburg Road, to commemorate Freetown, now long gone. Lewis’ stories of growing up there live on, thanks to legendary cookbook editor Judith Jones, who also shepherded Julia Child’s books into publication. It was Jones who encouraged Lewis to tell the stories behind her recipes through the lens of place and time.

With her first book, The Edna Lewis Cookbook, published in 1972, Lewis’ gift for storytelling captivated generations of cooks and readers. The book was “a love letter to Virginia,” says Debra Freeman, a food anthropologist and culinary historian based in Richmond. “Through her writing, Lewis was able to switch the way people think about Southern food,” Freeman says. Farm-to-table dining? “Edna had been doing it all along.”

To honor the book’s 50th anniversary—along with Lewis’ four subsequent titles including her seminal A Taste of Country Cooking Orange County has launched the Edna Lewis Menu Trail, a collection of eight restaurants in the area that celebrate Lewis’ signature dishes.

Each homey dish on the menu trail reflects the seasonal flavors that informed Lewis’ cooking. You can taste her rich coconut cake at The Barbeque Exchange in Gordonsville, her roasted quail stuffed with wild rice and grapes at Spoon & Spindle in Orange, and her smothered braised rabbit and slow roasted sticky ribs at Vintage Restaurant at the Inn at Willow Grove, also in Orange.

After the death of her parents, Lewis headed north from Freetown at 16, stopping first in Washington, D.C., before heading to New York City. She was hired as a laundress, but lasted only three days, having never ironed before. More proficient in sewing, Lewis found a job as a seamstress, where she once made a dress for rising starlet Marilyn Monroe. But her true talent was in the kitchen.

When her friend John Nicholson opened Café Nicholson in 1949, she realized her dream of becoming a chef. The French bistro on East 57th Street became a favorite haunt of the famous. Soon, Lewis was brushing shoulders with Greta Garbo, Marlon Brando, Tennessee Williams, Salvador Dalí, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

She eventually left to become a lecturer and private caterer and, in 1972, collaborated with socialite Evangeline Peterson to write her first cookbook, a move that would forever change the conversation around Southern cooking.


Always true to her roots, Edna Lewis earned admiration and awards.


Cook’s Illustrated: “Who’s Who in American Cooking”

1995 James Beard Foundation: Living Legend Award


Southern Foodways Alliance: Lifetime Achievement Award


Library of Virginia: African American Trailblazers Award


Women of the Century: USAToday


Orange County, Virginia: The Edna Lewis Menu Trail

“I struggled for years to figure out what real Virginia cuisine could be,” says Craig Hartman, the owner of two restaurants on the Edna Lewis Menu Trail, The Barbeque Exchange and Champion Ice House, both in downtown Gordonsville. “But when I learned about Edna Lewis and the melding of African culture in cooking, the foods of Virginia started to make so much more sense.”

For too long, recipes developed by black chefs were co-opted by white cookbook authors, author Toni Tipton Martin notes in her James Beard Award-winning The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks. Through her books, Edna Lewis began rewriting that history. She also

allowed Southern food, and those who cooked it, to see themselves in a new light.

That was the case for Scott Peacock, who met Lewis in Atlanta in his 20s, when he was hired as the executive chef at the Georgia Governor’s Mansion. Peacock saw cooking as a way to shed his Alabama childhood and, someday, cook in Italy. “What I learned from Miss Lewis was that I didn’t need to apologize for who and where I already was. That there was value and integrity to my own experience.”

Peacock went on to culinary stardom, swirling about Atlanta’s sophisticated restaurant scene. He emerged as one of the best biscuit masters in the business, no doubt due to Lewis’ influence, and now runs “Biscuit Experiences” out of the restored Reverie mansion in Marion, in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt. Back in his home state, the lessons he learned from Lewis about valuing his heritage stuck.

1990 International Association of Culinary Professionals: Lifetime Achievement Award


Les Dames d’Escoffier: Grande Dame


Women Chefs & Restaurateurs: Barbara Tropp President’s Award

2014 The U.S. Postal Service: Edna Lewis stamp

Peacock and Lewis became lifelong friends, eventually collaborating on their own cookbook, The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great American Cooks They lived together as housemates until Lewis’ death in 2006 at age 89.

“She radically changed how I saw myself, the South, and Southern Cuisine in a way that fully changed the path and purpose of my life,” Peacock reflects. “Now, approaching 17 years since her passing, her friendship and influence remain present, active aspects of my daily life.”

Kinsey Gidick is a writer based in Scottsville, Virginia. She’s been published in the New York Times and Washington Post and regularly contributes to Garden & Gun . When not writing, she likes to read cookbooks and visit historic sites with her husband and seven-year-old son.

photos (from top): by john t. hill from the collection of ann stewart, courtesy of visit orange virginia
“She radically changed how I saw myself, the South and Southern cuisine in a way that fully changed the path and purpose of my life.”
—Scott Peacock, chef and longtime Lewis friend
Roasted quail stuffed with wild rice and white grapes from Spoon & Spindle.
Scan here to find signature Edna Lewis recipes on
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Easter Elegance

Celebrate the fresh, bright flavors of springtime.


While ham is an Easter menu staple, tender spring lamb reflects centuries of symbolism. “Not only is lamb delicious,” says Dylan Wakefield, owner of Pendulum Fine Meats in Norfolk, “it’s traditional at Easter.”

Wakefield, a seasoned chef who trained at the Culinary Institute of America, likes to roast a bone-in leg of lamb to carve at the table. “Leave the rib chops for date night,” he advises. For a bone-in roast, allow two-thirds of a pound of meat per person. Ask your butcher to “French trim” the shank, scraping a few inches of the bone end clean, for an elegant presentation.

Garlic, rosemary, sage, and thyme pair well with lamb. “Don’t be afraid to use too much spice,” he notes. “Lamb stands up to it well.” Coat the meat with olive oil and rub with a mixture of minced garlic, crushed fresh rosemary, dried sage, dried thyme, kosher salt, and ground black pepper. Roast at 325°F, 15 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer registers 125°F (for rare) to 140°F (medium).

For serving, Wakefield favors mint jelly over lamb jus. “The mint adds a bit of contrast and sweetness.”

Over the Moon for Spoonbread

“Spoonbread—often called batter-bread in early cookbooks— was popular throughout the 19th century in Virginia’s elite kitchens,” says Dr. Leni Sorensen, culinary historian at Indigo House in Crozet. Made from stone-ground cornmeal, eggs, and whole milk, it’s a perfect Easter accompaniment.

Like its English cousin, Yorkshire pudding, this very Virginia dish is soft enough to eat with a spoon. “It might be baked in a soufflé pan, as Chef Edna Lewis suggested, or in individual ramekins, as directed by Mary Randolph’s 1824 The Virginia House-Wife,” Sorensen notes. “But whatever you call it, it is delicious.”

To make Virginia Spoonbread, preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish and set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 cups whole milk and stir in 6 tablespoons cubed butter, 1 cup cornmeal, and 1 teaspoon salt, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Separate 3 eggs. Beat yolks, add them to the cornmeal, and whisk to incorporate. Beat whites till stiff peaks form and fold them in to blend. Pour in casserole dish and bake for 1 hour or until the top is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

The Age of Asparagus

“Because they’re usually the first crop of the spring season, asparagus is a traditional Easter vegetable,” says Gordon Holley of Westside Produce and Provisions, a Norfolk greengrocer.

Look for firm, vibrant green stems with tight crowns, he advises. To prep them, use a knife. “Snapping the ends often wastes good asparagus,” he notes. Instead, “trim the stems where the green begins to turn white.” For asparagus with thick stalks, roasting deepens the delicate flavor. To retain color and preserve nutrients, blanch them first in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, then immerse in an ice bath to stop the cooking.

“Asparagus has a unique flavor on its own,” Holley says. “No need to mask the flavor with herbs and such. Best to toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and leave it at that.”

Luscious Lemon Curd

The bright, tangy flavor of lemon brings the Easter meal to a light conclusion. “Lemon curd is just so simple and packs a great finish,” says chef-entrepreneur David Everett, whose latest venture, La Piazza, in Williamsburg’s Merchant’s Square (see our Feb ’23 issue) joins his popular Blue Talon Bistro, DoG Street Pub, and Blackbird Bakery.

“On a scone, as a cake filling, tart, or pie, there just isn’t much that can beat its versatility,” he adds. “I like it baked in a pot de crème as much as topped with meringue.” For a classic dessert of ladyfingers and strawberries, adding a layer of lemon curd makes these springtime flavors sing.

“Leave the rib chops for date night.”
—Dylan Wakefield, Pendulum Fine Meats
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Beale’s Brewery crafts beer and barbecue.

LEGEND HAS IT, buried treasure lies hidden in the Blue Ridge near Bedford. The loot was mined by Thomas J. Beale who struck gold in Colorado in the early 1800s. After hiding his treasure, Beale vanished without leaving a map. Rumored to be worth $65 million today, Beale’s booty turned Bedford into a magnet for those hoping to find it.

You’ll have better luck locating Beale’s Brewery, in the town’s former woolen mill. Come hungry: Beale’s pitmaster Matt Hovey wood-smokes his spectacular pulled pork, brisket, ribs, and chicken on-site. Get yours on a potato bun, stuffed in a taco, or by the pint, along with house-brined fire and ice pickles, slaw, and all the fixings, at the inhouse BBQ Market.

The brewers at Beale’s take pride in their smooth drinking “anti-craft” beer, which eschews the bitter, hoppy flavor found in some craft brews.

Start with “Beale’s Gold,” a full-bodied helles lager with a crisp finish, then taste Beale’s smooth lineup of stouts and IPAs. For a taste of sun tea and raspberries, try “Razzle Dazzle,” one of their blonde ales.

And Beale’s is known to add a dash of sass to their beer batches. Consider “Your Manager is B*tch.” The name, swiped from a Yelp flamethrower, was Beale’s sly way of banishing the bully.

Coming this spring, Beale’s is heading east with a second Beale’s Brewery and Taproom, set to open in Yorktown. With locally sourced seafood and American fare on the menu, Beale’s Yorktown will offer pet-friendly patio seating and a draft list that includes Beale’s flagship flavors, along with small-batch, Yorktown-only releases. —by Madeline


WHEN LINDA SKEENS , Virginia’s own county fair queen, set the Internet ablaze last year, Virginia Living helped fan the flame (“Where In the World Is Linda Skeens?” Oct. ’22). And adoring fans began clamoring for the humble home cook’s secret recipes. Skeens is answering the call with the release of Blue Ribbon Kitchen: Recipes and Tips from America’s Favorite County Fair Champion (83 Press, Summer 2023). “I’m excited,” says Skeens. “I’ve always wanted to publish a cookbook. Some of my recipes are ones I created. Others are special—they were passed down from family.” —by Vayda Parrish

Above: Linda Skeens’ zucchini cornbread. Scan here for a sneak peek at recipes from Blue Ribbon Kitchen


FOR CHILDREN, COOKING CLASSES BUILD MORE than kitchen skills. “Cooking inspires and empowers kids to believe in themselves,” says Maria Kopsidas, founder of Cookology, a culinary school in Arlington where classes for the 5-18 set are as popular as her adult lineup. “There’s satisfaction and joy that comes with cooking.”

At Cookology, skill-building is geared toward developmental levels. Young children start by learning to make afternoon snacks, while older kids progress into ageappropriate lessons in knife skills, “It’s sometimes like herding cats but, when you can really connect, they just light up inside,” says Kopsidas, who founded the school in 2009 with her daughter in mind.

Kopsidas believes Cookology’s success is due to her teaching methods: “We teach hands-on, round the table, each ingredient, step-by-step.” This approach, she says, is more engaging than the traditional French system of

classroom-style demonstrations. Classes start at $85 and range from one-day to immersion programs to boot camps. “We also do full meals, not just one dish,” she says. “By the time we’re finished, the kids will basically be cooking dinner for the family.”

More Classes for Tomorrow’s Chefs

ȕ Young Chefs Academy, Richmond: Classes, workshops, and culinary

ȕ Culinaria Cooking School, Vienna: Kids classes like pie making and Cajun cooking.

ȕ Sur La Table, Alexandria, Arlington, McLean: Lots of cooking classes for the whole family.

ȕ Virginia Tech Dining Services, Blacksburg: Summer cooking camps for budding chefs and restaurateurs. —by Konstantin Rega

photos (from top): by odd + even studio, courtesy of 83 press, courtesy of cookogy culinary school
Chef Javier Loayza demonstrates making candy sushi to a captive audience of young birthday chefs.
Cookology teaches kids confidence in the kitchen.
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North American Sake Brewery brings the taste of Japan to Charlottesville.


Enjoy a sparkly pour of Belle Isle’s Gold Fashioned, a ready-todrink, bottled cocktail made with barrel-aged premium moonshine, bitters, notes of cherry and orange, and a touch of edible gold. Shake to activate and serve over a big cube for optimal sipping with a bit of bling.

ADECADE AGO, WHILE IN TOKYO on business, Andrew Centofante’s life changed. “I tried all these different sakes, and it kind of blew my mind,” he recalls. “I love craft beer, craft cider, and spirits. And it was one of those moments: ‘Why don’t I think about sake in the same way?”

Now Centofante thinks about sake daily. As owner of North American Sake Brewery, one of about 25 such places in the U.S., he shepherds the product from dry rice through steaming and fermentation, serving it with rice bowls and ramen in Charlottesville’s funky Ix Art Park.

He first learned to make sake by watching YouTube videos, but each new batch brought questions. When he emailed a fifth-generation sake maker in Osaka, Japan, for advice, the company

invited him for an apprenticeship. “I was on a plane the next week.”

Opened in 2018, the brewery has built a devoted fan base, including the Japanese ambassador to the United States, Koji Tomita. When he visited in 2021, Tomita enjoyed it so much that Centofante’s sake is now served at the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C.

Sake generally has a higher alcohol content than wine. And while mass-market versions can have a rough finish, Centofante’s sake is much smoother. Offerings range from cloudy, to sweet, or bone dry and can be ordered by the glass, bottle, or in tasters. There’s also beer on tap for the sake-wary.

A sake evangelist, Centofante is now co-founding a national trade association to support other


U.S. makers. And while it’s still a niche beverage, he says sake’s popularity here is on the rise.

Although he has deep respect for sake traditions, he doesn’t take himself (or his beverages) too seriously. His bottles have names like Big Baby, Quiet Giant, and Serenity Now!—inspired by a Seinfeld episode. He also sells sake seltzers and slushies.

Centofante’s dad, Joe, helped build the brewery’s tasting room, and hauled countless bags of rice to the production area. He remembers when the sake master who taught his son visited from Japan, to check on his former student.

After sipping his way through the products, he solemnly offered his judgment. Says Joe, “He turned to me and said: ‘Andrew is a toji,’—a master brewer.” —by Larry Bleiberg

A new wine benefits Virginia’s next-gen growers and winemakers.

SUZANNE YOUNGKIN CAN ADD WINEMAKER to her résumé. Virginia’s First Lady teamed with Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards to produce the exciting new Cornus Virginicus Edition I to “highlight the excellence of Virginia’s wine industry,” she notes. In a nod to the dogwood, the name is Latin for ‘flowering tree of Virginia.”

The limited-release Bordeaux-style red is a blend of Barboursville’s merlot, petit verdot, and cabernet franc grapes. “I made three blends and then tasted them with the First Lady to select the final wine,” says Paschina, “It’s a big honor to be part of this project.”

Merlot, the cornerstone of Paschina’s success, also

anchors Barboursville’s Octagon. The iconic Bordeauxstyle red blend won Gold at the 2022 Sommelier Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition in San Diego.

Available at Virginia’s ABC stores and through Barboursville, a portion of proceeds from the wine will benefit the Virginia Future Farmers of America and Virginia 4-H state foundations, says Youngkin, “to help prepare the next generation of farmers, growers, and winemakers.”

The industry has a $1.7 billion impact on Virginia’s economy, an increase of 27 percent since 2015, according to the Virginia Wine Board.

—by Frank Morgan

photos (frmo top):
by kelli sims/expressions photography, courtesy of belle isle, courtesy of viriginia wine Big Baby, a cloudy style craft sake, served with an ahi tuna and salmon poke bowl with soy sauce, mirin, ginger, and cucumbers on a bed of sushi rice and finished with seaweed salad, scallions, radish, sesame seeds, and tobiko. Virginia’s First Lady, Suzanne Youngkin, and Luca Pashina with a bottle of Cornus Viginicus Edition I.

The Black Sheep

In Manassas, it’s the jewel in Farm Brew LIVE’s crown.


1920s dairy barn, The Black Sheep: Whiskey+Wine+Noshery is the pièce de résistance of Farm Brew LIVE, the wildly popular 12-acre destination brewery campus at Innovation Park. Here, in Manassas, you’ll find locally sourced fusion cuisine—along with food trucks, craft beer, and live music.

“It’s pretty magical,” says Marcus Silva, president and CEO of Villagio Hospitality Group, who came up with the brewery campus concept. “It’s a fun place—the energy throughout Farm Brew LIVE is contagious.”

In the dining room, elaborate crystal chandeliers are suspended from the soaring vaulted ceilings. From tables both inside and out, The Black Sheep offers views of the music performances on the outdoor stage and, for special occasions, you’ll find VIP alfresco dining spaces along with private dining rooms in the barrel-aging quarters on the lower level.

As soon as our group is seated, we begin strategizing over the shared plates on the extensive menu. The Black Sheep’s raw bar and charcuterie options beg for signature craft cocktails or wine, so I order a barrel-aged old fashioned featuring

Tin Cup rye; my companion requests the bourbon trail mule. Beautifully presented, our cocktails offer the perfect mix of artistry and flavor.

Executive chef Justin Gudiel curates the seasonal menus to offer world-inspired comfort food. “We live in an area that is a melting pot, so we want to explore new cuisines while also offering dishes that remind diners of home,” he says.

“Our goal is to execute different cuisines in the best way possible. When a guest tells us a dish reminds them of something they enjoyed while traveling, there’s no greater feeling.”

We start with Spanish garlic shrimp. Bathed in roasted garlic chili oil and fresh herbs, the six plump shrimp are served in a tiny cast iron pan and accompanied by grilled bread. Our server suggests adding a showstopping bacon tower. She returns to the table with what looks like a miniature clothesline from which four thick-cut, semicooked slabs of Nueske candied bacon dangle below. Then she takes out a small blowtorch and ignites it to crisp the edges and perfect the glaze, creating a bit of drama (and smoke) as curious diners look on.

The Black Sheep’s main courses range from handheld sandwiches to pastas to alluring entrées

Jambalaya pasta with campanelle, blackened chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and andouille sausage tossed in a Cajunstyle cream sauce.

like pan-roasted and pepper-crusted duck breast or miso sake sea bass. A bison burger, enhanced with bourbon barbecue aioli, deserves a spot on the world’s best burgers list, while the visually stunning and equally flavorful crispy chicken sandwich evokes a trifecta of flavors—from tart, to sweet, to heat.

The seasonal and imaginative fare includes a meatless campanelle pasta with roasted butternut squash, sautéed mushrooms, and tomato sauce or—my hands-down favorite—the jambalaya pasta. Black Sheep’s zesty version of the Cajun classic brings together blackened chicken, shrimp, and andouille sausage with fresh pasta tossed in an indulgent Cajun-style cream sauce. Emeril Lagasse would approve.

Dinner is both elegant and fun, with masterful service and brilliant cuisine. The Black Sheep’s creative take on every dish makes for a memorable experience, from soup to nuts—or in our case, from garlic shrimp to bourbon butter cake.

Candied Nueske bacon tower, torched tableside.

“It’s the best thing on the entire menu,” our server says of this rockstar dessert—and she might be right. The house-made cake inspires a fork grab at our table. Surrounded by crème anglaise artfully drizzled with bourbon caramel sauce, ours is topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. If we could gracefully lick the plate, we would.

Around us, diners voice approval and enthusiasm. “I had the chicken and waffles and it was amazing,” says Evelyn Go, of Alexandria, who’d joined four best friends for an annual birthday celebration, adding, “everybody was raving about everything they got.”

The pristine, Disney-esque campus surrounding The Black Sheep attracts everyone from

college students to multigenerational families. They arrive in droves to enjoy the mix of walletfriendly food truck options, casual brewpub dining, or the more formal Black Sheep.

On any given day, children frolic around the outdoor seating or on the playground while adults socialize, sipping craft beer. On weekend afternoons and evenings, a large stage provides live music from local acts that run the gamut from rock to country to a Queen tribute band. Outdoor bars serve house-made brews year-round and, in colder months, the landscape is dotted with firepits and bougie “bigloos”—oversized igloos where groups can socialize in heated comfort.

“I really like the whole vibe of the place,” says


In addition to The Black Sheep, Farm Brew LIVE offers a range of food options for every occasion and every budget, along with craft beer, cocktails, and tasting rooms.

ȕ 2 Silos Brewing Company: From lagers to barrel-aged stouts, 2 Silos Brewing Company is a welcoming place for family and friends to gather and enjoy locally brewed craft beer, food, craft cocktails, and live music.

ȕ 2nd Stop Ice Cream & Coffee Bar: This red double-decker bus serves handcrafted ice cream with lots of toppings, boozy ice cream, specialty coffee, tea, espresso, tipsy floats, slushies, and milkshakes. Hot and cold treats for everyone.

ȕ La Gringa Food Truck: La Gringa rustles up affordable, handmade, handheld comfort food. Menu items include a variety of empanadas, avocado eggrolls, fried mac ‘n’ cheese, pickle fries, chicken tenders, fries, fried Oreos, and more.

ȕ Papi Chulo Tacos & Tequila Food Truck: Hungry diners flock here for tacos, guacamole, street corn, tequilas, agua frescas, and churros. Get your taco fix with classic varieties, or inventive flavors like short rib, lamb, and blackened shrimp.

ȕ The Pit BBQ Food Truck: The Pit’s made-fromscratch barbecue, sides and sauces, are popular— for pick-up, delivery, or on-site service. Enjoy ribs, brisket, sausage, pulled pork, or chicken with plentiful sides and a choice of four tangy sauces.

Katie Foreman, a University of San Diego junior, who’s come with friends. “It has a cool ambiance— it just feels like a welcoming environment.”

She’s among the more than 10,000 people drawn to Farm Brew LIVE each week, a number that’s expected to grow as the newly opened Brentsville Hall event center, an elegant on-site wedding venue, gains momentum.

Villagio Hospitality Group is planning a $25 million expansion to increase beer-making capacity and adding a 21,000-square-foot canning and distilling facility. Bristow-based MurLarkey Distillery is also moving their headquarters to Farm Brew LIVE, adding a distillery and tasting room in a new 25,000-square-foot building. The MurLarkey venture is a $8.1 million investment in the burgeoning campus, and the company hopes to occupy the new facility by the end of 2023.

Plans are also in the works for a boutique hotel, coffee shop, and rooftop bar, and owners are in talks to replicate and scale the Farm Brew LIVE concept at an additional East Coast location, still under wraps.

“When you come to Farm Brew LIVE, whether you’re going to 2 Silos Brewing Company or Black Sheep or Brentsville Hall,” Silva says, “it truly is an experience—you won’t find just a little bit of everything—you’ll find a lot of everything!”

Journalist and author Dawn Klavon crafts compelling stories about inspiring people, up-and-coming restaurants, and fascinating lifestyles. Her favorite Virginia spot is just outside the Stafford County Courthouse, where she married her childhood sweetheart during 2020’s lockdown.

Queen cover band Absolute Queen performs at Farm Brew LIVE in front of 2 Silos Brewing Company. The Black Sheep’s bourbon butter cake with bourboninfused butter, bourbon caramel sauce, and crème anglaise.

The farm-to-table movement wasn’t new to cooks in Appalachia where, if you wanted to eat, you had to grow it in the garden.

Chickens at Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards provide fresh eggs for Chef Travis Milton’s restaurant, Hickory.

Food from the Heart

Chef Travis Milton’s Appalachian love song.

Astandard-bearer of Appalachian cuisine, Travis Milton has finally come home to roost. At his new restaurant Hickory, at Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards in Bristol, he takes a reverent, sophisticated, often playful approach to the Appalachian food of his childhood.

“We are committed to the region,” says Milton, “and we want to welcome folks to this wonderful little corner of the world.” Growing up, he spent time at his grandparents’ restaurant, The Village, in nearby Castlewood, and worked there as a teen. The experience informed his approach to both life and food.

An early foray into teaching only intensified his longing for the kitchen, so he worked up the restaurant ranks, starting in San Francisco, followed by stops in D.C. and New York. He returned to Virginia for the chef’s role at Comfort in Richmond, under owner Jason Alley.

“Jason taught me to cook like springtime, making everything as vibrant as possible with herbs and acids,” Milton says. “My palate shifted during my time at Comfort, and I started playing with ferments and different vinegars.”

His path to Hickory came with dues to pay. “The stereotype of Appalachian cuisine was a bunch of dumb Scotch-Irish eating crap food,” says Milton. “But digging into the tradition exposes a complex and dynamic foodway dependent on seasonal harvests and the availability of ingredients.”

Milton’s support of the grassroots Appalachian Food Summit has brought attention to the region while upending the old stereotype. “The culinary world used to be more dish-centric,” says Milton, but the farm-to-table movement that followed wasn’t new to cooks in Appalachia where, if you wanted to eat, you had to grow it in the garden, pickle it, dry it, can it, and preserve it for yearround use.

Milton loves taking diners into the fields at Nicewonder Farm to forage for the ingredients that bring his cooking to life and share his reverence for them. A few of his favorites:

ȕ Candy Roaster Squash: Their sweet, nutty flavor is great for pies. At Hickory, Milton uses candy roasters in his gnocchi.

ȕ Greasy Beans: These smooth heirloom beans turn shiny when cooked, hence the name. They figure in classic dishes like Shuck Beans and Leather Britches.

ȕ Heirloom Apples: Hundreds of varieties dot the Appalachian landscape. They’re essential to hand pies, apple butters, and vinegars.

ȕ Ramps: A wild allium, the pungent taste of ramps suggests garlic, onion, and scallions. “They’re a little overplayed,” says Milton, “but with good reason.”

ȕ Foraged foods: From morels to garlic mustard, lion’s mane, and stinging nettles, foraged foods add an earthy, seasonal undertone to Milton’s culinary lexicon.

ȕ Necessity: When cinnamon was scarce, red hot candies found their way into apple butter. Vinegar pies were born from a lack of citrus.

ȕ Time: Picking, processing, canning, simmering, fermenting, shucking, stringing, and drying all take time, which invites cooperation, community, and storytelling.

For the home chef, Milton advises, “use ingredients at their peak season and flavor. Produce at its prime makes all the difference,” he notes. “Take time to experiment, and create variations of a recipe. Preserve family recipes—and make cooking a collaborative effort.”

John Haddad has written about food and travel for more than 20 years. He founded Slow Food RVA in Richmond and is the Slow Food Governor of Virginia.

Chef Travis Milton pours tomato gravy on a brined and fried catfish filet.  Turn the page for three Appalachian recipes, courtesy of Chef Travis Milton.


Catfish and Tomato Gravy


6 cups hot water

2 tablespoons kosher salt

½ cup orange juice

2 fresh bay leaves

½ tablespoon coriander

½ tablespoon mustard seed

3 cloves garlic

2 sprigs thyme

1 cup dill pickle juice

1 cup Crystal hot sauce


2½ cups Anson Mills white cornmeal

1¾ cups all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper to taste

3 cups buttermilk


Large cast iron pan

3 cups canola oil


JQ Dickinson Ramp Salt

Black pepper

Tomato Gravy (at right)

Combine the first 8 brine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil to dissolve salt. Simmer 4 minutes, then add pickle juice and hot sauce, stirring to combine. Strain brine into a container and refrigerate to cool.

Place 4–5 8 oz. wild catfish filets in cooled

brine and refrigerate 3½ hours. While catfish is brining, preheat smoker with hickory chips to 190°F degrees. Remove catfish from brine and place in smoker for 30 minutes to impart flavor. Transfer catfish to buttermilk. Mix cornmeal and flour together and season to taste.

In a cast iron pan, heat canola oil to 325°F degrees. Bread each filet in cornmeal mix and set aside. Fry catfish in stages, 4–5 minutes per side. Arrange fried filets on a platter and season with JQ Dickinson Ramp Salt and black pepper. Spoon tomato gravy over catfish and serve.


½ cup rendered country ham fat or bacon fat if not available

2 cups diced onion

½ cup cornmeal

¼ cup all-purpose flour

3 cups tomato juice

½ cup coffee

1 bay leaf

1 quart canned heirloom tomatoes, preferably German Johnson, crushed

1½ tablespoons black pepper

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon Crystal hot sauce

Heat bacon fat in a medium saucepan on medium high heat. Add onions and sweat until translucent. Add cornmeal and flour to make a roux. Cook 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add tomato juice and coffee and continue stirring. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 12–15 minutes on medium heat.

Baked candy roaster squash with apples, chestnuts, and meringue.


Applestack Cake

¾ cup softened butter

½ cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup sorghum molasses

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon cloves

¾ teaspoon allspice

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup buttermilk

2 quarts apple butter

Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. In a mixer, cream butter and sugar. Then with mixer on medium add next 9 ingredients, one at a time, lowering speed with the addition of flour. Add buttermilk last. Divide batter between six 9-inch springform cake pans in thin layers and bake for 15–20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for an hour. Once cooled, place a layer on a cake plate and spread with apple butter, alternating layers with apple butter until all are stacked. Coat cake’s exterior with remaining apple butter. Place on a cake stand, cover with lid, and let stand for 1–2 days before serving.

Baked Candy Roaster Squash with Apples, Chestnuts, and Meringue

1 medium candy roaster squash (or 3 medium butternut squash) peeled, seeded, and diced to ¾- inches cubes

2 cups chestnuts, roasted, peeled, and diced (look for these pre-roasted, peeled, and packaged in grocery stores)

1¾ cups sorghum

1½ cups apple butter

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced

½ tablespoon lime juice

4 oz. goat cheese

1½ tablespoons kosher salt

2 oz. mint leaf, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375°F degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except mint leaves. Pour mixture into a

14-inch cast iron skillet and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and set heat to broil. Let sit for 8–10 minutes before dotting the top with piped meringue (see below). Return to the oven for 4–6 minutes to brown the meringue slightly. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.


3 egg whites

¾ cup sugar

¼ tablespoon salt

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

¼ teaspoon lemon juice

½ tablespoon crushed pink peppercorns

Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Then add sugar and salt, beating to medium peaks. Add confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch, then continue to stiff peaks. Beat in lemon juice and pink peppercorns. Transfer meringue to a piping bag for garnish on the “casserole.”

65 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING photography by adam ewing
“Take time to experiment, and create variations of a recipe.
Preserve family recipes— and make cooking a collaborative effort.”
—Chef Travis Milton

Planned Communities 2023

The traditional neighborhood gets an elegant update

Gracious homes designed for modern living await in today’s planned communities, where life revolves around top-tier amenities—from world-class restaurants, to art studios, championship golf courses, fitness and swim centers, and more. Community membership also means carefree living with built-in home maintenance support. You’ll find neighbors who share your passions, along with the life you’ve dreamed of—waiting for you at these premiere locations across the state.

Bay Creek

Set on Virginia’s Cape, Bay Creek is a master-planned community that brings families together to live their best life through a connection with its coastal landscape, Palmer and Nicklaus Signature Golf, nature, state-of-the-art amenities and active lifestyle programming. From exploring the sparkling bay waters to hosting friends for dinner on the porch of your welcoming new coastal home, Bay Creek is the easygoing, elegant lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of. Set upon 1,720 lush acres along the Bay, this community is a natural wonderland, a place where residents can connect, forge friendships, and pursue their interests and passions.

844-620-2900 or


Enriching Life’s Journey—Cedarfield’s guiding principle. Nestled on 90+ wooded acres in Richmond’s West End, our premier Life Plan Community provides residents with opportunities to make new, meaningful friendships at intimate social gatherings and outings within our community. Stroll along our walking paths, connect with new friends, or better your body and mind in our Fitness Center. Paint portraits in our Creative Arts Studio or enjoy year-round swimming in the Natatorium. Nurture your lifelong passions and develop new ones. Live independently with a secure plan for the future.

804-373-8511 or

Kendal at Lexington

Kendal at Lexington residents enjoy a community that explores intellectual concepts, shares cultural experiences, and socializes in physical activities that build friendships and memories that last a lifetime. Kendal offers amazing amenities including a Life Care Community Model, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Rehabilitative and Long-Term Care. Residents gather to plan events and grow together as participants in the Lexington community. Residents even developed their own Kendal College program with courses ranging from ancient philosophy to fine arts and the newest technology.

540-463-1910 or

Martha Jefferson House

Martha Jefferson House offers Independent, Assisted and 24/7 Nursing Care in the heart of Charlottesville, Virginia. Enjoy an amazing location with access to shopping, restaurants, theaters and parks nearby while receiving quality and compassionate senior living care.

434-293-6136 or

The Providence

The Providence is an award-winning assisted living and memory care community in Fairfax County’s MetroWest neighborhood, with easy access to I-66, the Vienna/GMU Metro station and Dulles Airport. Watermark’s highly trained associates provide custom care and signature programs such as Watermark University and Thriving Through Music. Amenities such as concierge and valet services, an art studio, day spa, salon and chef-driven restaurants are accompanied by thoughtful, imaginative interior design, sunny common areas and a rooftop terrace.

571-396-0500 or

Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury

Situated on 165 wooded acres in Virginia’s Northern Neck, Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury has provided exceptional living for senior adults for nearly 40 years. Housing options include apartments, cottages and free-standing homes—all within a short distance to the main building. A host of social and fitness activities along with delicious meals make it feel like living in an allinclusive resort. Everything is taken care of, so you can do the things you love!

804-438-4000 or

Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury

Established in 1987, this not-for-profit, CARF-accredited, Life Plan community offers all levels of care under one roof. Cottages and apartments available from 709 to 2550 sq. ft. New Villa apartments will range from 1186 to 2036 sq. ft. A menities include indoor, saltwater pool, sauna, fitness center, putting green, woodworking shop, gift shop, nature preserve with walking trails, dog park, Chapel/Chaplain, clinic with full-time doctor, part-time dentist, dermatologist, and podiatrist, hair salon, full-service bank, transportation services, and in-house physical, occupational, speech, and music therapists. One exit from Winchester Medical Center and just over an hour from Washington, DC, in the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley 540-665-5914 or

Sunnyside Communities

Sunnyside Communities is three award-winning Life Plan Communities in Virginia—Sunnyside (Harrisonburg), King’s Grant (Martinsville) and Summit Square (Waynesboro). Each community offers a variety of affordable living choices and is located in a region of the state rich in history, culture and diversity, and surrounded by many area attractions. Recognized nationally, the communities have received awards for whole-person wellness programming, the highest ratings for quality of care, and “Best of Virginia” awards. Pet-friendly.

Harrisonburg 800-237-2257 Martinsville 800-462-4649 Waynesboro 800-586-5499 or

Williamsburg Landing

Located in the “South’s Best Small Town of 2020,” according to Southern Living, our premier Life Plan Community is the ideal place to enjoy a future of independence and inspiration. Since 1985, Williamsburg Landing has offered a vibrant lifestyle that cultivates new interests, lasting friendships, and a well-balanced retirement. Choose between beautiful home styles and sizes before spending your days staying upbeat in our state-of-the-art Health Club & Spa, playing pickleball, and enjoying educational opportunities and engaging classes. If health care is ever required, we’ve got you covered there, too! It’s time for Williamsburg Landing. 757-565-6505 or

In our vibrant Life Plan Community, we happily handle the everyday tasks so you can spend your days knocking items off your bucket list — instead of your to-do list. With more choices and fewer chores, you can focus on painting your next masterpiece, getting hands-on in your very own vegetable garden, or becoming a pickleball pro — all with a lifetime guarantee of care. After all, fun is never far from home when you live at Williamsburg Landing! *Service available to the Greater Williamsburg area. Among 15% of accredited Life Plan Communities in the U.S.A. Independent Living | Assisted Living & Memory Support Short & Long-Term Care | Adult Day* 800-554-5517 hello new passions. Goodbye home maintenance,

When you reduce responsibilities, you can explore the possibilities. Let the services provided by our dedicated staff lighten your daily load so you can enjoy the abundant amenities within our 87-acre woodland campus. You’ll also have easy access to the charming town of Winchester, the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley, and the allure of our nation’s capital nearby. Because we provide a full continuum of care, you’ll readily embrace a lifestyle of financial security and holistic wellness at Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury. Don’t

settle for less. Be even more at SVWC.
Less have-tos. MORE LOVE-TOS. We’re
better together.
Explore intellectual concepts, share cultural experiences, and socialize in physical activities that build friendships and memories that last a lifetime.
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION SUNNYSIDE Harrisonburg, VA 800.237.2257 KING’S GRANT Martinsville, VA 800.462.4649 SUMMIT SQUARE Waynesboro, VA 800.586.5499 • Established, award-winning Life Plan Communities with affordable choices • Located in regions of the state rich in history, culture and diversity • Surrounded by area attractions such as parkways, national parks, battlefields, museums and performing arts centers • Recognized nationally and internationally for whole-person wellness programming 9490 Sprague Avenue, Fairfax, VA 22031 | | 571.550.9404 A SILVERSTONE/WATERMARK RETIREMENT COMMUNITY Don’t miss this opportunity to get more for less. The Providence offers boutique-style living with individualized care and an abundance of amenities. FOR A LIMITED TIME, LEASE A ONE-BEDROOM ASSISTED LIVING APARTMENT FOR THE PRICE OF A STUDIO WHEN YOU MOVE IN BY MARCH 31. * ASSISTED LIVING | THE BRIDGE | MEMORY CARE *Certain conditions apply. See sales director for details. PAY LESS. GET MORE. Senior Living with Elegance & Grace Here for your Family, Here for You. 1600 Gordon Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22903 434-293-6136 •
Planned Communities 2023 SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Meet Me at • Hamburg, Germany native • Married 49 years to late husband, Donald • Avid equestrian and loves farm life • Enjoys reading, gardening, playing games, RVing and traveling • Moved to RWC with German Shepherd, Ben 804-438-4000 | | | 132 Lancaster Drive, Irvington, Virginia 22480 Anke L. Resident since 2021 AnkeL_Va Living_8.75x5.625_1.24.23-1.indd 1 1/24/23 9:30 AM CONNECTED TO WHAT MATTERS. As Virginia’s home for public media, we bring you relevant news and local storytelling  to foster a greater understanding of our state, our neighbors and our world. CONNECTED TO WHAT INSPIRES EMPATHY. Life in the Heart Land The VPM docuseries “Life in the Heart Land” explores the toughest challenges facing America’s rural communities and how some people are creating solutions. Courtesy of Deep Structure Productions

Shaheen, Ruth, Martin & Fonville specializes in Estates, Higher-End and Historic Homes, Land, and Waterfront properties in Richmond, Williamsburg, Wintergreen, the Middle Peninsula, and the Northern Neck.

420 N Ridge Road, Richmond 23229 5808 Grove Avenue, Richmond 23226 9004 W Huguenot Road, Richmond 23235 441 W Duke of Gloucester, Williamsburg 23185 4503 Irvington Road, Irvington 22480 804.288.2100 | 757.603.3001 |



At The Georges in Lexington, Ann Parker Gottwald has cracked the code.

Before the paint was dry in the 12 newest guest rooms at The Georges, they were booked. The boutique hotel’s latest expansion in the former Sheridan Livery Inn adds a fifth historic building to The Georges’ portfolio in downtown Lexington.

Six weeks earlier, five elegant bathtubs stood parked on the dance floor. Nearby on the bar, cans of fresh paint mingled with boxes of lighting and bath faucets. Even the name was undecided but, as owner Ann Parker Gottwald told a visitor, lighting up with a smile, “we’ll be ready!”

The race was on. Swatch boards in each guest room detailed the wallpaper, fabric, and furnishings that Gottwald and artist Sunny Goode, a certified color consultant, had selected. From the beginning, the pair have collaborated to create the hotel’s comfortably elegant style.

To the first wave of guests at The Georges at The Livery, Gottwald placed a phone call:

“I told them if something wasn’t right, we’d fix it, and we hoped they’d understand.” Guests were charmed by her candor. It’s the easygoing warmth felt everywhere at The Georges, and it starts at the top.

“When they stay here, people say they feel like they’re coming home to visit.”
—Ann Parker Gottwald
Owner Ann Parker Gottwald collaborates with artist Sunny Goode on guest rooms at The Georges, where swatch boards guide their choices. Here a Flying Arch Canopy Bed by Worthen is upholstered in Thibaut fabric. Wallpaper from Schumacher complements a Lee Industries upholstered chair. Artwork by Dallas artist Brenda Bogart. Constance Costas  | Photography by Sera Petras


An Unlikely Team

More than once, she’s been advised to hire “a big-time interior designer,” as Gottwald puts it, to burnish the hotel’s brand. Instead, she conjures the feeling of home—only better—in each of The Georges’ 33 guestrooms. From the beginning, they agreed, no two rooms would look exactly alike.

“It’s the bedroom you never knew you wanted,” says Goode. “The rooms are visually balanced to create an energy that’s both calm and inspiring. It’s a timeless elegance. Ann Parker is always willing to try fresh ideas that aren’t trendy.” The pair curate bespoke items—many sourced from small purveyors—to create a look that’s more showhouse than showroom.

Far-flung travel also informs their design. “Ann Parker has stayed in incredible boutique hotels all over the world,” Goode says. “When she sees something she likes, we break it down to translate that look for The Georges.”

“When they stay here, people say they feel like they’re coming home to visit,” Gottwald notes. Beds are made with Frette linens, freshly ironed. Towel warming racks and heated floors in the bathrooms radiate comfort. “The construction group thought I was crazy to do all that,” she says, “but people love it. And I really find a lot of pleasure in making people happy.”

“It Just Took Off”

Anatomy of a Guest Room

Wallpaper: Goode favors designs by Thibaut, Schumacher, and Anna French, and often chooses bold prints installed in measured doses. “One wall only,” says Goode.

Mixed Textures: Wood, velvet, metal, and grasscloth combine to create visual balance. A mirror framed in wood complements the metal canopy bed by Worthen, which is warmed by Thibaut upholstery fabric.

Color Layers: The soft pink in the wallpaper and bedside lamps from Visual Comfort play out in stronger shades of plum and raspberry in the rug and throw pillows. Ceilings are wallpapered or painted in a complementary color to enliven the spaces.

Playful Details: A custom coverlet with oversized tassels patterned throw rug, and nighstand with curved legs add a lighthearted note.

Stylish Lighting: The artichoke chandelier from Visual Comfort adds a surprising touch of luxury and style. Bedside lamps are chosen for color and shape.

Upholstered Seating: In each room, a comfortable chair or loveseat invites lingering. For The Livery project, The Georges partnered with Lee Industries to feature a different style in each room. In early December, the hotel will host an open house with design panel talks as part of the grassroots “Lee L ves Local” design initiative.

With support from her husband Teddy, a Virginia Military Institute (VMI) alum, Gottwald opened The Georges in 2014 with 18 guest rooms divided between two historic buildings. The couple recognized Lexington’s need for hotel rooms when two of their five sons attended VMI. The name honors VMI and Washington and Lee University, referencing three well-known Georges: Washington, Marshall, and Patton. “We didn’t realize how strong the demand would be,” says Gottwald. “It just took off.”

In 2019 she added The Patton Room, transforming the former auto showroom next door into an event space that seats 100 for dinner, or 200 for cocktails. In 2020, she converted a string of legal offices into Lawyers Row, adding three new guest rooms. And when the historic Sheridan Livery Inn came up for sale in 2022, she seized a third opportunity to expand.

For The Livery’s design, Gottwald recruited Jay Hugo, principal architect of 3North in Richmond. “What Ann Parker has achieved at The Georges is remarkable,” says Hugo, who has worked with the couple on multiple design projects. “She has such a strong vision, which is rare enough—but these projects also take tremendous commitment. Ann Parker develops

the details through a combination of intuitive design sense and serious bootson-the-ground legwork.”

Color, Texture, and Comfort

Over time, Gottwald has hit on a winning formula: “In the Livery,” Goode notes, “we only wallpaper the back wall in each guest room. If we papered all four, you’d feel dizzy.” Bedsteads, often upholstered in bold fabrics, are dressed with throw pillows. And just like home, a coverlet is folded at the foot.

In The Livery’s high-ceilinged rooms, Goode introduced flying arch canopy beds crafted by Worthen, a Virginia company. “With tall ceilings, we wanted to balance the proportions. These beds sophisticated, local, and they come with a 200-year warranty,” she marvels.

Still, Gottwald credits the suppliers who worked miracles to make their parents’ weekend opening possible. “The unsung heroes are Worthen and Lee Industries,” Gottwald says. “They delivered our beds and upholstered furniture, as promised, in early September.”

A pop of color—from a tasseled throw, nightstand, or painting—energizes the rooms. Textures and shapes vary. And accessories, like coffee table books, complete the feel of a thoughtfully appointed home. Guests at The Georges will also find a small side table next to a comfortable upholstered chair. Because, Gottwald says, “you always need a place to put your cup of coffee or glass of wine.”

APRIL 2023
photography by sera petras
“It’s the bedroom you never knew you wanted, designed to feel both calm and inspiring.”
—Sunny Goode
many of The Georges’ rooms.
JENNIFER sells it all! HOMES WITH GREAT BACKYARDS HOMES WITH BEAUTIFUL VIEWS 757-486-4500 • 301 Lynnhaven Parkway, Virginia Beach, VA 23452 • ©2023 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently owned and operated franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of Columbia Insurance Company, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. Equal Housing Opportunity. JENNIFER GARTRELL HOMES WITH HORSE STABLES HOMES WITH DOCKS HOMES ON GOLF COURSES

April 15-22,2023



Foxglove Dalmation Rose

The Art of the Table


1. Bring the bloom with these spreaders in Juliska’s Field of Flowers pattern. At Serendip in Norfolk. $13/set of 4.

2. Hand carved with bubbles, these colorful tea glasses are at Fraîche on the Avenues in Richmond. $112/set of 6

3. These paper cocktail napkins with elegant passementerie border look and feel like linen. $5.50/set of 15 From Caspari in Charlottesville.

4. Bodrum’s peapod napkin rings are proof that sometimes less is more. $16 each. From Fraîche in Richmond.

5. Handmade in India of 100 percent cotton, Caspari’s artisan tablecloth is reversible. $150.

6. Hot pink bamboo ice bucket from The Pink Lemon in White Stones is double-insulated and stylish. $120.

7. Tapers in Easter colors like cherry blossom, spring green, and Parisian blue light up any space. $8 per pair. From The Farm Basket in Lynchburg.

8. Add texture to your table with a set of natural palm placemats from Nest Gifts in Richmond. $9 each.

9. French inspired filigree placemats in deep rose pink by Juliska. $20 each. At The Globe, Virginia Beach.

10. Caspari’s happy hydrangea place mats are printed on heavy cardstock and designed for multiple uses. $26.50/ pkg. of 12.

11. Vietri’s charming cake stand pops with spring blooms. $154. At The Globe, Virginia Beach.

12. Mottahedeh’s Butterfly Cornflower Lace dessert plates capture spring in pretty porcelain. $75 each from Fraîche in Richmond.

13. Tulipieres showcase bloom. From Manse in Alexandria, this one comes in elegant, stackable segments, starting at $300

HOUSE+Garden DÉ COR 11
1 2 3 12 13 4 10 8 9 6 5 7
a festive tone with natural textures, cheerful colors, and fresh blooms. by CONSTANCE COSTAS
photos (clockwise from top left) courtesy of: serendip limited, fraiche home, caspari, fraiche home, the pink lemon va, the farm basket, nest gifts llc, the globe, manse


trim over 1/2 *

on a single charge

When combined with the AK 10 battery, the FSA 57 trimmer gives you more than enough power to tackle your yard.

*Trim up to 3,770 linear feet with the AK 10 battery on a single charge. Usage claim tested and verified by an independent third-party test laboratory. Run time per charge may vary depending on usage and application. ©2023 STIHL/MAS

Real STIHL. Find yours at a


Botanical gems inspire boozy pairings.

FOR GARDENERS WHO APPRECIATE A GOOD DRINK, botanical mixology doubles the pleasure. The hybrid field emerged as bartenders turned to plants to flavor craft cocktails and mocktails.

“Fresh botanicals—think fruits, flowers, and foliage—do wonders to elevate flavor profiles,” says Bobby Daglio, general manager of The Continental-Manchester in Richmond. He finds inspiration in everything from local pawpaws and jalapeños to herbs like cilantro, rosemary, and thyme. “In Virginia, there is so much available that you can infuse into liquors and spirits,” says the Brooklyn transplant and restaurant professional who relocated to Richmond in 2020.

Gardeners like Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist, a New York Times bestseller, are planting

cocktail gardens to power-up their own boozy concoctions. Stewart’s rollicking presentations—both live and via Zoom—connect the world’s greatest drinks with the plants that elevate them. Plus, she offers tips on best cocktail garden practices, including optimal designs and plant selection.

On her popular website, Stewart shares recipes like Lavendula Intoxicataea, made with gin, lemon, lavender soda, lavender bitters, and garnished with fresh Johnny jumpups or a lavender sprig—all ingredients she plucks from her own plot, a happy sliver in urban Portland, Ore. There, Stewart grows edible plants in cleverly repurposed furniture and all manner of containers., —by Madeline Mayhood


Tips on adding an outdoor kitchen.

ONCE CONSIDERED AN EXTRAVAGANCE , the outdoor kitchen has become a priority as homeowners look to expand entertaining and living spaces. As designers see a demand uptick for patio and poolside kitchens equipped for year-round use, Cathy Connon of Catherine Jordan Design in Richmond and Northern Virginia, suggests considering these key factors:

ȕ Materials: “Start by asking if you’re looking to match the aesthetic of your home or distinguish your outdoor kitchen with a different style,” Connon advises. “Durable materials that hold up outdoors will weather the seasons and keep your kitchen looking fresh.”

ȕ Distance: “Give proximity to your house some serious consideration,” Connon suggests. A gorgeous poolside kitchen may look great, but if it’s 50 yards from your back door, consider creating a stand-alone kitchen that replicates your home’s kitchen in storage and function to avoid back-and-forths to the main house.

ȕ Price: An L-shaped kitchen—with a grill, burners, sink, bar refrigerator, and countertops—can start at $15,000. A design pro can help make the most of your investment. “The ideal outdoor kitchen,” says Connon, “is as beautiful as it is functional.” —by M.M.


Set a pace this April 15-22 with the best regional itineraries.

FOR THE GARDEN - CENTRIC SET, Historic Garden Week (HGW) has crafted a series of regional itineraries to help visitors prioritize must-see stops along this year’s spring tour. Each includes tour-pairings designed to simplify travel planning for the week-long event, which attracts visitors from around the world.

“From top to bottom, Virginia is nearly 500 miles long,” says Karen Ellsworth, director of HGW and editor of the tour’s popular Guidebook, “so clustering tours helps enhance the experience.” Her best tip for visitors? Set a leisurely pace.

Celebrating 90 years this season, the Garden Club of Virginia’s house and garden tour is the country’s largest and oldest, with proceeds benefiting the Club’s historic restoration projects.

“Other opportunities help maximize the tour experience,” Ellsworth says, citing the restaurants, state parks, historic properties, inns, and hotels that offer discounts and extended hours. Pop-up boutiques and vendors often donate a portion of their proceeds to HGW, and some museums and historic sites offer free admission to HGW ticket holders. Many tours offer lunch options—from specialty box lunches to buffets at country clubs. Says Ellsworth, “With a little planning, anybody can turn the tour into an exceptional, five-star experience.” —by M.M.

Victory for Native Plants

Governor Glenn Youngkin’s recently signed proclamation officially designates April 2023 as Virginia Native Plant Month thanks in part to the hard work of the 12 Garden Club of America-affiliated clubs statewide. “The Commonwealth of Virginia is excited to partner with the GCA on this critical initiative,” Youngkin says. Garden clubs have long recognized the star power of native plants and their role in supporting a healthy environment. The GCA and its 199-member clubs connect people and plants across all 50 states. —by M.M.

photos (from top):
by delightful eye
by georgiana watt
of winn design + build,
amy stewart,
maine coast,
Winn Design + Build designed and built this outdoor kitchen within a multi-season porch adjacent to a Vienna, Virginia home. The standalone kitchen features stainless steel appliances including a grill and hood, two refrigerators, and an icemaker, plus stainless steel Danver cabinetry. This cooking center offers all the conveniences of an indoor kitchen while enjoying the outdoor setting.
Amy Stewart Crabapple allée at Oak Spring Garden, the estate of Bunny and Paul Mellon in Upperville.

Beach Cottage Soul

A designer creates a coastal oasis for two special clients.

At first sight, says interior designer Anne Pulliam, this Virginia Beach condo “looked like a contemporary mountain bachelor pad from the ’90s.” The kitchen, with its dark cherrywood cabinets, gray glass tile backsplash, and “spaceship pendant lights,” felt sterile and dated, while the stacked stone fireplace in the living room did little to brighten the mood.

Her clients, Trudy and Cliff Porter of Richmond, also happened to be her parents. “They wanted a coastal cottage with that old beach soul,” says Pulliam. After a year of house hunting, they’d found a place spacious enough for visits from their three grown children, grandchildren, and family dogs. And while the ocean views were lovely, the décor was in need of an overhaul.

Could Pulliam transform the condo, her parents wondered? “They didn’t want a vacation house with starfish or mermaids and Gone to the Beach, Y’all signs,” Pulliam says. “They wanted something sophisticated and comfortable— without doing a gut renovation.” Yes, she assured them, she could infuse the place with the beach soul they’d found so elusive.

Augie, the Porter’s Boston Terrier, perches on a sofa in the living room; the pair, from Lee Industries, is covered in Cowtan & Tout fabric with pillows from Schumacher and Peter Dunham. Large rattan pendant light and rattan coffee table are by Palecek. Chair is from Lee Industries in Quadrille fabric.

Pulliam describes the design collaboration that unfolded over the next six months as “organic,” thanks to her parents’ built-in trust. “With most clients, you have to earn that trust,” she explains. “Working with them, I didn’t have to present every detail up front. We could slow-roll the decision-making process, so I had time to build on each space, adding layers to the design.”

In the kitchen, she transformed the dark cabinets with white paint, adding a blue ceramic tile backsplash by Architessa for a dash of coastal color. For the island’s base cabinets, she chose Waters Edge, a Benjamin Moore blue, to complement the tile. Quartz countertops replaced the ’90s-era granite, and white schoolhouse lights from Circa introduced an element of oldfashioned charm.

“We added a natural element to every space—something tactile, like the rattan pendant light in the living room and the mirror in the guestroom.”
—Anne Pulliam
Vintage red bench in the foyer, with pillows from Kathy Ireland and a cushion in fabric from Pindler, sets a welcoming tone. Rattan mirror from Serena & Lily is surrounded by a straw hat collection; side table is from Oomph. A brick terrazzo floor in a herringbone pattern anchors the space. Moose, the Pulliam’s Bernedoodle, relaxes on a Ballard Designs bed in a guestroom. Shams in fabric by Quadrille; bolster fabric by Cowtan & Tout; blue and white draperies in fabric by Schumacher. Mirror from Serena & Lily. All window treatments fabricated by Andrew Norris of Richmond

To further warm the space, Pulliam made a subtle switch to the ceiling’s recessed lights, trading silver can liners for white ones. “Retrofitting old can lights is a cost effective way to update a space,” she notes.

In the dining room, a sisal rug brings “an island look,” Pulliam says, “but it’s an outdoor rug that’s indestructible. You can take it outside and clean it with a hose.” Downstairs, in the guest bedrooms and den, she replaced beige wall-towall carpeting with hardwood floors and area rugs. A blue geometric rug installed on the stairs creates an inviting welcome.

Along with new furniture, the Porters wanted to incorporate family pieces inherited from Trudy’s mother. “I find it really important for rooms to have some history and soul,” Pulliam notes. “There’s something old in every room—my grandmother’s puzzle table, and a hunt board that serves as a console near the kitchen, even my childhood bed in one of the guest rooms. Mixed with new furniture, they create a layered look that’s funky and fun.”

New pieces are damage-proof. “For the rattan coffee table in the living room, we added a glass top over the jute surface,” Pulliam notes. “If someone leaves a sweaty glass on the table, we just wipe it off—you don’t worry about creating a water stain.”

Color, too, enlivens the space, capturing the coastal feeling without overplaying it. “The sofas are blue, but the color isn’t deeply saturated,” she notes. “It’s about scale, too. I used a large-scale pattern on the sofa pillows to offset the solid sofas.” In the bedrooms, comforters by Roller Rabbit in an Indian block print introduce both pattern and color, “without a big commitment.”

And that old beach soul? Pulliam achieves it with textured pieces. “We added a natural element to every space—something tactile, like the rattan pendant light in the living room and the mirror in the guestroom,” Pulliam says. Even the entryway mirror is framed in braided rope and surrounded by a collection of straw hats. In the guest baths, surfboard and sailboat wallpapers add a subtle beach nod.

The project was a success on both sides. “This job gave me the confidence to follow my instincts,” Pulliam says. “And for any designer, those instincts are key to making assured decisions for your clients.”

Stair hall gets added warmth with baskets from Serena & Lily. Nautical-themed sconce is from Dune and Duchess; shade is in fabric by Fermoie from Evans & Sheldon.

As the client, Trudy Porter says it was “a gift” to collaborate with her daughter on a project that felt so personal. “Not only did we get a home decorated just the way we wanted it, we also got to see how Anne uses her creative skills in her business.”

The couple now enjoys entertaining family and friends in this welcoming space. “Whenever my mom’s friends visit, I’ll get a text from one of them afterwards telling me how comfortable the place feels,” Pulliam says. “Then we’ll come with kids and dogs and wreak havoc—and it’s all okay. The place is designed for that.”

In the powder room, wallpaper from Katie Ridder features sailboats on the high seas; mirror from Ballard Designs; art by Mary Maguire; hand towel from Weezie; sconce from Circa. A family hunt table serves as a serving station near the kitchen. The bench, from One King’s Lane, is covered in fabric (“Safari”) by Quadrille. Lamps are from Circa with shades from Evans & Sheldon in fabric by Fermoie. Clamshell is from Ballard Designs. Art is from the Porter’s collection. Blue chest from Villa & House; sconces with rattan shades and mirror from Serena & Lily, “Santa Barbara Ikat” fabric in indigo by Schumacher. Twin beds, repurposed from Pulliam’s childhood bedroom, are dressed in red and white quilts from Roller Rabbit. Anne Pulliam
photography by stacy zarin
White paint brightens the kitchen’s original dark cherrywood cabinets. The island base cabinets, painted Waters Edge from Benjamin Moore, complement the glossy blue ceramic subway tile backsplash by Architessa. Schoolhouse pendant lights by Circa; counter stools by Serena & Lily. Countertops are white quartz.
“They didn’t want starfish or mermaids. They wanted something sophisticated and comfortable without doing a gut renovation.”
—Anne Pulliam
“When they offered me the job,” McDonald says, “I asked whether they wanted to do it right.”
Thirty four years later, the first phase of Poplar Forest’s meticulous restoration is complete.
Paint mixing tools in architectural conservator Christopher Mills’ shop. Right: Distemper is applied to the dining room walls. Travis McDonald in Poplar Forest’s unrestored east chamber suite.

Jefferson’s Retreat Restored

After 34 painstaking years, Poplar Forest celebrates a remarkable milestone.

On a late afternoon in September, paint conservator Erika Sanchez Goodwillie pours pigments into a mill that resembles an oversized coffee grinder.

One at a time, she grinds black, brown, and reddish powders, mixing them until she finds her desired color. Then she stirs the compound into a creamy blend of chalk and water, adding glue as a binder. “You let it cool overnight, and it gels,” she says. “We make it fresh, the day before application.”

The final product, called distemper—a French term for “soaking the chalk”—is destined for the interior walls of Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s octagonal-shaped retreat, which stands a few steps away.

This is no ordinary paint job. Instead, a specialized team, a Who’s Who of America’s historic paint conservators, spent nearly a month formulating and applying Poplar Forest’s original interior colors. Sanchez Goodwillie works closely with Christopher Mills, whose Massachusettsbased firm has recreated museum finishes at historic sites, including Mount Vernon, Stratford Hall, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

“We work from 18th-century treatises,” Mills says. “One of them describes distemper as ‘a quivering jelly.’” When applied to the dining room walls, the blackish distemper turns a rich and luminous gray as it dries. The paint specialists

had already mixed linseed oil and pigments to cover the cream-colored baseboards, chair rails, architraves, and entablatures. Their brushes of choice? Antiques, made of horse and hog hair. These 19thcentury tools deliver a finish that’s as authentic as the paint itself.

An April Celebration

Travis McDonald, Poplar Forest’s meticulous architectural historian, has been overseeing its restoration for the past 34 years—32 years longer than the Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest had planned when they hired him in 1989.

“When they offered me the job,” McDonald says, “I asked whether they wanted to do it right.” Assured that they did, he set about the task ahead. Three-plus decades later, Poplar Forest will mark the first phase of the project’s completion with a public celebration on April 28, two weeks after Jefferson’s 280th birthday.

In 1989, Jefferson’s original design was almost

unrecognizable. Subsequent owners had altered the home over time, adding electricity, running water, closets, and dressing rooms. The spectacular dining room skylight—among the first seen in an American residence—was concealed in 1846 behind a dropped ceiling. “It was totally denatured, including the roofline and even the fenestration,” says Bill Beiswanger, Monticello’s former director of restoration and a member of the Poplar Forest advisory panel.

Jefferson was President when he broke ground on Poplar Forest in 1806. He left Washington, D.C., to assist in laying its foundation. By 1809, he’d begun using the house as a retreat from the whirlwind of post-presidential life at Monticello, even as construction continued over the next 17 years.

Once the shell of the home was complete, John Hemings, Jefferson’s slave and brother of Sally

from top left): by andrew shurtleff (2), courtesy of travis mcdonald (3)
A glass pigment grinder and metal scrapers are used to mix the distemper used on Poplar Forest’s interior walls. Thomas Sully’s 1821 portrait of Jefferson.

Hemings, would work on its joinery. A skilled craftsman, Hemings had been trained first by British joiner David Watson, then by Irish joiners James Dinsmore and John Neilson. Jefferson provided Hemings with his own set of tools and paid him $20 annually to work on Monticello and Poplar Forest.

From Monticello, Jefferson dispatched Hemings to Poplar Forest in 1815, accompanied by three assistants: Beverly, Madison, and Eston. Not only were the men Heming’s nephews, they were also Jefferson’s offspring by Sally, McDonald confirms. Together, their work on the home’s joinery would continue until Jefferson’s death in 1826.

Searching for Clues

The workers’ correspondence with Jefferson left a delicious paper trail for McDonald to savor as he compared details of the existing house—from window hardware to brickwork and decorative trim—through written documentation. “John Hemings knew the language of classical architecture, including the names of moldings,” he says. “After 1815, the letters between Jefferson at Monticello and Hemings at Poplar Forest tell you a lot about what’s happening.”

In 1823, three years before his death, Jefferson turned the home over to his grandson, Francis Eppes, who sold Poplar Forest to a neighbor in 1828. A fire destroyed the interior in 1845, but in the years that followed, the house was rebuilt and updated.

To get Jefferson’s paint colors right, McDonald collected antique paint chips and scraps of plaster from Jefferson’s palette and shared them with Susan Buck, a Williamsburg-based conservator and paint analyst who then cracked the home’s color code. “It’s a medium gray, using lampblack and carbon black pigments,” she says of the dining room walls.

Applying the distemper was the crowning achievement in the first phase of Poplar Forest’s restoration, a process McDonald has nurtured steadfastly over decades, as he strives to recreate Jefferson’s architectural vision. Subsequent phases in coming decades will focus on the surrounding landscape.

Fielding His Team

One of McDonald’s first tasks at Poplar Forest was to assist in filling in gaps for a panel of esteemed architectural advisors to guide the project. Even in 1989, he was uniquely qualified to attract a stellar team. He had studied under the legendary Richard Guy Wilson, professor emeritus of architectural history at the University of Virginia, now a member of the National Historic Landmarks Committee.

And he’d already impressed noted architects Charles Philips and Paul Buchanan, who was known for 30 years, McDonald says, “as the ‘Yoda’ of architectural investigation at Colonial Williamsburg.” Pleased with McDonald’s work on the restoration of the site’s 18th-century Public Hospital Museum, Buchanan had recommended him for the restoration of Richmond’s Wickham

House, built in 1812, and now part of the city’s Valentine Museum.

Over time, McDonald’s peer advisors would boast some of the nation’s brightest minds in archeology, architecture, historic preservation, and landscape architecture. Included were experts from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, and Calder Loth, Senior Architectural Historian from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, now retired. Those advisors chose Jeff Baker and John Mesick to serve as consulting architects, while McDonald hired Andy Ladygo as architectural conservator.

With the team in place, McDonald began two years of painstaking research to assemble the architectural evidence —gleaned from historic documents and the structure itself—that he would need to restore the home. From there, McDonald says, “we had to keep documenting what we found and send that to the architects to draw it up.”

Finding Jefferson

When he removed interior plaster that covered brick walls, for example, McDonald discovered the ghosts of Jefferson’s original wooden trim. He restored the roof with its Chinese railing, a detail described just once—in a letter from Hemings. From there, he moved to the eastern terrace, part of Jefferson’s five-part Palladian scheme, and worked with landscape architects to reconnect a 12-foot-tall grassy mound on the western side with an allée of six paper mulberry trees, just as Jefferson had done.

He then returned to the interior, leaving two eastern rooms with exposed brick, beams, and

Travis McDonald on the east wing of the building. Left: Christopher Mills mixes distemper using a glass pigment grinder. Painters Brad Stewart, Jenna Stillman, and Christopher Mills.

floors. The rest he restored following Jefferson’s intent—not room by room, but one step at a time throughout the house. The restored dining room entablature—horizontal molding—is based on the Doric order from the Baths of Diocletian in Rome, and depicts the face of Apollo alternating with bucrania, or ox skulls. Architectural historian Calder Loth traced the entablature to a 1650 French book on the ancient and modern versions


of the classical orders of architecture, one owned by Jefferson.

Through it all, McDonald kept the doors open to 30,000 annual visitors, who witnessed the work as it progressed. Each summer, from 19902019, he ran a two-week restoration field school for handpicked students. More importantly, he assembled a paper trail of documentation, including two books, for future historians to peruse and learn from.

Now faithfully restored, the building resonates with Jefferson’s presence. On a shelf near his Campeche chair, a pair of his glasses sits folded on top of a book, as if he’s just set them aside.

Do the results match McDonald’s vision from 1989, the year he arrived? “Of course not,” he quips, adding: “Jefferson was in hiding.”

Now that the original architecture has been restored, that’s no longer true. “Travis is like a horse whisperer,” says fellow architectural historian John Larson, a member of the Poplar Forest advisory committee who’s also overseen restorations at Old Salem Museum and Gardens in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “He looks at a building, listens to it, and reads it like nobody I know.”

McDonald understood how long it took to build Poplar Forest, and he soaked up the layers and levels that had unfolded in every room. Then he transformed the building to bring Jefferson—and his most private spaces—back to life.”

J. Michael Welton is the author of Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand (Routledge, 2015). His articles have appeared in The New York Times , The Washington Post , Metropolis , Dwell , and The News & Observer in Raleigh.

87 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING HOUSE+Garden ARCHITECTURE photos (from left) courtesy of travis
(2). floorplan courtesy of
forest. illustration
by andrew shurtleff, by constance costas
diane johnson
Do the results match McDonald’s vision from 1989, the year he arrived?
“Of course not,” he quips. “Jefferson was in hiding.”
Jefferson’s master craftsman.
Detail of the skylight and restored entablature in the dining room. Details of restored frieze ornamentation. Left: bucranium (ox skull); right: face of Apollo. mahogany, c. 1817. Jefferson may have commissioned this Poplar Forest as it may have appeared between 1814 and 1820. A pair of Jefferson’s glasses sit on a book in the restored building.

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In 1980, John & Yoko searched Virginia for a grand estate.

JOHN LENNON WAS ON THE ROAD TO UPPER SHIRLEY, seated in the back of a limousine wearing blue jeans and a work shirt. Next to him, Jimmie Carter, a 28-year-old Gloucester real estate agent, had mentioned that the estate’s owner, Em Bowles Alsop, was a bit of a grande dame.

With that, Lennon turned to him to ask, “How do I look?”

“I told him he looked great and everything was fine,” says Carter, who spent a memorable two days in April 1980 showing Virginia manor homes to Lennon, his wife Yoko Ono, and their four-year-old son Sean. “He didn’t want to commit a social faux pas when he met her,” Carter recalls, 43 years later. “Just think about it: John Lennon asking me whether he was presentable for this Virginia matron.”

This magical manor tour began five days earlier, when Carter’s father, Jim, fielded a call at Jim & Pat Carter Real Estate in White Stone. A New York business manager was inquiring on behalf of an “undisclosed client” who was looking for a rural manor home. Jim passed the message to Jimmie in their Gloucester office.

“My parents had listed the bigger plantations,” says Carter, now a real estate developer in Lancaster County. The caller said his clients were in a hurry, so Carter drove to Byrd Airport in Richmond to dispatch property brochures to New York via courier.

Ticket to Ride

Two days later, the manager phoned. The clients would visit on Friday. “Who’s the client?” Carter asked. “When he said ‘Mr. and Mrs. Lennon of New York City,’” Carter needed no further prompting. “I just assumed he was talking about John and Yoko.”

The Lennons were interested in two properties: Poplar Grove, a stately Mathews County house built in 1770, and Upper Shirley, located on the James, just outside of Richmond. When the manager asked where they should stay, Carter wisely suggested the Williamsburg Inn.

Built in 1937, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., had personally guided the Inn’s design, adding luxuries like private baths and air conditioning—unfathomable in hotels at the time. The Williamsburg Inn attracted luminaries such as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, guests during Jamestown’s 350th anniversary celebration in 1957. Surely, it would suit the Lennons.

The Lennons were interested in two

properties: Poplar Grove, a stately Mathews County house built in 1770, and Upper Shirley,

“Why don’t you make the hotel reservation in your name?” the manager suggested, noting the guests would like two double mattresses, pulled together to make one big bed.

“That was because their son would be coming and they would all be sleeping together,” Carter says.

The couple, who’d met in a London art gallery, stirred controversy even before they married in March 1969; first with a nude cover photo on their 1968 album, Two Virgins, and later, on their honeymoon, where they staged

93 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING photos (from top) courtesy of the
everett collection, inc., library
by frances benjamin johnston
located on the James, just outside of Richmond.
Poplar Grove

a five-day “bed-in,” inviting press to their Amsterdam hotel room in a call for world peace. Ono was painted as a divisive force within the Fab Four, but they’d since settled into a wellheeled domestic life.

Carter couldn’t have known, but the Lennons were on a buying spree. They’d recently purchased a 14,000-square-foot Palm Beach mansion and 16,000 acres in upstate New York. In addition to real estate, John and Yoko shared a passion for sailing trips and owning registered Holstein cows. But their world revolved around Sean.

All four Beatles were famously reluctant to fly so, as the story goes, the couple took the train from New York’s Penn Station to Washington, D.C., hiring a limousine for the drive to Gloucester. When they arrived at his office around noon, Carter sent his secretary to Morgan’s Drug Store—now Farmasea Restaurant—for sandwiches from the lunch counter, which they ate in the back room of the realty office. “They didn’t need us hovering,” Carter says. “We left them alone to eat.”

After lunch, they left in the limo for Poplar Grove, set on 22 acres overlooking the East River. “Sean was very well-behaved,” Carter recalls. “They seemed to be a very loving family. John was relaxed, very friendly, deferential to his wife. She was the brains in the family, he told me. She made the decisions. Yoko was reserved but not offensively so.”

Yellow Submarine

Poplar Grove impressed the couple, although Carter thought the place needed work. They were particularly enamored with the estate’s Colonialera tide mill. Virginia’s only surviving example, it’s still in use today. “They didn’t dig in with a lot of questions,” says Carter. “There was a reference to a good investment.” After lingering for an hour, the Lennons returned to Gloucester, dropping Carter at his office before continuing on to the Williamsburg Inn.

“I was supposed to call Yoko that evening,” Carter says. “But when I rang the hotel and gave them my name, they said I had no room there. I asked, ‘Well, do you have a Mr. and Mrs. Lennon?’ Nope, they said. Eventually, he got the manager on the phone: “I know they’re there, and you know they’re there,” he told him. “Could you just have Mrs. Lennon call me?” She did.

The next day, Carter’s sister, Cary Turpin, an agent in the family’s Richmond office, joined him to collect their famous clients. “The Williamsburg Inn was aflutter,” says Turpin, an unabashed Anglophile who had attended the London School of Economics. “Word had definitely gotten out. People were stacked up looking through the window at them as they sat on the patio.”

Of the drive to Charles City, Turpin recalls, “John was more engaging. Yoko was friendly but businesslike. She definitely wore the pants in the family.” She asked Sean if he’d met his father’s former bandmates. “I recall he said Ringo may have come by once.”

The exchange spurred an unforgettable moment. “Sean and John started singing “Yellow Submarine” in the back of the limo. Obviously Sean had seen the movie. It was just adorable to hear them together singing, ‘we all live in a yellow submarine’ as we drove along.”

Poplar Grove’s tide mill, which Lennon spoke of turning into a recording studio.
Alsop descended the staircase, held her well-manicured fingers out to John, and purred, “I wanna hold your hand.”
The Williamsburg Inn denied the Lennons were guests until Carter reached a manager: “Could you just have Mrs. Lennon call me?” She did.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

At Upper Shirley, an 1868 estate that once hosted General Robert E. Lee, John Lennon had nothing to fear from the theatrical Mrs. Em Bowles Alsop. “She was a good buddy of Helen Hayes,” Carter says.

Alsop descended the staircase, held her well-manicured fingers out to John, and purred, “I wanna hold your hand.”

The Lennons toured the grounds and took tea with Em, staying for more than two hours. When they departed, Cary says, “they held their cards pretty close to their vest. We didn’t quiz them. They knew what they wanted.”

From Upper Shirley, they drove the 40 minutes to Richmond’s Staples Mill train station. “They were hungry so we took them to the nearby McDonald’s for lunch,” Carter remembers.

Adds Turpin, “We were at the train station for thirty minutes and no one approached us.”

“Once we got them on the train, a young woman asked us if that was John and Yoko. We waited for the train to start before we told her, yes, it was,” Carter recalls. “No one would have expected to see John Lennon and Yoko Ono at the Staples Mill train station in Richmond.”

The Lennons would eventually purchase Poplar Grove, as well as Auburn in Mathews County. “We didn’t have anything to do with Auburn,” says Carter. “They never mentioned looking at homes with others.”

The late H. Blair Farinholt, the other agent in question, had shown them Auburn, the 1824 estate on the North River. Today, Farinholt’s children say their father never spoke of meeting Lennon. “He may not have realized who he was,” his son, Bart, jokes. “But he did take Tom Cruise to the Gloucester post office to meet his friends when Cruise was there to film Minority Report. That was a big day for him.”

Carry That Weight

It’s unknown whether John or Yoko ever spent time in their Virginia country homes. But when Ono heard local lore about a ghost at Auburn, she pumped sand into the basement to “cleanse” the mansion of evil spirits. A Norwegian caretaker, Oggie, was installed at Auburn, and some of their Holsteins resided at Poplar Grove, one of which sold that year for a whopping $250,000.

Five months after John Lennon visited Gloucester, he returned to recording music, ending a five-year creative drought. His album, Double Fantasy, dropped in November 1980. Then, on December 8, Lennon was shot by a

Storied Slippers

These dainty slippers belonged to Mary Eliza Tabb, who lived at Auburn in the mid-1800s. She wore them on her wedding day, but took a tumble down the grand staircase and died. Tradition has them displayed in the estate’s foyer, but believing they had bad juju, Yoko banished them from view. Today, they’re back on display thanks to owners Chip and Lynn Hornsby.

crazed fan as he entered his home at The Dakota on New York’s Upper West Side. He was just 40. “We were all saddened by how quickly John was gone,” Carter says.

The visit, Turpin agrees, “was great on all levels.” She dismisses rumors that Lennon smoked a joint in another agent’s car. “Drugs? Absolutely not,” Turpin says.

Months after Lennon’s death, Yoko sold off the Virginia properties, donating the proceeds from Auburn to Strawberry Field, a children’s home in a suburb of John’s hometown of Liverpool, England. Money from the sale of Poplar Grove went to New Beginnings, a Middlesex County boys home.

As Carter recalls, “negotiations with the Lennons’ business manager, through Pentacles Realty, a company the Lennons set up to acquire and sell land—went smoothly.” Ralph Finch, Jr., a Richmond real estate agent who closed both sales, later told The New York Times that, had he lived, Lennon planned to build a recording studio in Poplar Grove’s tide mill.

John Lennon, making music in Virginia. Just imagine.

Don Harrison is a writer, curator, and radio host. His work has been published in The Washington Post , Washingtonian , Virginia Business , and Parade , among others. He hosts Open Source RVA and co-hosts Charlottesville-based Radio Wowsville.

95 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING photos (from
left): courtesy
williamsburg inn, courtesy of virginia department of historic resources, by ben greenburg, courtesy of upper shirley vineyards, by lynn hornsby
Auburn, as it appears today. Em Bowles Alsop and her husband, Benjamin Pollard Alsop Jr., in front of Upper Shirley.


Nicole and Stephen Phillips of Meadowgate Alpacas share a bit of grain with a group of female alpacas. Right: Meadowgate’s Zendaya, who loves visitors, is always interested in a photo op.


and friendly, alpacas are big business in the Commonwealth.
Photography by SCOTT SUCHMAN


impossible not to smile

when you hike with an alpaca. On a blue-sky day, I’m strolling along the edge of a forest with Elkton, a white alpaca, at Double 8 Alpaca & Llama Ranch in Purcellville. We duck under a tree branch in unison, and when I turn to look at him, he smiles back at me—or at least, I think he does.

After bottle-feeding a 10-day-old cria, a baby alpaca, I watched these adorable animals scamper across a meadow, and now, as I lead Elkton on a gorgeous trail in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I find myself falling in love with these doe-eyed camelids.

The first time I saw alpacas grazing on a Virginia farm two decades ago, I thought I’d taken a wrong turn and wound up in South America. These gentle animals arrived in the U.S. from Peru in 1984, with Virginia welcoming its first alpacas in the 1990s. Today there are more than 380 alpaca farms in the Commonwealth.

A Sound Investment?

Maybe you recall the “huggable investment” infomercials on late-night TV in the early 2000s? They promised viewers that breeding alpacas would put them on the path to prosperity. Many people responded, including Doug and Bonnie Kittrell, owners of Double 8. Turns out the get-rich-quick scheme didn’t exactly pan out. But when the alpaca market crashed in 2008, it was too late—the Kittrells had already become enchanted by these unique animals. At each of the three Virginia alpaca farms I visited—Double 8, Skyfiber Ranch, and Meadowgate Alpacas—the love between the animals and their owners was palpable.

Each farm has a slightly different focus, although breeding, showing, fiber production, and agritourism are common threads. Even when alpaca prices fluctuate or a pandemic rears its ugly head, these farmers exhibit a remarkable ability to adapt to changing market trends and create new ways to make their farms profitable. When the Kittrells decided to jump into alpaca breeding in 2005, alpacas prices were at an alltime high. “In that early period, there wasn’t a fiber market,” Doug Kittrell explains. “It was all about breeding and selling alpacas.” The couple began by investing in four alpacas, three “very expensive” females and one male, who became the herdsire.

At Double 8 Alpaca & Llama Ranch, huacaya alpaca wool in natural fawn is ready to be turned into roving, yarn, and finally into hats and socks. Meadowgate’s Zendaya requests a different angle for her glamour shot.

Before long, they’d sold the offspring and recouped their initial investment. By the end of the third year, they had 20 alpacas and the future looked bright. “They’re like potato chips,” Bonnie says. “You can’t have just one.” Unfortunately, the same pattern of rapid herd increases was repeating across the country so, Doug recalls, “all the alpaca farms were ending up with huge numbers and the prices dropped.”

Fleece and Agritourism

Around the same time, the market for alpaca fleece began to grow. A luxurious fiber, alpaca fleece is lighter and warmer than wool and, because it doesn’t contain lanolin, it’s hypoallergenic. Today many alpaca owners breed for fiber, and an animal that produces quality fleece can fetch high prices.

Most farms don’t rely on a single avenue to keep them afloat financially. Doug and Bonnie keep their 32-acre farm in the black through multiple business tiers. One herd comprises show alpacas who compete in categories such as halter, fleece, performance, and walking fleece (where the fleece is evaluated while still on the alpaca). Bonnie says the average selling price for champion show stock is $12-14,000.

The Kittrells also have a fiber herd and selectively breed for fleece color and quality. “A fantastic fiber producer can sell for $2-$4,000 each,”

says Bonnie. As part of this business tier, Bonnie harvests the fleece, which is processed into yarn at a mill. Then she sells the yarn or knits it into accessories, all of which are available at her farm store as well as online. “I can make several hats a day,” she says. Socks are also a big seller.

Last but not least is Double 8’s agritourism business. In addition to hiking with alpacas, the Kittrells offer farm visits and wedding packages. Apparently, weddings that feature alpacas are a thing. They also host the local 4-H Club twice a month. “This is their chance to be around animals,” says Doug. The 4-H members learn how to care for the animals and sometimes show them at the Loudoun County Fair.

Doug inspects Princess Rhaenyra. Bonnie and Doug Kittrell of Double 8 Alpaca & Llama Ranch with Elkton, Enterprising Encore, and yearling llama Max Scherzer. Below: Bonnie’s hand-dyed and hand-painted yarn, to be be sold or turned into hats.
“ They’re like potato chips. You can’t have just one.”
—Bonnie Kittrell, co-owner, Double 8 Alpaca & Llama Ranch
Enterprising Encore, Double 8’s top breeding stud, pauses for his portrait.

Skyfiber Ranch: Science is Key

Tucked amid hills in pastoral Fauquier County, Skyfiber Ranch spreads out over 30 acres and is home to 60 alpacas. Owner Aimée Matheny greets me at the gate as two huge dogs bound across the pasture toward us. “These are our alpaca guard dogs,” Matheny explains. “They keep the herd safe from predators.” These ace livestock guardians are Kangal shepherds, a Turkish breed, and members of Skyfiber’s troop of five: Fiona, Seamus, Lyra, Stella, and Sebastian.

Matheny and her husband, Mark Minorik, a technology consultant, moved from Texas to Virginia with their herd of alpacas in 2016. “It’s a better environment for alpacas,” Matheny explains and shudders slightly when she recalls the Texas heat. We sit inside her barn, where chickens come and go and cats sleep peacefully nearby.

Soon Matheny and I are deep in a discussion about genotyping, dominant-recessive genes, histograms, and microns—scientific terms that are important in her breeding program. I madly take notes and ask lots of questions because these concepts are beyond my liberal arts background. Matheny studied biological anthropology and is currently pursuing a master’s certificate in genetics at Stanford University.

“We breed for fleece and conformation,” she explains. Skyfiber’s goal is to produce alpacas that are true blue-black with fleece that lacks any

reddish tint. “This year every alpaca born that we bred for true black is true black,” she says proudly.

Science is key. Matheny collects blood samples and sends them to a lab in Canada, where they are tested for color genotyping. “It’s very challenging because the fleece characteristics of blueblack are different,” she says.

Fleece characteristics are paramount when you’re breeding for quality fiber. Matheny shows her top alpacas at competitions across the country and explains that judges look for uniformity of micron, or fiber diameter; uniformity of color; and staple, or fiber, length.

Like other alpaca farmers, Matheny has several revenue streams. Besides showing her alpacas, she sells breeding stock, offers stud services, boards alpacas, and harvests and sells her fiber. “The market is good particularly for blue-black fleece,” she says.

We walk across the pasture to meet a few alpacas, who look up curiously as we approach.

“For me there’s something very peaceful about the alpacas,” Matheny says. “I can come out here and sit and listen to them having conversations with each other.” What she’s referring to is the humming sound alpacas make when they’re feeling content. It’s almost like a quiet kazoo.

Alpacas are very earth-friendly, Matheny says. “Because they don’t have hooves, they don’t tear up the ground when they walk.” Alpacas also “trim” the grass when they graze, instead of tearing out roots.

The alpaca business is very show-centric, Matheny says, but she’s hoping to spread the word that these animals are perfect for small farms. She also wants to promote the fiber’s unique characteristics and why it’s “worth the money to buy something made out of alpaca fleece.”

Granite Bay’s Royal Silk photobombs during playtime in the pasture. Above right: Kangal guard dog Stella. Aimée Matheny and Wolfy (short for Wolfgang of Skyfiber), who wears a purple scarf, the color of champions. Mark and Aimée trim Wolfy’s head and tail in preparation for a show.
There’s something very peaceful about the alpacas. I can come out here and sit and listen to them having conversations with each other.”
—Aimée Matheny, owner, Skyfiber Ranch
One of the alpacas’ favorite gathering spots—under the shade of a cherry tree.

Meadowgate Alpacas: A Family Affair

When Nicole and Stephen Phillips made the difficult decision to sell their horses, they didn’t plan to start an alpaca farm. But as Nicole says, “We missed seeing faces in the field.” Living in Ashland at the time, they began visiting alpaca farms and “immediately fell in love with them,” says Nicole.

They bought Cinnamon, a reddish-brown alpaca, and shortly afterwards, Nicole’s mom and sister discovered a 10-acre farm about an hour north of Richmond that was ideal for starting Meadowgate Alpacas. Nicole, Stephen, and their four children moved onto the farm in 2018, and it’s been an adventure ever since.

“We envisioned a farm that the family can participate in,” Nicole explains. The two younger children, Grace and Daniel, help with social media, farmers markets, festivals, and marketing, and attend biannual meetings to discuss business goals, all while enrolled as full-time students at William & Mary.

“The last couple of years have been an evolution,” Nicole says with a smile. The farm started out with an emphasis on breeding, showing, and

selling. Eventually, the Phillips’ decided to emphasize alpacas that have a good disposition as well. This would come in handy when they decided to expand the agritourism side of the business and welcome visitors to the farm.

“The industry is shifting that way,” Nicole continues. “It needs to shift. The world is different than it was 10 years ago. People feel the need to go back to basics and have interactions with people and animals.”

When the pandemic hit, the Phillips saw an opportunity to engage with people virtually. They offered free alpaca Zoom visits with frontline workers. “The feedback we got from team leaders was great,” Nicole recalls. They also began welcoming virtual alpaca visits from corporate groups, schoolchildren, families, and individuals. “People were looking for unique ways to break up the monotony,” says Stephen.

Another important branch of their business is alpaca therapy. They bring their alpacas to assisted living communities and schools with special needs students and watch the magic happen. “They come up and touch and pet and hug the alpacas,” says Nicole. “There are a lot of smiles.”

The Phillips don’t charge for the therapy visits. “We believe strongly that there are things in life you shouldn’t have to pay for—like joy,” Nicole says.

In the pasture I meet their original alpaca, Cinnamon, who’s calm and patient while I give her a hug and Nicole snaps a photo. A sense of serenity seems to surround these noble animals, and as I say goodbye to the Phillips and their alpacas, I can’t help smiling and feeling joy.

Peggy Sijswerda, MFA, lives in Virginia Beach and writes about travel, food, and wellness. ; @peggywrites

Nicole and Stephen Phillips, holding Storm, a two-week-old male alpaca. Zendaya tiptoes her way into one last photo op. Cinnamon, the Phillips’ first alpaca and the face of Meadowgate Alpacas.


Million Alpacas? How alpacas entered the Depp defamation trial in Fairfax.

Alpacas became a running theme during actor Johnny Depp’s defamation trial in Fairfax in 2022, when Andrea Diaz of My Pet Alpaca in Lorton turned up among fans at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse with her alpacas, Teddy and Truffle. In homage to Depp, the animals sported pirate hats and pom poms.

“I've grown up watching his movies,” she told the Law and Crime network. “So when I heard the trial was in Fairfax, I grabbed the two alpacas, and I just decided to go. I take my alpacas everywhere.” What Diaz didn’t know was that alpacas would be part of the conversation inside the Fairfax County Circuit Court proceedings.

Referring to Depp’s comments about future work with Disney, lawyer Ben Rottenborn, a member of Amber Heard’s team (Depp’s ex-wife), “The fact is, Mr. Depp, if Disney came to you with 300 million dollars and a million alpacas, nothing on this earth would get you to go back and work with Disney on a Pirates of the Caribbean film.”

Depp replied, “That is true, Mr. Rottenborn.”

“I didn't know about the million alpacas quote,” Diaz noted. “I just went for it. I know he's seen them twice,” she said, referring to Depp. “And the third time, he said, ‘It's alpaca day!’”

103 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING photo by sipa usa
“ We believe strongly that there are things in life you shouldn’t have to pay for — like joy.”
—Nicole Phillips, co-owner, Meadowgate Alpacas
Nicole introduces a young visitor to Perfectly Pippa, as Smokin’ Hottie stops in to say hello. Right: Lively (L) and Rey (R). Johnny Depp waves to Andrea and her alpacas as he leaves the Fairfax County Circuit courthouse.

A standing ovation, please, for the Commonwealth’s finest concert halls, galleries, and theaters, gathered here to create the ideal resource for arts lovers around the state. In our 2023 Spring Arts Preview you’ll find the latest information to score frontrow seats when the curtains go up on opening night. Whatever your passion—from dance to theater, opera and art—you’ll be in the know about special performances and spectacular arts events around the state.


Laugh, scream, and lose yourself in a world of adventure, comedy, romance, and suspense. Escape to Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia and experience true, world-class theater at its finest. Let your imagination run wild and discover thrills like you never have before, watching stories unfold at the nation’s longest running professional theater. Barter Theatre has wowed audiences for 90 years and continues to earn support from all over our region and beyond. Ticket prices start as low as $20 for every show.

276-628-3991 or


The Byrd has been an American treasure and a Richmond tradition for families for almost one hundred years. As a cornerstone of the Carytown neighborhood, the Byrd Theatre was established as a grand movie palace in 1928, and the theatre is undergoing renovations to restore it to its original glory. Movies screen every weekend at affordable prices, including sensory-friendly movie viewings every other Saturday and classics on Sunday afternoons.

804-358-3856 or


Join us in beautiful Charlottesville for our 46th season! Formerly Ashlawn Opera, Charlottesville Opera now performs in the beautiful Paramount Theater. Don’t miss our exciting 2023 productions of Guys and Dolls and Tosca and a free concert at the Ting Pavilion on July 1st! Performances feature singers from across the country and around Virginia with beautiful sets, costumes, and orchestra. Our season has something exciting for the music aficionado and the opera newcomer alike!

434-293-4500 or


Visual art and theatrical storytelling will converge at the Chrysler Museum of Art in “Raven and the Box of Daylight.”

The immersive exhibition features the work of internationally acclaimed glass artist Preston Singletary and tells the Native American story of Raven and his transformation of the world— bringing light to people by means of the stars, moon, and sun. Located in Norfolk, Virginia, the Chrysler Museum of Art is one of America’s most distinguished mid-sized art museums, with a nationally recognized collection of more than 30,000 objects, including one of the great glass collections in America. 757-664-6200 or


Crossroads exhibits the work of emerging and established mid-Atlantic artists and promotes awareness and understanding of art forms, from crafts to fine art. The gallery represents more than 250 artists making it the largest for-profit gallery on the east coast. Join us for the March Artist Reception featuring exhibitions by James River Art League & the March All Media Show Artists. All Exhibitions run through May 7, 2023. Hours: Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm Sunday Noon – 4pm. 804-278-8950 or


April 14 – 15, 2023 • 10am – 4pm. Come and enjoy historic Edenton by visiting century old private homes, hosted by the Edenton Woman’s Club supporting historic preservation and education. Tour includes two days of history and traditional Southern hospitality. Have a Southern fare boxed lunch at the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse (advance tickets required). Free horse drawn carriage rides along the Pilgrimage route. 252-482-2617 or


ElectricCoArt is a unique 5000+ square foot space in historic Bedford, Virginia that has three floors for you to explore: A three-room gallery, Bistro, Artisan Market, and a wine and craft beer room. Housed in the original location of electricity production for the Town of Bedford in the late 1800s, the building has become a hub for creativity in the downtown Bedford community with new, monthly exhibits, wine tasting each Wednesday at 5 PM, and live music!

540-583-5151 or


Inspired by Gayle F. Wald’s book Shout, Sister, Shout!, this musical tells the story of Sister Rosetta Tharpe—one of America’s most influential rock, R&B and gospel crossover singers and guitarists. Tharpe became a musical legend who redefined the national and international music scene in the 1930s and 40s and beyond. Dive into Cheryl L. West’s spirited, authentic, and emotionally charged story about a charismatic music forerunner and the authentic roots of rock-and-roll.

888-616-0270 or


The Cook Foundation proudly presents the seventh edition of the Gloucester Arts Festival with exciting arts and cultural events and experiences - including the Virginia Symphony Under the Stars concert, the Plein Air Invitational with 27 artists from around the country, and an exciting sculpture and metalworking experience with globally renown conservator Andrew Baxter and Burning Man artist Adrian Landon, and so much more! Join us for the big kickoff party on Friday, June 2nd, with Brews, Brine, & Wine at Timberneck Farm at Machicomoco State Park. Save the month of June for the artist in everyone! 804-824-9401 or


Find out how much can hide below the surface in our new exhibition, So It Appears, organized by ICA Senior Curator Sarah Rifky and ICA Curatorial Fellow Yomna Osman. Nineteen international artists and over 40 works challenge our assumptions, as viewers, inviting us into worlds within worlds. Open Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am–5 pm, and from 10 am–9 pm on Fridays. 804-828-2823 or


Elevate your concert experience in Virginia all season long with Live Nation Premium Season Tickets! Enjoy every show at Jiffy Lube Live or Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach in 2023. Season Tickets include perks like Box Seats, VIP Club Access, Premium Parking, In-Seat Wait Service and more. Inventory is limited, so secure yours today!

570-704-7195 or


Headlined by premier events such as the 47th Annual Norfolk Harborfest and the 40th Annual Norfolk Waterfront Jazz Festival, Norfolk Festevents’ 2023 Season of Events features a wide variety of diverse, dynamic festivals and community events. From live music to mouth-watering culinary experiences to award-winning wine festivals, the 2023 Season of Events provides entertainment for all ages.

757-441-2345 or


The annual Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival is held each Memorial Day weekend (May 25-28, 2023) in the beautiful rolling foothills of Martinsville, VA. Rooster Walk presents a diverse bill of 50+ bands across 6 stages, plus top-notch food vendors, family fun, craft beer, arts and crafts, and outdoor adventures (disc golf, river floats, hiking, paddle boats, brewery bike rides, and more). On-site camping included with all tickets. Children 12 & under receive free admission with a paying adult.


Staunton Music Festival is an emerging force on America's classical music scene, engaging over 80 acclaimed performers, composers, and music historians for an immersive, European-style festival in one of Virginia’s most beautiful places. Artists come from around the world, bringing with them a wealth of experience in solo, chamber, and orchestral settings. Festival musicians are particularly noted for their expertise in historical performance traditions; all works composed before 1850 are performed on period instruments. Programs are often eclectic and sometimes daring, with unexpected variety and flair from living composers that encourage audiences to "rethink classical." Experience 600 years of music at 540-569-0267 or


Voted Alexandria’s best antique shop for two years in a row, this vintage and antique shop offers an ever-changing collection of treasures hand-curated for the design-minded client. From vintage glass & barware to mid-century furniture, Urban Redeux is also the sole purveyor of fine art by Virginia artist Wendy Wells-Finn. Located in the Hollin Hall Shopping Center in the heart of Alexandria, the shop is open Wed-Sunday.

703-780-4301 or


The Virginia Living Museum invites you to engage your community to become ambassadors to raise funds for Museum needs, such as feeding the river otters for a month, or providing exhibit improvements for a new bald eagle. The Community Conservation Challenge begins April 20th. The Virginia Living Museum is a leader in natural living exhibits! Native Virginia wildlife is presented in natural ecosystems and honored for its ability to connect people to nature through educational experiences that promote conservation. Built by the community, beloved by the community, sustained by the community. 757-595-1900 or


The Historic Wayne Theatre is Downtown Waynesboro’s premier live entertainment venue. Programming includes concerts with music of all genres, live theatre including musicals and plays, classic films with commentary and discussion, dance performances, history and science speakers, and a full spectrum of arts education programming through Studio Wayne’s classes and performances for students. The in-house Art Gallery features rotating exhibits. Membership and annual pass benefits available. Rentals for celebrations, ceremonies, and conferences are also available. 540-943-9999 or


As America’s only National Park for the Performing Arts, Wolf Trap combines music and nature to offer an unforgettable summer lineup in a majestic natural setting. Visitors can enjoy Wolf Trap’s many stages, including the stunning Filene Center and charmingly intimate Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods. Conveniently located just outside the Beltway, Wolf Trap offers free parking and gorgeous picnic overlooks. Plan to spend summer nights with your favorite artists at Virginia’s favorite outdoor music venue!

703-255-1800 or

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION FESTIVAL JUNE 2023 GLOUCESTER SYMPHONY PLEIN AIR INVITATIONAL PLEIN AIR GALA THE GARDEN COMMUNITY SCULPTURE BREWS, BRINE & WINE VILLAGE ARTS DAY PAINT MAIN R S A T MATT LIVELY GALLERY TALK Sponsored by the with support from Tickets On Sale Now! June 2 + 3 John Legend Signature Theatre and Wolf Trap Present: Broadway in the Park Lea Salonga June 16 Jason Mraz and His Superband August 6 Kenny Loggins This Is It! His Final Tour 2023 Yacht Rock Revue June 14 + 15 American Ballet Theatre Giselle July 27 + 28 Mary Chapin Carpenter Dawes August 26 The Avett Brothers May 25–27 Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue Ziggy Marley Mavis Staples June 17 + 18 Jurassic Park™ in Concert National Symphony Orchestra July 22 Lyle Lovett and His Large Band National Symphony Orchestra August 5 Mozart Don Giovanni Wolf Trap Opera August 11 Diana Krall August 12 Jethro Tull The Seven Decades August 24 Train Parmalee August 27 Sting September 1 + 2 …and many more! WOLFTRAP.ORG © Universal City Studios LLC and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Premier Sponsor 2023 Summer Season

season of events

Spring Town Point Virginia Wine Festival

Saturday & Sunday, May 6 & 7, 2023

Bayou Bon Vivant Cajun Music, Food and Arts Festival

Friday – Sunday, May 19 – 21, 2023

Norfolk Harborfest Music, Food, and Maritime Festival

Friday – Sunday, June 9 – 11, 2023

Juneteenth Celebration in the Park

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Fourth of July Great American Picnic

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Norfolk Latino Music Festival

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Virginia Symphony Orchestra Concert in the Park

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Norfolk Waterfront Jazz Festival

Friday & Saturday, August 18 & 19, 2023

NashFest 757

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Virginia Children’s Festival

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Fall Town Point Virginia Wine Festival

Saturday & Sunday, October 21 & 22, 2023

Holiday Yule Log Bonfire & Christmas Market

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Named one of the top food and drink festivals in the nation by Business Insider, the 15th Annual Spring Town Point Virginia Wine Festival is one of Hampton Roads’ most anticipated wine festivals. Held on Saturday & Sunday, May 6 & 7, 2023 at Town Point Park along the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront, the festival showcases more than 25 of the Commonwealth’s top wineries in a picturesque setting along the Elizabeth River, to go along with gourmet foods, specialty merchants, live music, and much more!

* All scheduled events are subject to change. for the full schedule of events or more info visit


SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Alexandria, Virginia’s most unique vintage & antique shop! 7916 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria, VA 22308 703-780-4301| Wed–Fri 11– 4, Sat 10–4, Sun 11–3 An American Treasure A Richmond Tradition A Cornerstone of Carytown Enjoy new, classic and family movies every weekend starting at $5. APR 28 - 30 Fri & Sat: 7 PM | Sun: 2 PM MAY 5 - 7 Fri & Sat: 7 PM | Sun: 2 PM (540) 943-9999 • Book & Lyrics By Howard Ashman Music by Alan Menken Based on the film by
Corman. Screenplay by
Griffith. Originally
A horror comedy rock musical
produced by the WPA Theatre (Kyle Renick, Producing
Originally produced at the Orpheum Theatre, New York City by the WPA Theatre, David Geffen, Cameron Mackintosh and the Shubert Organization.
PRESENTING SPONSOR: On view March 3–July 2, 2023
Preston Singletary (American Tlingit, born 1963), Gagaan Awutáawu Yéil (Raven Steals the Sun), made at Museum of Glass in 2008, Blown, hot-sculpted, and sand-carved glass, Collection of Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, gift of the artist (VA.2009.28), Photo by Russell Johnson, Courtesy of Museum of Glass Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight has been organized by the artist and Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA.
INFORMATION & TICKETS: April 14 - 15, 2023 • 10 AM - 4 PM PI LGRIMAGE EDENTON, NC • TOUR OF HISTORIC PRIVATE HOMES & SITES Featuring an exhibition by the James River Art League and the popular Juried All-Media Show. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green and enjoying Ireland–inspired drink, food, and music! ArtistReception &OpenHouse Get more info at Join us Friday, March 17 5–8pm! 2016 Staples Mill Road RVA CALL 804.278.8950 TEXT 804.314.3900 An event sponsored by the Richmond Symphony League

So it appears


FRI FEB 24 | 5 – 10 PM


6 pm Talks: Levester Williams + Navine G. Dossos with Sarah Rifky

7 pm Performances: Sadaf Nava + DJ Haram



Thousands of alumni can tell you their education and student experience at Radford helped them reach their career goals and made a lasting impact on their lives.

Explore your possibilities at Radford University.




From rural private schools to major colleges—the state’s institutions large, small, and in between—Virginia Living celebrates excellence in education in our annual special section. To build our 2023 Top Schools & Universities list, we dug deep, scouring the latest news from schools around the Commonwealth. And what we found was illuminating: cutting-edge curriculums, investments in technology, boundary-

pushing teaching models, and exciting entrepreneurship programs. Whether you’re choosing a kindergarten for your child or tackling the college admissions process, our 18-page guide offers the most comprehensive and up-to-date overview of schools around the state. Read, learn, enjoy. And if you’ve found this guide a helpful resource, we hope you’ll share your story with us.


Business Minded F

our years ago, when Erica Sullivan Feggeler learned that her mother had been diagnosed with skin cancer, the Virginia Tech (VT) senior panicked. Then she decided to do something about it. Feggeler began brainstorming, rallying some savvy peers to help create Low Ultraviolet™ (L.U.V.), a line of skin-protecting clothing. In need of seed money and guidance to get her UPF 50+ garments off the ground, Feggeler took a chance, entering the VT Apex Center for Entrepreneurs’ annual Entrepreneur Challenge, with $40,000 in prize money up for grabs. Her business concept won the “fan favorite” award and, today, Feggeler is based in Washington, D.C., running L.U.V. with a fellow Tech grad.


Feggeler’s success is not uncommon at Virginia Tech, where the school’s Apex Center serves thousands of bright minds. Founded in 2014, the Center served 100 students in its first year, and it’s grown steadily ever since. Located in downtown Blacksburg, the Apex Center guides students from all majors through myriad startup steps—from product development and testing, to web design, distribution, and investor relations.

“Just like athletes have the practice field and film room to review plays, we’re the practice field for entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech,” says Derick Maggard, the Executive Director of the Apex Center. “We have students building companies on blockchain that allow athletes to engage communities and monetize their name and likeness; we have a really cool company that is building an energy harvesting platform,” says Maggard, naming just a few of the center’s emerging start-ups.

So far, the Center has helped students from 94 majors—from English to engineering and beyond— connect with real-world entrepreneurs through an

advisory board that includes Pat Matthews, CEO and founder of Active Capital, Nelson Chu, managing director of Kinetic Ventures, and Kelli Furrer, a regional vice president at Dell Technologies. These business leaders have taken risks, weathering failures as well as successes, and they’re willing to share the lessons they’ve learned with the next generation.


At the University of Virginia (UVA), the Galant Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship plays a similar role.

“We work at the intersection of critical thinking and creativity,” says Eric Martin, the Center’s founder. One popular coding program, Forge, includes a 12-week internship with a big name in software engineering, digital marketing, or data science—an experience which often leads to a job offer.

UVA also offers a Shark Tank-type pitch competition to connect fledgling student business ventures with potential investors. Entrants vie for the chance to win real capital. In 2021, Meg Pryde, a UVA Darden School of Business grad student was awarded $175,000 for Brandefy, a community-based app and beauty brand that bypasses luxury cosmetic pricing markups, helping customers find similarly performing products for less money. Ten years ago, Tommy Nichols, the CEO of Alloy, a New York-based identity verification engine for banks and financial services companies, was a competitor. Today, Alloy is a techworld triumph, with a valuation of $1.55 billion.

The Galant Center nurtures UVA graduates as well. With its Reboot Camp, Martin says, “we work with alumni who want to revisit education to learn more on a particular topic.” The idea is to provide lifelong learning for entrepreneurs throughout their careers.

Young entrepreneurs across Virginia are making waves, in and out of the classroom.
Erica Sullivan Feggeler
“My goal is just to keep expanding, and possibly start my own shop.”
—Ke’Nyzjah Ferebee, Kayke Bakery
Two-tiered pink and rose gold birthday cake by Ke’Nyzjah Ferebee.


At the University of Richmond, a year-long Bench Top Innovations course, launched last year, invites students to develop a packaged food product. The course, co-taught by Joel Mier, Robins School of Business lecturer of marketing, and Shane Emmett, the former CEO of Health Warrior bars, divides students into four teams for the challenge. Once one of the four products is selected, the entire class works together to bring it to market.

Last year, Daniel Wolfeiler’s idea took the prize. The winning concept? Absurd Snacks, a nut-free healthy snack high in protein. As someone with a nut allergy, Wolfeiler knew firsthand how frustrating it could be to find a filling bite that was also safe. His savory bean snack was the solution.

It could have ended there—as a theory tested in a safe classroom environment. But classmates Grace Mittl and Eli Bank wanted to see if Absurd Snacks also had legs off campus. “We entered a wind down agreement with the school,” Mittl says, “Then Eli and I transferred the intellectual property to our own business entity.”

Today they’re the owners and operators of Absurd Snacks, a food start-up now sold at Libbie Market, ShoreDog Café, Good Foods Grocery, and other Richmond-area shops. The plan for 2023 is to roll out a rebrand, with fresh packaging and new retail outlets. “It’s been incredible. How else could we be graduates and have our own business?” says Mittl.

With only two full-time employees, Mittl and Bank are learning how to juggle small business ownership— from licensing and legal issues to sending promotional press releases. “We know where our path to growth is,” Bank says. “We’ve had amazing growth so far. I think it’s put us in a position to be successful going forward.”


Of course, for some young business owners, no classroom is necessary. Ke’Nyzjah Ferebee, a Norfolk 17-year-old and junior at Western Branch High School, represents the next generation of small business owners doing it on their own. During the pandemic, Ferebee started her cake and cupcake business, Kayke Bakery.

“I’ve always wanted to own my own business,” Fere bee says. “When I was seven, I Googled ‘how to make money.’ It was all the same answers, like ‘mow your neighbor’s yard’ or ‘babysit.’” Ferebee had bigger ideas. At nine, she began baking with her mom, and it was love at first batch.

Today, with dozens of clients, Ferebee wakes at 3:00 a.m. to stir up the day’s orders. She admits it’s challenging to be a full-time student while running her own business, but she makes a point of finishing her schoolwork during the day and put in kitchen time during after-school hours. “My goal is just to keep expanding and possibly start my own shop,” she says. That and college. She’s considering Christopher Newport University. In the meantime, Ferebee’s entrepreneurial spirit continues to shine.

Kinsey Gidick is a writer based in Scottsville. She’s been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and contributes to Garden & Gun. She enjoys reading cookbooks and visiting historic sites with her family.

Chris Conte, Brendan Fowler, Grace Clarke, and Sarah Edwards of Lume, a cold brew caffeinated tea, winner of the second annual University of Richmond Bench Top Innovations Great Bake Off.

incredible. How else could we be graduates and have our own business?”
—Grace Mittl, Absurd Snacks
Some of Erica Sullivan Feggeler’s Low Ultraviolet UPF 50+ clothing on display. Eli Bank and photos (from left): by bill tiernanvirginian-pilot/tca, by pete means photo, courtesy of ke’nyzjah ferebee, courtesy of erica sullivan feggeler, courtesy of university of richmond, courtesy of absurd snacks

PURSUE YOUR CALLING & IMPACT YOUR WORLD — FROM KINDERGARTEN TO PH.D. — LIBERTY HAS IT ALL. Whether you study on campus or online, Liberty will give you a solid foundation to launch into your future.

Enjoy the flexibility of online homeschooling with a support system of academic advisors and qualified teachers with Liberty University Online Academy, our K-12 school.

Easily fit completing your degree into your schedule by choosing one of 600+ online degrees with Liberty University Online Programs

Choose from 350+ degrees, gain hands-on experience in our state-of-the-art facilities, and see why ranked Liberty University’s campus in the top 5 in the nation

Emory & Henry College

Emory, 276-944-4121


Enter a classroom at Mary Baldwin University (MBU) and you may be surprised to spot girls as young as 13.

“We’re one of the only universities in the country that enables gifted girls under the age of 16 to pursue a college degree full-time,” says Carla Van Devander, director of MBU’s Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG).

PEG was founded in 1985 to help female “wunderteens” achieve maximum potential. It was among the first programs of its kind and is Virginia’s only option for full-time enrollment.

Averett University

Danville, 434-791-5600

Caesars Virginia has gifted Averett University $504,000 to develop a hospitality and tourism academic program, launching in fall 2023. The program coincides with the $650 million Caesars Virginia resort being built in Danville, signaling significant investment in the future of the region’s tourism industry. Students may enroll in courses like Lodging Operations; Food and Beverage Management; Casino, Resort and Club Management; and Facility Design.

Bluefield University

Bluefield, 276-326-3682

Bluefield University’s centennial campaign Go

Further raised more than $20 million, exceeding the $18 million goal. Funds will be put towards three areas of emphasis: extending the reach of The University Fund, the institution’s unrestricted annual scholarship capital; constructing new facilities, like the forthcoming South Campus Athletics Complex; and investing in the future of Bluefield academics, including new offerings in undergraduate nursing and a Masters of Arts in Biomedical Sciences.

That can be a problem.

National Association for Gifted Children resource specialist, Jeff Daneilian, says PEG fills a major gap. “Secondary schools are typically very hesitant to let students skip grades,” he says. Most lack resources for accommodations. And when jumps are allowed, fears of ostracization usually restrict them to one grade level.

These kids “need expert teachers who know how to challenge and support them, and access to similarly advanced peers,” says Daneilian. Not getting it can stunt development and lead to harmful behaviors like self-isolation, drug abuse, and chronic underachievement.

Van Devander says most young learners arrive at MBU having never met a similarly gifted classmate. For them, joining a group of highly motivated learners who love studying and get to live in a special campus dormitory together is like a dream come true. —by Eric

Bridgewater College

Bridgewater, 540-828-8000

Bridgewater College (BC) has partnered with global student advisory company Shorelight to broaden access to BC’s undergraduate offerings for international students. Personalized programming provided at BC in collaboration with Shorelight will support the recruitment, retention, and success of international students while spotlighting BC’s presence as a global hub for higher education. Specialized academic advising and guidance on immigration and visa status will be available to participating undergraduates.

Christendom College

Front Royal, 540-636-2900

The new Christ the King Chapel will be officially dedicated in April 2023, marking a culmination of Christendom’s 45th anniversary celebrations. The completed chapel is part of the multimillion-dollar A Call to Greatness campaign, the school’s most ambitious to date, that launched in 2016. Christ the King Chapel features Gothic-style architecture and can accommodate up to 840 guests for Mass and other occasions.

Christopher Newport University

Newport News, 757-594-7000

Associate professor Ronald Quinlan and his team in the Department of Molecular Biology and Chemistry have been awarded a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to acquire a powerful new spectrometer, a research instrument used to measure energy and mass. The device will allow students and faculty to address matters at the forefront of agriculture and food chemistry, neurobiology and biochemistry, antibiotic studies, hormone research, and more.

Eastern Mennonite University

Harrisonburg, 540-432-4000

About 4,000 K-8 students have newfound access to live performing arts thanks to a collaboration between Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) and Any Given ChildShenandoah Valley (AGC-SV), an organization partnered with Washington D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. EMU’s music department has been named a Premier Artist Partner of AGC-SV, offering music, theater, dance performances, presentations, and master classes for area children.

The new Paul Adrian Powell, III Student Success Center opened during the fall 2022 semester, Emory & Henry’s on-campus hub for first-year advising and experiences, academic success coaching, disability services, tutoring, counseling services, and mental health resources. On-staff success coaches are available to the school’s 1,100 students to provide a personalized academic and social experience, offering support for study abroad opportunities, career exploration, and more.

Ferrum College

Ferrum, 540-365-2121

Since 1987, scientists at Ferrum College have collaborated with the Smith Mountain Lake Association to monitor the lake for nutrients, bacteria, and algal blooms, protecting the body of water for future generations and encouraging active participation in the surrounding lake community. Each summer the partnership, known as the Smith Mountain Lake Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program, brings Ferrum students and faculty together to collect data for local health departments.

George Mason University

Fairfax, 703-993-1000

To meet a critical need for health professionals in Virginia, George Mason University has renamed its former College of Health and Human Services to launch the state’s first and only College of Public Health. Enrolled undergraduates and graduate students alike will receive a multidisciplinary education in one or more of the College’s five specialties: global and community health; health administration and policy; nursing; nutrition and food studies; and social work.

Hampden-Sydney College

Hampden-Sydney, 434-223-6000

A $43 million residence hall renovation project is underway at Hampden-Sydney. The college has partnered with MCWB Architects, a firm known for its preservation work at historic Virginia sites like Monticello, Montpelier, and Mount Vernon, for the remodeling of four residential complexes on campus. Construction began in summer 2022 and is expected to span the next three to four years.

117 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES photos courtesy of mary baldwin university
Mary Baldwin University is home to one of the nation’s most unique programs for gifted young girls.

That’s Civitae.

It’s the difference between walking on a treadmill and hiking the Appalachian Trail. Between a dial-up connection and fiber. Between “Chopsticks” and Chopin.

That’s Civitae, the antidote to those lifeless college classes that most freshmen have to suffer through. And you won’t find it anywhere except Longwood.


Hampton University

Hampton, 757-727-5000

The Washington D.C.-based Society for Financial Education and Professional Development has partnered with Hampton University to prepare students for post-grad financial success. Parents, faculty and staff, and the Hampton community at-large are also eligible. Offerings include an ambassador program that trains students to teach their peers financial management skills; seminars tailored for lower-income individuals; and financial literacy certifications provided in collaboration with the American College of Financial Services.

Hollins University

Roanoke, 540-362-6000

To address a deficit of educators in Virginia, Hollins University is working with school divisions in the Roanoke area to close the teacher shortage gap. Roanoke City Public Schools has joined Hollins’ education department in helping teachers with nonrenewable, three-year provisional licenses fulfill the requirements for full licensure. Hollins has also partnered with the nearby North Cross School to assist a cohort of their teachers in earning graduate degrees.

James Madison University

Harrisonburg, 540-568-6211

The ambitious, $200 million capital campaign, Unleashed, surpassed expectations, raising more than $251 million for scholarships, facilities, and campus programming, capped off by the school’s largest single donation to date, $5 million from Paul Holland (‘82) and his spouse, Linda Yates. Home to the university’s Office of Admissions and the Center for Global Engagement, the building formerly known as Madison Hall has been renamed Holland Yates Hall after the couple.

Liberty University

Lynchburg, 434-582-2000

As of the fall 2022 semester, Liberty’s Cinematic Arts department at the Zaki Gordon Center offers a new Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production and Creative Development. Students with multiple interests in the field can mix and match their studies by taking courses in one or more disciplines including producing, directing, cinematography, screenwriting, production design, sound design, editing, showrunning, and visual effects.

Longwood University

Farmville, 434-395-2000

Construction is underway for the visionary new SEED Innovation Hub, a project co-sponsored by Longwood University and HampdenSydney College, in the 10,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Longwood’s Barnes & Noble. The facility will serve as a collaborative community space for local businesses, entrepreneurs, and students of all ages. The SEED is expected to create 60 jobs and generate nearly $5 million in private investment following a fall 2023 completion.

Mary Baldwin University

Staunton, 540-887-7019

Launching this fall, Access MBU is a new initiative offering zero-cost tuition to FAFSAeligible Virginia students with families who make less than $60,000 annually. The introduction of Access MBU furthers the university’s commitment to accessibility and affordability, removing economic barriers from the pursuit of a college education. Incoming freshmen enrolling under the program’s parameters could potentially graduate debt-free from tuition.

Marymount University

Arlington, 703-522-5600

Marymount University’s STEM Citizen Science Scholars Program launched in fall 2022, made possible by a $1.46 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The needbased initiative will support more than 20 undergraduates studying biochemistry, biology, biomedical engineering, computer science, information technology, mathematics, or mechanical engineering. Applicants are eligible for scholarship amounts of up to $10,000 per year over the course of four years.


Norfolk State University

Norfolk, 757-823-8600

In an effort to combat the nearly half a million cybersecurity job vacancies nationwide, Norfolk State University has partnered with IBM to become a Cybersecurity Leadership Center, providing faculty and students with access to coursework, lectures, immersive training experiences, certifications, IBM Cloud-hosted software, and professional development resources to ensure that graduates are first-day ready for jobs in cybersecurity and other technology fields.

Old Dominion University

Norfolk, 757-683-3000

In collaboration with the University of Richmond and the Coastal Virginia Brewery Alliance, Old Dominion University’s School of Continuing Education has launched a Beer Brewers Certificate course, offered annually. Participants will complete three modules, “Introduction to Brewing,” “Brew Science and Brewery Processes,” and “Brewing as a Business and Practical Experience,” in addition to four field experiences at participating Hampton Roads-area breweries.

Partnership between Carilion and Roanoke College to train future healthcare professionals.

Roanoke’s biggest medical provider and its oldest college have teamed up to create a jobs pipeline that combats healthcare worker shortages in rural areas.

The partnership will connect the Roanoke College’s healthcare curriculum, research studies, and related business programming to medical education and community initiatives at Carilion Clinic. The medical nonprofit is the Roanoke Valley’s largest employer, with about 13,200 workers.

Students will gain access to special technical training opportunities and internships with medical professionals that

Radford University

Radford, 540-831-5000

The Bachelor of Science Degree in cybersecurity at Radford University is the first of its kind at a four-year public institution in Virginia, introduced to meet an increasing demand for professionals in the field. Part of Radford’s School of Computing and Information Sciences, the cybersecurity degree program recently achieved accreditation by ABET, the global accreditor of college and university programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering, and technology.

will prepare them to meet the needs of—and plug them into jobs with—regional healthcare providers.

Meanwhile, Carilion is working with college administrators to craft special degree and certification tracks, as well as new potential majors and minors, aimed at elevating current employees and meeting future staffing needs.

“Our organizations understand the deep connections between health, wellness, education, employment, and the regional economy,” said Roanoke College’s 11th president Michael C. Maxey, who retired last summer. “This partnership illuminates the power of higher education and professional healthcare to support critical community needs through meaningful work.” —by Eric J. Wallace

119 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES photos courtesy of carilion clinic
“This partnership illuminates the power of higher education and professional healthcare to support critical community needs through meaningful work.”
—Michael C. Maxey, 11th president of Roanoke College


Graduate and Doctoral Degree Offerings

Flexible Online & Hybrid Programs

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MS-CMHC)

Fast-Track Professional Studies Master of Education (M.Ed.)

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CONNECT WITH US Learn more and apply at

Randolph College

Lynchburg, 434-947-8000

Randolph College has implemented a new instructional model designed to better meet the needs of 21st-century learners, the TAKE2 method. Under the new curriculum, students take two classes at a time for seven-week sessions, instead of four or more per semester, all while graduating on time. No classes are held on Wednesdays, allowing more time for extracurricular activities, studying, work and internships, and rest.

Randolph-Macon College

Ashland, 804-752-7200

Career Boot Camp is an integral part of Randolph-Macon College’s (R-MC) EDGE Center for Career Development, which recently landed a #15 ranking on The Princeton Review’s 2023 list of Best Career Services. Boot Camp is the EDGE’s signature event, a fast-paced immersion program required for all R-MC sophomores, helping students to identify career goals, polish their interview skills, and prepare for working life after graduation.

Regent University

Virginia Beach, 757-352-4127

In accordance with President Biden’s proclamation of National First Responders Day on October 28, 2022, Regent University launched a 25% tuition discount for first responders looking to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree. Any member of federal, state, or local law enforcement, firefighter,

EMS worker, or rescue volunteer is eligible for the special rate with proof of valid credentials and completion of minimum admission requirements.

Roanoke College

Salem, 540-375-2500

Former U.S. Olympic Cyclist and Roanoke College alumna Shelley Olds ’03 has returned to campus to help found and coach the school’s new competitive cycling program for men and women. Roanoke’s team is registered with USA Cycling and launched in fall 2022 as a club sport. Once fully established, the team will compete on the varsity level as part of the Atlantic Collegiate Cycling Conference.

Shenandoah University

Winchester, 540-665-4581

Last fall, the Don Vaden family, longtime property owners of 711 Millwood Avenue in Winchester, donated the land to Shenandoah University, marking one of the largest real estate gifts in the school’s history, valued at $5 million. The property, currently home to more than 100 students and a dining facility, has been named Vaden Campus Commons after the eponymous donors, and will eventually be expanded to double its residential capacity.

Southern Virginia University

Buena Vista, 540-261-8400

Southern Virginia University’s (SVU) status as an Apple Distinguished School has been

GROWN YOUR OWN New James Madison University program addresses critical teacher shortages.

Virginia’s public school system is facing a crisis-level shortage of teachers.

A recent report from the state Joint Legislative and Review Commission showed 10,900 teachers retired or switched careers in 2022. More than 3,000 positions were vacant when classes began last fall—most of them in low-income districts.

To help stem the tide, James Madison University (JMU) has launched a new $4.2 million initiative.

The Grow Your Own Teaching Fellows Program

extended through 2025. The recognition coincides with the University’s one-to-one implementation of Apple technology—known as the LaunchPad Initiative—supplying every full-time student, faculty, and staff professional with an iPad, Smart Keyboard, and Apple Pencil. Each classroom on campus is also equipped with an Apple TV. SVU is one of only 46 colleges in the United States with this distinction.

Sweet Briar College

Sweet Briar, 434-381-6100

Thanks to $6 million in total gifts from two anonymous alumnae of the sciences, Sweet Briar College will begin renovations on its Guion Science Center. The building will be modernized with technology upgrades in labs and offices; classrooms will be outfitted with immersive multimedia capabilities. Guion’s current front courtyard will become a central atrium connecting the Center’s two floors, providing new communal and lounge spaces for students and faculty.

University of Lynchburg

Lynchburg, 434-544-8100

Musician and adjunct music professor Dr. George Miklas is at the helm of a new course at the University of Lynchburg: Applied Music-Harmonica. Launched for the fall 2022 semester, the half-credit course is thought to be the only program of its kind in the United States. Miklas also teaches tuba at Lynchburg and plays with the faculty brass quintet and Wind Symphony and Orchestra.

University of Mary Washington

Fredericksburg, 540-654-1000

Esports officially joined the University of Mary Washington’s (UMW) lineup of collegiate athletics last fall, reflecting the growing prominence of a $60 billion global video game industry, and joining more than 170 schools recognized by the National Association of Collegiate Esports. The cyber sport is open to any participant, regardless of physical abilities. UMW’s male and female divisions will compete in-person and virtually against teams from around the country.

University of Richmond

Richmond, 804-289-8000

Students at the University of Richmond can now major, minor, and receive degrees in Africana Studies. The program, formally launched in fall 2022, explores the socio-political landscapes, economic structures, and cultural traditions that shape, impact, and stem from the African diaspora. Additional new academic opportunities for students and faculty at the University include minors in sustainability and data science & statistics.

targets in-state high schoolers, teaching assistants, and educational aids in regions of need that have an interest in becoming teachers. Participants earn a bachelor’s degree in education in an accelerated environment while receiving free tuition, books, and waived fees. The program plugs them into teaching vacancies at partner schools in their communities after graduation. A two-year commitment to teach is mandatory.

JMU’s associate dean for academic affairs and partnerships Bryan Zugelder helped spearhead the program. He says it offers a more sustainable and socially responsible approach to shortages than those adapted by some states, which are currently filling classroom vacancies with uncredentialed substitutes.

Zugelder touts the Grow Your Own program as a way to quickly educate quality teachers without lowering standards.

“Keeping the standards high and also providing the support that is needed so that people can feel like they are successful in the profession … that keeps the standards where they should be, and helps sustain things in the long run,” he says.

So far, about 91 students have enrolled in the program. —by Eric J. Wallace

121 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES photos courtesy of james madison university
“Keeping the standards high ... helps sustain things in the long run.”
—Bryan Zugelder, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Partnerships, JMU
discover the college to make a difference At VCOM, we are inspired to bring physicians to rural and medically underserved areas of southwest Virginia and the Appalachian region. Our medical school based in Blacksburg, Virginia, trains students who are inspired to bring care to those most in need. Visit us online to find out how you will be inspired... ©2023 Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. All rights reserved. For a copy of our Outcomes Reports, please see CREATE your POSSIBLE At UVA Wise, we dream up possibilities, and then we work to recognize—and achieve—what’s possible. We see a greater tomorrow rising up here in Southwest Virginia, in Appalachia and beyond. We believe that your education can be a new beginning, so we do what it takes to build a brighter future, together. We ignite potential, we spark progress, and we help you find your path (hint: it starts right here). The University of Virginia’s College at Wise 1 College Avenue, Wise, VA 24293 276.328.0102 | |


Boeing collaborates with Virginia Tech on major veterans support hub at new innovation campus.

The world’s third-largest defense contractor has partnered with Virginia Tech on a new center that will help veterans and their families move from active service to civilian employment.

The Boeing Center for Veteran Transition and Military Families will be housed in the university’s $1 billion Alexandria Innovation Campus, which is slated to open in 2024. Funding comes from Boeing’s record-breaking 2021 donation of $50 million.

Governor Glenn Youngkin served on the Innovation Campus advisory board prior to his election, and says the Center has two primary goals. Foremost is to provide comprehensive support—including streamlined access to technology degrees, skills training, career counseling, and more—to transitioning veterans. The second is to spur the economy by helping veterans and their families stay in state.

Virginia is home to about 725,000 veterans and 150,000 active-duty National Guardsmen, Youngkin told reporters at a press conference announcing the partnership. “And I want to keep them here.”

University of Virginia

Charlottesville, 434-924-0311

The University of Virginia’s (UVA) Aerospace Research Laboratory has secured $4.5 million from the Department of Defense to construct an aeronautic engine capable of traveling at more than five times the speed of sound. Associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Christopher P. Goyne will lead the project, testing in UVA’s high-speed wind tunnel, one of only a few facilities on the planet equipped to withstand simulated hypersonic flight.

University of Virginia’s College at Wise

Wise, 276-328-0100

UVA Wise and Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) received a $75,000 grant from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to analyze the long-standing Appalachian Inter-Mountain Scholars Scholarship program, intended to ease high school students’ transition to college graduation. By fall 2023, UVA Wise and MECC will implement pilot programs to build on the most successful aspects of the program to further benefit students at both colleges.

Virginia Union University

Richmond, 804-257-5600

With the help of $2 million from the Virginia General Assembly, Virginia Union University has announced plans for a new innovation center, worth an additional $100 million. The building will house facilities for transportation, cybersecurity, and educational technology programming, and is projected for completion in 2025. The innovation center is part of the university’s long-term goal of doubling its student and staff population.

Virginia Wesleyan University

Virginia Beach, 757-455-3200

Sands, President, Virginia Tech

The Center will work closely with Craig Crenshaw, the Commonwealth’s secretary of veterans and defense affairs, and be partly staffed by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. Boeing plans to develop career-centered programming and on-the-job learning opportunities aimed at creating an employment pipeline. —by Eric J. Wallace

Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, 804-828-1231

Two new mental health resources are available for students at Virginia Commonwealth University: TimelyCare, a 24/7 virtual service for counseling and no-cost health coaching. Through TimelyCare, users have access to 12 free 45-minute counseling sessions with a licensed counselor. Also newly available is You@VCU, an app that provides customized physical, mental, and social health benchmarks and goal trackers for a balanced and maximized collegiate experience.

Virginia Military Institute

Lexington, 540-464-7230

Phase III of Virginia Military Institute’s Corps Physical Training Facility, a $44 million aquatic center, is complete, with a seating capacity of 570. The new indoor 50-meter, 800,000-gallon swimming pool is large enough to make diving, water polo, and competitive swimming possible simultaneously. In addition to hosting NCAA practices and competitions, the ROTC and Department of Human Performance and Wellness will use the facility for training sessions.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Blacksburg, 540-231-6000

The Quillen Spirit Plaza is scheduled for spring 2023 completion, part of long-term renovations planned for Virginia Tech’s (VT) largest on-campus dining space, Dietrick Hall. The plaza will connect Dietrick to residence halls and athletic facilities, creating a centralized location for social and school spirit events. Construction was made possible by a $2 million gift from the Quillen family, one of the largest in the history of VT Student Affairs.

Virginia State University

Petersburg, 804-524-5000

The fall 2022 incoming class at Virginia State University (VSU) was the school’s largest in more than three decades, marking a second consecutive year of record-high enrollment. More than 1,700 new freshmen and transfer students joined the ranks, nearly 600 more than in 2021. VSU executive vice president and provost Dr. Donald E. Palm attributes the increase to “outstanding faculty and staff, growing academic programs, and unyielding donor support.”

Westminster-Canterbury (W-C) on Chesapeake Bay residents can take non-credit courses in art, history, political science, psychology, religion, popular culture, and more through Virginia Wesleyan University’s (VWU) Lifelong Learning Institute. The partnership is a collaboration between W-C’s Religious Studies and Lifelong Learning program and the university’s Robert Nusbaum Center for the Study of Religious Freedom. Courses are taught by VWU faculty and offered at no cost to W-C residents.

Washington and Lee University

Lexington, 540-458-8400

Washington and Lee University (W&L) recently launched the DeLaney Center for the study of Southern race relations, culture, and politics. The center is an interdisciplinary academic forum that promotes teaching and research on race and Southern identity. W&L was also named one of Fulbright’s top producing institutions and was included on the list of U.S. universities that produced the most 2021-22 Fulbright U.S. scholars.

William & Mary

Williamsburg, 757-221-4000

Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall welcomes back the theatre and dance departments this fall with a new main stage, rehearsal spaces, media labs, costume shops, classrooms, a library, and more. The music department will move into its own brand new building featuring a concert hall, recital hall, electronic music lab, music library, digital percussion studio, new pipe organ, and classroom space. An underground tunnel will connect the two buildings.

123 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES image courtesy of virginia tech
“We’re looking forward to veterans not only being part of the student cohorts, but actually bringing their connections, their experience, into the classroom.”

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Benedictine Schools of Richmond

Richmond, 804-708-9500

GRADES 9 –12

The Benedictine Schools of Richmond (BSoR) are planning a new 50,000-squarefoot home for Saint Gertrude on its Goochland campus. BSoR’s fundraising campaign will also bring new athletic fields and complexes to Benedictine’s Cadets and St. Gertrude’s Gators, an arts wing, and a 3,400-square-foot chapel at Saint Gertrude. In addition, the Campaign will grow the BSoR scholarship endowment to welcome students at both institutions.

Chatham Hall

Chatham, 434-432-2941


This year, Chatham Hall’s robotics team, the TuTu Turtles, will compete in the internationally recognized FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC) for the first time. Advancing to the FRC requires the team to design and build a robot of up to 60 inches and 120 pounds. A combination of the excitement of sports and the rigors of science and technology, FRC is as close to real-world engineering as a student can get.

Christchurch School

Christchurch, 804-758-2306


Great Journeys is Christchurch’s challenging, place-based, college-prep curriculum with a 21st-century perspective. In addition to rigorous course material, students learn to collaborate, problem solve, and use evolving technology as a creative tool, and they develop critical thinking skills that prepare them for college and careers. Set on the banks of the Rappahannock River, the school’s waterfront location offers a living classroom where students participate in hands-on learning.

Community High School of Arts & Academics

Roanoke, 540-345-1688

GRADES 9 –12

Community High, a private, secular collegeprep high school grounded in the liberal arts, was founded by a group of parents, many of them college professors, who were looking for an innovative and responsive high school environment for their own children. Small by design, classes work in an intimate, seminar-based format and are taught by a faculty that includes working artists accomplished in their fields and scholars with advanced degrees.

Cristo Rey Richmond School

Richmond, 804-447-4704

GRADES 9 –12

Cristo Rey’s Richmond location is one of an inaugural cohort of five schools in the network to begin Accelerating Literacy Across the Curriculum, a multi-year partnership

with ThinkCERCA, a nationally recognized education software company. Propelled by a lead investment of $2 million from The Howley Foundation, the new curriculum will implement programming support for writing and reading, as measured by three annual ThinkCERCA assessments and students’ PSAT/SAT scores.

Foxcroft School

Middleburg, 540-687-5555


As part of Foxcroft’s 2022-23 academic theme “Be Green,” nearly 150 pupils participated in the school’s inaugural BioBlitz last fall, a 17-day project orchestrated by student leaders from statistics, biology, and AP human geography classes, during which participants used the apps iNaturalist (a nature database) and Merlin Bird ID (a global bird guide) to record 825 environmental observations and identify 288 unique species around campus.

GW Community School

Springfield, 703-978-7208

GRADES 8 -12

The concept of community is integrated into the fabric of GW Community School, as evidenced by its very name. Helping the community helps students develop leadership qualities, shape social awareness, and generate civic responsibility. Students volunteer in local, national, and international activities. The school organizes service projects in many areas of interest throughout the year, and it participates in many volunteer projects on an ongoing basis.

Miller School of Albemarle

Charlottesville, 434-823-4805

GRADES 8 –12

Miller School of Albemarle (MSA) is a coeducational and college preparatory day and boarding school in the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge, offering students ample opportunity to broaden their intellectual horizons and gain life-enhancing experiences. In Design/Build courses, students learn how to use tools, how to think about structures, and how to build things that last. Projects involve woodworking and building and design solutions benefiting the community.

Oak Hill Academy

Mouth of Wilson, 276-579-2619


Oak Hill Academy’s commitment to educating the whole student—mind, body, and soul— extends well beyond the classroom as evidenced by its Residential Life program. This enriching program is designed to provide the requisite structure and support for students to thrive. The campus’ five traditional-style dormitories accommodate two students per room. Living among the students are dedicated staff members who provide supervision and counsel and plan year-round social events and outings.

St. Margaret’s School

Tappahannock, 804-443-3357


A new outdoor classroom and dock have been added to St. Margaret’s Rappahannock River-front campus. The classroom includes lab equipment, solar panels, several aquariums, and a wind turbine; the dock will serve


St. Margaret’s School incorporates the Rappahannock into its STEAM program.

When St. Margaret’s School administrators began discussing pivoting their college prep program to focus on STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts, and math—they decided to put their own spin on the approach. For inspiration, they looked to their scenic Tappahannock campus.

“St. Margaret’s School is one of few in the nation with 1,000 feet of river frontage just steps from its main buildings and classrooms,” says head of school Colley W. Bell III. “Our students have the unique privilege of not only living on the Rappahannock River but also using it for their studies, personal reflections, and some fun.”

By adding the River into their STEAM program, it became STREAM, an appropriate name for a curriculum so deeply influenced by local waterways.

So how exactly does the river fit into a modern classroom? The music foundations class, for example, is record-

the school’s boating and sailing programs. St. Margaret’s is actively fundraising for the second phase of construction, which will expand and winterize the swimming pool, allowing the school to offer swimming lessons to the public.

Virginia Episcopal School

Lynchburg, 434-385-3600


Virginia Episcopal School takes a holistic approach to student health at the new Costas Wellness Center, where mental health, physical health, and sports medicine come together. With an on-site lab for diagnostic testing, the Center offers sick rooms and treatment rooms, an on-site counselor, and a mental health room. Staffed with eight nurses, the Center coordinates care with athletic trainers and provides a staff driver for students’ offsite medical appointments.

Woodberry Forest School

Woodberry Forest, 540-672-3900


Launched in November 2021, Woodberry Forest School’s Campaign for the Boys, the largest in the school’s history and primarily focused on endowing tuition assistance, is coming to a close. With an overall goal of $125 million, $80 million of which is designated for tuition assistance, the multimillion dollar initiative also encompasses on-campus renovations and expanded salary and benefits support for faculty.

ing river sounds and collecting items from nature to build musical instruments. An engineering class is learning about sustainable energy with solar panels installed at the outdoor classroom. And the marine and environmental science classes are catching fish and wildlife in the river and housing them in aquariums to study the ecosystem of the Rappahannock and its tributaries.

So far, students have embraced STREAM enthusiastically, Bell says. “There is always initial joy in a student’s eyes to have class outside. Now they see how we can bridge a classroom lesson or something they read in a textbook with something tied to the river.” —by

125 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING PRIVATE HIGH SCHOOLS photo courtesy of st. margaret’s school

The Academy at Metropolitan School of the Arts

Alexandria, 703-339-0444


The Academy at Metropolitan School of the Arts integrates award-winning facilities with an accredited college preparatory academic curriculum and a professional conservatory training program. Students are afforded a deeper understanding of themselves and an appreciation for others, while honing their skills in dance, music, and theater combined with a rigorous academic program that prepares expert learners and complex communicators for 21st-century success.

Ad Fontes Academy

Centreville, 571-348-0784


Ad Fontes, an independent, classical Christian school, provides students with rigorous preparation in critical thinking, mathematics, and the sciences—teaching students that they are both inheritors and responsible members of historical, social, and cultural contexts. As part of this process, the school’s curriculum relies heavily on a wide range of original source materials and whole texts. Students learn geometry directly from Euclid, philosophy from Plato, and literature from Sophocles.

Amelia Academy

Amelia, 804-561-2270


Amelia Academy educates the whole student including their ethical, intellectual, and physical development that fosters qualities of good character, leadership, scholarship, and service. Each student learns to think critically and to make intelligent choices in an academic environment that stresses the importance of principled behavior with emphasis on honor, integrity, and personal responsibility. Amelia Academy graduates are prepared to make worthwhile contributions to our democratic society.

Banner Christian School

Chesterfield, 804-276-5200


Banner Christian School’s Chesterfield campus recently announced the addition of a pre-K program. Four and five-year-olds will be given the opportunity to prepare for kindergarten with introductions to science, math, phonics/reading, writing, and many other subjects through a biblically integrated curriculum in both individual centers and group lessons. Pre-K students will also get to experience various resource classes and attend school-wide events like praise and worship.

BASIS Independent


McLean, 703-991-6075

AGE 2 - GRADE 12

BASIS Independent McLean offers an average

of 60 clubs, ranging from individual, skillbuilding activities in the arts to nationally recognized competitions like MATHCOUNTS. From cooking to theater, coding to National Honor Society, the school’s clubs and activities help students grow into well-rounded learners and discover their passions, enabling them to explore new ideas, participate in diverse activities, build social skills outside of the classroom, and become leaders.

The Blessed Sacrament



The Carmel School

Ruther Glen, 804-448-3288


School, 804-598-4211

AGE 2 – GRADE 12

Blessed Sacrament Huguenot (BSH) recently launched Phase 2 of the Knight’s Charge Capital Campaign, an ambitious $8.25 million initiative to fund continued campus improvements. The campaign’s scope includes the design and construction of a new visual arts center and student center, gym renovations, upgrades to the library and classrooms, and curriculum enhancements. Since the campaign’s launch, BSH enrollment has grown by 48 percent.

Broadwater Academy

Exmore, 757-442-9041


Campus and academic life at Broadwater Academy are rich and fulfilling. In the Upper School, faculty advisors, classroom teachers, and the administration continuously work to enhance communication with parents. Organizations, including academic and service clubs, student publications, music and theatrical groups, and school government, provide additional opportunities for student involvement. Interscholastic athletics and club sports programs provide opportunities for students to acquire skills and experience team play.

Cape Henry Collegiate School

Virginia Beach,


The Carmel School prepares students for success in an ever-changing world by creating a community supportive of academic, physical, and spiritual growth to instill deeply rooted Christian values. Carmel’s guiding principles, which include honor and integrity, are supported and reinforced by its dedicated faculty and staff and an honor code which is thoroughly integrated into every aspect of campus life.

Chelsea Academy

Front Royal, 540-635-0622


Student life at Chelsea Academy is divided into houses—Fisher, Colet, Roper, and Pole— all names associated with the school’s patron saint, Thomas More. Each contains students from across grade levels, where activities, competitions, and meals foster friendships and camaraderie. Lower School students

report enjoying their classes in the Valley’s only Catholic K-12 school, and especially love house competitions, which give them an opportunity to interact with Upper School peers.

Collegiate School

Richmond, 804-740-7077


Creating Bridges, Collegiate’s 2022 Strategic Plan, was recently introduced to the community. At its core, the plan will amplify the school’s strengths of program, people, and place to provide students with the best possible educational experience and compass for the future. A culmination of three years of collaboration between the entire Collegiate community, the plan engaged more than 1,000 students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, parents, grandparents, and friends.


Once a small, in-home school on the Virginia Beach oceanfront is now one of the premier private schools in the nation. A three-year fundraising campaign recently culminated when Cape Henry Collegiate broke ground on a new Center for Innovation and Performing Arts. The two-story addition boasts an openconcept innovation hub with fabrication and engineering labs, a theater, a new orchestra room, and a dance studio.

Carlisle School

Axton, 276-632-7288


Carlisle School offers a robust STEAM program for its student body. Twice weekly, lower school students participate in hands-on activities in the Makerspace Lab. Each student takes an art/design class and a STEAM class where they explore coding and robotics. In middle school, students are offered STEAM, coding, and art as electives. In the upper school, course selections include coding, engineering, design, art, and forensic science.

SCHOLASTIC SPEED DATING School Connections links educational consultants with schools.

For kids looking for a boarding school experience, or parents whose child needs the support and services of a therapeutic school, educational consultants can be a lifesaver. And School Connections, based in Fredericksburg, is a consulting service tailor-made for helping those consultants connect with potential schools and programs for their clients.

“Consultants need to stay updated on schools so they can make the most appropriate recommendations to the families they work with,” says founder and president Patrick Finn. “This model saves time and money as schools meet many consultants in one setting, and there are networking opportunities during the workshop as well.”

School Connections was the first of its kind in the U.S. when it started operating in 2009. The organization began working with boarding schools and U.S. consultants and has grown to include therapeutic schools and programs as well as international agents.

“We offer very personalized workshops where everyone works hard but also has fun in a professional environment,” Finn says. “We have a fantastic team who all have years of admissions experience and know the most important result of our workshops is a successful placement.” —by

127 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING PRIVATE K - 12 SCHOOLS photo courtesy of school connections
Visit us today to learn more: where you are unstoppable Grades 9-12 Girls’ Day & Boarding

Commonwealth Academy

Alexandria, 703-548-6912

GRADES 3 –12

Commonwealth Academy is in the process of implementing its 2021-2026 strategic plan with four areas of focus: an emphasis on people to build a strong and inclusive community; on program, incorporating new brain research and best teaching practices for students with executive function challenges; on place so that facilities continue to support teaching, learning, and the student experience; and on perpetuity to build strong financial resources.

The Covenant School

Charlottesville, 434-220-7329


Competing in the field of data science is a statewide priority for math education. So, to chart a course, Matt Dakolios, a former Covenant School math teacher who wants to see data science integrated into high school curriculums, partnered with Adam Tashman, associate professor at UVA, to launch a pilot program, where Covenant upper school students learn about principles of statistics, basic coding, data correlation, and potential careers.

Desmond T. Doss Christian Academy

Lynchburg, 434-237-1899


From backpacking to visiting local farms, students at Desmond T. Doss Christian Academy participate in year-round outdoor activities,

all designed to engage and educate. Students in grades 3-8 spend four days camping; grades 9-12 participate in a multi-day outdoor education intensive, along with community service projects and mission trips. All outdoor experiences promote spiritual, mental, and physical growth. The school is a ministry of Lynchburg Seventh Day Adventist Church.

The Fairfax Christian School

Dulles, 703-759-5100


The Fairfax Christian School has partnered with Northern Virginia Community College, giving students the opportunity to take College Dual Enrollment courses as part of the school’s Advanced Honors Diploma. Working at a university level while still in high school allows students to excel when they attend university. The Fairfax Christian School is an award-winning, independent, universitypreparatory school providing a world-class education for its students.

Fishburne Military School

Waynesboro, 540-946-7700


Fishburne Military School is the smallest military school in Virginia on purpose, so that each boy who attends can achieve a personalized experience, building towards a meaningful and purposeful future, free from judgment and insecurity. The institution’s small size allows each student visibility; they are understood, challenged, and supported in academic and social environments, bringing out the best in each young man.

Flint Hill School

Oakton, 703-584-2300


Every day, Flint Hill redefines what excellence in education looks like by continuously innovating across programs so that all students excel—academically, physically, socially, and emotionally. The school’s impressive athletics and fine arts facilities include a state-of-theart turf field, tennis courts, playing fields, a fitness center, and gyms. Its Fine Arts facilities include a 300-seat theater; dance and music studios; visual arts, ceramics, and digital arts studios; and darkrooms.

Fredericksburg Academy

Fredericksburg, 540-898-0020


Fourth and fifth grades at Fredericksburg Academy have been reimagined and restructured to support the changing needs of upper elementary students. They also debuted their first Paddlesports Program where both grades spend every Friday throughout September and early October at and on the river to augment their studies of land and water, regions of Virginia, Indigenous people, adventure fiction, poetry, creative writing, plants and cells, artistic perspective, and kayaking.


Christian School

Fredericksburg, 540-373-5355


Fredericksburg Christian School (FCS) was founded by servant leaders who followed Christ’s example, leading with a heart for others and an attitude of service. That same passion for leadership and character drives the staff and faculty today. Two of the school’s four core values are to be servant leaders and to uphold integrity and transparency. From invested teachers, to strong athletics, fine arts offerings, FCS is educating Christian leaders for life.

Fuqua School

Farmville, 434-392-4131


Empowering students to be their best selves, whatever paths they choose, remains Fuqua School’s distinguishing feature. Each month throughout the academic year focuses on one of the nine identified values determined with input from faculty, staff, and students, and are woven into the classroom and campus activities: honesty (August/September), responsibility (October), kindness (November), compassion (December), respect (January), commitment (February), perseverance (March), cooperation (April), and fairness (May).

Grace Christian School

Staunton, 540-886-9109


Grace Christian School’s (GCS) first-ever capital campaign hopes to facilitate a move into the recently purchased Central Augusta High School. This historic building, a oncesegregated African-American school, closed its doors 56 years ago, and GCS seeks to bring new life back into its classrooms, hallways, and athletic facilities. With 72,000 square feet on 20 acres, GCS is excited to continue providing an excellent education with a biblical worldview.

Grove Christian School

Richmond, 804-741-2860


Parents become partners with both child and teacher at Grove Christian School (GCS). The school’s philosophy is that parents are called to raise and educate their children; therefore, biblically, the parent is always the primary discipler of the child. GCS and its educators join forces with parents with a common goal of championing the cause of the child in all ways—intellectually, spiritually, socially, and emotionally.

Hampton Roads Academy

Newport News


Eastern Mennonite School makes more space for its choral music library.

Eastern Mennonite School’s choral music library is a campus treasure. The collection, which includes some 15,000 titles, now has a new and improved home. With 300 linear feet of shelving custom-built by alumni Doug Lantz of Lantz Custom Woodworking in Harrisonburg, it’s a far cry from the collection’s original back-of-a-closet storage.

“Singing songs together has been an expression of our faith in Jesus and an act of discipleship since the beginning of Eastern Mennonite School over a century ago,” says choral

director Jared Stutzman. “Historically, the focus was on participatory communal singing—an entire church congregation singing together in four-part harmony. The emphasis on harmony dovetails neatly with the Mennonite idea that we hear God’s voice from each other … that every voice matters.” Eastern Mennonite’s choral music collection began in 1982, when Stutzman’s predecessor, Jay Hartzler, began collecting students’ personal copies of choral music at the end of the year. “It was a way to save money, a historical record, and a source of tried-and-true repertoire suggestions,” Stutzman says. The library has continued to expand ever since—and now has plenty of room to grow. —by Erica, 757-884-9100


Hampton Roads Academy’s (HRA) REACH initiative provides students with real-world academic experiences. Creativity, collaboration, and communication are skills that begin in the classroom and are enhanced and made more relevant by exploration outside the classroom. At HRA these experiences might take the form of summer internships, mentorships, part-time jobs, and leadership opportunities. Students gain an understanding of the relationship between academic success and professional satisfaction and achievement.

129 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING PRIVATE K - 12 SCHOOLS photos courtesy of eastern mennonite
/ by
andrea wenger


Hargrave Military Academy resurrects aeronautics program.

After several decades of being grounded, Hargrave Military Academy revived its aeronautics program in 2022. The Chatham-based college prep boarding school has partnered with Averett University and their FAA-approved flight school to offer cadets complete ground school and flight lab training before progressing through the solo flight stage.

“Ground school is meant to provide students with the basic, theoretical information needed to pilot an aircraft successfully and safely,” says Hargrave’s academic dean Jim Tun. “Some of the topics covered in ground school training include the performance of an aircraft, but also its systems and factors affecting flight, such as weather (reading charts and theory), aircraft instruments and systems, aircraft performance factors, and airport operations.”

In order to qualify for the program, cadets must be prepared to meet or exceed the entrance requirements of Averett University. “They are driven to excel at math, English, and science to meet those requirements as high school juniors—or sooner—to participate in the program,” Tun says. —by Erica Jackson Curran

Hargrave Military Academy

Chatham, 434-432-2481


Hargrave’s Center for Leadership and Ethics is an extension of the school’s vision to provide the best opportunity to grow young men holistically as students, athletes, and leaders. Hargrave’s four pillars of academics—character development, athletics, fitness, and spiritual growth—guide a foundational strategy to create an exceptionally strong leadership program. The Hargrave leadership development model not only teaches leadership but puts it into practice every day.

Highland School

Warrenton, 540-878-2700


Through direct experience, travel, and study, Highland’s Global Studies Program seeks to produce global citizens who have acquired a deeper understanding of world cultures and global issues. The capstone of the program is an experiential, service, or academic project demonstrating in-depth knowledge of a global issue or problem. Through the Global Studies Program students earn a certificate of recognition for their achievement, which can involve international experiences and language immersion.

Independent School of Winchester



Independent School of Winchester’s youngest students devote themselves to hands-on, nature-oriented, experiential learning and are encouraged to move and explore rather

than relying on screens. Formal technology is introduced in Grade 5, and by middle and high school, students bring laptops to school for regular use. The school’s philosophy is that tomorrow’s adults need confidence using technology as a practical tool and wisdom about its place in modern life.

Isle of Wight Academy

Isle of Wight, 757-357-3866


Isle of Wight Academy provides the opportunity for students to become self-reliant, selfdisciplined individuals and adaptive, life-long learners. Recently, the school has invested in campus-wide, high-speed Internet, and each classroom is equipped with a SMART Board and a set of Chromebooks for students to use. RenWeb, the school’s information system, gives parents and students access to a wide array of information including grades, homework, and school events.

Kenston Forest School

Blackstone, (434)-292-7218


Kenston Forest recognizes and appreciates the differences among its students and varies its teaching strategies—from traditional to innovative—in order to encourage critical thinking and problem-solving. The student body is from all walks of life, all possessing their own unique talents and learning styles. The school’s environment encourages each student to grow into mature, responsible, college-bound young adults who understand the importance of leadership, scholarship, service, and strong character.

King Abdullah Academy

Herndon, 571-351-5520


King Abdullah Academy is an IB World School where students excel academically while maintaining the values of Islam and proficiency with the Arabic language. The Academy provides a caring, challenging, and supportive learning environment where students achieve their highest potential while exhibiting civic responsibility and multicultural appreciation. They gain educational, spiritual, and social skills for the 21st century that will enable them to thrive in a global, interconnected world.

Liberty Christian Academy

Lynchburg, 434-832-2000


Construction began on Liberty Christian Academy’s (LCA) new football and track facility last summer; a completion date is predicted for fall 2023. New stadium bleachers will seat just under 5,000 fans; other amenities include a turf field, locker rooms for home and away teams, concession stands, a band practice field, and an outdoor track. The new facility will enhance LCA’s athletic programs and provide more opportunities for on-site events.

Millwood School

Midlothian, 804-639-3200


Millwood School’s Entrepreneurial Studies Program is an interdisciplinary initiative that provides educational opportunities for students interested in starting or owning their own business venture. Rising ninth and tenth graders can compete both individually or as teams in competitions designed specifically

for business-minded high schoolers pursuing careers in entrepreneurship. Multiple field trips and in-class guest speakers enhance Millwood’s specialized studies curriculum.

Mountain View Christian Academy

Winchester, 540-868-1231


Mountain View Christian Academy recently added an elective physical therapy class, available to students in Grades 9–12. The opportunity will give students a clear pathway to enter physical therapy assistant, occupational therapy, and LPN and RN programs. Five additional modular units were also added to the curriculum, and renovations to the school’s kitchen and elementary boys’ bathroom were recently completed.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy

Suffolk, 757-539-8789


At Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, cultivating an engaged, inclusive, and supportive school community is a priority. To provide students with a more global perspective and the ability to explore other cultures, a new program called Global Connections was recently implemented in the Lower School. Immersive global experiences are also available to Middle School and Upper School students through partnerships with the Independent Schools Cultural Alliance and Pursue Languages.

The New School of Northern Virginia

Fairfax, 703-691-3040

GRADES 6 –12

Situated on a cozy wooded campus with small class sizes, New School students take engaging and participatory classes and have considerable choice in their course selection and project work. Teachers and students approach one another as friendly colleagues, and an international studies program contributes to the global vibe of the campus. These approaches to learning distinguish the New School as a unique liberal arts and sciences education.

Norfolk Academy

Norfolk, 757-461-6236

GRADES 1 –12

Norfolk Academy believes that the diversity of a community leads children to develop a greater sense of understanding, empathy, and responsibility. The school strives to foster a climate of belonging and to provide unrestricted access to an enriching array of experiences for all students. The goal is that students and graduates will carry forward these principles to create a just society where all people can flourish.

photo courtesy of hargrave military academy / by jamie gosney


Educating Tomorrow’s Innovators and Leaders

At BASIS Independent McLean, an age 2–grade 12 private school, students explore, discover, and create in a globally inspired curriculum. With a focus on interdisciplinary instruction and experiential learning, our program empowers students to be confident, independent thinkers and decision makers as they learn at the highest international levels.

Explore our upcoming events to learn more.

Through student-focused, projectbased and experiential learning opportunities, Collegiate students think globally, work collaboratively and follow their passions in a safe and supportive community.

WORKHOUSE ARTS CENTER PRESENTS Upcoming Signature Event Urinetown A Tony Award-Winning Musical March 18 - June 3 Fridays and Saturdays, 8pm; Sundays 2pm May 20, 12 - 6pm Featuring live music performances

Norfolk Collegiate School

Norfolk, 757-480-2885


Norfolk Collegiate was the first school in Coastal Virginia to graduate AP Capstone Diploma candidates. Seth Larkin, ’22, one of the school’s most recent AP Capstone diploma graduates, was one of 306 students in the world to earn every point possible on the AP Research Exam. Additionally, 24 members of the class of ‘23 are taking AP Research, and 33 class of ‘24 members are taking AP Seminar and Language.

North Cross School

Roanoke, 540-989-7299


Beyond athletics, North Cross School students have many areas in which to express and develop their interests. From Model United Nations to tutoring young children at a nearby church, students are encouraged to look beyond school walls for experience and skills. In the early winter, grade 8-12 students have a day-long Symposium where local artists, scientists, and everyone in between are brought to present “mini-courses” in their field of expertise.

Oakcrest School

Vienna, 703-790-5450


The cornerstone of an Oakcrest education is its mentoring program, where mentors and students meet one-on-one, and girls can seek them out for encouragement in academics, friendships, and service to others. In partnership with parents, mentors guide each student as she works on her personal growth. At Oakcrest, students develop the lifelong habit of seeking good advice from the wisdom of others and working on personal goals.

The Potomac School

McLean, 703-356-4100


Life skills develop over time, and the Potomac School’s curriculum integrates learning for life from day one. Real-world preparation across all divisions with intention and consistency is a key school tenet in the classroom and in campus life: making eye contact and speaking clearly, creating a savings plan to buy something special, knowing how to differentiate fact from opinion, and being open to someone else’s perspective.

Randolph-Macon Academy

Front Royal, 540-636-5200

GRADES 6 –12

Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA) formalized its long-standing unofficial partnership with Shenandoah University with the goal of generating new and exciting opportunities for students. The partnership paves the way for potential mutual growth in key areas, strengthening current dual enrollment opportunities at R-MA while also creating a conversation around expedited admission and student life opportunities. Collaborations include aviation, software, and engineering

HIGH-TECH HIGH Robots and flying drones at Flint Hill School.

From robotics and drones to cybersecurity, upper level students at Oakton’s Flint Hill School have access to high-tech classes—and recruiters are paying attention. Computer science and robotics teacher Michael Snyder notes that the programs’ alums are often recruited by area agencies, and one outstanding senior even landed a job with the Department of Defense while still completing her studies at Flint Hill.

With classes and an after-school club offered to ninth through twelfth graders, the cybersecurity program at Flint Hill teaches students basic and intermediate cybersecurity skills. According to Synder, students focus on keeping personal digital data confidential and secure while still accessible. “This is a difficult balance to strike and forces students to think critically and develop above-average problem solving skills,” he says.

Flint Hill also offers an advanced robotics program with a focus on drones, where students design, build, and program drones, then take their skills to a college-level competition. “Flint Hill is one of a few high schools out of the roughly 70 teams who compete,” Snyder says. In the past six years, Flint Hill teams have consistently placed among the top five winners.

curriculums, and the development of more in-depth performing arts programming.

Roanoke Catholic School

Roanoke, 540-982-3532


Roanoke Catholic School believes that learning experiences that go beyond the classroom and traditional academic settings inform and educate. The school’s collaboration with Build Smart Institute (BSI) offers students opportunities in the technical and trade fields. BSI provides quality career and technical education programs that open doors and provide career paths that keep young adults employed in the Roanoke Valley and beyond.

Seton School Manassas, 703-368-3230


Seton School, operated by Catholic laymen and women, is dedicated to promoting the

St. Anne’s-Belfield School

Charlottesville, 434-296-5106


St. Anne’s-Belfield (STAB) has broken ground on the renovation of its historic Randolph Hall on the Upper School campus. The vibrant, joyous, and dynamic convening space, designed specifically to enhance the STAB experience, will include a recording studio, food lab, high tech makerspace, and innovative areas that allow for both quiet reading and study and group collaboration. Randolph Hall is expected to reopen in fall 2023.

St. Catherine’s School

Richmond, 804-288-2804


St. Catherine’s School is committed to environmental sustainability initiatives and has launched an aggressive environmental stewardship strategy. The school’s Community Garden continues to grow into an interactive place for girls to learn with various classes using the garden as part of their curriculum. Solar arrays have been installed over the last decade, and the school’s compressed natural gas bus fleet continues to grow.

St. Christopher’s School

Richmond, 804-282-3185


St. Christopher’s empowers boys to make positive impacts as leaders. The school’s new service-learning model is designed to better prepare students to recognize real needs within the community and respond with creativity and compassion by more intentionally connecting projects to each grade level’s curriculum. The overarching goals are to increase the capacity for empathy, teach the practice of reflection, and lay a foundation for a lifelong commitment to service.

tradition of Catholic secondary education. Committed to excellence in education, the school challenges its students to do their best. In addition, a number of clubs and activities are offered, including yearbook, foreign language club, and band, as well as a variety of family-centered social activities that show the joy of Catholic living in all aspects of life.

Southampton Academy

Courtland, 757-653-2515


Southampton Academy’s college counseling program engages students in a highly individualized college and career guidance process by pushing students to understand themselves and to activate their search with an open mind and genuine curiosity in what the future has to hold. They are empowered to make post-graduate decisions that blend their needs, desires, and values, reflecting their interests, talents, and personalities.

St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School

Alexandria, 703-212-2700

AGE 3 – GRADE 12

St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes puts faith into action in its care of the earth—the home shared by all people. The school’s Environmental Stewardship Program highlights a campuswide commitment in which the lower, middle, and upper schools have launched their own stewardship initiatives—from eco-goats that help eradicate invasive species to planting pollinators, to an environmental club that educates the student body about climate change and global challenges.

133 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING PRIVATE K - 12 SCHOOLS photo courtesy of flint hill school
22870 Pacific Boulevard ● Dulles, VA 20166 Near the intersection of Route 28 & Old Ox Road For More Information: 703-759-5100 ● The Fairfax Christian School is an awardwinning, independent, university-preparatory school providing a world class-education. Give your Child a Competitive Advantage!

The Steward School

Richmond, 804-740-3394


The Steward School’s Bryan Innovation Lab inspires and educates students, faculty, and staff by connecting global thought leadership with interactive problem-solving opportunities to discover, engage, and excel. The Lab’s unique hands-on learning environment enhances and strengthens enthusiasm for learning, adaptability, and critical thinking skills where dynamic local experts inspire students and faculty, illustrating that the most meaningful learning is experiential, interdisciplinary, and focused on real-world issues.

StoneBridge School

Chesapeake, 757-488-2214


StoneBridge School is dedicated to equipping nation changers through a Principle Approach® education that teaches students how to reason from biblical principles in every area of life and engage with the world as Godly scholars, servants, stewards, and statesmen. Established to restore the Christian character of the Republic, StoneBridge serves Christian families, enabling each child to reach the fullest expression of his or her value in Christ.

Stuart Hall School

Staunton, 540-885-8926

GRADES 6 –12

Stuart Hall’s six graduate goals—critical thinking, creativity, communication, citizenship, collaboration, and well-being—are foundational to the school’s academic program and frame the skills to be mastered before a student launches into life. The school’s approach to education—Mastery Learning—focuses on the acquisition of core competencies rather than rote memorization of content. The most tangible difference is that learning doesn’t stop at the end of an assignment or receipt of a grade.

Tandem Friends School

Charlottesville, 434-296-1303

GRADES 5 –12

Tandem Friends is a co-ed Quaker day school where learning is a cooperative venture and the intellectual curiosity of students is paired with an academically distinguished faculty. The school’s strong college preparatory curriculum is rigorous, facilitated by a dynamic process of questioning and dialogue. Teachers invite a sense of authorship in their students by constantly challenging them to reach their intellectual potential. Classroom discussions encourage active thinking, listening, and articulation.

Tidewater Academy

Wakefield, 757-899-5401


Small classes with focused instruction is Tidewater Academy’s winning formula. Enthusiastic learners led by a caring and talented faculty are what produce students who


Roanoke’s CrossWalk Program serves students with language learning differences.

For more than 10 years, the CrossWalk Program at North Cross School has been serving students with diagnosed language-based learning differences. Dyslexia represents 80–90 percent of learning disabilities, affecting about 20 percent of the population, according to The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.

“Ten years ago, it was pretty difficult to get specific help for dyslexic students, and it’s tricky to provide that kind of

thrive academically, spiritually, and socially. Foundations for learning are laid in lower school, which opens doors in middle school for additional responsibility and developing academic, athletic, and leadership skills. Upper School prepares students to succeed in college, in work, and as responsible community citizens.

Trinity Christian School

Fairfax, 703-273-8787


Trinity Christian School recently launched a House System in the Upper School built on the school’s four core values: Fortitudo-House of Courage, Caritas-House of Service, FidelisHouse of Faithfulness, and Veritas-House of Truth. Each house encourages students to foster peer relationships and build community. Trinity’s faculty and staff are members of Houses as well, leading students in example and prayer. The culture of the school ensures a sense of belonging.

Trinity School at Meadow View Falls Church, 703-876-1920

GRADES 7– 12

Trinity School is a community of learners characterized by the rigorous exploration of reality, the free and disciplined exchange of ideas, and active participation in the fine arts. Participation in extracurricular programs is encouraged, and more than half the student body is in an extracurricular musical group. Jazz Band and Eclectica meet during lunch for a little fun and choir meets after school.

Virginia Beach Friends School

Virginia Beach

remediation in large groups,” explains CrossWalk director, Kit Prillaman. “Our headmaster saw the need, and it’s been an amazing resource for our school and our community.”

Besides academic support, the emotional results are life-changing, Prillaman says. “When students are first diagnosed, it’s hard on them and their parents—it’s isolating.”

But at CrossWalk, they’re part of a support team of 40 fellow students and teachers specifically trained to help. “It really normalizes it,” she says. —by Erica Jackson Curran, 757-428-7534


The Virginia Beach Friends School (VBFS) curriculum is guided by the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship within a student-centered, globally-minded ethos. The school’s strategic plan, Growing for Tomorrow identifies VBFS’ vision for the next five years and is built on the ability to adapt, grow, and thrive. It addresses both opportunities and challenges to transform a collective vision into deliverable action.

Wakefield Country Day School Huntly, 540-635-8555


Tara Johnson joined Wakefield Country Day School’s faculty, teaching eighth grade literature and theater in addition to the school’s first elective in American Sign Language. Johnson’s significant experience includes choreographing and directing, and she is a professional voice-over artist and interpreter for the deaf. Her approach to teaching is to nurture and challenge students academically, socially, and morally to achieve success.

Wakefield School

The Plains, 540-253-7500


Wakefield School celebrates five decades of excellence in education, recognizing that rel-

evance exists in the ability to teach students how to think, not what to think. This emphasis on critical thinking connects the school’s storied past with its exciting future. The George L. Ohrstrom Jr. Theater & Auditorium, the school’s newest space, hosts community events, including the year’s first theatrical production and a banquet celebrating Wakefield’s student athletes.

Walsingham Academy

Williamsburg, 757-229-6026


Walsingham Academy (WA) has once again been certified as a Virginia Naturally School. The State Department of Wildlife Resources applauded WA for its focus on environmental stewardship and natural resources, recognizing school initiatives, such as planting and harvesting vegetables in the greenhouse, raising and giving away milkweed plants to the community, and studying ecosystems and the plants and animals in the Chesapeake Bay.


Christian Academy

Williamsburg, 757-220-1978


Williamsburg Christian Academy (WCA) values a well-rounded curriculum that includes experiences and opportunities for students in fine arts. At all grade levels, students can experience visual arts, music, and drama taught from a Christian worldview with an emphasis on exploration and instruction. WCA’s fine arts program is continually growing as students take on new experiences, tackle exciting classes, and participate in dynamic clubs.

135 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING PRIVATE K - 12 SCHOOLS photos courtesy of north cross school


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A progressive school for children age 2 to 8th grade. VirginiaLiving-Sabot-MarApr2023.indd 1 2/9/23 11:48 AM
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WWW.RICHMONT.ORG FOLLOW US: @RICHMONDMONTESSORI Inspiring Academic Excellence 499 N. PARHAM ROAD HENRICO, VA 23229 804-741-0040


Pharrell’s YELLOWHAB micro-school expands its reach in Norfolk.

You know him as a musician, producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. But for a lucky group of Hampton Roads students, Pharrell Williams is just the cool guy who founded their school. In 2021, the Virginia Beach native launched YELLOWHAB, a Norfolk-based private micro-school aimed at eradicating generational poverty by reimagining the future of education.

In its first year, YELLOWHAB was open exclusively to third through fifth graders who met a strict set of qualifications regarding residency and income status. “Now in our second year, we are serving grades 3-6 with plans to matriculate with our explorers through high school,” says YELLOWHAB’s director of engagement Stephanie Walters. “It has been an exciting school year with our explorers beginning with a focus on

Alexandria Country Day School

Alexandria, 703-548-4804


Public speaking is at the core of Alexandria Country Day School’s mission to inspire effective communicators. Beginning in fifth grade, students give a yearly speech to parents, teachers, and peers. This annual capstone experience, known as Speeches and Sweets, allows students to demonstrate their writing, speaking, and presentation skills in progressively sophisticated ways, until their speech resembles a TED Talk once they reach the eighth grade.

Aylett Country Day School Millers Tavern, 804-443-3214


Founded in 1966 and situated on 18 acres in Essex County, students at Aylett Country Day School embrace learning and maximize their potential as young learners and citizens. Field experiences through Aylett’s outdoor program enhance students’ learning of the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding watershed. Students explore the Rappahannock River by round stern, kayak on local waterways, and garden oysters to supplement their classroom research.

Browne Academy

Alexandria, 703-960-3000


A new on-campus health and wellness center opened at Browne Academy last fall, incorporating a holistic approach to school health services for each student’s body and mind. Led by Browne’s director of health services Shannon Naik and school counselor Serie Haeseler, the center works closely with

literacy, reviewing knowledge from the last school year, and strengthening their current skill set.”

With the mission to “even the odds through education,” YELLOWHAB focuses on STEM learning, with an immersive, hands-on, and project-based approach to teaching. The team of educators is tasked with tailoring the educational experience to each student’s strengths and interests. Students are grouped by skill level rather than age.

In keeping with its core mission, the school is currently free for all students. “As of right now, YELLOWHAB will remain tuition-free,” Walters says. “Furthermore, as we expand to additional geographical locations, we will determine tuition—if any—based on population, demographic, and the target audience we’ll serve in the selected area.” —by

parents, families, and teachers to improve social, emotional, and behavioral health and advance the academic success of students.

Burgundy Farm Country Day School

Alexandria, 703-960-3431


Beginning in first grade, students and teachers spend 2-3 days twice a year in an immersive outdoor learning experience at the Burgundy Center for Wildlife Studies at Cooper’s Cove, located in a remote valley near Capon Bridge, West Virginia. The wildlife sanctuary and educational program is owned and run by the school and uses the diverse natural setting to support students’ growth as scientists and responsible stewards of the planet.

Chesapeake Academy

Irvington, 804-438-5575


Fourth and seventh graders participate in Oyster Festival Education Day, a program designed to bring an understanding of the Chesapeake Bay’s ecology, history, heritage, and future to Middlesex County students attending the annual Urbanna Oyster Festival. Students engage in environmental learning through local field trips both on and off the water, featuring talks and exhibitions by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Reedville Fishermen’s Museum, Virginia Gamefish Tagging Program, and more.


Falls Church

Grymes Memorial School Orange,


School, 703-533-9711


Congressional School has a long-standing equestrian history, dating back to the institution’s founding in 1939. A herd of horses

resides on-campus for various learning opportunities, including the Congressional Riding Academy, offering students private after-school lessons during the school year and Pony Camp, held every summer. Working with horses not only improves students’ riding skills and horsemanship, but also boosts their confidence, integrity, perseverance, and sense of responsibility.

Gesher Jewish Day School

Fairfax, 703-978-9789


Gesher Jewish Day School has developed a hands-on ecology-based model for Jewish learning, “Gesher Green.” Elementary school classes each have their own garden plot to care for, cultivating a compassionate and sustainable future driven by Torah values. Schoolwide recycling and composting promote green living, and all grade levels have access to four outdoor learning station habitats: wetlands and a vernal pond; Gesher’s Native Meadow; wooded thickets; and downed trees.


The drama department has been integral to Grymes Memorial School since the institution’s founding in 1947. Each grade level does an annual production, from a 20-minute play in prekindergarten, to hour-long Shakespeare from the eighth graders, to Upper School improv class. Memorizing lines, practicing enunciation, and learning how to move in character teach young thespians how to take risks and work together.

The Hill School

Middleburg, 540-687-5897


The Hill School values community and total education, meaningfully engaging students in challenging core academics and broad cocurriculars including art, music, athletics, and theater. Students are encouraged to explore their passions and areas of interest while being exposed to many new possibilities. With home and schoolwork in coordination, Hill students become increasingly self-motivated and confident, maximizing their growth and development academically, socially, emotionally, artistically, and athletically.

James River Day School

Lynchburg, 434-384-7385


Each year, James River Day School sixth graders spend three days in nature at Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing (WAEL) in New Castle, without phones or computers, ziplining, hiking, and canoeing. Affectionately known as the WAEL (pronounced “whale”) trip, students cooperatively take on team challenges to enhance problem-solving skills, entering the experience as individuals, but returning as a bonded class.

The Langley School

McLean, 703-356-1920



Shepherd Episcopal School

Richmond, 804-231-1452


Academics at Good Shepherd Episcopal School (GSES) are rooted in the idea of placebased education—using the local community and environment as a starting point to teach concepts in language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, technology and other subjects across the curriculum. GSES’ location in Richmond’s Forest Hill is within walking distance of the James River, Forest Hill Park, and local businesses, providing endless opportunities and access for hands-on learning.

Last fall, The Langley School celebrated its 80th anniversary and officially opened the new Crossroads Building. The 40,000-square-foot facility, designed to support academics and promote an inviting campus community, features PreK-Grade 5 classrooms; a new library; a technology and innovation lab; STEM space; and a multipurpose room. The building was funded by The Langley School’s Next Generation Campaign, which has raised more than $14 million since its 2019 launch.

137 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING PRIVATE K - 8 SCHOOLS photo courtesy of yellowhab

Summer Camps & Programs

Get set for summer camp season, where children of all ages make new friends, learn to paddle a canoe, ride a horse, or even learn to build a robot. For parents, this enriching experience requires careful planning— and Virginia Living ’ s guide to the Commonwealth’s rich and varied Summer Camp opportunities provides a valuable resource, as you search for the best for your child.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION CAMP INFO CAMP OFFICE 804.335.WILD AGES 7-17 CAMPER:STAFF RATIO 5:1 REGISTRATION OPENS March 15, 8AM COST $200-$325 per week Come live, play, and learn on Madeira’s campus this summer as you explore a new interest and develop leadership skills! Girls First, a residential and day program, empowers campers to learn, grow, and lead – in and out of the classroom. 8328 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA 22102 • Girls First at The Madeira School CAMP INFO PHONE 703-556-8234 REGISTRATION NOW OPEN GRADES Rising 5th–9th graders SESSIONS 2-week residential and 1-week day camp COST $1,000–$3,000 Healthcare Careers Camp 2023 HIGH SCHOOL AND MIDDLE SCHOOL CAMPS Apply Now: High School Camp Contact, E&H Faculty Dennis Cobler, 276.944.6589• Middle School Camp Contact, E&H Faculty Blake Justice, 276.944.6494• High School Camp, June 12-16: Residential: $400 • Commuter: $100 Middle School Day Camp, June 27-29: More information coming soon Emory Campus, I-81, exit 26 & Health Sciences Campus, I-81, exit 45 Encouraging the next generation of healthcare professionals Learn Skills • Visit Healthcare Facilities • Shadow Professionals Pre–Health Program and Health Sciences Campus Scholarships are available CAMP INFO CAMP OFFICE 804.335.WILD AGES 7-17 CAMPER:STAFF RATIO 5:1 REGISTRATION OPENS March 15, 8AM COST $200-$325 per week Pirate (grades K-5) - $190 Boatbuilding (grades 3-8) - $195 Archaeology (grades 3-8) - $195 Environmental Explorer (grades 3-8) - $195 309 Water Street, Yorktown, Virginia 23690 (757) 887-2641
Fun at The Watermen’s Museum CAMP INFO CAMP OFFICE 757-887-2641 REGISTRATION NOW OPEN SEASON June 26–August 18 HOURS Mon-Fri 9am-3pm COST $190 - $195

Montessori School of Northern Virginia

Annandale and Falls Church, 703-256-9577


In fall 2022, Montessori School of Northern Virginia (MSNV) opened a third location, the Sleepy Hollow campus. Nestled in one of Falls Church’s most established neighborhoods, Sleepy Hollow serves students in the Primary program (ages 3-6). The new addition offers generous indoor space for school-wide assemblies and programs, lush grounds for outdoor learning and play, and an opportunity to expand MSNV’s reach in the community.

Mountaintop Montessori

Charlottesville, 434-979-8886


Mountaintop Montessori students can participate in an ecology program, exploring biology and botany through sensory experiences, food production, and observation. The on-campus gardens, chicken coop, and fruit orchard act as environmental classrooms and feed into the school’s weekly Garden to Table Program, in which elementary and middle schoolers join Mountaintop’s chef in harvesting and preparing lunch for their classmates in a professional kitchen.

Powhatan School

Boyce, 540-837-1009


Academics at Powhatan School are guided by the Nature Enhanced Approach to Learning (NEAL), a curriculum model that brings the “outdoors in and the indoors out” by exploring the rich natural environment of the campus and surrounding area. Forty-seven acres directly behind the school make up the Crocker Conservancy, an outdoor learning laboratory. Students can adopt trees for observation of changes, raise trout for stream release, and more.

Richmond Montessori School

Henrico, 804-741-0040


Richmond’s only Montessori school embraces community-minded activity, focusing on nurturing human potential and inspiring academic excellence across grade levels. Toddlers collect acorns for the Virginia Department of Forestry; Early Childhood students learn Maria Montessori’s Grace and Courtesy guidelines. Elementary students study sign language and historical peacemaking figures, and Middle Schoolers are gearing up for a field study at the YMCA Camp Silver Beach on the Eastern Shore.

Rudlin Torah Academy

Richmond, 804-353-1110


Under new leadership, Rudlin Torah Academy (RTA) employs flexible academic coordination to meet the individual support or enhancement needs of each child. Whether


Edson Forest School takes the classroom outdoors.

Most grade schoolers are lucky to spend more than a half-hour outside during the day. But at the soon-to-open Edson Forest School in Keezletown, the bulk of instruction time will be spent outdoors—regardless of weather.

Founders Janeth and Eric McKee will welcome students from kindergarten through eighth grade to the nature-based micro school, located just southeast of Harrisonburg, beginning this fall.

Common in Scandinavia and the U.K., “forest schools” are still a relatively new concept in the U.S. “We want to not only get kids active and outside, but also to have them develop agency and the capacity to ask and answer challenging questions,” says Eric McKee, a former accountant now teaching math and science in an alternative program for high school students. Janeth McKee, a Spanish teacher, will teach Spanish to all students.

The loose structure for each day: Start with yoga, devote the morning to academic fundamentals, then venture outdoors to explore, observe, and experiment. Each class will be mixed age, grouped into lower elementary and upper elementary.

“I think it’s fair to say that our school really is going to be a unique place,” McKee says, adding that studies link increased resilience, better academic performance, and wellbeing with exposure to nature and being outside.

providing individualized Hebrew language tutoring, specialized reading enhancement, or student-directed extracurricular engagement, RTA’s academic approach fosters a love of learning, empowering children to live a life of meaning, personal achievement, and connectedness to community through integration of art and kinesthetic learning in Judaics, science, and the humanities.

Sabot at Stony Point

Richmond, 804-272-1341


Sabot at Stony Point’s approach to education is framed using the Sabot Five Rs: research, representation, reflection, reach, and relationship. Using the framework of a Reggioinspired classroom—a nontraditional learning environment where there are no assigned seats—Sabot empowers the innate curiosity of every child through interactive experiences both in the classroom and throughout the school’s wooded campus, challenging students to be effective communicators, expansive thinkers, and eager problem solvers.

St. Michael’s Episcopal School

Richmond, 804-272-3514


As part of a multi-year capital campaign, St. Michael’s Episcopal School has unveiled The Perkinson Arts Center, a new 11,000-squarefoot assembly hall featuring an art room with the School’s first kiln, a gallery space, a music room, a patio, and a multi-purpose space for performing arts, weekly chapel services, and dining. A transformational gift from Dr. W. Baxter Perkinson Jr. and his wife Elaine made the Center’s completion possible.

Strelitz International Academy

Virginia Beach, 757-424-4327


A new Strategic Plan has been introduced to carry Strelitz International Academy (SIA) through 2027. The plan aims to establish SIA

in the community, promoting a social and global consciousness that encompasses a profound respect for all humanity. As part of this initiative, a new Learning Lab has been added to the Primary Years wing; the Early Years space has new classrooms and an updated Cooking Center.

Sullins Academy

Bristol, 276-669-4101


The music program at Sullins Academy instills in students a lifelong appreciation for the performing arts. Kindergarteners learn beat, rhythm, pitch, patterns, and listening. Middle schoolers take weekly music classes, practicing vocal techniques, composing, and visiting the nearby Birthplace of Country Music Museum to experience studio recording. Budding instrumentalists can enroll in Sullins’ School of Music for private lessons from experienced instructors in piano, voice, guitar, and violin.

Ware Academy

Gloucester, 804-693-3825


A wide range of cocurricular activities complement the academic experience at Ware Academy. Upper School students add electives to their core classes, with selections ranging from art, music, and drama, to chess, flight, game development, robotics, videography, and broadcasting. Sixth through eighth grade homeschool students in the Gloucester area can enroll in Ware’s Wavelength program for on-campus access to physical education, electives, and team sports.

Westminster School

Annandale, 703-256-3620


Last fall, Westminster School partnered with The Social Institute to implement a program called #WinAtSocial in grades 6–8. This initiative flips the script on the usual approach to social media, empowering students to navigate the online world confidently and positively. The curriculum uses an interactive, game-like platform that shows students how to interact with technology in ways that benefit their health, emotional well-being, sense of self, and future success.

The Williams School

Norfolk, 757-627-1383


Academics at The Williams School are rooted in community engagement. The school’s theory of Service Learning is based on American philosopher John Dewey’s belief that the interaction of knowledge and skills with experience is the key to a successful education. Students participate in local outreach and charitable opportunities throughout the year, developing their civic and cultural literacy while improving citizenship, personal growth, and self-esteem.

139 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING PRIVATE K - 8 SCHOOLS photos courtesy of edson forest school



On-time Graduation Rate Dropout Rate

- Surpassed the statewide average of 92.1%

On-time Graduation Rate

- Surpassed the statewide average of 92.1%

- Highest rate in the state when compared to school divisions that have over 500 students in the Class of 2022

- Highest rate in the state when compared to school divisions that have over 500 students in the Class of 2022

PATHWAYS child, every day, whatever it takes!

- Lower than Virginia's dropout rate of 5.19%

- Lower than Virginia's dropout rate of 5.19%

- Lowest dropout rate of the 15 school divisions in our region

- Lowest dropout rate of the 15 school divisions in our region

College, Career and Life-Ready!

• Providing all students

• Providing all students K-12 learning opportunities to build career awareness

K-12 learning opportunities to build career awareness

• Transforming the traditional high school experience

• Transforming the traditional high school experience

• Preparing all students for careers, linking academic courses to college majors and career sectors

• Preparing all students for careers, linking academic courses to college majors and career sectors

• Partnering with workforce, business and industry

• FREE one-of-a-kind online program for K-5 students living in Virginia

• Highly engaging virtual live lessons and asynchronous/ independent activities

• Partnering with workforce, business and industry

• FREE one-of-a-kind online program for K-5 students living in Virginia

• English, math, history and science learned through games, role-plays, puzzle quests, escape rooms, hands-on projects, and more

• Highly engaging virtual live lessons and asynchronous/ independent activities

• English, math, history and science learned through games, role-plays, puzzle quests, escape rooms, hands-on projects, and more

For more information visit

For more information visit | 757-727-2000

One Franklin Street, Hampton, VA 23669

Grades 5-12 • Customized, College-Prep Curriculum

Magnet and Specialty Programs Service Learning Career and Technical Education prepares students to graduate college , caree r a nd citize n-read y! Visit us online or follow us on social media. nnschools Vikki Wismer, Director 757-766-1100 ext. 3313 520 Butler Farm Road, Hampton, VA 23666 Dedicated to developing academic and leadership talent in STEM and Scientific Research for gifted high school students located in the Hampton Roads region. Named Virginia’s Top High School 9 years running The New Com munity School empowering bright minds who think & learn differently

PATHWAYS child, every day, whatever it
College, Career and Life-Ready!
4:1 Student/Teacher Ratio
Fostering Academic & Personal Strengths
Igniting the Passions of Students with Dyslexia & Related Learning Differences Now enrolling for the 2023-24 school year! 4211 Hermitage Road Richmond |
outlined version:


Program introduces Virginia middle schoolers to careers in advanced manufacturing.

Ask seventh graders at 25 schools in southern and southwest Virginia about their favorite classroom activities, and they may mention welding, precision machining, or hydroponic agriculture.

That’s due to a pilot elective called GO TEC— Great Opportunities in Technology and Engineering Careers— that debuted in 2020. The program introduces kids in regions affected by the disappearance of coal and textiles jobs to high-demand skills centered around advanced manufacturing. Lab instructors teach skills and make learning fun through hands-on activities.

In rural Pittsylvania County, Chatham Middle School students compete in virtual reality welding tournaments. Participants at Gretna Middle School near Danville use TinkerCad software to design and create custom keychains and holiday ornaments using 3D printing.

Bristol Virginia Public Schools

Bristol, 276-821-5600

Education and technology merge at Virginia High School as students are now learning through virtual reality (VR). The school system purchased VR headsets, controllers, and computers funded by the Emergency Relief Cares Act to address learning loss incurred during the pandemic. A similar lab is also now established at Virginia Middle School. Logan Childress has been appointed as the full-time emerging technology specialist and will oversee the program.

Carroll County Public Schools


CCPSD.K12.Va.US, 276-730-3200

Carroll County Public Schools received approval from the Virginia Department of Education to utilize a portion of the ESSER III funds to remodel and enlarge Carroll County High School. The expansion will include development of a new competition gym and four classrooms. The additions will also include upgrades to the HVAC system to accommodate social distancing and pandemic mitigation strategies.

Charlottesville City Schools

Charlottesville, 434-245-2400

Charlottesville City Schools are beginning construction of a modern middle school to serve the city’s 1,050 middle schoolers. With a $68.8 million budget, the renovation creates learning communities for each grade level which will build bonds, promote safety, and support students as they transition from

Newport News Public Schools

Newport News, 757-591-4500

Funding for programs is provided by a workforce development partnership between the Commonwealth and regional senior business leaders.

“Our mission is to transform the region’s economy through attracting, retaining, and growing industry by providing a highly skilled workforce that is ready to meet the needs of employers,” says GO TEC advisory board chair, Mark Gignac. He cites national reports from the Manufacturing Institute, estimating some 860,000 advanced manufacturing positions went unfilled last year alone. The number is projected to grow to two million by 2030, costing the U.S. economy about $1 trillion. —by Eric J. Wallace

elementary school. The project also includes sustainable infrastructure, new bathrooms, greater classroom daylight, fitness and art facilities, and outdoor learning spaces.

Chesapeake Public Schools

Chesapeake, 757-547-0153

In collaboration with Family and Community Engagement (FACE), Chesapeake Public Schools (CPS) are making an impact by increasing family engagement with their educational communities to improve student learning and performance. CPS held a ribbon cutting last fall at FACE Center at Crestwood Intermediate School to commemorate their increased efforts. FACE aims to share effective strategies for routines, homework, and testing, and provide participants with helpful resources available in their community.

Fredericksburg City Public Schools


FxbgSchools.US, 540-372-1130

The Super Cat Bus is the new mobile home for Fredericksburg City Public Schools outreach programs, like the Fredericksburg Alliance for Student Achievement’s annual Spring SOL kickoff event which brings food and study materials to local students. The project was originally dreamt up by Fredericksburg superintendent Marci Catlett, and created in collaboration between staff, students, and the Fredericksburg Host Lions Club, which donated over $30,000 to the project.

Hampton City Schools

Hampton Hampton.K12.Va.US, 757-727-2000

Hampton City Schools has developed the

Future Learning Experience (FLEx) program which provides families a combination of highly engaging virtual live lessons and independent activities that get children excited about education. The lessons and activities include games, role-plays, puzzle quests, escape rooms, hands-on projects, and more. The FLEx program is free to any child living in the state of Virginia.

Loudoun County Public Schools

Ashburn, 571-252-1000

As the third largest school system in Virginia, Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) is an award-winning district that supports more than 82,000 students in 98 schools. LCPS demonstrates a strong commitment to educating the whole child, empowering its diverse student population in a welcoming and inclusive learning environment with an academically rigorous curriculum, teaching financial literacy, social-emotional learning, health and wellness, and college and career readiness.

New Horizons Governor’s School for Science and Technology

Hampton, 757-766-1100

New Horizons (GSST) has partnered with Virginia Tech’s Computational Modeling and Data Analytics (CMDA) department to bring the new and young field of Data Science to high school students at GSST. The program focuses on conducting data analysis with a focus on critical thinking, communication of results, and learning the introductory programming skills required to get into the field of data science.

With 12 magnet schools and specialty programs, a division-wide STEM curriculum, over 35 Advanced Placement courses, college dual enrollment, career and technical education courses, and youth development programming in all grades, Newport News Public Schools is preparing all students to be college, career, and citizen-ready.

Radford City Schools

Radford, 540-731-3647

Radford City Schools was recognized as a “School Division of Innovation’’ by the State Board of Education for designing and implementing alternatives to traditional instructional practices, improving student learning, and promoting college and career readiness. The plan includes a waiver of elementary and middle school history and social science Standards of Learning assessments. Instead, students in grades 3-8 will demonstrate acquisition of required content through performance assessments and integrated exhibitions.

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology

Alexandria, 703-750-8300

TJ Space at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology had a busy summer, delivering their second satellite, TJ REVERB, to Nanoracks near Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The integrated satellite is waiting for its ride to the International Space Station (ISS) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The team is now working on the ground station in order to receive data from the satellite.

Waynesboro Public Schools


Waynesboro.K12.Va.US, 540-946-4600

Wenonah Elementary School introduced Genius Hour for the 2022-23 school year and beyond. This hour-long enrichment program is held once a month; students are provided the opportunity to explore different areas of interest that they would not otherwise have access to. Activities available to students include learning a new language, specialized art projects, theater, dance, and an introductory coding class.

141 APRIL 2023VIRGINIA LIVING PUBLIC SCHOOLS photo courtesy of the institute for advanced learning and research

Accotink Academy

Springfield, 703-451-8041

AGES 6 - 21

Accotink Academy is a special needs, language-based, literacy-rich therapeutic setting serving children with emotional disabilities, developmental disabilities (including receptive and expressive language disorders), and specific learning disabilities in reading, mathematics, and written expression. This unique therapeutic program combines the best teaching practices supporting current research on brain function, language acquisition, and reading, and is structured to promote skills in living successfully within his/ her environment.

Boys Home of Virginia

Covington, 540-965-7700

BOYS, AGES 6 -17

Boys Home helps young men develop mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually. By providing them with a caring, committed, and supportive environment and the tools they need to grow into responsible, contributing citizens and members of society. Minimester in March is a weeklong experience that complements Boys Home’s mission and includes classes and activities in art and leadership, basketball clinics and hiking, and field trips to places like Luray Caverns.

Charterhouse School

Edinburg and Richmond, 804-239-1080

AGES 6 - 22

The school’s Succeed College Program is for students with neurological differences, including high-functioning autism, learning disabilities, ADHD, and traumatic brain injury. The program is designed to help students earn a college degree, work in their chosen field, and live a productive, independent, and happy life. Students study for their associates degree and work with social coaches and peer groups on study skills, experiential social activities, and self-advocacy.

Chesapeake Bay Academy

Virginia Beach, 757-497-6200

GRADES 1 -12

As southeastern Virginia’s only independent school dedicated to serving students with a variety of learning differences, Chesapeake Bay Academy (CBA) students are capable young people who can find success in the classroom when they receive instruction in the way that they learn best. Among students at CBA are those with specific learning disabilities, developmental delays, speech and language impairments, autism, and other health impairments.

East End Academy

Newport News, 757-247-0039


The highly specialized programs at East End Academy are designed to meet the developmental, academic, social, and emotional needs of students who have serious emotional disabilities. Small class sizes, individualized

instruction, and highly structured behavior management programs support the school’s vision that every child deserves an education that will enable him or her to grow into a successful and self-sufficient adult.

Elk Hill

Charlottesville, Goochland, Staunton, 804-457-4866


Access to resources is the primary barrier to the four out of five children between the ages of 6-17 who struggle with mental health and do not receive help. Closing gaps and advocating for children and families are the backbone of Elk Hill’s mission, accomplished by working with families, youth, and the community. A broad continuum of care includes residential homes, private schools, and community-based services throughout its extensive statewide network.

enCircle Minnick Schools

Bristol, Harrisonburg, Roanoke, Wise, Wytheville, 540-774-7100

AGES 5 - 22

The philosophy behind enCircle is to educate students who need additional support, empower people with developmental disabilities through a variety of community-based services, support children in foster care and foster parents, and provide mental health counseling to children, youth, and adults. enCircle is also part of a network of agencies that reunites unaccompanied immigrant children with family or sponsors in the United States.

Grafton Integrated Health Network

Berryville, Leesburg, Midlothian, Winchester, 310-714-1213

AGES 6 - 22

Grafton’s Berryville campus has curated a special relationship with their neighbors at Shenandoah University, welcoming

and local levels are actually improving outcomes for students with disabilities,” says state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “This latest federal rating shows that Virginia’s special educators continue to do just that.” Here are three highlights from the report:


Public schools in the Commonwealth lead advances in special education.

Virginia schools were recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as among the nation’s best for supporting students with disabilities.

The distinction stemmed from annual compliance assessments around the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The “report card” measures robustness of support services, adaption of current best practices, student outcomes, and more.

“Results-driven accountability looks beyond compliance to see whether the efforts of special educators at the state

ȕ Inclusive Classrooms: Research has shown that an integrated approach to teaching and learning is most successful. Students with disabilities now spend as much time as possible in general classrooms, with concentrated “pull-out” instruction focusing on occupational, speech, or behavioral therapy.

ȕ Identif y and Support 2E Children: It’s now widely understood that children can display developmental challenges in one area and be well-above average in others (aka 2E Children, those with an exceptional ability and an exceptional disability). Such students thrive when they receive simultaneous support from both special and gifted education programming.

ȕ Collaboration and Self-Agency: Intensive guidance from instructors and expert professionals is designed to teach students to better understand and communicate their needs. Opportunities for collaboration increase as they age, enabling them to help set personal goals, identify solutions, and measure outcomes. The approach helps to hone valuable life skills. —by

Shenandoah graduate students every year to participate as supervised interns in musical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and student teaching. Shenandoah students also gather and assess data on Grafton’s work environment and offer recommendations for improvement, including plans for enhancing stress management and worklife balance.

Morrison School

Bristol, 276-669-2823

PRE - K-12

Morrison School is the Tri-Cities’ premier private school for students with learning differences. Through a highly structured environment and personalized approach to learning, students are better able to achieve their maximum potential. The long-term goal of the school is to provide each student with lifelong learning strategies necessary to achieve, without accommodation, his or her maximum potential personally, socially, and in the workplace.

The New Community School

Richmond, 804-266-2494

GRADES 5 -12

Student clubs, which promote self-discovery and develop leadership skills within the student body, are highly valued at The New Community School, a student-inspired and student-centered institution that encourages exploration of a personal interest alongside one’s peers. Student club time is flexible so that all students can participate—from piano lessons and soccer games to dance recitals. Clubs change every year based on the interest of the students and faculty advisors.

Pathways Day School

Scottsburg, 434-476-5131


Pathways Day School serves families with children who are not able to participate in public school programs due to individual learning differences, psychiatric issues, emotional disturbances, conduct disorders, or other maladaptive behaviors. The school provides educational opportunities in a structured, safe, stable, and caring environment for this otherwise challenged student population with a program that also teaches responsibility, self-awareness, accountability, teamwork, and self-reliance.

Youth for Tomorrow

Bristow, 703-368-7995


Youth for Tomorrow serves children and families in crisis by offering an integrated continuum of services that provide alternatives to the nation’s fragmented and overburdened child and family care systems. Services include treatment group homes for boys and girls, including services to pregnant teens and girls sexually exploited or trafficked; crisis intervention counseling; diagnostics and assessment; outpatient services; therapeutic day treatment; and intensive in-home services.


Stepping Stones to Success

Virginia’s community colleges reveal real advantages.

Community college. Junior college. Two-year college. Whatever you call them, they’re a vital component of education in the Commonwealth. The Virginia Community College System (VCCS) began its fall 2022 semester with a bang, experiencing the first overall enrollment increase since 2011. Nearly 150,000 students across the state’s 23 schools matriculated into VCCS programs, forging paths to success in academics and the trades. Read on for an impressive snapshot of VCCS’ stats and impact:

VCCS’ top graduating programs for academic students:

• General/liberal studies

• Social science

• Science and business


Students that transferred from VCCS to a four-year college (public or private) in Virginia to obtain a bachelor’s degree in fall 2021.


Virginia is home to 23 community colleges with 40 campuses.


The average age of VCCS academic/credit students.

The average age for workforce training students (those working towards skilled trade certification, like IT, welding, etc.).

210 , 000

Students enrolled during the VCCS 2021–22 school year.


In the past five years, the VCCS technical program with the most growth was health with a 83 percent increase.

88% $154

VCCS’ rate per credit hour, keeping community college tuition, mandatory education, and general fees at approximately one-third of the comparable costs of attending Virginia’s public four-year universities.

6-12 weeks

The timeline in which students can earn industry-recognized certifications through VCCS’ FastForward program. Certificate programs include those in healthcare, welding and manufacturing, logistics and transportation, and more.

The number of those transfers who enrolled in a Virginia state school.


Credits per semester that qualify a full-time student.

2 /3

The maximum amount of financial assistance the state can provide to help cover the cost of FastForward credential training. Colleges often offer additional financial assistance to make FastForward programs even more affordable. In some cases, these targeted programs are available with no out-of-pocket costs for students.

All statistics supplied by Jim Babb, Interim Assistant Vice-Chancellor for Strategic Communications, Virginia’s Community Colleges.

My Short Life as a Guide

An historic house gets an embellished backstory.

ONE OF THE ASSUMPTIONS I brought with me when I moved to the small town that I now call home was that it would take a long time to be accepted. Small towns, I believed, were like clubs into which newcomers could not waltz without first being preapproved.

I was wrong. Within minutes of my arrival people were dropping off pies, asking me to church suppers, even inviting me to be a hostess at the annual house tour. I have never aspired to be a house tour hostess, but this seemed like a particularly intimate offer, and I jumped at the opportunity.

My job was to stand inside the pleasantly furnished dining room in Don and Rosemary Jones’ large Victorian-era house and tell visitors about the genuine mahogany dining table, chairs, and sideboard given to Mrs. Jones by her mother when they got married.

“And don’t forget to mention,” said the woman in charge, “that the fireplace mantel came from the Fan District in Richmond.” I didn’t even know what the Fan District was, but I nodded and waited for the house tourists to arrive. From the dining room, the tour would lead into the kitchen, where Condé Hopkins, who taught history at the local high school, would take over.

When I told the first group about the dining room, they were polite but did not linger. Then again, there wasn’t a great deal of plot or electricity in the information I was delivering. The second group was similarly flaccid. With two hours and thirty-two minutes to go, I decided to dial up the voltage.

So with the next group, after covering the mantel and the furniture, I pointed to the head of the table. “And it was right here, on this needlepoint side chair, in 1954, that Pope Pius XII had tea.”

Instantly, I had everyone’s attention. All eyes were riveted on the table where the pontiff had rested his linen-clad elbows. This was taking the tour to a higher, albeit psychopathic level, but we were now in the presence of history.

After I had told the story several times, the Pope became as real to me as he was to everybody listening. In 1954, the year of the great blizzard (I had to hope there was one), the Pope had been en route from Florida to Washington, D.C., to meet with the President, I explained. (I omitted the President’s name; I couldn’t think that fast.) But the snow blocked the train tracks, and the Pope’s private car stopped right in front of the Jones’ house.

“So,” I said, “they brought the pontiff inside to warm up until the rails were cleared.” It was a warm and human story and everybody loved it, even though the Joneses are Episcopalians and the town has definite Methodist and Baptist underpinnings. And next door, in the kitchen, my friend decided that what was good for the dining room was good for the kitchen, too.

“It is a little-known fact,” she began, “but the kitchen was designed by Salvador Dalí, who was a houseguest in the 1940s.” (Actually, Dalí did spend a week in Ashland but, certainly, the Jones’ plain, Shaker-style kitchen was anything but surreal.) People looked at Condé with disbelief, but she was serene in her knowledge.

“Before Dalí came along,” she continued, “people built their storage cabinets on the ground. But Dalí took one look and said, ‘Let’s lift these things and hang them from the ceiling.’”

Suddenly, hanging cabinets seemed outlandish and daring. Everybody’s eyes darted to the sky and what was hidden became plain— the mark of a good teacher. I bowed my head respectfully and from that moment, Condé and I were co-conspirators. The next two and a half hours flew down the rails, like the pontiff’s car once the snow had been cleared from the tracks.

The following morning I received a call from Rosemary Jones, who had heard from several sources that there was more to her home than met the eye, her own included. “I happen to know,” she said dryly, “that Pope Pius XII never left Italy during his entire life.”

“He has now,” I answered.

Even today, when I pass the Jones’ house, I think about that wintry day in ‘54 when the Pope sought refuge inside it. That, I suppose, is the test of a good story: even the fabricator believes it. Of course, Condé and I have not been invited to host any more house tours. As for the town, the fact that it did not turn its back on us is a test of its forbearance; which, ever since, I have come to count on.

Born in San Francisco, Phyllis Theroux’s memoir, The Journal Keeper, explains why she now calls Ashland home.

144 VIRGINIA LIVING APRIL 2023 Departure
“It is a little-known fact,” she began, “but the kitchen was designed by Salvador Dalí, who was a houseguest in the 1940s.”

Situated on the banks of the Rappahannock River, St. Margaret’s School is an Episcopal boarding and day school for girls in grades 8-12 and postgraduate. For 100 years, St. Margaret’s has welcomed girls from Virginia and all over the world into its Sisterhood. The river is integrated into our one-of-a-kind STEAM curriculum that honors our school’s heritage and serves the needs of students in the 21st century. Join

Join us on the River • ST. MARGARET’S SCHOOL / TAPPAHANNOCK, VA / SMS.ORG / 804.443.3357 College and the World Beyond.
us on the River • ST. MARGARET’S SCHOOL / TAPPAHANNOCK, VA / SMS.ORG / 804.443.3357

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