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SUMMER 2019 • $5.95








“The Hunt in Belvoir Vale” by John Ferneley Sr. Photo courtesy of National Sporting Library & Museum


Middleburg Virginia

Discover our Traditions while creating your own... Shopping, Dining, Arts, Horses, and History VA Fall Races

Horses History Dining Shopping

June • June 28: Open Late Concert Series, National Sporting Library & Museum - Free

Jumping Rocks Photography

July • July 4: Fourth of July Celebration 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m., Middleburg Community Center • July 5, 12, 19, 26: Summer art workshops, National Sporting Library & Museum • July 26: Open Late Concert Series National Sporting Library & Museum - Free

August • August 2, 3, 4: Annual Sidewalk Sale • August 6: National Night Out, Middleburg Community Center • August 22-24: Mars Equestrian Great Meadow International • August 30: Open Late Concert Series at NSLM - Free

September • September 7: Middleburg Concert Series: An Evening with Gershwin, Middleburg Methodist Church • September 21: Art in the ‘Burg

Red Fox Inn

Ongoing • Farmers Market: Saturdays 8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. • National Sporting Library & Museum Exhibitions: Canter & Crawl, NSLMythology Jodi Miller Photography


The Middleburg Business & Professional Association in support of the local business & retail community.

540 . 687 . 8888

www.visitmiddleburgva.com VA Fall Races

Red Fox Inn

Frogstone, Huntly

Frogstone is soothing, quietly elegant and beautifully designed to meld with its stunning natural surroundings. The 3 BR/4.5 BA home features convenient one level living with a master suite, a Great Room, and amazing outdoor spaces. There is also a creative studio with car port, a 3 BR/2 BA Caretaker’s Cottage and several other outbuildings on the 55.8 AC lot. $1,195,000

Penny Lane, Sperryville

Penny Lane is a magical place where the Hazel River conducts a symphony as it rushes through old forest. On a high knoll above the wild Hazel, this handmade 4 BD/4BA masterpiece offers mountain views with Old Rag on the horizon. Walk to several SNP trailheads. The home and guest cottage are on 13 acres. $899,000

Three Meadows Farm, Flint Hill

Three Meadows Farm is a shimmering gem of a country property. The 3 BR/2.5 BA cedar-sided home was lovingly remodeled in 2005 with ongoing improvements since that time. The home delights with a spacious deck and epic views. The 10-acre property includes a 2-car garage with 2 BR/1BA apartment above, cabin sauna, meadows and a pond. $749,000

Whispering Pines, Sperryville

The home at Whispering Pines began its life as a three-story log cabin on the knoll above a sweet spring near Sperryville. Over the years the cabin has evolved into the 3 BR/3.5BA home it is today. The 13.4 AC are a pleasant mix of meadows and forest. Lush gardens surround the home. Walk to Main St., Sperryville. Price Upon Request

Sunrise Summit, Sperryville Gordon Clan Chateau, Huntly

Sunrise Summit delights the spirit. The 50.2 AC property has over 1700 ft of frontage on the Hughes River. The lot is a pleasant mix of open fields and old growth woods, with Old Rag on the vista. $650,000

Nestled on a secluded hilltop, Gordon Clan Lane is the essence of country luxury and comfort with 4 beds and 5 baths. The 24 acre +/- property features mature landscaping, amazing views and an indoor pool. $999,000

Sperryville Pike, Sperryville

Picture perfect circa 1920s Colonial close to Sperryville’s Main Street. This 3 BR/2 BA home on a half acre lot has been lovingly maintained over the years. Sip your morning coffee by the cozy wood stove before you walk to the Village. $445,000


37 Main Street, Sperryville, VA 22740

(540) 987-8500









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Jam es R . ON THE COVER Trompe l’oeil murals by artist Fernand Renard flank the doors of the Formal Greehouse opening on to the Allée at Bunny Mellon’s Oak Spring Garden. Excerpt from The Gardens of Bunny Mellon by Linda Jane Holden

Photograph by Roger Foley

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— Walter Nicklin, Piedmont Virginian founder



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A “ ffinities, not simply geography, create the Piedmont’s unique regional identity. We strive to give voice to this special — even magical — place in the hopes that it remains so.”











Lisa Tartaglia

Teddy Chiporous

Bridges to the Past


Music from Deep Inside

Historic Bridges in the Piedmont






Goodstone Inn

Piedmont Presidential Retreats

Alluring Haute Cuisine in a Country Setting

The Pick for Peace and Quiet BY GLENDA BOOTH




Underground Kitchen


Refined Food and New Friends with Micheal Sparks




Summer Recipe Tomato Tart BY KATILIN HILL


Stone Tower Winery Come for the Views, Stay for the Wine BY MARK LUNA


An Ancient Art Thrives Stained Glass Artist Wayne Cain BY JAMES WILKINSON



A Peek into The Gardens of Bunny Mellon Book Excerpt

Preserving a Proud Tradition The Keswick Hunt’s famous clubhouse gets another (100-year!) lease on life... BY TONY VANDERWARKER


56 A Fresh Start on Wings of Song Charlottesville Opera launches its second decade at The Paramount BY GUS EDWARDS





Beer, Cheer, and Atmosphere

Music in the Garden

The Basenji

Bald Top Brewery

Sounds of the Trumpet

Raising a Unique Breed




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Every Great Painting Deserves a P. H. Miller Studio Frame A match made in Heaven? No, made right here in Berryville


CO-FOUNDERS: Arthur W. (Nick) Arundel, Sandy Lerner

PUBLISHER Dennis Brack EDITOR Pam Kamphuis ART DIRECTOR Kara Thorpe SENIOR EDITOR Gus Edwards

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Original frame by the P. H. Miller Studio. Original drawing by Sheldon Maldoff, “Hawkman”, private collection

Everybody needs a Super Hero

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Gilding, Carving and Restoration Services offered

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1 East Main St. Berryville, Virginia 22611 info@phmiller.com www.phmillerstudio.com

SALES DIRECTOR Jim Kelly ACCOUNTING MANAGER Carina Richard Wheat CIRCULATION MANAGER Jan Clatterbuck 540-675-3338 CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Glenda Booth, Kristie Kendall, Pete Pazmino, Tony Vanderwarker, Carla Vergot, James Wilkinson BEAGLE MIX Angel The Piedmont Virginian is published quarterly by Rappahannock Media, L.L.C. 11 Culpeper St., Warrenton, VA 20186 540.349.2951, pam@piedmontpub.com Subscription inquiries: 540.675.3338 All editorial, advertising, reprint, and/or circulation correspondence should use the above address, or visit the website: www.piedmontvirginian.com The editors welcome but accept no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts and art. Reprints or bulk copies available upon request. Single-copy price, $5.95. One-year subscription rate, $19.95, Two-year rate, $33.95 © 2019 by Rappahannock Media, LLC. ISSN # 1937-5409 POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to The Piedmont Virginian, P.O. Box 59, Washington, VA 22747.

4366 Stillhouse Road, Hume • www.pcwinery.com 540-364-1203 4  PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

| SUMMER 2019

OUR CONTRIBUTORS Glenda Booth, a freelance writer and editor who lives in Northern Virginia, writes about natural resources, historic sites, interesting people, public policy, travel, and other topics for magazines, newspapers, and online publications. She grew up in Southwest Virginia and received degrees from Longwood University and the University of Virginia. Ed Felker is a graphic designer, photographer, writer, outdoorsman, and Virginia native. His awardwinning writing and photography have been featured in many fine Virginia publications. Ed can most often be found outdoors near his studio overlooking the Potomac River, usually with a camera, often with a fly rod, always with a dog. Kaitlin Hill is a Culinary Institute of America trained chef with a B.A. in History from the University of Richmond. After completing her culinary degree, she worked in New York as a professional pastry chef, recipe tester for Saveur magazine, and editorial assistant to renowned food critic Gael Greene. In 2015, she returned home to Washington, D.C. where she currently runs a catering business and works as a freelance writer and photographer. Kristie Kendall holds a Bachelor’s Degree from James Madison University in History and a Master’s Degree in Historic Preservation from the University of Maryland. She is a native Virginian and works for the Piedmont Environmental Council where she oversees historic preservation efforts.

Camden Littleton is a professional photographer and digital marketing consultant who lives in Charlottesville. When not photographing and creating content, she hangs

out with her poodle, Grace, and explores menus, music, and mountains with friends and family throughout the Piedmont. She grew up in Middleburg and graduated with a BS in Communications from Appalachian State University.


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FABRICS UNLIMITED Your Locally Owned Decorating Source The Area‛s Family Owned Since 1971


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Knowledgeable and Helpful Staff Unique Sample Service (Try at home before you buy) Decorative Trims Custom Window Treatments Custom Furniture Custom Bedding & Pillows Drapery and Upholstery Supplies Rt. 29 North ~ 1 mile past Airport Road 3912 Seminole Trail Charlottesville 434-973-5641 ~ Monday-Saturday 9:30-5:30 www.fabricsunlimitedva.com

Mark Luna is a Portfolio Rep for Roanoke Valley Wine Company. He has a Level 3 Advanced Certification from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and is a member of the prestigious Wine Scholar Guild, where he’s finishing his Italian Wine Scholar postnominal accreditation. Through and beyond his work for RVWC, Mark writes, teaches, and guest-speaks about wine in a variety of both industry and privately held events. He lives in Nokesville with his family. For events, Mark can be reached at info@winespique. com. Tony Vanderwarker attended Andover and Yale, served in the Peace Corps, Marine Corps, and Army. A recovering adman, he has authored four books, including his latest, I’m Not From the South But I Got Down Here As Fast As I Could. He lives in Keswick with his wife, four dogs, two horses, and a Sicilian donkey named Jethro. Tonyvanderwarker.com Carla Hogue Vergot recently finished her first book, Lily Barlow, the Mystery of Jane Dough, a mystery romance set in Marshall. She’s working on the second in the series. For fun, she and her husband Ricky work in the garden, play fetch with the dogs, and take jeeps off-road. Ricky points out that Carla’s planting skills far exceed her wheeling skills. To date, no one disagrees with that.

Delaplane, Va. • 540.364.6402 • barreloak.com


| SUMMER 2019

James Wilkinson is a writer and environmental consultant based in Charlottesville. Originally from England, he is an avid gardener and musician and a fervent Liverpool F.C. supporter. His recent wanderings in Virginia have included Staunton’s Frontier Culture Museum, Richmond’s Belle Isle and Front Royal’s Shenandoah River Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr. State Park.

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People of the Piedmont is an ongoing portrait series spotlighting compelling individuals of the Piedmont. Captured in genuine moments through the lens and words of Ed Felker, the subjects are portrayed immersed in the pursuits that get them up in the morning and drive them all day. 8  PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

| SUMMER 2019

The sport of foxhunting and the lifestyle surrounding it are undeniably important facets of Virginia culture. There is a rich history of foxhunting here, and the sport remains active with foxhunting clubs, called hunts, located throughout the state. Each hunt has, among other things, a pack of hounds, a huntsman who is responsible for directing them, and whippers-In (or “whips”) who assist the huntsman. Professional whipper-In Lisa Tartaglia is the first assistant to the huntsman of the Middleburg Hunt, and foxhunting is literally in her blood. Her dad is a retired huntsman, her mom worked with him for more than 20 years, and Lisa has hunted her entire life. In foxhunting, hounds are counted in couples. One couple is, perhaps obviously, two hounds. The Middleburg Hunt has 35 couple of hounds, and Lisa takes care of them. At home, that means feeding, walking, and cleaning up after 70 hounds. Out hunting, Lisa’s job is to keep the hounds safe. This can mean seeing them across a road, or finding any hounds that go astray and bringing them back to the pack. One can imagine how important the bond between Lisa and the hounds has to be. They must trust and respond to her. Foxhunting, particularly in a densely populated and well-traveled area like Middleburg, can be a bit precarious at times. “The toughest times for me are when hounds are on or near a road and you’re riding in traffic and making sure hounds stay safe,” she said. And as the hounds must trust Lisa during these times, Lisa and her horse must trust each other absolutely. Lisa depends on her horse to keep her safe while navigating road crossings in traffic, slippery trails, creek crossings, woodchuck holes, jumps, wire, low branches, and more, all while her attention is on the hounds. “I’m really focused on the hounds and my huntsman when I’m out hunting, so I rely on my horses to watch where we’re going,” she says. “That connection is really special.” What she loves most of all, though, is watching the hounds work. “Each hound has its own special thing that it brings to the pack as a whole and I love watching that,” she says. “Some people hunt to ride, I ride to hunt.”

540.825.4416 | culpeperdowntown.com/farmers-market.html facebook.com/CulpeperFarmersMarket

Goodstone Inn & Restaurant offers Alluring Haute Cuisine in a Country Setting

Above: Classic Sole Meuniere is updated with savory morels, white asparagus and silky beurre noisette sauce served alongside. Right: Chef Van Haute brings his refined culinary technique and wealth of experience to the Goodstone Inn kitchen.

Middleburg inn boasts a touch of the Old World STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAITLIN HILL


ust minutes from Middleburg’s main street, the sprawling 265-acre property of Goodstone Inn & Restaurant is an idyllic country escape with a fine-tuned balance of natural splendor and purposeful hospitality. These qualities are echoed in the award-winning inn’s kitchen, where Chef Jan Van Haute and his team offer guests an elevated dining experience driven by homegrown produce, impeccable service and the team’s shared ambitions. A native of Belgium, Van Haute developed a talent for growing his own ingredients and creating upscale cuisine from a childhood spent in the garden and a wealth of experience cooking in high-end kitchens. From a young age, Van Haute would help his grandmother prep vegetables as a way to escape his four sisters. He laughs, “Sometimes I needed to be away from the girls. My grandmother was helping my uncle a lot with cleaning the vegetables; he would bring in cases of beans to be topped or carrots to be peeled, and I think that PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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FOOD was the start of my interest.” This early enthusiasm for cultivating ingredients turned Van Haute’s attention to culinary school. He says, “I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I was only 14.” He would spend five years at Spermalie in Bruges training to be a chef with a specialization year in catering. Van Haute’s culinary capabilities didn’t go unnoticed. Before he could finish school, he was recruited to cook for the Belgian royal family as the queen’s private sous chef. From there, Van Haute’s culinary journey would take him around the world—to Vue de Monde in Melbourne, Australia; to RyuGin, a Michelin three-star eatery in Tokyo; back to Belgium to work at Michelin three-star Hof van Cleve; and finally, to Washington, D.C., as the Belgian ambassador’s personal chef. Now at Goodstone, Van Haute’s agrarian interests and culinary prowess are the backbone of unforgettable dining experiences for the establishment’s two restaurants—the main dining room, The Conservatory at Goodstone, and the newly opened


| SUMMER 2019

Top: Refreshing Salade de la Jardinière features vegetables grown in the property’s greenhouses. Center: Fois Gras with cookie butter and huckleberry is a stroke of genius spotlighting Chef Van Haute’s culinary prowess. Below: The Conservatory is elegantly decorated and bathed in natural light for lunch and cozy and candlelit by dinner.

and more casual venue, The Bistro at Goodstone Inn. Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and Thursday through Tuesday for dinner, The Bistro’s atmosphere is decidedly laid back, but the food is undeniably elegant. Van Haute’s sophisticated yet playful dishes highlight his Michelin-star skill and ingredients from his evergrowing garden. Foie gras with speculoos cookie butter, huckleberry and carrot tops from the property’s greenhouse is a clear expression of Van Haute’s culinary mastery and unbridled creativity. Elements


of salt, fat, sweet and acid blend seamlessly for a luscious first plate. For something on the lighter side, Salade de la Jardinière is teeming with just-picked vegetables from the produce patch. Thinly sliced red and gold beats lend gorgeous color as well as flavor, and sunflower seeds add a satisfying crunch. Delicately dressed in tarragon vinaigrette, this salad makes for a quick and tasty lunch.

The bistro’s list of entrèes is inspired, too. Chef ’s version of Sole Meuniere, is decadent but unfussy. The fresh fish is lightly sautéed and paired with tender white asparagus, savory morels and fluffy pommes tournées. Rich and nutty buerre noisette is served alongside to dab or douse your bite of fish or vegetable – before licking the dish clean. Van Haute’s focus on excellence in the kitchen is inspiration for Goodstone’s obliging front of the house staff, for whom a guest’s enjoyment is more than a responsibility, it’s a mission. General Manager Edward Villafane says of Van Haute, “He is so passionate, and it comes directly from his heart. And it is reflected in his cuisine and in everything that he does. It’s just so calculated in such a beautiful way.” “What happens in the kitchen is where the magic comes from, and then the front of the house has to add to the theater. The two hands work so closely together that whatever is happening in

the kitchen transcends right into the dining room. Everyone on both ends is so engaged and so invested in what we are trying to do.” For Villafane, an essential to that theater is making guests feel at home. “We genuinely care. We genuinely value [our guests] in every single way and we want them to feel like they are walking into our home.” He continues, “We want to create individual, personal experiences. We don’t do cookie cutter. We take the time to get to know who our guests are, why they are here, their history, their story.” As for Van Haute’s story, it’s safe to say he is just getting started as he sets his sights on the inn’s future. He isn’t shy to admit, “I get bored when I achieve something. There always has to be the next goal and the next goal. I like to push…I want to build the best team and make the best food. And then I want to go for the best restaurant in America and then in the world.”


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FOOD Chef “Taz” Bowles’s elegantly dressed clam.

Underground Kitchen Refined food and new friends at Micheal Sparks’ C’ville pop-up dinner STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAITLIN HILL


t’s not just about the food or the wine. It’s about you guys coming together and finding that we as humans should love each other. And listen, if you don’t find a new friend tonight, you’ll get your money back.” Charismatic host and Underground Kitchen founder Micheal Sparks promised more than refined food and thoughtful wine pairings as he addressed his guests in a candlelit dining room on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. And he and his team certainly delivered. Underground Kitchen’s April 27 event at Reserve, part of their UGK: Retrospective Tour, was a night of culinary storytelling and communal fun, as diners were treated to Sparks’ expert hospitality, Chef Natascha “Taz” Bowles’ multicultural recipes and an undeniable sense of camaraderie. Established in 2014, Richmondbased Underground Kitchen was born when Sparks and his husband wanted to build relationships in a 14  PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

new community. Sparks laughed, “Underground Kitchen started in my backyard, and like with most good inventions, I was really drunk.” He continues, “We had just moved from New York and we didn’t know what to expect from Richmond. So we just drank a lot and started inviting the neighbors over for dinner.” From backyard to big business, Underground Kitchen expanded into a network of 3,000 chefs offering secretive pop-up

| SUMMER 2019

The Reconstructed Mezze: Blending classic and inventive

dining events in 28 cities nationally, working with a multitude of corporations and, recently, catching the eye of The James Beard Foundation, where UGK will hold a two-day event. Even with national recognition, Underground Kitchen is still driven by the same purpose that inspired Sparks in 2014— connecting people. In Sparks’ vision of hospitality, each guest is treated as if they were eating in the family home. Sparks remarks, “It’s not about a restaurant experience, it’s about an experience, period. It’s that you feel that you’re in someone’s house and you’re part of something more. It’s not just a regular dinner party.” That “something more” is Sparks’ belief that shared meals are the great unifiers of the human experience. He explains, “We are challenging the divide. We understand that Democrat, Republican, black or white, gay or straight, it doesn’t matter who you are. We all find common ground


FOOD through food and wine.” For Sparks, this ideology is especially relevant in Charlottesville, as the two-year anniversary of the deadly Unite the Right rally looms. At UGK, inclusivity is also practiced by giving opportunities to chefs who, though they have the talent, might not otherwise have the exposure. Sparks notes, “It’s about empowering people who feel that they have no power. We want to give women, minorities, and people of color an opportunity: to teach them not just to be line cooks, but to be business owners.” Appropriately, the evening’s spotlight was on Chef Taz, her inspiring journey from homelessness to James Beard House and her distinctive dishes with multi-ethnic influences. Taz, a three-year veteran of the organization, sees cooking with UGK as a platform to tell her story. “I am excited about having the opportunity, as a girl who grew up homeless, poor, and lived on ramen noodles most of my life, to stand in front of people who appreciate food and give them the best quality product. That’s my story, and I get to put my life on a plate. And somebody gets to listen.” Her menu for the UGK event at Reserve, reflected her narrative and her heritage. Taz reveals, “This menu for this event is in honor of my mom. She’s German-Jewish, so this is my take on German-Jewish food. And since there is no staple in Israel, I’ve put my spin on it with those German-Jewish roots, as well as being Caribbean Black.” Her recipes also use elements of African, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisine for a mix of flavors and textures that showcase her limitless creativity. The first course, Sabich Crostini, her version of an Iraqi-Jewish dish popular in Tel Aviv, included the traditional ingredients: soft roasted eggplant, creamy hummus, tangy pickled peppers and hard-boiled egg with an added North African twist from spicy harissa-coated cucumbers. The zesty harissa and crisp cucumbers contrasted wonderfully with the creamy hummus and savory eggplant for a strong start to the evening. Sparks paired the initial bite with an incredibly drinkable and very fun Jacqueline Leonne Rose. The Reconstructed Mezze that followed blended classic and inventive, too. The sweet potato and lentil hummus was smooth as


Natascha “Taz” Bowles

Natascha “Taz” Bowles is a Richmond-based chef with a culinary degree and Hospitality Entrepreneurship Associate’s degree from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. Taz received additional schooling at The Culinary Institute of America, completing professional development classes. And she expanded her knowledge of global cuisine by observing locals in Spain, Germany, and France, during extended stays in Europe. She has worked with some of Richmond’s most well-known chefs including, Chef Walter Bundy, as an intern at Lemaire, and Chef Chris McCandless. Bowles joined the Underground Kitchen team in 2016. Her work ethic and creativity are inspired by her mother, a German-Jewish immigrant, single-mom, and military veteran. “It was amazing to have a woman like that show me the way and teach me that I can make it through anything.” From childhood homelessness to an invitation to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York, this young chef has a bright future with plans to open her own restaurant and, one day, earn a Michelin star. silk when run through with a challah bread crisp and her beet version of the dip was as vibrant in color as in flavor. A bite-sized falafel acted as a nice vehicle for swabbing up last bits of hummus. A hit of salt from black olives balanced the sweet date disc nestled in the hummus. Washed down with a 2015 Eden Ridge Chardonnay, this mezze was memorable. An elegantly dressed clam hinted at Taz’s German heritage, with German beer mi-

gnonette. The luscious shellfish was expertly steamed and the fresh ocean flavor boosted by a sprinkling of tobiko. This one-slurp course meshed bold flavors with delicate preparation, allowing the quality of the ingredients to shine. For the main event of the evening, Taz served wonderfully tender lamb shank with couscous, carrots, mushrooms, and a thinly sliced fennel and artichoke hash. The licorice bite of the fennel cut the richness of the rare lamb and savory mushrooms nicely. Doused in lamb jus, the favorite Moroccan combination of lamb and couscous played like a stickto-your-ribs stew, smartly paired with a fruity 2017 Cruz Alta Reserve from Argentina. Dessert was perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, literally, as it remained a secret from the guests — and even Sparks — until served. Boldly forgoing classics like chocolate or vanilla, Chef Taz instead served a miniature cast-iron of creamy cheese dressed in honey and pistachios and her daring rendering of baklava infused with garlic. The finale was an obvious expression of Taz’s culinary prowess and fearlessness as she creates new flavors. “It’s taking different aspects of different cultures because I’m so mixed, I have the audacity to mix other cultures and other techniques,” she says. “My brain is scientific, so I can see something, break it down into its simplest components and rebuild it…What can I take out that won’t destroy what this dish really is, then how can I make this new element redefine the plate.” Her method and her technique allow her to stay true to her heritage while constantly reinventing her cuisine, an enviable quality that results in extraordinary dining experiences. UGK is everything right with the culinary industry and so much more than a night out. Beyond exquisite food and fine wine, of which there is plenty, Sparks and Taz add meaning to the meals they serve by using their events as opportunities to facilitate new friendships and pursue purposeful connections. Perhaps Sparks puts it best by drawing a comparison to the dinner table of his childhood: “When we got together as a family at dinner, it was important for us to talk, love, fight, argue, care, whatever. It was about developing us as humans. You experienced that tonight, and that’s what it’s all about.”


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SUMMER TOMATO TART RECIPE AND PHOTO BY KAITLIN HILL As one of Central Virginia’s most bountiful – and arguably best – warm-weather crops, the cherry tomato may as well be the summer season’s official piece of produce. Loved for their cute size, multitude of colors, and sweet yet tangy flavor, cherry tomatoes are also prized for their culinary versatility. However, whether freshly sliced in summer salads for a pop of color or punctuating patterns of proteins and veggies for grilled kebabs, the cherry tomato is too often employed as an edible accessory rather than a dinner party cynosure. As pretty as it is tasty, my Summer Tomato Tart gives the cherry tomato the spotlight it deserves. Tossed in Herbes de Provence and oven-roasted, the tiny tomatoes offer big flavor with few distractions in this simple tart. Crumbles of creamy goat cheese and a sprinkling of fresh basil on top lend a bright zippiness, contrasting nicely with the buttery crust and savory tomato filling. Use a tart pan with a fluted edge for added, yet effortless, elegance and make this delicious and easy dish the centerpiece of your next summer gathering. 16  PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |


| TIME: 2 hours, including chilling and baking


2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 2 sticks cold butter, diced 5-6 tablespoons ice cold water


2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved 1 tablespoon salt 2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence 1 tablespoon olive oil 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled 1 bunch basil, thinly sliced

starts to come together. 3. Turn the dough out onto a 1. To make the savory pastry floured surface and pat into crust, whisk the flour, salt, a disc. Wrap in plastic and and pepper together in a place in the fridge to chill large bowl. Add the cubed for an hour. butter and rub it into the 4. After an hour, return the flour mixture using your chilled dough to a wellhands. To ensure your floured surface and roll out pastry is extra flaky, you into a circle that is a quarter want to flatten the flourof an inch in thickness and coated butter between at least an inch larger than your fingers. your tart pan on all sides. 2. When all the butter is broken 5. Gently press the dough into the tart pan, remove up and incorporated into any excess dough and prick the flour, add the water a it all over the bottom with few tablespoons at a time a fork. Keep the tart shell in while mixing by hand. Keep the fridge while you make adding water until the pastry DIRECTIONS:

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the filling and preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the halved tomatoes, salt, olive oil and Herbes de Provence in a large bowl and toss to combine. Fill the unbaked tart shell with the tomatoes and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake until the crust is lightly browned and the tomatoes are bubbling. This will take about an hour. Cool the tart completely before topping with crumbled goat cheese and thinly sliced basil. Serve at room temperature.


Come for the views, stay for the wine Stone Tower Winery BY MARK LUNA PHOTOS BY DOUGLAS GRAHAM

Stone Tower Winery near Leesburg with spectacular tasting room, views of their vineyards and also of Hogback Mountain and Western Loudoun.


ine is an experience. It is places, people, and time, both spent and invested, in all aspects. And if there was ever a state in the union filled with beautiful wineries to visit, marvelous people to meet, and time to take it all in, it’s Virginia. For me, I have every hope and intention of visiting as many Virginia wineries as I can this year, as last year I wrote about the great wine heritage of our Commonwealth, and how 2019 is the year we celebrate its 400th anniversary of winemaking history. Well, there’s no time like the present and no wine like the one in my glass. PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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Very recently, I had the wonderful fortune to visit one of the most beautiful wineries I’ve seen, Stone Tower Winery, in Leesburg. My host was Jeremy Zimmerman, director of hospitality and sales, and he afforded me the opportunity not only to absorb the incredible landscapes, but also to taste through an array of their outstanding wines. If you haven’t been, you need to go. Stone Tower Winery is a stunning 300-acre property located on Hogback Mountain in Loudoun County. The locals named the mountain Hogback after its silhouetted resemblance to the spiny ridge of a wild boar. The winery itself derives its name from two turrets situated on an ancient fortress in Belgium, where the father of co-owner Mike Huber (with wife Kristi) worked at a furniture factory a young man. To this day, the Huber family is still in the furniture business, as they own the renowned Virginia and D.C. operation, Belfort Furniture, whose name was also inspired by the Belgian fort. As for the Stone Tower land, Mike and Kristi purchased the 300 acres in the early 2000s, from an original 1,100 acres owned by Mike’s parents. What it would become was beyond their wildest dreams. As Zimmerman says, “There was a strong desire and effort from Mike and Kristi to preserve the agricultural integrity of the land, and the idea of grapevines seemed to be to the perfect way to


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do that.” Turns out, they were right. To get things started, they brought in legendary Virginia ampelographer Lucy Morton, whose consulting credits included Black Ankle Vineyards, Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard in Maryland, and Boxwood Winery in Northern Virginia, as well as numerous other consulting credits across the state. After an extended period of both property and soil analysis, Morton declared the land suitable for growing wine grapes, and even designated various vineyard sites for certain varietals. In 2009, the Huber’s planted an initial 22 acres of vines, and Stone Tower Winery was born. Over the next few years, and to aid in the growth of Stone Tower, additional wine experts would be consulted, including Jim Law, of Linden Winery fame, and Luca Paschina, of Barboursville Vineyards. Early plantings of viognier and chardonnay would be followed by the Bordeaux red varietals of cabernet sauvignon and franc, merlot and petit verdot, each given their own sites. These plantings would prove to be the shining stars of Stone Tower. Their first release was in 2013 under the label Wild Boar. That label still exists, but has transcended into a group of wines whose fruit is now sourced from Loudoun County and beyond, including the West Coast. What has become the true signature of the Stone Tower wine lineup is their Estate collection, wines that are solely grown, produced and bottled on the property. The winemaking team is headed by Benoit Pineau, whose impressive resume includes head winemaker stints at Pollack Vineyards, in Greenwood, Va., and First Colony Winery, in Madison, as well as Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards. Having studied enology and viticulture in Bordeaux, Pineau brings international experience to the wine table; and with Bordeaux being the inspiration for so many of the Stone Tower red wines, this influence runs deep. Other team members on the Stone Tower grounds include enologist Preston

Thomas and vineyard manager Daniel Mumbauer, whose skills and dedication are immeasurably important to the quality of the wines and their success. To that point, recent visits from international wine luminaries, such as author and educator Steve Spurrier and Master Sommelier Fred Dame, have only confirmed that the wines being produced are indeed exceptional and signatory. And then there are the views. It’s hard to truly describe just how beautiful the Stone Tower property is, without selling it short in some way. Sitting on a hilltop, there are two tasting “rooms,” although neither hardly qualifies as just a room. The Harvest Barn, the property’s original tasting room, is now a more casual, petand family-friendly building that is inviting for picnics and outings. The primary tasting room is a whole other complex and experience. An “over 21” facility, it has a grand wine-tasting bar, numerous gathering rooms on multiple floors, offering all sorts of spaces and function. The main grand room itself opens up to two large patios, overlooking one beautiful vineyard after another. As Zimmerman asks emphatically, “How can you not want to see this every day?” In addition to the fabulous spaces, there are also two wine clubs for guests to join, allowing various perks and a more intimate connection to both the wines and winery. By the numbers, Stone Tower now has 85 acres under vine, with the goal of eventually reaching 100 acres planted. All the main Bordeaux varietals are represented, as well as a Rhone grape site or two, and there’s even a small plot of Nebbiolo already in the ground. Total production caps out at approximately 15,000 cases, with roughly a 50/50 split of the Estate labeled wines and the Wild Boar label. At its heart and soul, though, Stone Tower is a family-owned and operated winery, and its continual purpose is twofold: to provide impeccable hospitality and world class Virginia wines; and it’s my view that both ambitions are well met.


The impressive facilities for making and enjoying wine at Stone Tower. Below: Jeremy Zimmerman, director of hospitality and sales, in the vineyard.

So, the wines… As mentioned, Stone Tower’s wine emulation, at least with the red wine grapes, is Bordeaux, one of France’s (and the world’s) most recognized redwine appellations; but, Bordeaux is also equally revered for its white wine grape, sauvignon blanc. And with the pursuit of that tradition in the forefront, the Stone Tower Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017 is a work of art. Considered by many on the Stone Tower team to be the most exciting site and wine on the property, the Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017 is a vibrant, electrifying wine. Light gold in color, it is aromatic of citrus fruit, flowers and wet stone; on the palate, it both cuts and soothes. Technically speaking, and unlike many sauvignon blancs, this particular wine is fermented and aged for seven months in both new and neutral French oak barrels (70%), as well as concrete vats (30%). It also has a splash of semillon. And, it’s worth noting that in Bordeaux, sauvignon blanc is almost always blended with semillon (and occasionally muscadelle) to overcome the aroma of

pyrazine, an important component of many fruits and vegetables whose characteristics include heavy hints of fresh bell pepper, asparagus, peas, and beetroot. These profiles, in one combination or another, can be found in various sauvignon blanc wines from around the glob, just usually not in Bordeaux and certainly not at Stone Tower. And as with all their estate wines, this sauvignon blanc is grown, produced, and bottled on the property. Next up is the Estate Chardonnay Library 2016, from a special collection of limited quantity, “past vintages” wines. This is an excellent wine, produced in the spirit of the great central Burgundy (blanc) region, Cote Chalonnaise. Grown on a tiny 3.3 acre block, it’s also barrel fermented and French oak aged. There’s no malolactic fermentation used here, meaning the acidity remains well intact, as with all great chardonnays (in my opinion), but there is definitely a roundness and textural integrity to the wine that gives it a beautiful mouthfeel of melon and honey tones. The Estate Chardonnay Library 2016 is elegant and

expressive, and will pair beautifully with lobster risotto. Rounding out the triumvirate of estate white wines is the Estate Viognier 2017. Now, it’s well known that viognier has enjoyed an elevated stature in Virginia, as it is successfully bottled by many different producers throughout the state. And while the grape has earned numerous, well-deserved accolades statewide, it’s also a little ubiquitous, and can suffer from varietal inconsistencies. For my tastes, I’ve always enjoyed viognier that lends itself to the Rhone inspirations of stone fruit aromas, honeysuckle and gingerbread. These wines are round, rich, fresh and flavorful, with good acidity to boot. Unfortunately, warm weather viognier can be tricky, and susceptible to the lateripening shortcomings of being oily, flabby, and basically uninteresting. All that said, I think Stone Tower Estate Viognier 2017 gets it right. Like the previous wine mentioned, this viognier is also barrel fermented, sees no malolactic fermentation and is aged in French oak barrels for 10 months. Aromas of jasmine and white PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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WINE flowers are explosive and the mouthfeel is equally memorable. There’s great acidity, as wished for, and the small percentage presence of roussanne, another Rhone white wine grape, contributes richness and a little color. This is an excellent wine and a great complement to its white wine siblings. And now to the big boy red wines we go, where Stone Tower really makes its wine presence known… Across the stunning 300-acre estate, Stone Tower is very fortunate to have all the key elements necessary to producing exceptional Bordeaux varietal red wines; elevation, sun and wind exposure, and high clay content, which allows the vines to struggle their way to great concentration. There’s a beautiful ridge line on the property running east/ northwest to west/southwest that sets up the plantings of cabernet franc and sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot, all grown mostly on south-facing slopes. Added to the vine concentration aspects is the fact that Stone Tower does not irrigate

its vines with any mechanized systems. On the younger vines, in occasional extreme warm condition, hand – watering is sometimes used, but minimally so. It’s with this backdrop that I was fortunate to taste two of their outstanding red wines. Paying respects to the Bordeaux’s right bank is the Estate Wind Swept Hill 2016 Red. A resplendent wine, this cabernet franc driven bottling is full of ripe red fruits, cedar, and dried blueberry aromatics, as well as hints of red currant, lilac, and forest floor. This full-bodied red has a wonderful herbaceous quality to it, and the supporting merlot rounds it out with a lovely mid-palate softness. There is structure as well, thanks to small, yet worthy amounts of cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. The wine is aged for 20 months in French oak barrels, 50% of them new, making for silky tannins and a well sustained finish. Its age-worthiness is a tribute to an earlier time in the land’s history, as the Wind Swept Hill was the name of the original family farm. Not to be outdone is the fabulous

bottle Hogback Mountain 2016, Stone Tower’s signature wine. An absolute showcase for the property’s cabernet sauvignon, 69% in fact, this left-bank inspired wine is powerful, majestic, and refined. It’s complemented with merlot, cabernet franc, and petit verdot, giving it silk, grace, and depth. Hogback Mountain’s inaugural vintage was the 2013 bottling and it earned a rightful place in the governor’s case for that year’s Governor’s Cup, Virginia’s pre-eminent wine competition. Like the Wind Swept Hill bottle, Hogback Mountain 2016 is aged 20 months in barrels and can be rested for a solid decade, if you choose to wait that long to enjoy it, you might want to think about that. So yes, wine is truly an experience; and as the slogan suggests, the wines and views at Stone Tower Winery both lead and follow each other, offering a memorable encounter that every wine lover and scenery enthusiast will want to enjoy time and again. Until next time, Happy Vino’ing!



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The Beer, the Cheer, and the Atmosphere make Bald Top Brewing “Drink in the moment!” says Co-owner Dave Fulton BY ED FELKER

Above: Rural Madison County seems made for a place like Bald Top.


Far Left: With about a dozen beers on tap, Bald Top has something for all tastes. Left: Musicians from across the region and beyond, like Virginia’s own SaraJane McDonald, love to play here.


here’s no telling how many ideas have been hatched while visiting some of rural Virginia’s wineries. Beautiful views and great wine, after all, can lead to fruitful conversation. This is how it started for Dave Fulton and Julie Haines. “Julie and I used to live in northern Virginia, and as our kids started leaving home, we found ourselves spending an increasingly greater time visiting wineries on weekend day trips,” Dave says. “Which led to this crazy idea of finding a weekend home, possibly a historic one, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge.” They searched for months before finding Woodbourne Estate, a beautiful, historic home on 53 acres in the gorgeous, bucolic hills of Madison County. They decided that when their youngest daughter graduated from high school, they would relocate to Woodbourne, continue their professional jobs by teleworking, and, perhaps, look to becoming a contract grape grower or even open a tasting room featuring regional wines. But the grape growing and tasting room ideas would take years to implement, and the soil, it turns out, was not ideal for grapes. When looking for someone to help maintain the farm as well as their award-winning luxury B&B, Walden Hall, many of Dave and Julie’s new friends referred people to them. Among the referrals was Mike Nicholson, a hardworking GermanPIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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BEER Top: A year-round brewery with comfort and great atmosphere inside and out. Below Left: Well behaved dogs like Huck are always welcome at familyand dog-friendly Bald Top. Below Right: Volunteers eagerly signed up for the hop planting party, making quick work of the task.


| SUMMER 2019


American who showed up for his interview with four large bottles of home-brewed beer. “Needless to say, the interview went great,” Dave says. Julie adds, “Dave, a passionate home brewer himself, and Mike could create something special.” And the idea to move toward a craft farm brewery was born. They set Mike up brewing in a garage at their B&B where he refined his craft and Dave rekindled his interest in brewing. Guests and friends became big fans of their home brews, and Bald Top Brewing Company, named for nearby Bald Top Mountain, began to feel like a reality. When they opened the doors of their one-barrel system, 1,800-square-foot tap barn on Dec. 30, 2016, Bald Top became Virginia’s first historic farm brewery. Demand was unexpectedly enthusiastic, to say the least, and the brewery’s first patrons loved the beer. In less than two days they sold out of every one of their offerings. It took them three weeks to recover, reopening for good on Jan. 20, 2017. Bald Top currently produces an astounding volume of a wide assortment of beers on a very small system. They maintain about 12 beers on tap at the brewery, and also distribute locally to a handful of restaurants that purchase kegs from a locally-based distributor. All of this makes for a busy brewmaster to keep up with that demand. “Mike is our artist,” Dave says of his industrious brewmaster. “He’s a natural at his craft and works extremely hard to produce quality beers that appeal to our customers.” You can’t come up the driveway to the hillside brewery without seeing a prominent feature affectionately called “Hop Henge,” a series of 25-foot-tall telephone poles holding up more than a half acre – 500 plants – of homegrown hops. “While 500 hops plants may sound like a lot, it hardly meets our brewing needs,” Dave says. Bald Top brews with more than 50 varieties of hops, including those they grow on site. Each has unique attributes that contribute to the aromas and flavors of the beer.

“We have brewed several beers not only with our hops but also with hops from three Madison-based hops growers who, like us, are exploring the economic viability of hops as a cash crop,” Dave says. “These collaboration brews have been fun and exciting to brew and share with our customers.” Bald Top is, first and foremost, a family business. Dave and Julie, with some of their grown kids and their significant others, have worked hard to create a successful venture with a true community-based atmosphere. Mention Bald Top to Tracey Gardner, Madison County’s Economic Development and Tourism Director, and her face lights up. “Bald Top has become a gathering place among residents,” she says. “It is a place where you can go and relax, let your kids, grandkids, and dogs run, get a breath of fresh air, fly a kite when it's warm, or cozy up to a bonfire when it is cold.” Gardner loves the sense of community at Bald Top, but also appreciates what it means for those who live beyond Madison County. “It is quite simply an escape for visitors to the county,” she says. “An escape from congestion and crowds and a way to reconnect with nature, but with an awesome beer in hand.” Douglas Dear, owner of nearby Rose River Farm, loves having a great spot nearby to enjoy good beer in a beautiful setting. But with his private trout stream and luxury yurt rentals that lure guests from across the region, Bald Top is an outstanding addition to the area for his guests. “It’s great for those having a weekend getaway at the yurts to have such a unique farm brewery experience as part of their trip.” For those in the area, Bald Top’s membership program has proven to be a way to support a great local busi-

BEER ness while reaping some fun benefits. The program was put into place almost three months before the brewery opened in an effort to raise much needed funds for infrastructure needs. From just social media and word of mouth, 60 members signed up before they even opened. The list now tops 300, and members enjoy discounted purchases, shirts, hats, growlers and crowlers. “We put on four events each year for members only at which we provide early release tastings of three or four beers,” Dave says. “Each event has celebrated holidays and seasonal changes (solstices, etc.), complete with food trucks, live music, bonfires, and general comradery.” But they always remain open to the public during special events, vowing to never close for any type of private party during their four-day business week (Thursday through Sunday). Music has been an important aspect of the Bald Top experience since day one. Before the brewery even opened, Dave and Julie lined up area musicians and bands to play on some weekend nights.

That grew to be such a popular regular offering for weekends, they decided to build a covered open-air deck where musicians could play to customers sitting along the hillside. And when there is no live music, people can use the deck to sit and enjoy their food and beer out of the sun or rain. “This region is flush with great musical talent and we love to showcase them,” Dave says. “We have also hosted open mic nights and several of our ‘regular’ musicians started at an open mic offering.” Musicians from all over central Virginia play at Bald Top, as well as groups that tour through the area from Charlottesville, Richmond, Nashville, Atlanta, and beyond. Virginia native SaraJane McDonald, who appeared on American Idol earlier this year, loves the atmosphere at Bald Top. “There's a really welcoming feeling there, and I love how it overlooks farmland and was open for kids and pets,” she says. “When my band and I played there we had a crazy fun night, we can’t wait to

come back.” That kid- and pet-friendliness is another aspect of the community atmosphere that Bald Top nurtures. “We are honored to host families and friends for an afternoon or evening visit, or all sorts of events from dog birthdays to human weddings and more,” Julie says. “It’s a place to make Memories.” The appeal of Bald Top is not just the beer, the music, the food trucks, or the view. It’s the way all these things come together. Dave, Julie, their kids, brewmaster Mike, and the great, friendly staff have built something special on that hillside in the shadow of Bald Top Mountain. “After that memorable opening, and after so many memorable days of business hosting our wonderful customers, we’ve created an experience, meeting people’s primal need to gather, relax, commune, and enjoy great beer in a beautiful part of rural Virginia,” Dave says. “It feels magical, as if time simply slows down here,” he adds. “Thus our tagline of ‘Drink in the Moment’.”

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BOY WONDER Teddy Chipouras’s music comes from deep inside STORY AND PHOTOS BY ED FELKER


ike many of us, Teddy Chipouras grew up listening to and loving his parents’ favorite music. The Beatles, The Band, Simon and Garfunkel, Jackson Browne, and The Rolling Stones were often playing in his childhood home. The first artist he discovered and fell in love with on his own was Elton John. “I would listen to the song “Take Me to the Pilot’” on repeat on the bus ride home from middle school,” Teddy recalls. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.” That started what Teddy describes as a domino effect of listening to and discovering new artists. Sports, baseball to be precise, dominated his free time, but music had started to become a hobby. He took some guitar lessons on and off, but when he started listening to bands like The Avett Brothers, he wanted to play like them. “There was a certain point where listening just wasn’t enough,” he says. “This is when I really wanted to start creating.” He was in fifth grade when he saved up and bought his first guitar, a Taylor Big Baby.

Having never had voice lessons, Teddy was apprehensive about singing. One day, Teddy’s parents, Peter and Deirdre, heard him playing in his room. Peter went to him and asked him to play so they could sing some together. “I turned the other way as I don’t think either of us wanted to see the other singing at that point,” Peter says. “I loved the quiet voice I heard.” That quiet voice grew more confident day by day, and eventually Teddy opened his door to let the whole house hear him play and sing. But it wasn’t until he started writing that Teddy understood music was going to be a significant part of his life. Finishing his first song, “The Leaving,” was so fulfilling that he had to have more. His songwriting was a massive creative outlet as well as a comfort. “Once I discovered it I could not live without it,” he says. “And once I realized I could try to write songs and play music as a career? That was it.” Those close to Teddy also felt the confidence, and the momentum, that came with his songwriting. “Once he started writing, we knew he had something special,” DeirPIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

| SUMMER 2019  25


dre says. “It became clear that he was filled with songs that needed to be written.” All the while he was developing his own signature sound. He learned how to play mandolin, piano and harmonica because his songs required them. His soulful voice grew stronger and more confident. One day strange packages started arriving at the house. "When he was maybe 17, Teddy ordered 'parts' from eBay. A drum head from one guy, an old suitcase from another," Deirdre remembers. "I had no idea what he was up to at the time." Teddy was constructing a suitcase drum he placed behind him and played with a foot pedal. He called it a "Shakey Box," named for one of his favorite artists, Shakey Graves, who uses one. He has since replaced it with a larger kick drum, but a drum at his feet became a major part of his musical identity. Now, much as he felt the time was right to open his door to let the whole house hear him, he was ready to 26  PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

| SUMMER 2019

open the door to his community. And the community loved what they heard. Teddy was invited to practice performing any time at Mad Horse Brewery in Lovettsville (now The 1836 Kitchen and Taproom, where he still plays). On one of his first nights playing a full set there, a man stopped by after work and quietly listened. “When we saw him watching, Deirdre and I both thought he hated the music,” Peter says. The man was Michael Stephenson, and as it turns out, he felt the opposite. “Michael came up to Teddy when he was done and asked him about his music,” Peter recalled. “He says ‘I have never sat and watched a local musician play, not known a single song, and loved them all.” Stephenson, an accomplished musician himself, had a gift for recognizing talent and a passion for promoting young, local artists. That night began a relationship the importance of which is impossible to overstate. Despite the years separating them – Teddy was just 17 when they met, Michael was a veteran who had traveled and served all over the world – Stephenson became a music partner, encourager, mentor and friend. “We connected on so many levels and started playing shows together,” Teddy says. “He gave me so many opportunities and advice when I was just starting out.” Michael used to call Teddy “Boy Wonder,” and would tell him he was the best musician in any room he walked into. “It was so important for Teddy to have someone outside of his family that believed in him at that level,” Peter says. “Imagine the confidence that gave Teddy.” Others in the local music world were also taking notice. Music promoters Bill and Cheryl Bunce heard Teddy for the first time at Old 690 Brewery, the location of Teddy’s first paid gig. The Bunces had been working with National touring artists and promoting live music since 2010, and were struck by his poise. “Teddy had been covering a favorite band of ours, The Wood Brothers, and then launched into songs we knew had to be original which was so exciting for us,” they say. “Most young artists start out imitating the artists they admire and as a result sound like those artists,” they says. “Teddy had his own voice from day one. Even when he covered another artist, he made the song his own.” Teddy was starting to get noticed. After local musician Ted Garber recommended him to the producers of the NBC show, The Voice, Teddy was offered a private audition in Philadelphia. From there he advanced to a weeklong audition in L.A. in the summer of 2018, then advanced to go back again for a month in October for filming. From more than 50,000 hopefuls at the start, he joined fewer than 75 for the culmination of the show, the blind audition. It was a grueling process. “Very long, but so worth it,” he says. “I met a ton of amazing people and musicians, and had the opportunity to perform in front of four mega


8287 East Main St, Marshall, Va. bigdogpots.com | 540.364.2834

stars.” He also filled long hours of hotel living with songwriting. In the end he didn’t make it as far as he had hoped, but he learned much from the experience. And his proud fans back in Lovettsville did get to see him perform, albeit briefly, on National television. But it all had come perilously close to collapsing. A few days before Teddy left for his freshman year at James Madison University, The Chipourases invited Michael Stephenson over for dinner, and Michael presented Teddy with a framed photo of the two of them playing together. On it he had written a note. “Teddy, Thank you for bringing back the music in me! Your biggest fan, Michael.” Teddy brought the gift with him to school the next day. Two days after that, Stephenson was dead by suicide. Before freshman classes even started, Teddy’s world seemed utterly derailed. Stephenson’s death was a massive, shocking loss to the community. Peter and Deirdre knew it was having a profound impact on Teddy, too. He was devastated. “I wasn’t sure after Michael died that Teddy would ever sing again,” Deirdre says. “Michael was that much a part of his confidence.” The house, she says, remained quiet for what seemed like forever. “It was real hard to play after that,” Teddy says. “Hard to write, too.” But music brought Michael happiness, and his music brought happiness to others. Teddy knew that he had to continue playing, writing, creating. Lyrics in Teddy’s new songs reflect on Michael, who will surely show up in songs for a long, long time. “It was the first time that writing helped and healed me,” he says. “I found a therapy in writing that I didn’t know existed before. I found a way to reflect, heal, and honor him.” And one day the doors opened, and music began to fill the house again. “That time really showed me the power and importance of writing and playing in my life,” Teddy says. “Which I guess was Michael’s final gift to me.” In the past six months, Teddy has written, recorded, and released a full-length, self-titled album, has licensed two recordings for commercial use, and won first place in a prestigious songwriting contest (for ‘The Ghost’), all while carrying a full course load at JMU. His summer plans include an east coast tour, performing at festivals and local events, and writing. Always writing.


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Light and Texture Coalesce in Glorious Color An ancient art flourishes in Fluvanna BY JAMES WILKINSON



or more than three decades, the small community of Bremo Bluff, in southern Fluvanna County, has been home to a well-kept secret. Just off the main road, down a gravel lane and through an open field, stands a worn, low-slung building. The wood is rough and bleached grey. A tangle of vines stretches across the roofline. A horseshoe nailed to the door catches good fortune. It could be any farm outbuilding in a hundred rural communities across the Commonwealth. The only hint of the treasure that lies inside is the man working out front. He leans over, taking a closer look at several century-old stained-glass windows, pulled from a church in Monterey, Va. As he works, decades of dirt and grime peels away to reveal translucent yellows, blues, and purples that sparkle in the afternoon sun. In a few months’ time, the restored works of art will once again grace the church’s walls, filling the sanctuary with rich, vivid hues. Tug open the door and step inside, and the world shifts from careful restoration to vibrant creation. Shelves are stacked with the raw materials of innovation – spindles and sheets of glass, jars filled with color dyes and stains. Rows of work benches march to the back of the studio, strewn with pliers, sheafs of pencil draw-

Above: Summer at the studio Left: One of three large skylights restored for the historic Hotel Richmond.


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ART ings, and industrial equipment. Drills, brushes, saws, and clamps extend from floor to ceiling along a nearby wall. A tub holds hundreds of delicate green leaves, destined for a flameworked masterpiece featuring dogwood blossoms cascading across a Virginia landscape. Welcome to the studio of Wayne Cain, one of the country’s foremost stained-glass artists. Each day, Cain and his staff work together on commissions and renovation projects. Around them, light pours into the studio through dozens of windows. “We create oneof-a-kind works of art, inspired by our imaginations and the creative process,” he says, gesturing at several major projects under development. Fresh out of college in the early 1970s, though, seeking a life of independence and creativity, Cain started small. He was struck by the translucency of nature, watching sunlight filter through the trees. “It started there. I bought a crate of glass, a couple of glass cutters, and a pair of pliers,” he recalls. “Working at my kitchen table, I made glass apples, pears, cherries, and chickens that stood on one leg. I sold them at craft fairs and in gift shops.” The beauty of the stained glass in Richmond’s historic Fan District soon inspired new ideas, and Cain turned to making Tiffany-style lamps and stained-glass windows. “I found

a set of 1915 Henry Lang beveling machines and taught myself how to bevel,” he says. “After a few years, I developed my own style of beveled glass windows by beveling different thicknesses, of clear glass with various angles, textures, and colors. I went on to develop my skills in carving glass, silvering mirrors, painting, and flameworking. The beauty of teaching yourself is that one doesn’t know when to stop.” This focus on continued innovation and creativity has been a driving force in the artist’s work and his mastery of the medium. Cain operated a busy studio in downtown Richmond for twelve years before moving to Bremo Bluff, renovating a 1907 farmhouse for his family to live in and an old buggy barn for his studio. He explains that the move helped reinvigo-


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Above: One of Wayne’s favorite contemporary windows which incorporated several materials and methods including various beveled angles on different thicknesses of glass, blown glass from Germany, solder sculpturing, flameworking, and small glass sculptures. Left: Wayne and Daniel at work in the studio



rate his art, with the area’s rural beauty and solitude serving as a source of inspiration. Today, Cain’s masterpieces are found in homes, schools, businesses, and churches across the country. Recent major clients include the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University, the Winchester Medical Center, and the Tobacco Company Restaurant in Richmond. About half of the studio’s work comes from commissions, with renovation efforts such as the Monterey church windows making up the rest of the studio’s projects. “I enjoy the challenge of commission work,” he says, pointing out preliminary plans for a new transom window for a

Above: Original tintype of Wayne and his crew of artist/craftsmen. L-R: Will White, Scott Graninger, and John Williams. Left: A section from one of the two rose windows that Daniel painted for the St. Thomas Aquinas Priory in Charlottesville.

home in Midlothian. “I learn so much from each of our clients. I seek out their interests and their passions. And then I work hard to bring them to life.” Cain’s studio is known for its painstaking attention to detail as well as its innovative designs. His projects infuse the centuries-old craft of stained glass with new ideas and a reverence for community and history. Commission designs will often go through dozens of hand-drawn iterations, with the glass sourced from Europe as well as the US. Tiny variations in the coloration of each piece of glass and subtle changes in how light filters through the glass over the PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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“I’m going to keep on doing this — being an artist — until the day I’m gone.” course of each day are tracked, considered, and discussed. “This work takes time,” Cain notes. “It can take months of preparation before we cut the first piece of glass. The whole crux of it is being creative and having ideas, and then being tenacious and having the persistence to see things through.” Cain is also mindful of the importance of sharing his skills

and knowledge with the next generation. His stepchildren worked with him in his studio as they grew up, with stepson Daniel White eventually becoming an accomplished stained-glass artist in his own right. “Daniel’s focus is on glass painting, which I consider to be the most challenging segment of art glass work,” Cain says. “He is one of the most intelligent and hard-working people I have ever known. His imagination and artistic integrity inspire me in my own work.” Today, the two artists continue to collaborate on several projects each year. In recent years, Cain has also steadily added assistants to the studio as demand for his work has grown. New commissions and renovation projects come in through the studio’s website, social medial, and old-fashioned word of mouth. The studio works at a faster pace now than ever before, and that suits Cain just fine. “I’ve learned that I like being part of a team,” he says. “I’ve welcomed this transition, coming to work each day with such wonderful people who share my passion and contribute their thoughts and skills.” Now in his seventies, Cain shows no signs of slowing down. His eyes sparkle as he discusses his life’s work. His hands move animatedly in the air as he describes new technical challenges to be worked through. He threads his way nimbly through the studio, highlighting his assistants’ efforts as he steps past them. Then, he stops. He stares out a window for a long moment, perhaps savoring the light that continues to inspire him. “As the saying goes, life is not a dress rehearsal,” Cain says, looking back over his shoulder. “It’s been an interesting journey. I’m going to keep on doing this — being an artist — until the day I’m gone.” Wayne Cain’s legacy – the stained-glass masterpieces as well as his spirit of relentless curiosity, innovation and creativity, and his lifelong journey of exploration and self-expression — will live on for much longer. To learn more about Wayne Cain’s work and studio, visit waynecain.com.

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Corporate Accounting and Advisory Services 540-937-6450 | 703-777-6900 | john@jwacpa.com 32  PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

| SUMMER 2019

Paul Morrison

D I V O R C E M E D I AT I O N HOW IT WORKS 1. You decide to be in charge of the outcome of your own case instead of letting a Judge tell you what to do. 2. You or your lawyer contacts our mediation coordinator, Sharon Wiggins, who sends initial paperwork and sets up a pre-mediation conference call with Paul to ascertain the issues, schedule the date and place for the mediation and set ground rules. 3. Show up with an open mind and settle your case with Paul’s help.

COST Paul requires $3500 to be placed in a trust account and billed against. This fee is usually split between the parties. Paul bills at $350 per hour for mediation services. Most cases are successfully resolved in less than 8 hours.

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Paul began his own law firm in 1987, concentrating on trial work including primarily Family law. In 1999, Paul began performing neutral case evaluations and mediations with an emphasis on divorce cases.

With a success rate of over 95%, Paul began offering his services to the Northern Virginia, Piedmont area in 2017. As a practicing lawyer, Paul has a unique insight into the current judicial thinking, which gives him the tools to obtain inexpensive settlements and avoid costly and emotionally exhausting litigation for his mediation clients.

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Excerpt “The Gardens of Bunny Mellon” BY LINDA JANE HOLDEN Photographs by Roger Foley Foreword by Sir Peter Crane, President, Oak Springs Garden Foundation Published by Vendome 36  PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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he life of Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon spanned almost the entire twentieth century. It was a remarkable life in so many ways, not least in its intersection with the lives of President and Mrs. Kennedy. But it was also a life anchored by deep engagement in the world of plants, gardens, and landscapes…. If beauty is the harmonious relationship among parts, then Mrs. Mellon, through the gardens and landscapes she designed, was a creator of beauty...Mrs. Mellon was also an artist in her own right. She expressed her creativity in three dimensions, embracing the challenge of a living palette that changes with the seasons. ❖ In this book, Linda Jane Holden brings together for the first time the brilliant accomplishments of Mrs. Mellon in garden design, and Roger Foley’s outstanding photographs capture the essence of some of the very special places that she created...Especially important is the uniquely beautiful walled garden than Mrs. Mellon created at Oak Spring, her home in northern Virginia. With the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west and the Bull Run Mountains to the east, Oak Spring is set in one of the most tranquil and beguilingly beautiful landscapes of North America. — Sir Peter Crane, introduction


Garden Key 1 Sunday Kitchen Patio 2 White Garden 3 Espaliered Holly Bed 4 Upper Terrace 5 Rose Garden 6 Sugar Pear Bed 7 Guesthouse Beds 8 Square Beds 9 Butterfly Garden 10 Tea Garden 11 Honey House Beds 12 South Croquet Lawn Bed 13 Shade Beds 14 Pantry Garden 15 Croquet Lawn

16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

East Croquet Lawn Bed North Croquet Lawn Bed East Wall Bed West Wall Bed North Vegetable Garden Herb Garden East Vegetable Garden South Vegetable Garden Flax Bed South Basket House Bed North Basket House Bed South Basket House Patio North Basket House Patio Basket House Reflecting Pool Mary Potter Crab Apple Allée Formal Greenhouse Reflecting Pools

Previous spread: The west side of the Formal Garden, looking south toward the main house. In the foreground, the Herb Garden and vegetable gardens surround the wishing well on the Lower Terrace. The Square Garden is in the center of the Middle Terrace, and toward the back is the fieldstone-paved Upper Terrace. Left: Bunny prunes a crab apple tree in the Formal Garden.


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n June 3, 1929, Bunny graduated from Foxcroft, a private girls’ school in Middleburg, Virginia…after graduation, the father daughter duo restored the house and grounds at Carter Hall, a historic plantation in Millwood, Virginia, that he had just purchased. ❖ She worked on friends’ gardens as well. “One of the first gardens I did outside the family was for the designer Hattie Carnegie,” Bunny told Paula Deitz in a 1982 profile that appeared in the New York Times. “I was 23 then, and I went to her salon, but could not afford any of her dresses myself, though I loved them. Miss Carnegie suggested I do a garden in exchange for a coat and dress, and so I designed and planted a garden for her.” She also created gardens for French jewelry designer Jean Schlumberger and Charles Ryskamp, a professor of British literature at Princeton who went on to become director of the Pierpont Morgan Library and the Frick Collection. Above: The flower beds on the west side of the Middle Terrace by the guesthouse Right: The entrance to the Honey House 38  PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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Above: The view of the Formal Garden from the Gothic Room in the main house. Following spread: The Allée's Mary Potter crab apple trees in full bloom.


uring their fifty-one year marriage, Paul and Bunny Mellon owned houses and gardens in Upperville, Virginia; Cape Cod and Nantucket, Massachusetts; Antigua, in the West Indies; New York City; and Washington, D.C. But the Upperville property, Rokeby, a 4,000-acre farm in the foothills of the Virginia Piedmont, sixty miles west of Washington, D.C., was their favorite. With its gently rolling hills and creeks meandering through green fields, Rokeby was an ideal spot for their favorite pastimes: farming, cattle raising, thoroughbred horse breeding and racing, and gardening…By 1953, construction had begun on a new Mellon family home amid old oak trees, ponds, and natural springs. The Mellons called their new home Oak Spring. ❖ Oak Spring is a complex of weathered-stone cottages with shingled roofs, connected to one another by a high stone wall. Surrounding a Formal Garden, it resembles an eighteenth-century French hamlet and has the aura of a step back in time.

❖The Oak Spring Garden can be thought of as three connecting rooms: the Formal Garden, The Allée, and the Formal Greenhouse. The half-acre Formal Garden is divided into three terraces — Upper, Middle, and Lower. She laid out the garden with a subtlety that adhered to her design ethos: nothing should be noticed; nothing should be obvious. She wanted it to look natural, as though God had created it. Every branch should have its own space; each plant should complement every other; If a plant wandered in, that was just fine. Perfection is achieved in the imperfect. PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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BRIDGES TO THE PAST A Look at Significant Saved, Lost, and Threatened Historic Bridges in Virginia’s Piedmont BY KRISTIE KENDALL


raveling the backroads on Route 613 from Warrenton to my in-laws’ farm in Sperryville, the familiar, melodic “thump, thump, thump” going over Waterloo Bridge still rings clearly in my mind, even though the bridge has been closed since early 2014. For a moment, during each trip over the bridge, I was instantly transported back to the late 1800s as I imagined a horse and buggy carrying me across the beautiful metal truss bridge over the Rappahannock River, as hundreds of the bridge’s previous travelers had done since its construction in 1878. Each of us has a story familiar to this one. A bridge in your hometown that perhaps you fished off of with your father or older siblings growing up. A bridge that you crossed on long road trips with your family, whose “ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump” etched a song into your memory that will forever connect you with that particular place. Perhaps there is pedestrian stone bridge over a familiar trail like the Washington & Old Dominion, that you walked daily. That is the incredible power of structures like historic bridges. They can connect us to a place and transport us back in time. They become a part of our personal experiences and our collective memory within a neighborhood, village, or even larger community. These special places are now under great threat, however. Of the metal truss bridges surveyed in Virginia by the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC) in 1975, more than 90 percent have been lost to date. Of the masonry and concrete arch bridges surveyed by VTRC in 1984, at least 75 percent have been lost. The greatest threat to these bridges is replacement and, indeed, the vast majority of pre-1930 bridges have been determined struc42  PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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turally deficient or are already on the chopping block for removal and replacement. Part of the issue is that the pots of money that the Virginia Department of Transportation has for road work can only be used for bridges that meet certain safety criteria and other modern standards. Almost none of our historic bridges are able to meet that criteria, which means that it is easier to replace than rehabilitate them. Over the last decade, The Piedmont Environmental Council has been a champion for these special historic resources, while working with the community, VDOT, and others to push for their rehabilitation rather than their replacement. Below are several examples of successful stories where bridges were saved, of bridges lost and of bridges that are currently threatened.



Hibbs Bridge, c.1996.


Waterloo Bridge, 2015.


Waterloo Bridge


The Waterloo Bridge was built in 1878, making it the oldest metal truss bridge in VDOT’s road system. It is a distinctive iron and steel Pratt through-truss with a timber deck spanning the Rappahannock River linking Culpeper and Fauquier counties. The bridge was closed down on Jan. 15, 2014, due to its deteriorated condition. Prior to its closure, the bridge carried an estimated 680 vehicles trips a day. Due to the pressure from supporters and a generous $1 million contribution from the local Hitt family, VDOT is planning to rehabilitate and reopen the bridge. The proposed project involves dismantling and removing the truss and making repairs, then reinstalling the bridge. The bridge piers will be repaired and the 15 approach spans will receive new steel beams and a timber deck. The project cost is estimated to be $4 million. The bridge is expected to be reopened to traffic with a 12-ton weight restriction. Construction is planned to begin in Summer of 2019 and completed by late fall 2020.

Featherbed Lane Bridge

Hibbs Bridge



Built in 1889, the bridge was originally constructed on the Leesburg & Alexandria Turnpike (Route 7) over Goose Creek in Loudoun County. It was dismantled and reassembled in its new location over the Catoctin Creek in 1932. The one-lane bridge is a single span steel pin connected Pratt through truss with a timber deck and asphalt overlay, supported on stringers and floor beams. It was posted at 15 tons in 2004 and downgraded to 3 tons in 2014 due to “insufficient capacity.” The bridge currently carries an average of 57 vehicles trips a day. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. VDOT held public consultation meetings and decided on a rehabilitation plan that will add a new pier and railing, and replace several deteriorated bridge members. VDOT’s plan is to begin right of way acquisition in spring 2020 and construction in spring 2021. The funding source for the $5.6 million project is not clear.

In 1810, the Virginia State Legislature approved $24,000 for construction of the Snickers Gap Turnpike between Aldie and Snickers Ferry. The 1829 annual treasurer's report for the Snickers Gap Turnpike Co. states that the stone bridge over Beaverdam Creek, and parts of the road leading up to it, were completed at a cost of $3,500. Members of the Hibbs family purchased the property "at Beaverdam Bridge on the Snickers Gap turnpike Road…” in 1857. Shortly thereafter and since that time, the bridge was colloquially referred to as the Hibbs Bridge. This two- barrel, one-lane stone bridge has been rehabilitated and remains in use today as a fine example of stone masonry construction and a rare survivor of its type. It is Loudoun County’s third oldest bridge.


Little River Turnpike Bridge (LOUDOUN)

The Little River Turnpike Company (LRTC) was chartered in 1802 to establish a road from the Town of Alexandria to the ford of Little River, a distance of 34 miles. The road had been completed by 1811 and in 1817, the turnpike company sought to establish bridges over the several waterways that the road crossed over. The LRTC’s reports from 1826, 1827, and 1828 suggest that this particular bridge was completed by 1827. This two-span, double-barrel arched stone bridge still carries Route 50 over Little River as it has done for nearly 200 years. It is the only bridge of its type still in use along Route 50.


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BRIDGES THAT WERE LOST Carrico Mill/Mountain Run Bridge over Mountain Run (CULPEPER)

Built in 1913, this bridge was a fivespan, 131-foot-long concrete bridge with solid parapet railings which have exterior molded panels. The center span included a unique girder and floor beam design combined with slab spans on either end. It was one of only three bridges in the state that combined the two types of technology in bridge construction — girder & slab. The bridge was named for the Carrico family, who acquired the surrounding property about 1860 and established a productive mill on site. The milling operation was on the southern bank of Mountain Run, making a bridge necessary for hauling wagon loads of product to northern markets. The bridge remained in operation until it was slated for demolition and ultimately replaced with a modern structure in 1999.

Morgan Ford Low Water Bridge (WARREN COUNTY)

Crossing the Shenandoah River in Warren County, the Morgan Ford Bridge was constructed in 1925 at one of the earliest known river crossings in the area.

Morgan Ford Bridge, c.2015




The crossing at various times had operated as a ford, later as a ferry, and the c.1925 bridge was the first known substantial structure at the site to allow vehicles to cross the river. The area surrounding the bridge was home to one of the area’s earliest known free African-American settlements. According to early records, strong evidence suggests that beginning in 1795, the emancipated slaves of Robert Carter, III, who once worked on his Shenandoah River plantations, moved to this site and established a community, known interchangeably as Leeds Town or Smoke Town. The town continued to thrive up through the 1860s. By the late nineteenth century, little above ground evidence of the community remained. The Morgan Ford Bridge was slated for replacement due to deterioration and capacity issues in 2013. The bridge was ultimately replaced with a two-lane structure, eight feet higher in elevation than the original. The new bridge and approaching spans on the southern side of the river were constructed over top a portion of the core of the original Smoke Town settlement, limiting the potential for future archaeology to learn about this

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early African-American settlement. While the community mourns the loss of this important resource, most agreed that the final bridge was a much improved outcome over earlier designs, respecting the character of the area and lessening the impact to the rest of the Rocklands Rural Historic District.

Secretary Sands Road Bridge (ALBEMARLE COUNTY)

Sometime between 1914 and 1930 (local records indicate a 1914 construction), a 137-foot long metal pony truss, timber deck bridge was constructed to allow vehicular passage over the South Fork Hardware River along Secretary’s Sand Road (State Route 717). Framed by bucolic countryside with beautiful green fields and pastures, the setting around Secretary’s Sand Road Bridge has remained largely unchanged since the bridge was constructed. However, structural failure over time and lack of funds to rehabilitate the bridge ultimately led to the department of transportation slating the bridge for replacement in 2017. With the loss of Secretary’s Sand Bridge, only two truss bridges remain in service in Albemarle County.



Remington Truss Bridge, c. 2011


This Warren pony truss bridge was constructed in 1930 by the Roanoke Iron Bridge Works. It was a part of US Highway 15 (originally called Route 32) that extended from Clarksville, N.C., to Points of Rocks, Md., an important transportation route for moving agricultural goods through the state. This type of truss bridge was used by the Virginia Department of Highways as an economical means of crossing the state’s midsize drainages, usually in the more rural areas. Pony truss bridges are not as common as they once were in Virginia—this particular bridge is the only known pony truss still open to vehicular traffic within a surrounding seven-county region and the only remaining truss bridge constructed by the Roanoke Iron Bridge Works.

Luten Bridge, Crenshaw Road (FAUQUIER COUNTY)

The bridge was built in 1919 by the Luten Bridge Company of York, Pa., as a single-span, rainbow arch concrete structure. The advent of modern concrete technology fostered a renaissance of arch bridge construction in the US, which was directly influenced by the early 20th century City Beautiful movement. Daniel B. Luten was one of the nation’s most influential bridge engineers, who patented several bridge designs. This particular bridge

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HISTORY Luten Bridge, Crenshaw Road.


is thought to be a variation of Luten patent no.853,203. At one time, Luten Bridges were prolific throughout the US and Virginia. However, many have since been replaced, making this bridge notable as an early surviving example. The bridge is within the Cromwell’s Run Rural Historic District.

Truss Bridge #6009 (ALBEMARLE COUNTY)

Constructed in 1917 to carry Bingham Mountain Road over the Lynch River, this pony Pratt full slope truss bridge is the oldest remaining survivor of its type that retains its integrity of location, set-

ting, design and materials. Compared with other truss bridges in the county that have been altered or moved to a new location, this bridge has remained in service in the same location for more than 100 years. The bridge is not currently slated for replacement, but it is threatened due to lack of an eligibility determination for the National Register of Historic Places. The most recent rating by the Department of Historic Resources found that the bridge scored a 26 out of a needed 30 points to reach the eligibility for the National Register. Another look at the scoring for the bridge, focusing on the rarity of the resource in the immediate context and surrounding region and its high degree of integrity may provide the necessary additional points for the bridge to quality for listing. Listing on the NRHP would ultimately provide a higher standard and justification for rehabilitation of the bridge, rather than its removal, if slated for demolition in the future.





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The Piedmont— The Pick for Presidential Peace and Quiet —Its stress-free allure goes back centuries...



he peace of the Piedmont has long attracted people, including US presidents, who found respite in the area’s fresh air, gurgling streams, rolling hills, dense woodlands, and rustic fields. In sum, the region’s natural beauty and tranquility. The White House was “the big white jail,” complained Harry Truman. Donald Trump likened it to a “cocoon.” For most presidents, the pressure-cooker demands of the office, the heavily-secured confinement, the sultry Washington summers, the need for quality down time, all drove them to find private hideaways. Four presidents downsized and unwound east of the Blue Ridge in Virginia: John Kennedy, Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson.

Camp Rapidan, the presidential retreat of President Herbert Hoover. TOP: BY DENNIS BRACK, SR. INSET: COURTESY OF NATIONAL PARK SERVICE


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GLEN ORA AND WEXFORD After trying the official retreat, Camp David in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains, a woodsy enclave created by Franklin Roosevelt, John and Jacqueline Kennedy opted for 39 acres in Loudoun County, so Jackie could ride her horses to her heart’s content and daughter Caroline could trot around on her pony, Leprechaun. “I think it’s good for young children to get out of the governmental atmosphere,” Kennedy told reporters. The president had become familiar with the area as a US senator when he leased Glen Ora, a 400-acre farm near Middleburg. In 1962 and 1963, they built a 3,500-square-foot home on 39 acres of farmland near Marshall and named it Wexford after the Ireland county of the Kennedy family’s origins. Jackie designed a stone-and-stucco, sevenbedroom, five-bathroom, one-level, ranch-style house intended to be cozy, “nothing elaborate,” said Pamela Turnure, the first lady’s press secretary. Time magazine called it “tweedy elegance.” Jackie wrote, “This house may not be perfectly proportioned — but it has everything — all the places we need to get away from each other — so husband can have meetings . . . wife paint . . . all things so much bigger houses don’t have. I think it’s brilliant!” Jackie, Caroline, age six, and son John, age three, traveled from Washington to Wexford by limousine and helicopter. Famous for relishing her 48  PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

HISTORY RAPIDAN CAMP On the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains and in today’s Shenandoah National Park, Herbert and Lou Hoover directed the Marines to build a 13-building retreat on 165 acres, spent $5.00 per acre of their own money and named it Rapidan Camp because two streams, Mill Prong and Laurel Prong, merge there to form the Rapidan River. In choosing a site, the president had three specific requirements: at least 2,500 feet in elevation for cooler weather; within 100 miles of Washington, to get back for a crisis; and excellent fishing. An avid angler, Hoover cast for trout amid the rocky terrain of hemlocks, pines, oaks, poplars, mountain laurels, and trilliums, where bears, bobcats, and foxes roamed. He designed the layout so that every building was within earshot of a babbling stream to “reduce our egotism, soothe our troubles, and shame our wickedness,” Hoover wrote. From 1929 to 1933, they stocked the creek, built a rainbow trout pond, and fed the fish beef hearts, treating them almost like pets. Hoover’s doctor, Dr. Joel Boone, commended the president’s ability to adjust: “The president could recuperate from fatigue faster than anybody I have ever known. He had tremendous power of relaxation once he surrendered himself to taking periods to relax and rest mentally and physically.” The Hoovers were rarely alone, inviting friends and notables of the era. He also used the camp for some slow-

Weekend at Atoka, fall of 1963. Top: President and Mrs. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr., and K. LeMoyne “Lem” Billings ride in a golf cart. Above: First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy sits astride her horse, Rufus, on the grounds of Wexford. President John F. Kennedy sits on rock wall with family friends, Benjamin C. Bradlee (left) and Antoinette Bradlee (center).

privacy, Jackie commented, “I appreciate the way people there let me be alone.” Sadly, the president only visited twice in 1963, once in October and once in November, before his tragic assassination. The complex had a Signal Corps switchboard, a bomb shelter, stables, and Secret Service workspace. The house was built for $127,000 in 1963 dollars. In 1964, Jackie sold the property for $225,000. In 2017, it sold again for $2.9 million. The property is not open to the public.

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Exterior of Pine Knot, Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site.






paced decision-making, a place “where no bells ring or callers jar one’s thoughts,” he said, and he believed the laid back environment fostered more thoughtful deliberations than churning Washington did. Dignitaries like Winston Churchill, Edsel Ford, Thomas Edison, and Charles Lindbergh visited. British Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald and Hoover negotiated the 1930 London Naval Treaty sitting on a log. An airplane dropped official mail daily in a nearby Marine camp. Today, three unpretentious, wood-frame, pine cabins remain connected by woodsy paths and stone bridges. The Hoovers’ cottage was the Brown House, so named

L-R: Rapidan Camp’s sitting room with visitors; Herbert Hoover fishing; Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover relax on the porch of Rapidan Camp, Shenandoah National Park in Madison County

as a light-hearted contrast to Washington’s elegant White House. Visitors can explore its one story of natural wood floors, walls, and ceilings, restored to its 1929 appearance inside and out and see some original furnishings, like Lou’s desk and wardrobe. As geologists, Herbert and Lou “decorated” with rocks, shells, crystals, and fresh hemlock. They donated the camp for future presidents.

PINE KNOT President Theodore Roosevelt and his wife, Edith, decompressed in 90 acres of dense, Albemarle County woods. A high-energy man of wealth, reared in mansions and owner of one, Sagamore Hill, on New York’s Long Island, Teddy slowed down in a simple little cottage called Pine Knot from 1905 to 1908.

1906 Pine Knot Staff


Edith bought it “for rest and repairs,” she said. Originally built as a farmworker’s cottage and largely unchanged today, the 1,187-squarefoot pine and board-and-batten house has two chimneys and four fireplaces, all made of stone from Schuyler. Teddy called the cottage “only a shell of boards” and wrote, “The Tsar and Tsarina would have found it somewhat confining, since it consisted of one rough-cut, stonechimneyed, boarded box, with two smaller boxes upstairs.” The surviving porcelain door knobs were the only decorative touch. Journalist Walden Fawcett wrote that it was “quite the most unpretentious habitation ever owned by a president of the United States.” The Roosevelts had no electricity or indoor plumbing and it was Teddy’s job to “empty the slops.” The Daily Progress newspaper reported that the house had a “meager complement of furniture,” including “a washstand of the plainest kind, probably worth a dollar and a half, and a goods box cheaply tricked out as a table.” A large farm table is the only remaining Roosevelt furniture today. Most of the first floor is an unembellished, lodge-type room, but it was really the PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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HISTORY outside that beckoned. Spending hours rambling among the pines, oaks, redbuds, hollies, and dogwoods, Teddy, a swashbuckling outdoorsman who had killed bison in North Dakota’s badlands, hunted for Virginia game. In 1906, he wrote his son, Kermit, that he left the cabin under a brilliant moon and after 13 hours in the woods, got one turkey. The best stress reliever for the couple was probably relaxing in rocking chairs on the porch that spanned the house’s front supported by untrimmed cedar posts, their ears tuned to birds and “little forest folk,” the president’s term. He identified 75 bird species by their call on one day and is credited with the last US sighting of passenger pigeons in 1908, birds known then to be almost extinct. In one of the three second-floor bedrooms, flying squirrels “held high carnival at night,” Teddy wrote to his son, Archie. To get the Roosevelts to Pine Knot, railroad officials added a private car to the mail train and the couple disembarked in North Garden, a dot on the map. Then they took a carriage or horses. Teddy stopped working, put away papers and “sank” into his rustic, modest mode. They invited no notables, only one friend and their children. Theodore wrote his son, Kermit, in 1905, “It is really a perfectly delightful little place; the nicest little place of the kind you can imagine.” Unbeknownst to the president, human critters were out there in the woods too. Edith had the Secret Service patrolling the property.

Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, view looking east toward Peaks of Otter Range COURTESY OF THOMAS JEFFERSON’S POPLAR FOREST

POPLAR FOREST One hundred years earlier in 1806, President Thomas Jefferson built his retreat, Poplar Forest, on a 4,800-acre plantation near Lynchburg, where he wrote, “I fixed myself comfortably.” In fact, while president, he “invented” the idea of a presidential getaway and initiated construction. Historian Peter Hannaford has called it “the first dedicated presidential retreat.” Jefferson loathed Washington’s humid summers and wrote to Treasury Secretary James Gallatin, “I consider it as a trying experiment for a person from the mountains to pass the two bilious months on the tide-water.” The third president yearned to escape public life in the capital and after the presidency, the hubbub of his Albemarle County home, Monticello. His daughter, Martha, her husband, and 11 children had moved in, and unrelenting streams of uninvited guests showed up, people that his granddaughter described as “impudent and ungenteel people who behaved as if they had been in a tavern.” Explaining his need to escape to Poplar Forest, Jefferson wrote in 1812, “Here I have leisure, as I have everywhere the disposition to think of my friends.” A self-taught architect, Jefferson studied the buildings of Europe while there five years and in designing Poplar Forest drew especially on 16th-century, Italian architect Andrea Palladio and the concept of the Roman country villa. Jefferson observed that “all of the new and good houses” in Paris were one story, so he built his house into the crown of a hill and designed

it to appear as one story from the front, but the dining room is actually two stories. Poplar Forest is the first octagonal residence in the US. Reflecting Jefferson’s love of geometry, it is an intimate, 1,000-square-foot house filled with natural light rippling from tall, triplehung windows on each of the building’s eight sides and a 16-foot skylight over the center, cube-shaped dining room. “Perhaps most important, the entire Poplar Forest retreat, house and landscape, radiate out from this elegant central space,” notes the website. The brick exterior has Tuscan columns, intended to convey naturalness and integrity. Poplar Forest is one of Jefferson’s “most consummate architectural works” and “one of the most extraordinary works of American architecture,” Travis C. McDonald, Jr., the home’s director of architectural restoration, maintains. Could these presidents really get away from it all? In 1931 when President Hoover was relaxing on his cabin porch, an 11-year-old lad emerged from the woods with a gift, a ‘possum for the President’s birthday. Today, ‘possums aren’t the problem. With 24/7 hyper-connectivity, it’s nearly impossible for presidents to truly get away. In addition to the demands of the jobs which all presidents have faced, today there are 24-hour news channels, quick-turnaround reporters, emails, texts, Twittering, tweets, instant messaging, high tech communications galore. But the peace of the Piedmont still beckons.

VISITING Rapidan Camp Managed by the National Park Service; Grounds are open year-round, ranger-hosted tours spring through fall. nps.gov, (877) 444-6777. 50  PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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Pine Knot Owned by the Edith and Theodore Roosevelt Pine Knot Foundation; open by appointment. (434) 286-6106

Poplar Forest Owned by the Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest; daily guided tours March-December, self-guided tours JanuaryFebruary. poplarforest.org, (434) 525-1806


“After dinner we went over to ‘Pine Knot,’ put everything to order and went to bed. Next day we spent all by ourselves at ‘Pine Knot.’ In the morning I fried bacon and eggs, while Mother boiled the kettle for tea and laid the table. Breakfast was most successful, and then Mother washed the dishes and did most of the work, while I did odd jobs, like emptying the slops, etc. Then we walked about the place, which is fifteen acres in all, saw the lovely spring, admired the pine trees and the oak trees, and then Mother lay in the hammock while I cut away some trees to give us a better view from the piazza. The piazza is the real feature of the house. It is broad and runs along the whole length and the roof is high near the wall, for it is a continuation of the roof of the house. It was lovely to sit there in the rocking-chairs and hear all the birds by daytime and at night the whip-poorwills and owls and little forest folk. Inside, the house is just a bare wall with one big room below, which is nice now, and will be still nicer when the chimneys are up and there is a fire-place in each end. A rough stairs leads above, where there are two rooms, separated by a passageway. We did everything for ourselves, but all the food we had was sent over to us by the dear Wilmers, together with milk. We cooked it ourselves, so there was no one around the house to bother us at all. As we found that cleaning dishes took up an awful time we only took two meals a day, which was all we wanted. On Saturday evening I fried two chickens for dinner, while mother boiled the tea, and we had cherries and wild strawberries, was well as biscuits and cornbread. To my pleasure Mother greatly enjoyed the fried chicken, and admitted that what you children said of the way I fried chicken was all true. In the evening we sat out a long time on the piazza, and then read indoors and then went to bed. Sunday morning we did not get up until nine. Then I fried Mother some beef-steak and some eggs in two frying-pans, and she liked them both very much. We went to church at the dear little church where the Wilmers’ father and mother had been married, dined soon after two at ‘Plain Dealing,’ and then were driven over to the station to go back to Washington. I rode the big black stallion – Chief – and enjoyed it thoroughly. Altogether we had a very nice holiday.

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Music Makes Things Better BY CARLA VERGOT


efore Ricky and I met, he was involved in a wine importing venture. (Cool, right?) The business required that the partners travel to Spain in order to discover wines they would agree to import. (Glamorous, right?) He tells a story about one Spanish vintner who played music to the barrels in the cellar to bring out the fullest, richest flavors. (Hilarious, right?) It sounds hilarious, still, I love that story. I wasn’t there, but I see it all very clearly in my mind, down to the specific details I’ve added myself, including a shaggy vineyard dog, a thin winemaker in a tattered brown barn coat, his lovely wife in a red dress, and the various musical selections, which change depending on my mood when I think about the story. The point is—music makes things better. That wine maker knew it, and we all know it, too. What would make a backyard barbecue better? Music. What would make that long road trip better? Music. What would make an hour on the elliptical machine better? Music, of course. 52  PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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When I lived in Florida in the late 1990s, the state passed a law requiring all state run daycares to play classical music to the kids for a period of time every day in order to stimulate brain development. I looked it up to refresh my memory for this article. It was Senate Bill No. 660 and it stated in part: WHEREAS, at birth, a child has one hundred billion brain cells that will be developed by the experiences of life, and WHEREAS, the stimulation that causes brain development can be positive, such as conversation, music, and parental love, or it can be negative, such as neglect or emotional and physical abuse, and WHEREAS, during the first year of a child’s life the connections between the cells, the synapses, increase twenty-fold, making the first year a crucial time for brain development…” Based on these principles, the law required educational programs and childcare facilities to provide activities that would foster brain development in children from birth to five years. This included playing classical music. I don’t know if the science backs it up today, but I believe the law still stands, because what makes brains better? You guessed it. Music. It might not seem like it, but I have a garden connection. The year we put in our first raised beds was the same year a child unknown to us picked up a trumpet in the neighborhood that backs up to ours. If you’ve ever heard a first year trumpet player, you would not be surprised that his parents asked him or her to practice outside. Working in our garden at the end of the day or on the weekends, we were serenaded by the young musician, who I believe to be a male, so I’ll use the male pronouns. I have no hard evidence to support this, though, just a hunch. I think I speak for everyone within earshot when I say it was painful. There


Over the years, the kid thankfully got better. We would even occasionally pause in our labors to applaud a song that we actually recognized. We’d cheer the accomplishment and high five each other as if this kid was somehow part of our family. were times when we took long breaks indoors just to give the boy a chance to finish practicing for the day. It takes time and dedication for a trumpet player to get good, and this kid was no exception. He put in the time and clearly had the commitment. For years our garden was bathed in screechy catsquallering melodies, and I always wondered if it was having an opposite effect. Instead of the positive transformation the wine underwent, was this “music” negatively impacting the garden? Was that why we couldn’t grow a pepper? Or why the hornworms turned our tomato plants into lace? Or why the downy mildew blanketed the zucchini and the flea beetles devoured the eggplants? Or why we squabbled about how many yellow squash to plant or whether or not to devote any garden real estate to okra? Over the years, the kid thankfully got better. We would even occasionally pause in our labors to applaud a song that we actually recognized. We’d cheer the accomplishment and high five each other as if this kid was somehow part of our family. “Look at him stickin’ with it and playing a song,” we would exclaim with pride. It’s worth noting that over the years, as he improved, so did the garden. We managed to control the hornworms, the downy mildew, and the flea beetles. We grew bushels of peppers. The garden was thriving, and it coincided with the improved quality of music our vegetables received. Interesting. It had been a long time since we heard the trumpet, and we speculated that the kid had graduated high school and probably went off to college. Then one afternoon in the late spring of this year, sweet strains of a trumpet spilled through the back neighborhood and into the garden. This time the trumpet was accompanied by other instruments. He’s in a band! The music was pure and sweet, and it was all I could do to keep a tear from my eye as I stood and listened until they finished playing. I glanced over our seedlings and smiled because they were being bathed in the lovely strains of his music, knowing it would, indeed, make them more vibrant. It occasionally occurs to me to go over to that neighborhood and ask around for the young man who plays the trumpet. I’d like to tell that person about the journey we’ve traveled with him. Maybe this year, when the growing season is well underway and we’re harvesting produce from the garden, maybe I’ll take a basket of beans and squash over, just to say thank you for the gift of his music. If the theory holds and the vegetables get to hear his songs this summer, it seems only right we should share the bounty.

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The Basenji Ah, the joys of puppy-parenting! STORY AND PHOTO BY ED FELKER


h my God, a Basenji!” cried a grey-haired woman as she excitedly crossed the gravel lot toward the dog at the end of our leash. “A dog like this nearly cost me a thirtyfive-year marriage,” she said with a jolly laugh, and a wonderful friendship was born. Not really. We never saw her after that day many years ago. But she did sit and tell us her story over a beer at the brewery we were all leaving when she spotted us with Petey, our young Basenji. We enjoyed talking and laughing about the quirky nature of these singular dogs. Petey joined our pack seven years ago after my wife researched the breed at length, then discussed it with me at considerably less length. We then found out that one of the preeminent Basenji breeders in the entire country, Reveille Kennel in Leesburg, run by Damara Bolte and Jane Lodge, happened to be right up the road from our home. And they had puppies. We visited, talked, and after a couple more visits, selected a puppy. Damara and Jane have been involved in this ancient, athletic breed from Africa since the ‘50s and ‘70s, respectively, and they admit that the Basenji can be stubborn and quite a handful if not given appropriate outlets for energy. “They are definitely a hunting dog and have a mind of their own,” they say. “They are hardheaded, just like many of us, and they like to do what they want to do. But they’re less trouble if they are tired!” For breeders, there is a lot of appeal to the Basenji. The short, slick coat is extremely easy to keep clean, they breed easily, usually whelp naturally, and they take good care of their puppies. But prospective first-time Basenji owners researching the breed’s characteristics will soon and often come across two almost universal descriptors: aloof, and difficult to train. As for the first generalization – they can actually be quite affectionate. But, like people, everyone expresses affection in their own way. When my wife is away from home for longer than usual, Petey paces, whines and really wants her to be there. When she


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The tail curls like a donut and sits firmly on his back, so it doesn’t wag. It wiggles. The Basenji will wiggle his donut when he is very happy, or very mischievous. That is not two different occasions, he is happiest when he is being mischievous.

Self-cleaning, apparently. They can lie in a dust pit of their own making all day and when they come inside they are spotless. This is a good thing because they strongly dislike water. Like salt to a slug.



The Basenji is a graceful, beautiful, and deceivingly powerful runner. He is especially fast when you do not want him to be.


The Basenji is whisper quiet when he moves. He will not use this power for good.


With this impressive aural array, the Basenji can hear everything inside a 50-yard radius, except his name.

The Basenji is very, very smart. This is a huge problem.




Known as the “barkless dog,” the Basenji yodels instead. “Yodel” is a Scandinavian word meaning “kind of like a gurgley yawn with some air raid siren mixed in.” SNOOT

When food is presented, the nose goes through an 18-point item identification and quality assurance process before sending the signal for the mouth to open. Once a new food is introduced, the Basenji will walk away with it, drop it on the rug, bed, or couch for further examination, where it will then be eaten by another dog.


Yes, I know they’re feet. But if they insist on batting things around like a cat, I’m calling them hands.

does walk through the door, though, he pretends he didn’t even notice she was gone. Then he slips away to destroy another pillowcase. I don’t know if that’s aloof, but it’s something. As for the common “difficult to train” reputation, Basenjis are at or near the top of any list of most difficult dogs to train, usually ranking somewhere between Afghan Hounds and wild Jackals. It’s not that they don’t understand what you want them to do, it’s that everything you want them to do must be their idea or they won’t do it. You can’t simply give a command to, say, come in the house so you can go to work. Because that’s your idea. So you try reverse psychology, but spotting that is child’s play for an adult Basenji. You try everything. You finally let all the other dogs out who had already gone nicely in their crates. Now, here you are, playing three-dimensional chess against a canine Bobby Fischer, who not only isn’t coming inside, but who has now duped you into releasing his cellmates back into the yard. You’ve lost. You just don’t know it. Claire Wisch Abraham, along with her daughter Kelly Shupp, includes Basenjis among the breeds they show and breed out of their Mountain View Kennel in Hellam, Pa. Claire loves their sleek, athletic build and points out their cleanliness makes them fantastic indoor dogs. But having a fenced in yard is a requirement for any prospective Basenji home, and having an organized activity in mind for the dogs to focus on is important. “Basenjis love to chase so lure coursing is great.” Claire says. “They also like agility,” she adds. Then, after a pause, “But they often want to do it their way.” Classic Basenji. Basenjis are intriguing, both aesthetically and behaviorally. If we are out with Petey he gets a lot of attention, and a very common reaction is, “I really want one!” Now, I’ve had some fun at Petey’s expense here, but my intent is not to talk people out of this breed. If you think you want a Basenji, do your research (no, reading this article doesn’t count), and find a reputable breeder. Then have honest conversations with the breeder, with your family, and with yourself about the amount of time and energy you are prepared to devote to the dog. This advice should serve you well regardless of the type of dog you choose, but is critical when dealing with one of the more challenging breeds. If you do ultimately bring home a pointy-eared, barkless bundle of joy, and you provide the appropriate environment for him, it’s more likely than not that you will own (or be owned by) more than one in your lifetime. And know that you can look forward to years of fun and frustration, of laughter and exasperation. But that’s not life with a Basenji. That’s just life, isn’t it? PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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A Fresh Start on Wings of Song (and Arias!) Charlottesville Opera launches its second decade at The Paramount BY GUS EDWARDS


upward into something substantial. So has it been with the Charlottesville Opera. It began In 1978 as a smallish summer musical event at President James Monroe’s “Highland” estate near Charlottesville. A group of local musicians, led by Priscilla Little, began to present chamber performances at the venue that was then known as Ash Lawn-Highland. These performances evolved into the Ash Lawn-Highland Opera Festival, which, according to the group’s website history, grew dramatically

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after Judy Walker became the general director in 1987. At that time, the festival began performing full-length operas and musical theater productions in the historic home’s boxwood gardens. Over the years, with the support of Ash Lawn-Highland’s owner, the College of William & Mary, the festival grew and flourished. In 2002, the Ash Lawn Opera Festival Foundation was incorporated, independent of the college, with the mission of performing opera and musical theater,



harlottesville’s 42-year-old hometown opera company is getting a reboot as it begins its second decade at the Downtown Mall’s fabled Paramount Theater this summer, and its newly minted General Director David O’Dell, who assumed the mantle of leadership in February, says, “We want the Charlottesville Opera to represent a commitment to community engagement and education.” Many good things start small and spiral


THEATRE developing young artists and administrators for professional careers in opera, and providing educational programs in opera. In the summer of 2009, Ash Lawn Opera relocated its performances to The Paramount, allowing the company to grow even further artistically and professionally. In January, 2017, Ash Lawn Opera became Charlottesville Opera, and embarked on its most ambitious season yet. In recent years, the company has partnered with a number of other local arts groups, including the Oratorio Society of Virginia, the Wilson School of Dance, the Virginia Consort, the Virginia Festival of the Book, and Charlottesville Ballet. It has also expanded its season to include occasional winter and spring performances. O’Dell arrives at the opera company with a long resume as a singer and in arts administration, most recently with the Amarillo Opera in Texas. A St. Louis native, he has performed at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, the Santa Fe Opera, and the San Francisco Opera Center. In Charlottesville, he is keenly interested in presenting shorter, youth-oriented performances of operas in an effort to build future audiences and help educate. “A shorter repertoire of works of about 90 minutes or so seems to be about right for keeping

“Madama Butterfly”

the interest and attention of younger audiences,” he says. He adds, though, that this doesn’t mean the company will move away from the presentation of full-length opera productions. He also strongly supports the company’s annual apprentice program, which he hopes to expand, that brings in about 250 young people from around the country pursuing careers in performance and arts administration. But he resists the idea of driving the Charlottesville Opera to become a national musical powerhouse. “I think Charlottesville should look different from Cincinnati or San Francisco. I want it to reflect a regional perspective. We’ll be the best at what

we do and put that out and share it with the world, “ he says. In addition to the company’s desire to reach new audiences through youth programs, O’Dell passionately believes that “... we have a responsibility to those who built the institutions we benefit from today. Kids have tons of great opportunities to experience music, but I think we should also embed ourselves in the senior community by taking our music to them in retirement and adult care centers,” he says, “particularly where people are dealing with memory loss. Music has an amazing ability to help.” Above all, O’Dell laments what he describes as “...the loss of a generation of



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Charlottesville Opera website at www. charlottesvilleopera.org or call (434) 2934500.

Photo by: Tara Jelenic Photography

characters (July 3 in Grisham Hall at St. Anne’s-Belfield School); and, finally, Lerner & Lowe’s beloved musical, “Camelot,” inspired by the ancient Arthurian legend. For tickets and information, visit the

Photo by: Tara Jelenic Photography

arts institutions that are affiliated with civic engagement.” He says it seems in recent years as the public civilized discussion has coarsened that the arts have been somewhat excluded. “I want to help reclaim the arts’ position in civic discourse,” he says. For its 10th anniversary summer at the Paramount, the company will kick off with a gala event on June 9, followed by “Encore!—Charlottesville Opera Favorites” on June 29-30, featuring the music of Puccini, Mozart, Verdi, and Bernstein; “The Tragedy of Carmen,” a condensed musical adaptation of the Bizet opera by famed stage director Peter Brook that focuses intensely on the story and the relationships of key

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Preserving a Proud Tradition The Keswick Hunt’s famous clubhouse gets another (100-year!) lease on life... BY TONY VANDERWARKER | PHOTOS BY CAMDEN LITTLETON


hat do you do with a 125-year-old building with a crumbling foundation, sagging joists, leaky plumbing, and bowed out walls? The fact that the ceiling had no insulation and a black metal roof probably saved the entire roof from caving in after huge snow storms over the years. A structural engineer pointed out that the tie rods running across the interior were the only structural elements holding the club together, and deemed the club “structurally insufficient.” The question was: do you tear it down and rebuild it from the ground up? Or do you raise an extra half-million dollars to restore it? To the members of the Keswick Hunt Club, the answer was easy. The building was so intertwined with the community that everyone agreed it had to be saved. And not simply saved, but completely restored, the interior to be identical to what it looked like when it was first built in 1896—with the exception of the antiquated kitchen and decrepit bathrooms. To add

space, a porch on one side of the club was to be enclosed and a terrace added to the porch on the other side. Otherwise, everything would be the same. To understand members’ devotion to the club, you need to first get the lay of the land. Keswick is a 30,000-plus acre area just east of Charlottesville at the base of the Southwest Mountains with farms on both sides of the road (Rt. 231) that winds through it. White board fencing surrounds many of the farms and the stately and historic homes can be seen perched on the foothills at the base of the PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |

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HERITAGE mountains. It’s not only a scenic extravaganza, it’s also a great home for foxes. As Barclay Rives, Keswick writer and historian and an adept and devoted foxhunter himself, states in his book The Hundred Year History of the Keswick Hunt Club, “Foxhunting was an important part of life in the Keswick country long before the founding of the Keswick Hunt Club.” In 1742, the owner of Castle Hill Farm imported six pairs of English foxhounds and began hunting. Neighborhood farmers kept hounds and a number of private packs have hunted the area. But it was not until 1896 that foxhunting became formalized with the founding of the Keswick Hunt Club. With foxhunting came hunt breakfasts and social events such as the blessing of the hounds at Thanksgiving, the opening meet, the Keswick Horse Show and the board of governor’s annual dinner. One does not have to hunt to join the club, it has a diverse membership including fox hunters, retired fox hunters, community members, social members, and landowners. Speaking of landowners, people in Keswick who own farms support foxhunting and have increased the amount of huntable land, unlike some other clubs which have gone social because they’ve run out of territory to hunt. Everyone enjoys the ambiance around foxhunting. And with the scarlet coats many of the hunters wear, the magnificence of huge animals leaping over tall fences, the hunting horn blaring, and the hounds baying away, it’s like being a member of Augusta even if you’re not a golfer. And don’t fret about the foxes, they are incredibly smart and wily animals who are seldom caught.

The renovated clubhouse boasts a new kitchen, gleaming floors, new curtains festooned with hunting scenes, and 137 historic photos that had been cleaned, reframed, captioned, and hung on the walls.


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Part of the hunt-club atmosphere is the wonderful characters who have added interest, humor, and drama to it over the years and the colorful stories about them continue to weave members together. The first president of the club was a fellow named John Armstrong Chandler, a wealthy and eccentric philanthropist who was a great-great-grandson of John Jacob Astor. A year after his election, as Barclay writes, “his family had him committed to the Bloomingdale Asylum for the wealthy insane in New York.” The formal charter of the hunt club recorded: “President: the presently incarcerated John Armstrong Chandler.” Barclay continues, “He later escaped and was declared sane in Virginia but insane in New York. So he chose to stay in Virginia.” Because his family had him committed, he swore revenge against them and changed the spelling of his last name to Chaloner. When his brother was cheated out of his fortune by an opera singer, Chaloner made national headlines with a telegram asking his brother, “Who’s looney now?” In the late 1930s, Bill Perry, who had moved to Keswick just a short time earlier, was elected master of foxhounds. He was not only a good rider, had nice horses, was educated, handsome, and likeable, but his most appealing attribute was that he was rich. His great grandfather had amassed a fortune in silver, copper, and gold mines. The club had been short on funds for quite a while and Perry brought a dozen hounds and gifted horses to a number of members as well as shoring up hunt club coffers. As Barclay says, “He brought glamour and style to Keswick with friends like the actress Jean


Harlow. He had two wives named Betty when he lived in Keswick. The first Betty was born in Kenya and Perry met her when he was on safari there. Barclay says she was beautiful, with long blonde hair and that “she was the wildest person who ever lived in the neighborhood.” “My father,” Barclay continues, “remembered a cocktail party where one of the guests was a reputed crack shot with a pistol. Betty stood with a lit cigarette between her lips, her profile to the marksman who took aim and fired a shot to put out the cigarette.” Another colorful story that is treasured by the club members is about Alexander Rives, Barclay’s father. He was cantering around the ring on his horse during the horse show and a character named Mutt, who had a reputation for drinking, stood up on the fence surrounding the show ring and leapt onto the horse behind Rives when he rode by. Rives, unperturbed, kept on cantering until he got to the center of the ring where he stopped and calmly said, “Okay, Mutt, get off.” Then there’s the one about Stewart Burford, who was a chef and caterer and often cooked for club events. He was kneading a large lump of dough for dinner rolls when the phone rang. As he was talking on the phone, he noticed the dough was rising and beginning to spill over the edge of the counter. Holding his hand over the receiver, he yelled to his assistant, whose name was Ooze (can you imagine what he looked like?), “Ooze, the dough, get the dough!” But Ooze moved in the opposite direction. The dough teetered on the counter, almost ready to dive for the floor. Stuart was shouting, “The dough, get the dough.” Another of his helpers saved it just before Ooze flung open the back door, looked outside, then turned with a puzzled look on his face and said, “Ain’t nobody there.” These stories and many more like them, get told and retold, strengthening the bonds

The new porch dining room created from the former storage room and kitchen.

between members and making the club’s history come alive. Turns out the contractor selected for the renovation had his work cut out for him. Not only were the walls leaning outward but the original timber foundation had been totally undermined by generations of groundhogs who, unbeknownst


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HERITAGE to us, had joined the club over the years. To straighten the bowing walls, they had to pour new footers and install four-inch steel posts on top of them along the façade and sidewalls of the club and join them together with more steel posts running up the roof so that the entire club was encased in a steel superstructure. Putting on a new roof, replacing the siding and original interior beadboard concealed the steel framework so the club looked exactly the same as it did when it was built 122 years before. Except now it had an up-to-date kitchen, new bathrooms, HVAC, and is wheelchair accessible. At 6:00 p.m. on Feb. 23 of this year, a hundred and forty pairs of eyes blinked and went wide as hunt club members walked through the front door of the renovated building. People were agog at the sight of the gleaming floor, the new porch dining room created from the former storage room and kitchen, the new curtains festooned with hunting scenes, and the 137 photos that had been cleaned, reframed, captioned, and hung in orderly groups on the walls. As people toured the renovation, they were delighted by the men’s and ladies’ rooms, fresh, clean, and roomy with new lighting and handicap accessibility; the gleaming kitchen; new hallways painted a light cream color; and, finally, the new heating and air conditioning systems, which brought the hundred and twenty-two year-old club into the twenty-first century. The musty, tired interior had been given a facelift and makeover without losing any of its character. Everything felt familiar but refreshed, like an old friend showing up in a sparkling new outfit. Arnold and Ernest (the club’s longtime bartenders) were back behind the bar that had been lowered and refinished and the faded green naugahyde front removed, and Judy and Marika (Arnold and Ernest’s wives) were enjoying the spacious new kitchen. Earlier, when Judy first walked in, tears came to her eyes as she took in the sight. Everyone involved in the project received hearty congratulations: from the board who initiated the project, to the club member who helmed the decorating committee,

the member who supervised the project, the team from the contractor Uhler Design/Build, and the member who had the photos reframed and captioned, and the countless members who stepped up with donations of furniture and put in the time volunteering to assist in the renovation and, in the previous week, had swarmed over the club readying it for the opening. As it turned out, the structure was close to falling down and had the project been delayed much longer, it just might have. But together the members saved the hunt clubhouse and insured that it will be around for at least another hundred years. Now updated, the club has already hosted member events and is available for rent for weddings, rehearsal dinners, and meetings. It seats a maximum of 180 guests with a kitchen suitable for catering. For more information, contact Susan Rives (Barclay’s sister-in-law—we like to keep it in the family), the club member responsible for events, at events@keswickhuntclub.com.

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Piedmont Virginian Summer 2019  

Piedmont Virginian Summer 2019