We haven’t given much of a progress report lately so here is what we have going on. The contract… what can I say? The contract is still with the attorney. We haven’t even seen a draft yet. As of June 15, it was thirty days. So today makes 44 days since it was given to him to draw up. A week ago, the property manager said he got a call from the attorney, but when he tried to call back, he wasn’t there. The property manager has been calling and leaving messages ever since. Yes, very frustrating. But we have been at this since July, 2011, so we will just wait this one out.
But we haven’t been idle. Brett has been working on the zoning and occupancy permit. Zoning, what fun! In our county, we are zoned for farming. But they do allow bed and breakfast to use farming land. We just need a special exemption to do it. When Brett called the county, they let us know that we would need a preliminary site plan for the exemption. The site plan also has to be done by a certified engineer. We contacted the property manager to see if they had one already from the restoration work. They had a plat survey, but we don’t know if that will work. So Brett located a very helpful engineer from the county who has been helping us with this. The engineer wasn’t sure if we really needed it, so he is going to contact the Zoning Director to see if it is really needed since we aren’t changing or adding anything to the property. But we are now back to waiting on that one. The Zoning Director is on vacation this last week so we have to wait until next week to see what we need to do. The engineer also told us that the exemption process could take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. Let’s hope for the best case for that one! Or we won’t be able to get the doors open in September.
Brett also contacted the director for building codes. He is going to schedule a time for him to come out and inspect the main house. The director has been there before so he was somewhat familuar with it. He told Brett from what he could remember the only thing we might need to add is access for handicapped guest. We do have an elevator in the main house (yes that’s right a real elevator! You can’t see it because it is disguised) the only access we need to add is the entry. And we do want to have access for those that need it. Brett and I both are former military and we support Wounded Warriors. We hope to be able to have some events as well as offering a special for them.
We are planning on heading back to Belle Grove on Saturday, July 7th to meet with the landscape contractor to discuss grading and hardscapes. The driveway and sidewalks all need to be improved before we have guests come to see us. We also need to get the grounds graded from years of erosion. We don’t want you to walk across our beautiful circle and twist your ankle by stepping into a hole. We are also restoring a small parking area next to the garage so we don’t have guest parking around the circle. We are also going to have the bluff overlooking the river graded. As it is, the terraces have eroded and need to be cut back in. The past farmer removed a lot of the ground cover on the bluff so we need to add it back to protect that bluff.
We are excited to tell you that we have contacted the caretaker for Rose Hill Plantation and he is going to allow us to come to Rose Hill to view the house and the family graveyard! You will remember Rose Hill Plantation (also known as Gaymont) from “A Father’s Love” post. It is the plantation owned by John Hipkins, father of Fannie Hipkins-Bernard. He purchased Belle Grove in 1790 and built the current home in 1791 for Fannie and her family. You can see Rose Hill Plantation from the Riverside of Belle Grove during the winter. We have heard that the house looks a lot like Belle Grove. Pictures and a posting to follow next weekend!
Right now our main focus is our three outbuildings. These outbuildings are original to the plantation and retain much of the original construction. We are working on raising funds through Indiegogo to restore and preserve these three priceless treasures. The Smokehouse is in the worst shape at this time, with one wall gone and only framework holding it up. It is our hope that we can raise enough money to restore them and then open them to the public. We plan on using the Summer Kitchen as a small museum to house the history we have uncovered over the last year of research. We have also discovered several artifacts from the 1700 and 1800s that we will place in there. We ask that you please consider a contribution no matter the size to saving these buildings. Even a contribution of $5.00 can make a big difference.
By contributing, you will also have the opportunity to register for our Free Getaway Weekend! You can also claim perks with other contributions! Please visit our Indiegogo site for more details on this Giveaway!
This campaign will end on July 23rd so don’t wait to visit us!
If you are unable to contribute, you can still help us in two other ways.
First, you can go to the Indiegogo site. By visiting the site, it will be helping us increase our merit points which will in turn help us be placed on the Indiegogo Features Page. This will give us exposure that we could never get by being just another campaign.
Second, you can help us sharing this campaign. You can share our blog on your blog and on you Facebook or email your friends asking for them to visit our site. We can’t not tell you how much we would appreciate your contributions and sharing.
We have been asking you to please consider commenting on the Indiegogo site, but I confirmed this afternoon that you can only comment if you make a contribution. And they limit you to just one comment per day after that.
Without you, these buildings will continue to deteriorate and we will lose these time capsules from our Early American History. Thank you for reading this and thank you for considering helping us.