Back from Vacation

Wow what a week it has been! While we didn’t go to a wonderful location for rest and relaxation, we couldn’t have picked a better week’s worth of locations to go to. I will have to tell you that it is going to take me several days to cover all that we have done and seen this last week. So I hope you will be able to check back over the next few days!

After we returned on Monday from our time at the plantation, the Schooler House Bed and Breakfast and our meeting at Stratford Hall, we spent Tuesday just getting things done around the house in Chesapeake and preparing for the week of activities and meetings we had scheduled. It was near impossible to go to sleep on Tuesday night! With what lay ahead of us, I was eager to get it going!

On Wednesday morning, we rose at 6:00am (yes, 6am on a vacation day!) to get ready and head out to Richmond, Virginia. We had two appointments scheduled for Wednesday at two different locations. Best of all, we were going to meet up with our friend Terri, who lives in Richmond, for lunch. She was able to join us for the last meeting of the day.

Virginia Historic Society
Richmond, Virginia
http://www.vahistorical.org

Our first stop was at the Virginia Historic Society. I have been there before when I was doing some of my initial research on Belle Grove. It had been a whirlwind of a stop too! I had come in with just about one hour to view several pieces. I had pulled the reference information and had a list ready to go. These pieces were archive special collection pieces so I had to submit a request for each one. But thankfully, the librarians had worked with me and we were able to pull every one of them! I have to say a special thank you to Frances Pollard, one of the head librarians. She had pulled other pieces as well as the ones I knew about to help me complete some of the history of Belle Grove.

It was through Ms. Pollard that months later the Washington Post came calling for an interview on Belle Grove and my research. Most don’t know about the article in the Washington Post. It was during the early stages of our work on the lease contract and I wasn’t able to publish anything with Belle Grove’s name or location. I have to tell you it was really hard not to tell! The article was about researching family history. The Washington Post had come to the Virginia Historic Society to do the piece and Ms. Pollard had remembered my work and referred them to me. I never got to see the article, but how proud I was to tell about all the history we had uncovered by then.

When I visited the Virginia Historic Society before, there were several pieces I was not able to see because they were museum display pieces which required a special showing. Since we had the time during this working vacation, I decided to make an appointment to finally see them. Most of them were pictures of portraits that I had already seen. I had hoped to see the real portraits, but most were just copies of them. One piece we saw was a copy of the glass plate photo of Belle Grove in 1894. Their copy of the photo was a little clearer than ours and had more of the picture then ours. To our great surprise, it revealed more than we ever expected!

Belle Grove
1894
This is the photo I found first

Belle Grove
1894
This is the Virginia Historic Society’s copy

In the glass plate photo, you can clearly see more of the extension of the house. It also revealed that the third section of the house that we had long thought was added by the Hookers in the 1950s was in fact added a lot earlier. We now believe that it was added by the Turner family sometime between 1839 and 1876! Another reveal came in the way of who was on the portico. In the past, from our photo, we thought the person standing there was an African-American woman in a long white dress. We thought that she might be a former slave of the plantation that had decided not to leave. But as we looked at the photo, we realized that it wasn’t a woman at all! It turned out to be a man in a white suit sitting in a chair. We also found that he wasn’t alone! Sitting beside him is a small boy in a dark suit! Who have we found? I have a rough idea who it could be, but I am going to have to do some more research to find the true identity of both people. More to come on this discovery!

There was one more piece that we saw that was not on my list before. I had added it this time. It was the first piece we saw. Heather Beattie, Museum Collections Manager was our guide for this special viewing. When we arrived at the viewing room, she presented a small box. She opened the box to reveal a beautiful necklace made of gold and what looked like brown beads. It wasn’t very long, may be about 12 to 14 inches. But I knew what it was and was so overjoyed to have a chance to see it. This necklace was made by Nellie Madison Hite, sister of James Madison. What appear to be brown beads are in fact hair that had been twisted into the shape you see. The hair used for this necklace was that of President James Madison. I was so overwhelmed! Sadly we weren’t able to pick it up or touch it, but to come this close to the man himself! We could never be any closer to him unless we dug him up! It was truly very special!

Necklace made by Nellie Madison Hite using the hair of James Madison
Virginia Historic Society

After we finished with our special viewing, we headed up to the museum at the Historic Society. If you have never stopped by there, you are really missing something special! And best of all, it is free! Their collections are arranged by time periods. You can see items from the Native American’s who called Virginia home before the first settlers arrived to items from the Civil War to famous Virginians such as Arthur Ashe and Thomas Jefferson.

Catlett Conway
Uncle of James Madison
Born and Raised at Belle Grove Plantation
Virginia Historic Society

Virginia Historic Society

Beaded Silver Mint Julep Cup
Virginia Historic Society

1790s Sideboard
Virginia Historic Society

Virginia Historic Society

Inside Foyer of the Historic Society
Virginia Historic Society

Pocahontas
Virginia Historic Society

Plantation Model
Virginia Historic Society

Plantation Model
Virginia Historic Society

Plantation Model
Virginia Historic Society

Plantation Model
Virginia Historic Society

Plantation Model
Virginia Historic Society

Plantation Model
Virginia Historic Society

Plantation Model
Virginia Historic Society

Plantation Model
Virginia Historic Society

Plantation Model
Virginia Historic Society

Plantation Model
Virginia Historic Society

Plantation Model
Virginia Historic Society

James Madison
Virginia Historic Society

Virginia Historic Society

After our visit to the Virginia Historic Society, Brett and I headed over to an area in Richmond called Carytown. We were to meet Terri there for lunch at a place called The Can Can. But we arrived a little early so we took advantage of the extra time and hit some of the antique stores. Carytown is a town inside the city of Richmond. They have been revitalizing this area in what looks like a small town main street area. The shops are wide ranging from antiques to wine to consignment shops to places to eat. It all has the home town feel and it is easy to forget you are in a large capital city.

Carytown
Richmond, Virginia

Thomas Hines Antiques
3027 West Cary Street Richmond, VA 23221
(804) 355-2782

Our first stop was at Thomas Hines Antique Store. This store covers several store fronts and is what I would call an upscale antique store. When Brett and I entered, it took my breath away. I quickly told Brett that I would “take one of each”. The owner who was behind a shelf quickly responded, “Good, I’ll wrap it up for you.” Mr. Hines has been in the antique business since he was seven years old. Now in his seventies, he was able to point out pieces that would fit our needs for periods of the families various families that lived at Belle Grove. But the one thing that he told us that I hope to remember when we start making our purchases is this. He told us, “Make sure you buy the real thing. Because the people your plantation will attract will be the ones who will know the difference.” What a wise man he is.

Thomas Hines Antiques
Carytown
Richmond, Virginia

Thomas Hines Antiques
Carytown
Richmond, Virginia

Thomas Hines Antiques
Carytown
Richmond, Virginia

Sheppard Street Antiques
http://www.sheppardstreetantiques.com
Richmond, Virginia

From there we headed down the street looking into windows and enjoying the warmth of the sun. The next antique store we found was on a side street about a block away from Thomas Hines’ place. It was called the Sheppard Street Antiques Store. It isn’t a large as Thomas Hines’ place, but it has some really nice accent pieces. One of the first things that drew my attention was a small silver plated tea pot. It wasn’t big enough for an Afternoon Tea Social, but it would have been great for a one or two person tea. I didn’t get it and of course now I wish I had. Maybe I can make it back there again soon.

Sheppard Street Antiques
Carytown
Richmond, Virginia

Sheppard Street Antiques
Carytown
Richmond, Virginia

Sheppard Street Antiques
Carytown
Richmond, Virginia

Sheppard Street Antiques
Carytown
Richmond, Virginia

There was one piece that I got very excited about when I saw it. It was a set of spoons that were of the “Old Colonial Times” style. It is sterling silver and is made by Towle. This is the style I want for Belle Grove Plantation. It has that old charm and classic look that I feel would just be perfect for the dining table. As most of you noticed on the spoon bowls, the bowls are fluted like a pumpkin. I have used this style before at Schooler House Bed and Breakfast and just love the feel and look. I wasn’t able to get this set of spoons though. They are for chocolate dessert service and there were only a few pieces. Maybe soon I can find that set I need.

Old Colonial Times Spoon
Sheppard Street Antiques
Richmond, Virginia

I did however find one piece that I was able to get. They had a box of items headed to auction and they allowed Brett and me to look through it. I came across a small silver-plated creamer with small feet and a tiny lid on top. When I asked about the price, I couldn’t say no. So one day when you are sitting at our dining table enjoying breakfast, as you reach for this creamer to fill your coffee or tea, you will know how it came to grace our table.

Creamer
Sheppard Street Antiques
Richmond, Virginia

After shopping we met up with Terri at the Can Can. This brasserie is done in the style of a 1920s French Café. We decided to sit outside and enjoy the warm day and soft breeze. Our waiter, John was a lot of fun and very helpful in selecting a dish from their wonderful menu. And believe me it was really hard to select something! It all looked so good!

The Can Can Brasserie
http://www.cancanbrasserie.com
Carytown
Richmond, Virginia

The Can Can Brasserie
Carytown
Richmond, Virginia

Brett selected the Croque Madame. This is a variation of the Croque Monsieur, which is an open face ham and cheese sandwich. For the Croque Madame, they add a sun-side up fried egg. But I have to tell you that it is no ordinary ham and cheese sandwich.

The ham is fresh made (no deli slices here) and Gruyere Cheese.

Croque Madame
The Can Can Brasserie
Richmond, Virginia

Terri selected the Chicken Crepe. This crepe is filled with chicken and

topped with braised Lentil and Mushroom Ragout and an Apple Brie Fondue.

Chicken Crepe
The Can Can Brasserie
Richmond, Virginia

I selected the Cheese Plate. I didn’t want a lot to eat but this plate was filled with such delights! It has Camembert, Saint Andre and Fourme de’Ambert Cheese with slices of Smoke Sausage and Pate and a side of Green and Kalamata Olives and a Blueberry Compote.

Cheese Plate
The Can Can Brasserie
Richmond, Virginia

Cheese Plate (with the Smoked Sausage and Pate showing)
The Can Can Brasserie
Richmond, Virginia

As we sat there enjoying our meal, I could almost swear we were sitting at a road side café in France!

Terri and Brett
The Can Can Brasserie
Carytown

Brett and Michelle
The Can Can Brasserie
Carytown

Tomorrow – On to the Virginia House!

28 thoughts on “Back from Vacation

  1. Dianna says:

    Wow – the early photo of Belle Grove and what you discovered after seeing the one at the Virginia Historic Society: AMAZING! Can’t wait to hear more about the man and little boy in the picture!

  2. Once more, great pictures. I lived near the Historical Society back in the day when I lived in Richmond. And I love Carytown. You guys are doing such a great job of developing the plantation’s history. What great work! And I am loving every minute of it, out here in California.
    Until next time.

  3. vanbraman says:

    I am glad that you were able to find the clearer picture of the house. When looking at the first picture again, you can see the boy, but you have to know he is there and have a little imagination. I am looking forward to learning more about what you found.

  4. terry1954 says:

    enjoyed every single word, every single photo!!!!!!! I think I am in love with Virginia

  5. Sounds like an amazing vacation and the Historical Society seems like a place you could spend all day! Beautiful antiques too. I can’t wait to hear about your research on the little boy and the man in the photo.

    • It really has been a great week! I could spend all day there and I think I would still need to come back to see more. The antiques were beautiful! I wish I could have taken some home! I can’t wait to see if I can find out who it is too!!

  6. I am in love! The dining table at Thomas Hines is ABSOLUTELY beautiful! You sound like you had a blast, and I can’t wait to find out more about the boy and the gentleman on the porch. Question about the hair necklace: was it made as a piece of mourning jewelry?

    • I was too with that table! And the chairs!! We really did have a blast and can’t wait to find out who they are! I don’t know if it was or not. She didn’t give us too much information on it. Of course I could have missed it since I couldn’t take my eyes off of it!

  7. colmel says:

    Another great post! Thank you SO VERY MUCH for sharing all your fun and fascinating discoveries with us. I know – speaking for myself – that many of us are living your dream vicariously through you. By the way… I could have sworn that was a photo of you with Brett at the very end. ;->

    • You are so welcome! We love to share the fun with everyone! And how that once we open you will come and experience the dream for real! Haha That is Brett and me! Show what happens when you try to write when you are tired and recovering from “vacation” Thank you for letting me know!

      • colmel says:

        I see that I forgot to tell you about http://www.replacements.com. You probably know all about them, but they are terrific for finding missing pieces for patterns – both flatware and china – no matter how old or obscure. I have my grandmother’s dishes (she was born in 1891) and they have been wonderful to work with in finding pieces to “replace” some of ours which have chipped or crazed badly through the years.

      • I do know about them. Its just that this set is kind of expensive. I need to save up for them 😉

  8. Nickerson says:

    The Black and White picture, the food. Everything you guys do is top class 😀 I LOVE seeing the pictures you guys take and the stuff you come across. Always fascinating. The food definately made my mouth water too, haha.

  9. Mrs. P says:

    WOW, great trip…so far and how exciting that you were able to return to the Historical Society for a private showing! Reading about the picture discoveries gave me goose bumps. I can’t wait until you find out who they are. You gave me even more when you explained about the necklace. WOW! I LOVE doing historical research and found that the librarians have been awesome in accommodating my needs. Earlier this year I added a “fly by” Pennsylvania “research” trip at the tail end of our DC vacation. I wanted to research fifteen families and called ahead as I only had a little over an hour to spend there. They would not pull anything before our arrival but once we arrived, everything was delivered to us, suggestions were added and all copies were made. All in all it was over the top service. We even had enough time to photograph several of the family homes and visit a few of the local cemeteries before it got too dark.

    • Wow, it sounds like you had a trip like mine! You have to love these librarians who work so hard to help us find those items we so desire. I can also share in your passion for research. It is so rewarding to finally find that one piece that connects all the parts!

  10. Jane Sadek says:

    I love how you enjoy everything you’re doing. I get a grin every time I’m her.

  11. Elen Grey says:

    I’m starving now! Great shots. I want the spoons. 😉

  12. Amy says:

    Thank you for the wonderful tour! The Plantation Model is incredibly beautiful.

    • You are so welcome! You need to go see it in person! It was such a cool part of the museum. Brett was saying we could use it as a model for our layout at our plantation. I just laughed and smiled and then gave him an “are you serious” look. 😉

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