About Us

Michelle and Brett Darnell, 2011

Michelle was born in South Carolina, the oldest of five children. Her grandmother, a very    grand Southern woman, instilled in her the passion she has for cooking and entertaining as well as her deep love of history. Michelle’s family moved throughout her childhood which gave her insight into new areas and a diverse mix of friends. After graduating from high school, Michelle chose to pursue a career in the United States Marine Corps as a Field Radio Operator. It was here that she met her husband Brett Darnell.

Brett was born in Philadelphia, but grew up in Ohio. Brett was the middle of three sons. Unlike Michelle, Brett grew up in the same community all his life. The community offered a very laid back lifestyle with outdoor activates such as boating and snowmobiling.  After graduating high school, Brett chose to pursue a career in the United States Navy as a Hospital Corpsman.

In June, 1985, Brett met Michelle through a friend while they were serving in the military at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. They began dating in December, 1985. On October 18, 1986, Brett and Michelle became husband and wife. In October, 2011, they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.

Shortly after getting married, Michelle left the Marine Corps to follow Brett’s career in the Navy. They moved to Dayton, Ohio in late 1987. In 1988, Brett and Michelle decided to purchase their first home, a historic 1885 Federal brick home. Two weeks later, they were blessed with the news that Michelle was pregnant.

In February, 1989, Michelle developed complications and their first child, a daughter, had to be delivered 14 weeks premature. Alexa weighed one pound, 3.25 ounce and was 11.5 inches long. She spent 100 days in the hospital and came home weighing just under 5 pounds. Today, she is a healthy 23 year old, who is attending college to complete her degree in psychology. She has no health issues and did not require any surgeries due to her premature birth.

In March, 1991, Brett transferred to Groton, Connecticut to attend Submarine School, leaving Michelle and Alexa in Dayton for one year alone. In June, 1991, they were again blessed with news that Michelle was pregnant. This pregnancy also developed complications and their second child, a son was born in January, 1992, just six weeks early. Tyler weighed five pounds and two ounces. He was able to come home as normal. Today, he is a healthy twenty year old and is about to embark on his own career in the United States Navy with hopes to one day become a chaplain. In March, 1992, Brett returned home from Groton before he headed to his next duty station, Norfolk, Virginia. It was the first time, he was able to see his son.

Brett was assigned to the Flying Fish Fast Attack submarine for three years. Michelle and the children moved to the Norfolk area in June, 1992. They settled in Chesapeake, Virginia and have made their home there for the last twenty years. Brett retired from the Navy in 2004. Before retiring from the Navy, Brett completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences, and has since earned a Master’s Degree in Public Health Preparedness from Penn State University.

Throughout the years, Michelle held several different positions to help with the household expenses. She also took five years off, just to be mom during the first five years of their stay in Virginia. Upon returning to work, she found herself working at a local bistro as a cook and delivery driver. It was during this time that she rediscovered her passion for cooking. It was also during this time, that the owner and executive chef took notice of that passion and helped develop it. She “earned and learned” her way to Sous Chef, before branching out on her own just one year later. Michelle started her first business, catering with a partner, which quickly filled with event dates. Sadly this business would not continue. Michelle’s business partner moved back to Texas with her family and without the support of a partner and having two small children, she had to close it down before it really got started. Fortunately she found a small part time cooking position within her own church that allowed her to cater each week for Wednesday night dinner and pick up some events on the side. With Brett being away on deployment, the children would join her and became her “little helpers”.

As the children started preschool and then elementary school, Michelle moved into a part time office manager position with a local college cafeteria and then a full time position within a bank. She has worked with the bank now for ten years.

After Tyler’s graduation from high school in 2010 and then Brett’s graduation in 2011, Michelle found herself ready to put her passion for cooking and history to good use. She knew that she wanted to combine her passions and that the most logical avenue was a historic Bed and Breakfast.  She knew that it couldn’t be just any home; it needed to have historic importance as well as location. So the search began in 2010. In July,  2011, they found their plantation. Over the last year, Brett and Michelle have worked tirelessly to research its history as well as to develop it into a world class destination.

It is their hope that you will join them on this journey as they work to open this plantation and to one day come and enjoy this historic and important property.


1,034 thoughts on “About Us

  1. Shirley Kwan says:

    I’m glad you liked my post and Hereticablog. What a trajectory you’re on!

  2. Jack Rivkin says:

    The Virginia delegation played a huge part in the creation of the Constitution and the “Miracle at Philadelphia.”

    • The final constitution was finished during the Constitutional Convention, but the first draft came from three primary individuals, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison with Madison writing most of it. He used the Virginia Constitution as a reference.

      • Jack Rivkin says:

        Franklin actually had little to do with the first proposals which were known as the Virginia Plan which the entire 7 man Virginia delegation, which included madison and washington, had a hand in, although many attribute a lot of it to Madison who was 36 at the time. It was based as you pointed out in good part on the Virginia Constitution. Edmund Randolph, 33, governor of Virginia, presented the plan in a 4 hour turn on the floor. It was the reference document for everything else that was discussed for the next five months. Jefferson, 44, was in Europe before, after and during the convention although he had sent Madison, at his request, well over 100 books on political theory and fact of the various governments that had previously existed. Madison was present every day of the convention and his daily diary provided the real history of what went on. What a great feeling it must be to live in the house where this very important figure in US history was born!

      • Thank you so much for the information! You are definitely more well versed than I am on the subject. I love learning more about this great man and his counter parts and the great work that they did. It is a great honor that we have been given to restore the history to this house and plantation. I am still pinching myself to make sure its not just a dream.

  3. http://lovelyseasonscomeandgo.wordpress.com
    Hi Thank you so much for liking my post “keeping everyone in the path of the storm in my prayers” I am enjoying your blog as well and be sure to have a wonderful day. Betty

  4. Patricia Temples says:

    I enjoyed reading about you and to learn that you own the Belle Grove Plantation, birthplace of James Madison. i am a master naturalist and I do a lot of volunteer activities at Montpelier. Attending the Fiber Festival was just for the possibility of photography, as I’ve been on the property many, many times. I’m glad our paths crossed. Thanks for reading my blog. I’ll be following yours!

    • Wow, nice to meet you too! I’m a little too far to volunteer at Montpelier, but I would give anything to be there day in and day out. I look forward to seeing more of your blog and live it through you. I hope some day we can meet at the plantation where this great man drew his first breathe! Thank you so much!!

  5. nic98omo says:

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog and liking my post on BBQ Chicken Sandwiches. I enjoyed stopping by your site and reading about the adventure with your historic home. My children and I have been studying the American Revolution and are now moving on to the First Continental Congress. The information to posted about James Madison gave me a few ideas to incorporate into our studies.

    • You are so welcome! We hope to see more of your blog in the future! That is wonderful! I don’t know how far you are from us, but if you have a chance you should come see our area around the plantation. Three of the five first presidents were born here and there is so much history to be seen.

  6. Thanks for stopping by and liking my lazy Saturday afternoon post! I will be visiting Belle Grove Plantation even if just virtually… although one never knows.

  7. Thank you for checking out my website! I look forward to reading more on your blog!

  8. Thank you so much for liking my post “Our “new” TV!” on my blog “Diary of an art student” Michelle and Brett 🙂
    Wishing you Love, Light, and Laughter, Always 🙂

  9. sandysview says:

    Cool place. I’d love to check out ‘the South’ one day. Definitely on my list of things to do. Road trip!

  10. Beautiful house. Thanks for looking at my blog.

  11. kazzabee87 says:

    Hey guys, your B&B looks simply gorgeous. I love travelling in the USA, hopefully one day i’ll be able to look you up! Keep up the good work. Stay safe, Kazza =D

  12. lesliesholly says:

    Thank you for stopping by my blog. What a wonderful place you have!

  13. mephibashef says:

    Blessings to you both on your endeavor. Love reading all of your posts. May the Lord bless you with a prosperous business, and longevity together.

  14. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and liking a post! I’m glad you did so that i was able to discover your lovely plantation!! Can’t wait to continue to hear more about it, and I’ll have to put this on my list of trips to take!

  15. Kathleen says:

    Thanks for reading my blog about Tapestry Singers! It’s a wonderful group. Best wishes in your plantation management. As a Southerner myself, I have seen a number of them.

  16. kiwiskan says:

    Looks magnificent! Good on you for following your dream.

  17. WH says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you enjoyed my short story, The Sharpshooter. Please visit again! Blessings ~w

  18. This is a gorgeous home and what history! I wish you well and God’s blessings on your project and would love to come visit you sometime! We have a daughter born in 1989 in common. My daughter, Annika, was the New Years baby (born in Jan 3) in Conrad, Montana. We now make our home in ND. Thanks for coming by to visit my paulajo Photo Designs blog and signing up to follow it. I am very excited about my business and hope you will come back often. i am off to follow your blog too!

  19. becky6259 says:

    Thank you for checking out my blog and liking my post! It gave me the opportunity to come here and read about your incredible life journey together! My husband also retired from the US Navy and now has a Master’s in counseling, and is working on his second Master’s in Divinity–it seems our lives parallel yours in some ways! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    • You are so welcome! We look forward to seeing more of you blog! Wow it does sound like we have some things alike! I don’t think Brett is interested in doing a second Masters. But Divinity is a great degree to get! We hope someday you and your husband might find your way to the plantation! We would love to meet you! Thank you so much for stopping by!

      • Becky says:

        I don’t blame him for that! Frank didn’t really want a second Master’s either, but he wanted to be a chaplain and was told he needed one, so….lol! We’re always trying to think of a great getaway destination–we’ll have to keep the Plantation in mind!

      • Thank you! Our son is toying with the idea of being a chaplain. But he just isn’t sure yet.

  20. kristiatwood says:

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog and liking my post “Saying goodbye to the trees.” I just read your biography and I am really intrigued by your journey and this beautiful plantation home you are filling with new life and hope.
    Wishing you health and happiness,

    “Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become.” ~James Allen

    • You are so welcome! I just adore trees. We look forward to seeing more of your blog in the future! Thank you for stopping by and reading about our journey! It really has been an amazing trip so far. It has been a dream come true for us and we can’t wait to share the dream with others! Thank you so much for stopping by!

  21. bronwyngrace says:

    Your family has such a fascinating story! I love the personal history: a very intimate account of your family’s growth since you met one another.

    Thank you for visiting my blog: I’ll be following you!

  22. Bobbie says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! You have a wonderful story and a great adventure ahead of you. I look forward to watching your progress.

  23. Marie Taylor says:

    Thanks for stopping by and liking my post. Like your husband I originally came from the PA/Ohio area and this time of the year, when the trees are turning, I really miss it. Best wishes on your journey. Marie

    • You are so welcome! We hope to see more of your blog in the future! We love the fall trees. They are just so beautiful! Maybe someday you can come by the plantation and enjoy them next time! Thank you for stopping by!

  24. gacochran says:

    Thanks for stopping by “Along the Way” and the likes. Love your story. Thanks for sharing.

  25. jonnygough says:

    Interesting story – I visited Groton a few years ago and remember it was a place frequented by 18th century evangelist George Whitefield. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Waverley Plantation in east Mississippi (see my blog for comments). Greetings from England

    • Thank you. I only saw Groton once. Brett was there for one year. I haven’t heard of Waverley Plantation. I will read up on it through your blog! Thank you for stopping by! Greetings back from Virginia! 🙂

  26. Sophie says:

    Hello! Thank you so much for liking my post! Your story and your idea for the plantation is really interesting. Here’s hoping I’d be able to visit it one day. Much love and thanks again! 🙂

  27. Hi and thanks for visiting and liking my blog 🙂

    Reading your interesting story, I see we have a couple of things in common, the main one being that I was in the British ‘Royal Marines’ for part of my life – The title was often abbreviated to RM’s, which we claimed stood for ‘Real Marines’. Sorry about that!! 😀

    I’ll be back for more !

    • You are so welcome! We hope to see more of your blog in the future! Haha I like that. I had a chance to work with the RMs during my time in. They were all very nice and I enjoyed working with them. Thank you so much for joining us on this journey!

  28. Aimee says:

    Thank you for liking my blog! Love love love your property! (And Happy Veterans Day to you both….. thank you for serving!)

  29. Thank you for visiting. In late summer we often come to Virginia to visit & on our way west to the Blue Ridges pass by. Perhaps one of these times we could actually stay.

    – Misera e stupenda città

  30. Thank you for visiting my blog and liking Dark Tomb Cemetery Garden {Special}. Your life is very very vibrant and filled with so much passion to pursue your dreams and make them real. Looking forward to reading more about the journey to a very successful plantation and life.

  31. lynnwyvill says:

    What a great story and exciting project you are undertaking! Can’t wait to read more. Thanks for stopping by my blog and the “like.”

  32. Thank you for stopping by my blog and liking my post “My Ozarks Heritage.”. The best to you in your venture. Sounds exciting. My youngest son was born at Langley AF Base Hospital, Hampton, Virginia and we would love to visit beautiful Virginia, again.

  33. http://bohoheart.com/2012/11/19/1046/ Nominated you for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

  34. naomimgruer says:

    Thanks for stopping by my lifestyle blog Bmore Energy, http://bmoreenergy.wordpress.com where I am currently “rolling out the recipes” for Thanksgiving. You have an interesting site and I wish you the best on your B & B!

  35. petrel41 says:

    Hi Michelle and Brett,

    Good news!

    I have nominated you for the Blog of the Year 2012 award, because of all what you have done so far.

    See for the rules of that award


    All my best wishes for you!

  36. dtkrippene says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog site. Quite an adventure you’re on. It’s a beautiful part of the world and a great place for a B&B.

  37. Thank you for liking my blog and congratulations on your stupendous journey! In art and soul. Gino

  38. godcanhealit says:

    Thanks for liking my blog. It gave me a chance to stop by and see your amazing project and love – not only for history, but for each other. I’m also sorry about your mom, but I’m grateful that you see that life happens and goes on.

  39. J. Z. Manley says:

    Thanks for liking my post “guest post / spiced pumpkin oat cookies”. My husband and I would love to open a vegan b&b someday! Your blog is so inspirational! Cheers, Jenny

  40. ephesians413 says:

    Interesting. I love Virginia. My husband and I vacationed there a few years ago and enjoyed the lovely scenery and the historical sites. We hope to go back some day (there’s still more history to discover) and I’ll try to bookmark your place. it sounds lovely!

  41. Michelle and Brett, Thanks for stopping by my blog and giving it a thumbs up, love your story and only wish you the best!

  42. nancymn says:

    Wow, what an incredible story you two have. Lots of heartbreak, but lots of joy as well. And Dayton, Ohio figures into all of this! My husband is from Dayton, too! I have family in the MD area, so I would love to stop and see your place next time we come up that way. And thanks for the like on my blog!

    • You are so welcome! We look forward to seeing more of your blog! We lived in Dayton for four years. It was nice, but I’m not much for the snow. We would love to have you stop by the plantation someday! Thank you for stopping by ours!

  43. Ahoy there fellow human beings! I just got awarded the Sunshine award, you can check it out here – http://runesandrhinestones.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/sunshine-award-time-to-procrastinate/ should you so desire 😀 Plus I’m nominating you for the award because the rules tell me I must award it to others and I like your blog.

  44. susan says:

    Thanks so much for liking my blog: http:helpparentsagewell.com. If your bed and breakfast opens on March 16th that would also have been my Dad’s birthday (he was 94 when he died 9 years ago). I like to think it a lucky day.

    My husband and I (westerners) loved visiting the south with our parents as they aged. Will your bed and breakfast be user-friendly for older people (ie. not too many steps)? Regardless, we hope to visit once you’re up and ready. Good luck,

  45. Mama Bear says:

    Hello Virginia Plantation,
    We at The Homestead have nominated your blog for the ‘Very Inspiring Blog Award’.

    The rules concerning this award are at: http://bearriverhomestead.com/2012/11/23/a-wonderful-surprise/

  46. Thank you for stopping by my blog! I love the historical significance of your B&B! (and it’s always nice to meet other veterans in business!!)

  47. Glad you liked my blog. Sad that some subjects such as family difficulties need to be written about sometimes. But if we don’t raise awareness of such issues we can’t hope to achieve meaningful change. I’m envious of your southern heritage and the historic nature of your property. Enjoy!!! Hey, I’m about to implement a major upgrade of my blog and I’m intending to add a spot for people to share recipes. I would love to have something Southern to share with readers (if you don’t mind letting go some secrets!!!). Best wishes, David.

    • You are so welcome! We hope to see more of your blog in the future! Thank you! I would love to share some “Secret Southern” recipes. Would you like me to email them to you? I agree about writing about things that are sad as well as happy. It’s all part of our history and needs to be told.

      • Clearly, you are a good person! Thank you for your kindness and generosity. I can be emailed at infoman@iprimus.com.au. You will be the first person to have a recipe/s published! Hopefully it will become a signal honour!!! Ta much, mate! David.

      • Wow I am honored! I will have to look through my recipes and see what I can come up for you! We have the viewing and funeral for my mother today and tomorrow so it may be a day or two before I can get it to you, but I will get it to you shortly.

      • Good heavens! I had no idea. Hey, this is NOT urgent. But perhaps something your mother really liked to eat might be a nice way to honour her memory? Or something that the world can come to know and love which you can name in her honour? I sincerely, wish you all the best for coping with this difficult time. Catch you soon, David.

      • Thank you David! We already have several recipes in mind.

  48. What a wonderful story. I wish you great success. I lived in Lynchburg, Virginia for 4 years starting in 1987. It’s a beautiful state and would love to visit it again at a historic B&B such as yours. I look forward to your progress.
    Warmth and Peace

    • Thank you so much! We have enjoyed the journey and love sharing it with our readers. We laughing call our blog the “Real Reality Show”. Virginia is really a beautiful place. We would love to have you at the plantation some day!

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