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. What a lovely family story! I popped over to thank you for liking my latest post on romance writing. If your B&B is anything like your website, you have a winner on your hands 🙂

  2. Thanks for liking my blog. Your stories are very interesting, and I commend you for researching and including all of your home’s history in the story you tell today.

  3. Congratulations! I have nominated your beautiful blog for the Versatile Blogger award. Check out http://www.shakespearesgal.wordpress.com for all the details. … Be well, Dorothy 🙂

  4. Emma Lewis says:

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog! Please do come again! Your place looks absolutely beautiful…

  5. Thanks for following my blog…..If you want put some of your metaphors or metaphorical pictures up here https://www.facebook.com/PowerofMetaphor Have a great day. I think about moving to North Carolina sometimes.

  6. thanks for liking my blog it is a sad truth that this is already happening dirty hospitals, people dying in them, not getting the proper care, being left without water or being cleaned when they mess the bed and this government making a lot of noise but looking the other way making severe cuts to the NHS reports are on the news every day here but no one will speak out or do anything

  7. Janna Spratt says:

    Thank you for liking my blog. I enjoyed your family history. Your place looks very inviting.

  8. Balakam says:

    Hi guys and thank you very much for liking our post “Ready?”!

  9. fpdorchak says:

    Michelle and Brett: I love your site, and hope to someday visit your B&B! I’ve never seen so much wonderful effort put into blog posts, like yours, and have nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award: http://fpdorchak.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/spreading-the-love-a-liebster-blog-award/!

  10. araneus1 says:

    Thank you for the ‘like’. I find it most encouraging. Good luck with your dream. Terry

  11. bdsbrown1 says:

    Thank you for stopping by simplydaisies! Please come again. What a lovely adventure you are on!

  12. Patty :) says:

    Thanks for liking my blog. Loved reading your story!! 🙂

  13. juanrbalboa says:

    Awesome story! I was stationed in Norfolk on a destroyer in the early 90s and would love to get back sometime. Your plantation looks beautiful and I pray for your success.

  14. Thank you for always liking my post:-) This means a lot. I hope all is well.

  15. Ruby Maynes says:

    Praise God, what a beautiful story – And to think He has been at work in your lives for so long leading you to this purpose with your plantation! So good 🙂
    Thanks for liking my post 🙂

  16. Tom Atkins says:

    As a Virginian transplanted to Vermont, it was a delight to find your blog, and to see what you are working towards at Belle Grove. I come to Va often, and you will be a destination for me when the time comes.

  17. PJ McGhee says:

    What a beautiful place! Y’all are very fortunate and I hope that God continues to bless your lives!

    Thanks for checking out my blog. Hope you have a great 2013!

  18. Not bad for a couple of old Jarheads! Ou rah! and Semper Fi.

  19. seldombites says:

    Thanks for stopping by Rafferty’s Rules. You have a great blog here.

  20. Janet Rörschåch says:

    Michelle–Happiness. I have nominated you for a blogger award.
    Thank you for being an inspiration to me.
    Cheers, Janet

  21. Stefano says:

    Hi Guys,
    Thank you for stopping by Clicks & Corks and liking my snow monkey photograph: much appreciated.
    I have enjoyed visiting your blog and learning more about your beautiful B&B!
    Take care

  22. Thanks for visiting my blog! Your house looks amazing. In my writing a certain old house on Tenafly Road is where everything begins. I wonder why houses–walls and plumbing and windows–play with our emotions and memories. I love that! And your house looks like a place with that power. Happy birthday, too. Just turned the same age and feeling pretty great! Thanks for sharing your ups and downs. Good luck with your new life!

  23. Karen says:

    Hi Folks:

    Thanks for liking my blog/site. I hope to visit soon – maybe this summer! I need a rest and this looks like just the place.

  24. drybredquips says:

    Glad you liked “can-can.” Thank your for reading quips and for your support. All the best in all your endeavors.

  25. twodogfamily says:

    Thanks for following my blog eatsmeatsandleaves.org and liking my fluffy ginger cake.. Your place looks so beautiful-what an amazing story. All the very best.

  26. Thanks for visiting my blog and liking my post Animal hospital again. Your place looks amazing and I enjoyed reading your story. All the best!

  27. thebriars says:

    Hi Guys and thanks for all your hard work and for keeping up with my blog – I do sure hope to come visit you one of these days but not sure when life will allow it. Keep up the good work and if you’re ever in the UK… drop by and say hello. 🙂

  28. feelingjoy says:

    Thank you for your visit and liking “Cranberry-Orange Muffins.” If you bake them, hope you enjoy them as much as I do! I so enjoyed reading a part of your life. Many blessings to you, your family and the bed and breakfast plantation!

  29. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! I am excited to hear more about your adventures. I love baking and am also looking forward to sharing recipes! Thanks for sharing your story!

    • You are so welcome! We look forward to seeing more of you blog in the future! Thank you! We can’t wait to share recipes with you! Don’t forget we will be opening our Cookie Contest on March 1st! We hope you will enter!

  30. kalikocakes says:

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog! I enjoyed reading your story, and look forward to seeing more of your beautiful plantation!

  31. holliegraceanne says:

    Thanks for the “like” on my post! I’m also on Twitter – @holliegraceanne. Happy blogging!!! 🙂

    • You are so welcome! We hope to see more of your blog in the future! Thank you! Please follow us on twitter @BelleGroveVA. We are at our limit and I need to go through and clear a few to we can follow along with those who return the favor!

  32. Zest says:

    Hi there, thanks for stopping by the Sunshine Scrapbook 🙂

  33. dfrantz1953 says:

    I love Virginia!!! Our son went to Virginia Military Institute and over the 4 years we visited I often wondered what took me so long to discover such a beautiful state. Love your story! And thanks for liking my blog!

    • You are so welcome! We hope to see more of your blog in the future! We know what you mean about Virginia! We are not born and raised here, but feel like we should have been! Thank you and we hope you will consider visiting us once we open!

  34. Thank you for liking my “See You Real Soon” post. Love your story!

  35. oneintercessor says:

    It’s so fun for visitors to know the history. We just had a wonderful time at Keswick Hall and the history was intriguing! Do you serve breakfast in the room or is it only served in a main area? As an aside, we were insitters for a B&B before we had children (so much work!) and used to live right near Groton. Small world! Best wishes to you!

  36. ohlidia says:

    Wow! What a home! I would love to stay at your B & B if ever I am in your neck of the woods! Beautiful blog! Thanks for visiting!

  37. Thank you for stopping by my blog. I like your blog very much

  38. loschileros says:

    Thank you again………Much appreciated!

  39. Michelle, Brett, Hurley, and everyone else at Belle Grove, I nominate you for the H.U.G. Award (Hope Unites Globally). It is a small way to say thank you for working tirelessly at restoring and preserving Belle Grove’s house, buildings and grounds. You’ve taken on quite a challenge and I know you will be successful.

    God Bless You,

    Michele Kearns

    Here’s the link to the award (http://ahopefortoday.com/2012/01/14/hope-unites-globally-hug-award-guidelines/)

  40. annetbell says:

    I thank you , too, for liking my Home with Ginger post. I am thrilled to read about your work at Belle Grove. I was born in Staunton and spent 5 years in Charlottesville when David was in grad school. I have tried to keep my southern accent and perspective, and when asked say, “I am from Virginia, but live in New York!”

  41. portraitdrama says:

    You are definitely an example of following your passion! Of course, Hurley caught my eye straight away perhaps he and Max will meet some day. My best friend, Jennifer, visits her sister in North Carolina every year. Perhaps this year I’ll accompany her with your beautiful destination in mind.

  42. What a wonderful blog and undertaking. I went to college in Virginia and you certainly picked a beautiful place. Good luck to you. And thank you for reading my blog. Linda of muttshappeningnow.wordpress.com

  43. willowandbee says:

    I nominated you for the Inspirational Blog Award…keep up the good work! http://willowandbee.com/2013/03/17/thank-you/

  44. Susan says:

    Hello! I’ve nominated you for the Inspirational Blog Award, as I greatly enjoy reading your blogs and writing style! I hope to visit Belle Grove with my husband soon; we love history, and visiting would be pure joy!


    Please accept this.
    And remember the rules
    Well done !


  45. Globe Runner says:

    Congratulations, I have nominated you for “Best Moment Award”. Please visit the following link to accept it and see how it works. Keep up the good work.

  46. Tom says:

    What an inspirational story. Thank you for sharing your adventure. Also, thank you for following my blog.

  47. Your place looks lovely. I hope to see it in person one day. 🙂 i loved reading your story here. Your family is blessed!

    Thanks for dropping by my blog recently. I truly do appreciate it.
    – Heather

  48. ritaroberts says:

    Hello ! Nice to meet you and many thanks for the like on my blog. I see you are interested in history. What period in time is your favorite ?. You seem to be very busy on your plantation it looks beautiful I wish you good luck.

  49. fciprian2013 says:

    Hey! Your blog inspired me to write a little strange piece of fanfic. I hope you don’t mind.
    This looks like a great place to stay.

  50. Thank you, enjoy your blog. Sugarbook Club

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