Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My Visit with Mom! Swannanoa Palace, Pippin Hill and Lynchburg, VA.

My Mother loves old things, a value she got from me, or at least I like to think so;)  Mother's can learn things from the Daughters too!
When I was growing up I only remember our house filled with the finest new things from catalogs, I don't recall any antiques.  In fact, my Grandmother only had a few antiques pieces, but her sister, my Great Aunt's home was filled with antiques!
Aunt Siddy's home was my first real picture window into the world of treasures, her house was coated in them!  She collected vintage plates and figurines of Betty Boop and anything with Elvis!  She also had rooms of antique china and glassware, a back porch with a vintage outdoor seating set and a wall with displayed antique tools.
I remember, very well, to this day, going over there and loving the smell of the old, wet, mossy brick that built up her home and the walk up to it and around it.  Old, purging tree's grew up out of the earth, soaring above and shaded the place from the hot summer sun.    She lived in a stately place, red brick with white shuttered windows.  She had a small back porch that overlooked the brick patio underneath and the large, abundant garden beyond.  I remember hiding from my siblings in her towering sunflowers and corn stalks!
As I got older, my love for antiques matured, my Aunt Donna loved collecting antique china and glassware as well and I began visiting her and all her fine treasures.  We would have tea parties with the other women in my family and enjoy lazy afternoons of laughter and conversation.  I eventually began collecting some china my Great Grandmother collected after my Aunt Donna gave me my first pieces and my love grew from there!
Today, when my Mother makes the long journey from Maryland to Southern Virginia for a visit, I always plan a special itinerary for her and her new and growing love for old things.  Nothing makes me happier than sharing a joy for something, anything, with someone I love and admire.  The relationships I have in my life must always grow and develop, mutual interests must open up to new adventures, concepts and ways of looking at the world.  Inspiration must be a two way street for any kind of love to grow as it should<3

On this visit, my husband and I took my Mother on a journey through the Blue Ridge Mountains, across fields of green pastures, up winding passes and straight on to one of the areas most hidden and neglected treasures, Swannanoa Palace!

Built in 1912, by millionaire and philanthropist James H. Dooley, this beautiful Italian Renaissance Revival villa above Rockfish Gap in Virginia will truly take your breath away!  What a grand place to spend the summer when the city gets too hot and humid!  James Dooley sound familiar?  He was also the same mastermind behind Maymont, in Richmond, Virginia, his city home.
This particular day was a hot one, temperatures soared and the sun beat down, but up there on the hill, it was like there was different air!  I was actually a bit chill around and certainly inside the house, bring a cardigan, even in the summer!

When you walk inside you'll pay a small fee in CASH or CHECK, no cards accepted.  Don't expect a tour like Maymont's in Richmond, this place is in the very early stages of restoration, so the rooms will be empty and you'll see plans of the house pinned up on the entry way walls.  But once you get past the paper, look at the walls of the room and the ceilings above, you will be just as entranced by their beauty as if the rooms where filled with trinkets from the period. 

Up the main, marble staircase you'll see a 4,000 piece Tiffany stained glass window, bearing the likeness of Mrs. Dooley, still in perfect condition as the house seems to crumble around it.  The house was built as a token of love for his wife, this window, I believe was to be the heart of the house!   

When the house was built it had Electricity and Plumbing, the first house in Nelson County to have electricity, and to make it so, they had their own mini power plant on the property!  The house also had an elevator and a dumbwaiter to bring food up from the basement kitchen to the first floor dining room.  When you enter each room, be sure to simply look up!

Besides being state-of-the-art, the house is also equipped with some of the finest, handcrafted and hand painted elements, like this mantel in the Smoking Room!  Mr. Dooley surely sparred no expense to surprise and delight his wife at every turn!

I fell in love with these two cherubs that sat on the sides of the marble fireplace in the dining room, one is adding kindling to the fire while the other adds squeezes of air to keep it going!  Delightful!

It's all in the details!  From the rosettes carved into the walls, to the painted ceilings and this memorial to their marriage, the Dooley's photographs on marble, grace the top of one of the handsomest mantels in the house!

You're probably wondering how far into the house you can go, well my dears, you can go all the way up to the towers!  Many of the bedrooms upstairs are closed off due to disrepair, so just follow the signs that will tell you where you can venture.  You'll just have to climb some pretty serious staircases to reach the top!

But once you're there, you are greeted with light and get to take in the views from above the tree line!

Be sure to stop on the way out to take a peak at this wonderful book or even purchase one to learn more about Swannanoa, there are also vintage postcards depicting the palace in all it's glory!

Back outside, the tour of the property continued!

Sunken gardens with marble staircases, and shaded oasis seating areas with once flowing fountains greeted us alongside the house.

The driveway out back gave way to a large marble wall of fountains, their turquoise paint still clinging to the promise they might flow once again! 

A covered walkway broke the stretch of terraced lawn's and if you look close enough, you might happen to see the Dooley's themselves, taking an afternoon stroll. 

This stone building on the property is rumored to once have been a distillery created by Major Dooley's Two Sisters between 1929-1932, Swannanoa's second owners, after the death's of the Dooley's.  It housed the region's best moonshine and was favored by all the government officials during prohibition!

Once you head back to civilization, be sure to stop at an overlook to take in the views, and if you're really lucky...a KISS!

Me and my Husband<3

Me and my Mommy!

Next stop was lunch at my favorite winery in VA, Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard!

This place literally looks like a dream!  It is beautiful inside and out!  Walk about the flowers and vines outside and take a look at their garden:)  Take a seat in a rod iron farm chair inside or a lazy Adirondack on the veranda and enjoy!  I knew my Mommy would love it and she did!  We were even lucky enough to have my older sister and her family join us that day:)

Another reason I love this winery is because it is one of less than a handful of wineries that serve actual food besides cheese and crackers.  I don't know about you, but for me, wine and food go hand in hand, what a wonderful way to explore new flavors when you can enjoy a farm to table culinary experience paired with the most beautiful wines in the country!

Me, my sister Windy and Mom, enjoying some Pippin Hill Wine<3

A selfie with the best niece and nephew an Aunt could ask for!  Alek and Gwen<3

All of us, "Parisian style", I say that because there's literally 7 of us around a high top bistro table;)

Vineyard Couple Selfie!

The next day my Mom and I went through Downtown Lynchburg and nearby Forest on our Girl's Day Out!  I took her into all my favorite spots, I naturally, also wanted to show her off!
If you're looking for the cutest clothes in the area, you have to get DOWNTOWN!  Forget the Mall! You'll find two clothing stores that burst with the latest trends and styles that will keep you looking amazing day after day, and the best part is- THEY'RE LOCAL!  Shop Small and support your local business owners and their worthwhile causes, Philanthropy and Creativity unite:)
Start by grabbing a coffee/tea and breakfast at The White Hart Cafe, owner Abe will keep your tummy warm and full as you take on the city!  Did I mention they also serve up lunch and dinner, feature local musical talents, have a back deck for outdoor seating and are the perfect place to gather with friends!!!

Our second stop- Gladiola Girls!  You'll find French Connection and Level 99 among other great brands!  Clothing, shoes and accessories unite in this beautifully curated shop owned and operated by the sweet and soulful Renee, an inspiration to aspiring women business owners everywhere!

Third Stop- Live Trendy or Die!  Owner Stef has been hard at work searching the vintage thread scene from NY to LA and she brings back the best vintage in the country, pair that with accessories handcrafted by local creatives, smaller labels and love and you've got a destination store waiting to be explored! 

Needless to say, my mom and I were off to a great start!
On our way out of Downtown we stopped at The Corner Market for lunch, the Bennett Family has spent years creating the perfect place for farmers and consumers to meet and prosper!  For Rick and Becky, good food is always at the heart of a life well lived and here you will dine on wonderfully prepared dishes serving up a beyond organic experience!
Out in nearby Forest, VA stands a handsome house perched on a small hill, this is The White Brick House and it is home to antique lovers and local craftsman alike!  Owner Peg will lead you through rooms on the first and second floor of this lovely oasis filled with some of the most beautiful vintage and refurbished pieces in the area!

Local talent Jennifer, creator of the  The Clutch Guide, even has a few spots inside housing vintage and handmade pieces she makes with love, like these wonderful mugs:)  They're adorable!!!  You can pick up her beautiful magazine at many local business' around town and dive in!  I enjoy it best on a lazy morning, reading through the wonderful articles of the areas top talent, sipping a hot English Breakfast tea on my back porch<3  And I always learn something new about the area!

Our last stop of the day was The Anne Spencer House and Garden.  Anne Spencer's Granddaughter Shaun Spenser-Hester was there to show us around and tell us wonderful stories of her Grandmother and her own experiences around the house.  One of my very favorite places in the area, The Anne Spenser House and Garden is a place of repose.
Anne Spencer was a poet, civil rights activist, teacher, librarian, wife, mother and avid gardener!  She lived a life of purpose and beauty and shared her beliefs and ideas with the world<3  

As you enter the home, you are greeted by a large mirror which instantly expands the entryway, a long sofa and King chair, and wallpaper, reminiscent of a garden indoors, you immediately want to sit and converse.  Many important figures did just that, in this home.  Having more than 30 poems published in her lifetime, she was an important figure of the black literary and cultural movement of the 1920's- The Harlem Renaissance, thus bringing her close to many other influential people of the time.  A small closet along the wall holds the telephone and a seat, where one could connect on a more personal level with those that are out of reach.

The formal living room is decorated in beautiful floral antiques with lots of gold accents and another large mirror that turns the modest space into a grand room! 

The dining room is decorated in Asian antiques and is set up as if you were a guest coming over for dinner!  Anne was always the Hostess!

Upstairs you'll see some of Anne's own clothing and accessories.  You'll see her embrace her Native American roots with an antique map highlighting the tribes of North America and American Indian pottery that graces the mantel below.  If you look very closely you'll see a picture of Anne as a teenager dressed from head to toe in traditional American Indian clothing!

Another bedroom is lined in Japanese wallpaper depicting beautifully dressed geisha's walking through an Arboretum, an element seen throughout the house.  Many of Anne's guests stayed in this very room!
Like my own Great Grandmother, Anne also loved the mysteries of the Orient!  My Great Grandmother collected Geisha Girl china, which my Aunt Donna passed on to me and for me, this china became a full on obsession.  Beautiful, inspiring, romantic and delicate it depicts a way of life I was certainly not used to growing up in America.  Enchanting!

Back downstairs, beyond the cozy living room you can see Anne's writing cottage past the carport through an open window.

Up close you can see all it's glory!

A place of endless inspiration!  Anne's cottage holds many books, art pieces and photographs of her family, friends and peers.  A beautiful lifetime of creativity and social change is seen in every corner of this one room paradise!

Like everything in Anne's life, her garden is also a true work of art!  Bursting with tree's, peonies, and many other floral and fauna, my Mother and I took our time walking along the pebble pathways taking in the scent of the flowers and their occupying butterflies.

What an amazing visit!  My Mother and I had a wonderful time and she was sad to head back north, I think Southern Virginia has captured her heart!
I can still remember vividly, three years ago moving down here to what I thought was the end of the world.  Truly loving the hustle and Bustle of city life back up in DC I thought I would be consumed by loneliness and sadness moving just 4 hours away to rural Virginia.  Well, as it turns out, it has been one of the best experiences of my life, thanks to my Husband's job relocating him!  I have made some of the best friends I've ever had, have been an active part of my community and it's growth and have encouraged more and more people to venture down here and experience all the area has to offer for themselves.
I'm happy to report that I haven't had one complaint since!;)
Virginia, truly is for LOVERS!!!!

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