Posted July 3, 2008 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Historic homes

Many of the areas magnificent old homes are open to the public -- putting antiques, history and culture on display.

Clarke County:

  • Historic Long Branch is on Va. routes 624 and 626 in Millwood. Situated at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Historic Long Branch is one of the most historic and elegant manor homes in the Virginia hunt country. Since the early 18th century, the rolling hills of the estate have been owned by a series of famous men -- Lord Culpeper, Lord Fairfax and Robert "King" Carter. A young George Washington helped to survey the property.

  • In 1788 Robert Carter Burwell inherited the land along the stream known as Long Branch. About 20 years later, he began to construct a mansion inspired by the classical principles suggested by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, architect of the U.S. Capitol. Maj. Hugh Mortimer Nelson, a descendent of Burwell, continued construction on the house after Burwell suddenly died in 1813. The house was passed through the family for many generations. Harry Isaacs, a Baltimore textile executive, purchased the home in 1986, renovating and restoring the mansion within three years, and adding a west wing to balance out the facade.

    Each year in October, Historic Long Branch serves as the site of the Shenandoah Valley Hot Air Balloon and Wine Festival (See "Take a hot air balloon ride"). (888) 558-5567.

Frederick County/Winchester:

  • Abram's Delight, built in 1754, is the oldest house in Winchester. The native-limestone home was built by Isaac Hollingsworth, son of Abraham Hollingsworth, the first European settler in the area. The museum, at 1340 S. Pleasant Valley Road, is open to the public from April through October, from Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday noon-4 p.m. 662-6519.

  • Belle Grove is an 18th-century grain and livestock farm, which, in 1815, encompassed about 7,500 acres. The limestone house was completed in 1797 for Maj. Isaac Hite Jr., grandson of Joist Hite, who came to the valley in 1732 and was one of its first permanent settlers. Isaac Hite's wife, Nelly, was the sister of future President James Madison. During the Civil War, Belle Grove was at the center of the decisive Battle of Cedar Creek.

    The house has remained virtually unchanged, offering visitors a glimpse at the experience of the people who lived there in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Today, the plantation includes the main house and gardens, original outbuildings, a 1918 barn, an overseer's house, a slave cemetery, a heritage apple orchard, fields and meadows and scenic mountain views.

    Guided tours of the manor house are provided from April through October, Monday-Saturday 10:15 a.m.-3:15 p.m. and Sunday 1:15-4:15 p.m. Belle Grove is off U.S. 11, one mile south of Middletown, at 336 Belle Grove Road. The plantation offers events throughout the season including a Living History Camp for Kids. 869-2028.

  • The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, the Glen Burnie Historic House and Gardens features a house built in 1794 by Robert Wood, the son of Winchester's founder, Col. James Wood, and it remained in the Wood family through Julian Wood Glass Jr. (1910-1992), the last family member to live there. He was a collector of fine antiques and art, and the house, which opened to the public in 1997, is presented as it was furnished during his time. The collection includes pieces original to early Wood family members, including a tall case clock, which was in the family for six generations, and a piano that was in the Glass-Wood family for 175 years.

    The complex is at 901 Amherst St. in Winchester. The museum is open year-round, and the house and gardens are open from March through November. The complex is open Tuesday -Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. There is an admission fee. For more information about the museum and gardens see "Go to a museum" and "Visit a garden." (888) 556-5799, ext. 235.


  • The Woodstock Museum, also known as the Marshall House, at 104 S. Muhlenberg St., is one of the oldest homes in Woodstock, reportedly built before 1772. It is home to an array of antiques and memorabilia from the town, including a wrought-iron gate that was part of the original county jail. It is open Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May through October. 459-5518

  • The Wickham House, a large frame residence north of the Walton building, is typical of early log homes in 18th-century Woodstock. The house is at the end of the historic Lawyers Row. Admission is through the Woodstock Museum, which has owned the Wickham House since 1989.


  • Ivy Lodge houses a museum of local history, a gift shop and the Warren Heritage Society office. The building was constructed in 1819 and has undergone numerous renovations over the years. Formerly the Davis Roy House, Ivy Lodge was the original site of Samuels Public Library, established in 1952. Located at 101 Chester St. in Front Royal, Ivy Lodge is open Monday-Friday 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. 636-1446.

  • The Balthis House is an 18th-century home brought to life by the Warren Heritage Society. Constructed in the 1780s, it is the oldest house on the oldest street in Front Royal. Balthis House is at 55 Chester St. and is open Monday-Friday noon-4 p.m. Costumed interpreters lead tours May through August. Tickets cost $3 or $5 including a tour of Belle Boyd Cottage. Children 10 and under are free. 636-1446.

  • Belle Boyd Cottage was the Civil War home of Confederate spy Belle Boyd and is operated as a period museum. Tour topics include the role of women in the Civil War, slavery in Warren County, the Battle of Front Royal and the role of newspapers and journalists during the Civil War. Belle Boyd Cottage is behind Ivy Lodge at 101 Chester St. in Front Royal and is open Monday-Friday noon-4 p.m. Costumed interpreters lead tours, and tickets cost $3 or $5 including a tour of Balthis House. Children 10 and under are free. 636-1446.


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