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Thursday April 16, 2015

Lovers of houses and horticulture can indulge on April 22 when four Martinsville homes open their doors and garden gates during the Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week, dubbed “America’s largest open house.”

Homes and gardens in Martinsville, as well as in Chatham/Smith Mountain Lake, Danville, Lexington and Roanoke, number among the 146 private properties across Virginia that open to the public between April 18 and April 25.

Martinsville and those four communities comprise what Garden Club of Virginia calls the southern Virginia itinerary.

It is one of six relatively conflict-free schedules created to eliminate some scheduling overlaps in the regions. The goal was more user-friendly touring in various regions around the state.

People can explore houses and gardens in one town on one day, then do the same in a different town in the region on a different day. Some tours do take place on the same day, but in communities close enough so a visitor can take one tour in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Danville’s sites will open on April 23, the day after Martinsville’s. Chatham/Smith Mountain Lake’s tour is set for April 24. Tours in Lexington and Roanoke will both take place on April 25.

In addition to southern Virginia, suggested itineraries have been created for northern Virginia, the capitol region, the Shenandoah Valley/central Virginia, coastal Virginia, and the Chesapeake Bay.

The tours continue a tradition that reaches back to 1929.

In the beginning …

That year, the Garden Club of Virginia organized an event to raise money to save some of the trees at Monticello that had been planted by Thomas Jefferson. The show brought in $7,000. In today’s dollars, $7,000 translates to between $96,000 and $97,000, depending on the calculation used.

The nonprofit Garden Club of Virginia has raised $17 million from the statewide tour since then.

“Tour proceeds are used to enhance Virginia’s landscape,” Alice Martin, chairman of Historic Garden Week, said.

Proceeds underpin historic preservation projects at sites such as Mount Vernon, the Pavilion Gardens at the University of Virginia, and the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library. Proceeds also support annual research fellowships for landscape architecture students. One fellowship, for instance, added to the body of knowledge about the Reynolds Homestead in Patrick County.

Annual Historic Garden Week tours now attract some 30,000 visitors. Beyond tour proceeds, their visits generate economic spin-off to restaurants, hotels and motels, stores and businesses. An economic impact study conducted last year put the cumulative impact of 45 years of such spending at $425 million.

Places to go …

Visitors from around the state and country – even the globe – find their ways to places like Martinsville.

Martinsville’s tour, hosted by the Martinsville Garden Club and the Garden Study Club, focuses on two areas of town: Forest Park and Chatmoss. The land in Forest Park was once a 2,000-acre farm owned by Patrick Henry. Chatmoss was once a 2,700-acre plantation of the same name.

Two homes will be open in each neighborhood for the tour, themed “Everything Old Is New Again.” All four homes and gardens have had a little work done – or even a lot of remodeling or updating.

Some highlights:

  • A re-do at one older home created a two-story rear deck. It provides outdoor living space and overlooks the garden.
  • An older Williamsburg-style home now has a kitchen, dining room and den with an open floor plan that lends itself to entertaining.
  • One homeowner designed the contemporary home he owns with his wife. The house has a handmade hammered copper front door with zodiac signs, while a glass, copper and wood dining room table rests on a stone base built into the floor.
  • And the fourth home, situated on 11 acres, has a basketball court that can convert to a singles tennis court. There is also an outdoor playhouse.

There’s more. Visitors can see the newly restored grounds of the Historic Henry County Courthouse. Work at the courthouse, now home to the Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center & Museum, was funded in large measure by proceeds from past Historic Garden Week tours.

Tour-takers who want even more can have it.

Chatham will open doors to three homes in The Water’s Edge community at Smith Mountain Lake. House styles include an Old World farmhouse, a French country home, and a river plantation house. Each offers lake and garden views. Water’s Edge, meanwhile, has a golf course rated among the five best in the country by Golf Digest. Water’s Edge also has a venue for luncheon.

Danville’s tour features a house on “Millionaire’s Row,” the Sutherlin Mansion that now houses The Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History. A talk on the town’s architectural history will be offered there, too. Other homes in the historic West End comprise the rest of the tour. Danville’s is a trolley tour.

Roanoke’s trolley tour highlights South Roanoke homes and gardens. The gardens include water features and complete outdoor living spaces. Tickets include light refreshments served at one home. The tour also showcases two sites where Historic Garden Week proceeds have financed restoration work: Fincastle Presbyterian Church and Beale Memorial Garden at Hollins University. A morning wildflower walk offers a fitting way to begin tour day.

The tour in Lexington, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, showcases four downtown homes. Each dates to the 18th-, 19th- or 20th-century, has been recently restored and has won an award for historic preservation. Tour highlights include talks on tax credits and the restoration of historic buildings, and on the history of Main Street. Tours of Stonewall Jackson Cemetery will also be offered. Visitors can also stroll the grounds of Virginia Military Institute and Washington & Lee University.

Finally …

Historic Garden Week all across Virginia represents the state’s largest ongoing volunteer effort, according to the Garden Club of Virginia. One signature part of that effort can be seen in the more than 2,000 arrangements made by volunteers to grace the rooms of the showcased homes.

Details, details …

Martinsville’s tour features 97 Hickory Ridge, Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Mann, owners; 121 Deer Creek Run, Dr. and Mrs. Mark Mahoney, owners; 902 Mulberry Road, Dr. and Mrs. Don Grayson, owners; and 1000 Mulberry Road, Carole McGovern and daughter Elli McGovern, owners.

Martinsville’s tour is scheduled for April 22, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets cost $20, and may be purchased on tour day at any tour site or at tour headquarters, Chatmoss Country Club. Advance tickets may be purchased at the Historic Henry County Courthouse, Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Patrick County Chamber of Commerce, Piedmont Arts Association and the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center, or online at www.vagardenweek.org. To make reservations by April 16 for luncheon at Chatmoss Country Club, contact Lynne Beeler at ldcb@comcast.net/276-638-1030 or Eliza Severt at ehsevert@aol.com/276-632-2447.

Chatham’s tour features 240 Island View Drive, Mr. and Mrs. Ben Davenport, Jr., owners; 5 Lands End Road, Mr. and Mrs. John Ferguson, owners; and 15 Lands End Road, Mr. and Mrs. William Lee, owners.

Chatham’s tour is scheduled for April 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $15 in advance; $20 on tour day and are available on tour day at each property. Advance tickets are available in Chatham at M&W Flower Shop and ChathaMooca Restaurant; Danville at The Ginger Bread House, Haymore Landscaping and Garden Center; Gretna at Arlene’s Closet; Lynchburg at Virginia Garden Supply; Roanoke at Townside Garden; Rocky Mount at Carter’s Fine Jewelers and the Grainery Gallery; Smith Mountain Lake at Lakescape Nursery, Interiors by Kris, the Little Gallery and The Gilded Lion, or online at www.vagardenweek.org. Luncheon is $16 at the Water’s Edge Country Club, (540) 576-1556.

Danville’s tour features 161 Holbrook St., Ann Sylves and Dave Corp, owners; 135 Holbrooke Ave., Mr. and Mrs. Rick Barker, owners; 349 West Main St., Mr. and Mrs. Robert Weir, owners; 926 Main St., Dr. and Mrs. Paul Liepe, owners; 975 Main St., The Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History; 554 Craghead St., Supply Resources.

Danville’s tour is scheduled for April 23, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets cost $25 on tour day, $20 in advance in Danville at The Museum of Fine Arts and History, Foxglove, The Golden Leaf Bistro, Karen’s Hallmark, The Gingerbread House, Rippe’s, Raymond Garden Center and Stratford House Visitor Center, or online at www.vagardenweek.org. Gary Grant will present “A Glimpse of Danville’s Past” at 10:30 a.m. at The Museum of Fine Arts and History.

Lexington’s tour features 506 South Main St., Grace House; 321 South Main St., Mr. Charles C. Hallock, owner; 1 Sheridan Row, Allen and Wanda King, owners; and 5 Sheridan Row, John and Sallie Sebrell, owners.

Lexington’s tour is scheduled for April 25, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $25 on tour day; $20 in advance by mail via self-addressed stamped envelope with check payable to Blue Ridge Garden Club sent to Kathy Lamb, 93 Riverbend Dr., Lexington, VA 24450; at Hamilton-Robbins and the Lexington Visitor Center, or online at www.vagardenweek.org Of note: “The House on Fuller Street,” a collection of memories of the people and places in Lexington’s African-American neighborhood, will be presented by author Beverly Tucker at Historic First Baptist Church, 10 a.m. “Tax Credits and the Restoration of Historic Buildings,” by Paige Pollard, founder of the Commonwealth Preservation Group, The Old Courthouse, 2 South Main, at 11 a.m. “A History of Main Street Lexington,” presented by Eric Wilson of the Rockbridge Historical Society, The Old Courthouse, 2 South Main, 3 p.m. Walking tours of the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Roanoke’s tour features 2731 Carolina Ave., The Irons family, owners; 2802 Carolina Ave., the Leitch family, owners; 2525 Crystal Springs Ave., the Doherty family, owners; 2530 Crystal Springs Ave., the Morris/Lee family; 2626 Crystal Springs Ave., the Carter family, owners; 2951 Hemlock Lane, the Coleman family, owners; 2812 Rosalind Ave., the Jaeger family, owners.

Roanoke’s tour is scheduled for April 25, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $30 on tour day; $25 in advance by mail with check payable to Historic Garden Week and send to Roanoke Council of Garden Clubs, 3640 Colonial Ave., Roanoke, VA 24018; and at Black Dog Salvage, Garland’s, Yarid’s, Provisions/RSVP, Roanoke Council of Garden Clubs, Ronald McDonald House, and Townside Gardens, or online at www.vagardenweek.org. Refreshments served 2 to 4 p.m. on patio at Irons’ home, weather permitting. Wildflower Walk, 8:30 a.m., Wildflower Society-led, meet at Discovery Center, 2000 J.B. Fishburn Parkway, top of Mill Mountain.

For more information about tours anywhere in Virginia and tickets, visit www.vagardenweek.org.



Tags: Henry County, History, Insider's Tips, Martinsville, Outdoor Recreation