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Tuesday November 29, 2016

The following is a guest post by Susan Morten.

Martinsville has discovered the “art” in its name. And that’s what Martinsville-Henry County Garden Day 2017 will be all about. Tickets are now available at www.vagardenweek.org for “Art In Bloom,”a home and garden tour, plus much more. The April 26 tour highlights the Arts and Culture District of a city with history rooted in tobacco, textiles and furniture.  Interpretive floral arrangements will grace two nearby homes. One will be “Chellowe,” 1119 Knollwood Place, an early 20th-century Colonial and Georgian Revival with traditional décor. The other is known as “the Brown house,”200 Westover Lane, a New Orleans-inspired house with eclectic interior design. The homes and their gardens will be open to visitors for tours.  Arrangements will also be displayed in the district’s museums, gardens, a church and more, which will open their doors for the tour.

A tour highlight will be the Historic Little Post Office, 207 Starling Avenue. The red-brick, gable-fronted Queen Anne-style building – with notable ironwork and its original stained glass door – was built in 1893 to serve as a stop on the U.S. Postal Service’s expanding star route system. It was operated as a contract post office by John B. Anglin.

Today, the Little Post Office has a new lease on life, thanks to its renovation by Will Gravely and Piedmont Arts. Piedmont Arts uses the space as a setting for special events and art exhibitions.On Garden Day, visitors to the Little Post Office can see a watercolor Christmas card collection. The work was done by the late, well-respected, local artist Wanda Prillaman. Outside, Piedmont Arts will have a new sculpture garden for exploration. And what might be considered automotive works of art, vintage Porsches, will be on display. Potable works of art – wine -- will be available at the Hamlet Vineyards wine truck. It will be parked in the shared driveway of the Simmons House next door at 209 Starling Avenue. And wearable works of art will be available from the Janice Cain clothing truck, which also will be parked in the driveway.

The Simmons House itself has a spacious front porch with plenty of chairs. Visitors can feel free to use it for casual dining. A few doors down at 215 Starling Avenue, Piedmont Arts’ main building will feature works from the Wanda Prillaman Watercolor Invitational Exhibit. Piedmont Arts will also serve as Garden Day tour headquarters. There, visitors can buy tour tickets and pick up boxed lunches they have ordered ahead. The museum will offer make its lot available for parking. At 23 Starling Avenue, just east of the Little Post Office, stands First Baptist Church. It, too, will offer plenty of parking, Better yet, visitors can peek inside to see the church’s faceted stained glass windows created by the artist, Dr. Henry Lee Willett. 

Next door at 21 Starling Avenue is the Virginia Museum of Natural History, a repository of some quite ancient “artworks,” as well as tools and artifacts used by ancient inhabitants of the area. The inhabitants included animals, such as thedinosaurs represented by skeletons in the Hall of Ancient Life just inside the front door.

Over in the center of town at 1 East Main Street stands the Historic Henry County Courthouse, with origins that date to 1824. When the building housed the court, it was the epicenter of life in the town and county. It now houses the Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center & Museum, thanks to the MHC Historical Society.  And thanks to the Garden Club of Virginia, the grounds of the historic courthouse have been restored. That work, along with restoration of historic gardens and landscapes around the state, such as Mount Vernon and the University of Virginia, were funded by proceeds from past garden day tours around the state.

Not far from the courthouse, the Fayette Area Historical Initiative African American Museum and Cultural Center stands at 211 Fayette Street. FAHI is the go-to source for information, photos, artifacts and oral histories that tell the story of African American life and accomplishments in Martinsville and Henry County.

For more information about Martinsville and Henry County, stop in at the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center, 191 Fayette Street.


What: Martinsville-Henry County Garden Day 
When: Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Headquarters:Piedmont Arts Association, 215 Starling Ave., Martinsville, VA
Tickets: $15 pp. for advance tickets; $20 pp. for tickets sold on tour day. $10 pp. for children ages 6 to 12. Available on tour day at the tour headquarters and tour homes. Proceeds benefit restoration projects of the Garden Club of Virginia.
Advance Tickets: Available online at www.vagardenweek.org. After January 15, at Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center, Piedmont Arts Association, and Patrick County Chamber of Commerce.
Facebook: Historic Garden Week in Martinsville and Henry County
Instagram: Historic Garden Week in MHC
Sponsors: The Martinsville Garden Club, The Garden Study Club and the Garden Club of Virginia

Tags: Art, Festivals, Garden Week in MHC