This year’s tour is art-centric, focusing on the Arts & Culture District of a community with history rooted in tobacco, textiles and furniture. Just as each tour stop will feature a floral arrangement that interprets a piece of art, tour stops will feature automotive “art.” That includes the Porsches, many of them vintage. Porsche’s DNA confers assured, high-performance handling plus elegant, aerodynamic good looks. And then there’s its finish: the engine’s slightly throaty purr. Those features have come to characterize Porsche models, which evolved from Ferdinand Porsche’s model 64, developed in 1939, and his Porsche 356, developed in 1945. That inherent “Porsche-ness” holds true for today’s models: the 911, the Boxster, the Cayman, the Panamera and even two SUVs, the Cayenne and the Macan.
“You can tell it’s a Porsche,” said Patrick Edgerton. “You can’t say that really for any other manufacturer.” And Edgerton likes that you can drive an ordinary Porsche on a racetrack and to the grocery store. Edgerton could be called a Porsche “techie,” with years of knowledge of brand. He has a gold-level certification from the Porsche Technology Apprenticeship Program. His career has included work at a dealership, and now with an independent company that provides tires and service for Porsche racecars. Although Edgerton now lives in Bluffton, S.C., he hails from Henry County.His penchant for Porsches could be in his DNA. His dad, Steve, is hooked on them.That gave his mother, Cindy, chair of this year’s Garden Day tour, an inside track on being able to include this automotive art as part of the 2017 tour.
The Garden Day tour will feature Porsches ranging from a 356 made during the 1960s through a recent 911. In addition to automobiles, the tour does feature homes, of course. One will be “Chellowe,” 1119 Knollwood Place, an early 20th-century Colonial and Georgian Revival with traditional décor. Another is the King Uptown loft at 29A Jones Street overlooking the courthouse square. Yet another tour stop, the Colonial Revival Simmons House, 209 Starling Avenue, once a residence, is now used as a B&B and for meeting space. The tour also includes museums.
Two, Piedmont Arts and the Historic Little Post Office, at 215 and 207 Starling Avenue respectively, will have exhibits showcasing the works of the celebrated artist Wanda Prillaman. Her watercolors, along with works by selected artists, comprise an invitational exhibit at Piedmont Arts. The nearby Little Post Office, a Piedmont Arts satellite, will exhibit Prillaman’s Christmas card collection. Outside the Little Post Office, a garden will be blooming with art: sculptures.
Natural history’s ancient art and artifacts can be seen at the Virginia Museum of Natural History, 21 Starling Avenue. The museum has some special events and activities for Garden Day visitors, such as a happy hour reception on April 25, the night before Garden Day, with curatortables showcasing special items, some not regularly on display to the public. On Garden Day itself, six curator tables will display special artifacts.
At the First Baptist Church (where there’s plenty of parking) visitors can peek inside to see the church’s faceted stained glass windows created by the artist, Dr. Henry Lee Willett.
At 1 East Main Street stands the Historic Henry County Courthouse, c. 1824. It now houses the Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center & Museum. Thanks to Garden Club of Virginia, the grounds of the historic courthouse have been restored. The work, along with restoration of historic gardens and landscapes around the state, were funded by proceeds from past garden day tours around the state.
Not far from the courthouse is the Fayette Area Historical Initiative African American Museum and Cultural Center, 211 Fayette Street. FAHI has a display of memorabilia from churches, the historical backbone of African-American life and culture.
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 atwww.vagardenweek.org. 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