Virginia is stock full of history: everything from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, to AshLawn, Appomattox, Montpellier, even the Walton Mountain Family Museum a mere eight miles from us. Guests travel from all over the nation to get a taste of the history that is in our new area.
Imagine our excitement when the great-granddaughters of the gentleman who built the Orchard House Bed & Breakfast made reservations this week to stay in their childhood rooms. That’s right. The amazing 32 and 34 year old great-granddaughters of the honorable Virginia state Judge Thomas Horsley made on-line reservations in the bedrooms they grew up in years ago.
Background: upon purchasing the Orchard House Bed & Breakfast, we spent time in the Nelson County Library and asking “locals” about the history of this spectacular estate. We were told that the 6-room house was built in 1874 as the family vacation home of a prestigious Virginia State judge. Lovingston provided the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the larger area cities (Richmond/Roanoke/Northern VA).
As was common in that period, the home was passed along to the next generation…who smartly took advantage of the acreage and climate, and cultivated a thriving apple and peach orchard. Apparently there were two huge dormitory-type structures on the property that housed the staff that helped manage such an operation. The kitchen was a separate lean-to but the family built on to the existing structure, adding a huge dining room, two-level porch, and another section of bedrooms.
Add the third generation, where is when our newest guests came in. The Horsley Family had expanded to include an extended group: every one of the six bedrooms was filled, the huge dining room was a fantastic gathering spot for holidays and family gatherings, and Christmas was picturesque. The girls talked about how they especially loved how their mom decorated for Christmas, running barefoot through the lawn, and awesome two-tier screened in porch that was at the rear of the house.
I have treasured my time with the Horsley great-granddaughters. I have learned that their mom, Grace, and I share many common traits. A love of birds, bunnies, flowers, and holidays. That their grandmother, Ruby, was a tough businesswoman put in a tough position when her husband died and she was left to run the massive orchard. That this property that we love so much was inhabited by prestigious, hard-working, God-fearing, highly-regarded families.
My mom has repeatedly reminded me since we moved here that I am just “two generations off the farm”. What an amazing way to come full circle and reconnect with the heart of the Orchard House…I am grateful and blessed to have learned about the Horsley History firsthand!