Press Release – The Amazing Race Belle Grove Plantation 2015

================ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ==================

Belle Grove Plantation Hosts The Amazing Race Fund Raiser
Fund Raiser for Preservation and Restoration of 1720s Summer Kitchen, Ice House and Smokehouse

The Amazing Race Logo

May 23, 2015, KING GEORGE, VIRGINIA. Belle Grove Plantation, historic site and the birthplace of James Madison, fourth president of the United States, author of the Bill of Rights and the acknowledged “Father of the Constitution”, hosted their second annual “President Madison’s Birthday Dinner and Social Event.

Established in 1670 on the banks of the Rappahannock River in King George Country as a tobacco plantation, Belle Grove has played a part in the nation’s history, starting with James Madison’s birth, and continuing through the civil war when it became a resting place for the regiment pursuing John Wilkes Booth after Abraham Lincoln’s murder in the Ford Theatre.

Since the civil war, Belle Grove Plantation has been privately owned, and over time fell into severe disrepair. With the 1791 mansion restored in 1997 by the Haas/ Belle Grove Corporation, Brett and Michelle Darnell opened Belle Grove Plantation as a luxury bed and breakfast, special event venue and tourist attraction in August 2013. One of the Darnell’s visions for Belle Grove is to bring living history to the public.

On July 18, 2015, Belle Grove hosted Amazing Race Belle Grove Plantation 2015 as a fund raiser to restore and preserve the 1720 Summer Kitchen, Ice House and Smokehouse. Last year’s July 4th fund raiser, Red, White and Blues with the Alexis P. Suter Band raised $662 for this project. Since then, Michelle and Brett Darnell have located a Amish contractor that will be doing the restoration work. The cost of restoration of the Summer Kitchen and Smokehouse will be $20,000. With the Ice House, their goal is to raise $30,000.

The Amazing Race Belle Grove 2015 will see teams of four racing from Belle Grove Plantation down the Northern Neck to Warsaw and back. They will be required to stop at ten local businesses and historic sites to complete a challenge to earn points. Along the way, they will be give other opportunities to make more points to build their score. The event will end back at Belle Grove Plantation with a Finish Line Celebration and Award Ceremony. Trophies for first, second and third will be awarded as well as “Best Dress Team” and “Best Location Stop”.

The Darnell’s are looking for teams of four to sign up for this event. Friends or Co-Workers are encourage to join this exciting event and to prove that they can hang throughout the race. Local business and historic sites are also encouraged to join in the fun. To register your team, register as a local stop or to get more information on this event, please visit Belle Grove Plantation’s website at and look for the Amazing Race page at the top of the home page.

Belle Grove Plantation is in the process of completing their 501C Non-Profit for the Belle Grove Plantation Historic Site. It will be through this Non-Profit that Belle Grove Plantation will preserve, restore, maintain and educated the public about the history of Belle Grove Plantation from the birthplace of James Madison to life on a Southern Plantation for children and school groups. Through the Non-Profit, Belle Grove Plantation will is fund archeological digs to discover Belle Grove Plantation’s past. While Belle Grove Plantation is in the process of completing their 501C Non-Profit, at this time, donations may not be tax deductible.

Michelle Darnell said about the Amazing Race Belle Grove Plantation 2015,

Since arriving at Belle Grove Plantation in 2013, we have long wanted to restore the Summer Kitchen, Ice House and Smokehouse. This priceless pieces of history have slowly deteriorated before our eyes. The Smokehouse is currently without walls on two sides and is standing only on its studs. The Summer Kitchen, which is half kitchen, half slave quarters has been sliding off its foundation and is losing exterior bead boards as well as the brick nogging on the interior. It is our hope to restore and preserve these outbuilding for future generations to see.”

“We hope that we will be able to establish a small museum inside the Summer Kitchen to house all the artifacts that have been found through our effects of uncovering the past. The kitchen side would house the artifacts as well as the history of the plantation and the families. The slave quarters side would become a historic display of life for the enslaved people of the plantation as well as a memorial for these slaves we have been able to uncover through our research.”

“These outbuildings were standing on the plantation when President Madison was born here. These buildings are 295 years old and we would like to see them last for another 295 years.”

Belle Grove Plantation continues to not only bring Living History to the plantation, but to provide opportunities to connect and support the local community. Future public special events may be viewed in detail on their website at Belle Grove Plantation provides public and private events such as dinners, luncheons and weddings. For more information on these and other events or gathering, please contact Belle Grove Plantation via email at or call directly at 540-621-7340.

Belle Grove Plantation is located at:

9221 Belle Grove Drive King George, Virginia 22485 – King George County

For more information, contact Michelle Darnell, 540-621-7340, . Please visit our web site at

Pictures of the 1720 Summer Kitchen, Ice House and Smokehouse



















Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Events | No Comments »

One Small Article

March 20, 2015

Philly Newspaper

You know as we continue to build our business and get the word out about Belle Grove Plantation, it just amazes me how just one small thing can become a catalyst for something great. We recently had just that happen here.

About two weeks ago, we had a couple from Pennsylvania come stay with us here at the plantation. They were a wonderful couple and we really enjoyed getting to know them and sharing Belle Grove Plantation with them. In the course of their stay, we spent some time up on the riverside balcony chatting with them. It was this conversation that we learned how they came to know who and where we were.

Seems that a Philadelphia newspaper ran a small article about Belle Grove Plantation just a few months before. It was through this article that they decided to come and see us. Well, I have to say we were floored.

We never even knew that the article had run. If you follow us, you know I have my finger of the pulse of the plantation as well as the marketing and promotion of it. I know when articles are being done and promote them through our social media so others can enjoy them as well. But to have it run without me knowing … wow. The last time this happened was back in July 2014 during our 4th of July fund raiser, “Red, White and Blues” with the Alexis P. Suter Band. We put out a press release that the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star ran. Shortly after, the Associated Press picked up the story and ran it all over the nation. That lead to another article being written by a newspaper out of Winchester, Virginia about the two Belle Grove Plantations in Virginia!

See how it can snowball?

Since this article has run from Philadelphia, we have seen marked increase in people from Pennsylvania coming to stay here at the plantation. Just this week, we had a couple come down for three nights due to this one small article. Last night, we had another couple book a suite for October this year.

One thing leads to the next ….

The couple staying with us this week have been just overwhelmed by the beauty of the plantation. They have admired our antiques, the mansion, the bird watching and just the relaxing atmosphere that we have here. She is so impressed that she is going to write an article in another Pennsylvania newspaper talking about their stay with us.

That gets me thinking ….

We would really like to ask for your help. There are so many newspapers in America that we could run ads in. But ads don’t always get the attention needed to bring people here. So we would like to see how many articles we can get into local papers in America. This is where you come in. All we need is for you to contact your local paper and let them know about us. Let them know that you would like to submit an article or have a report contact us to write one. Then contact us for a prepare article or for our contact information for the reporter. Just by this, we could reach so many more people. And this could become another catalyst for another movement here that the plantation. While it would take some effort on your part, it will be a priceless gesture that could help us advance Belle Grove Plantation!

Below is the article that ran in the Philadelphia newspaper.


Set in the midst of beautiful scenery and infused with a vast amount of history, Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia is a hidden gem.

“While many people have not heard of Belle Grove Plantation, once they visit they fall in love with the place,” explains Michelle Darnell, business owner and innkeeper.

Historically, the bed and breakfast is the birthplace of President James Madison, as well as his mother.

The following highlight much of what Belle Grove Plantation has to offer.

Special Events. The bed and breakfast hosts numerous events that are open to the public, including special Christmas tours and teas.

Tours. There are numerous tour options of the plantation, including for individuals, groups and school tours. The tours allow people to see the plantation fully and learn about its rich cultural history, including how each of the four master suites are decorated per the time period and named after a family that once lived at the plantation.

Weddings. For those looking for a romantic and historical setting for their wedding, Belle Grove Plantation provides beautiful scenery.

Bird Watching. There are numerous bird lovers who flock to the plantation for the year-round opportunities to catch a glimpse of some rare breeds. From bald eagles and re-belled woodpeckers to downy woodpeckers and eastern bluebirds, there are plenty of birds to view.

Picnics. The grassy grounds along the river at the plantation make for an ideal picnic place. The plantation does allow family or romantic picnics, giving people an ideal place to relax and eat, as well as take a tour before they leave.

“If you are looking for a place to have fun, learn a little bit of interesting history, and see some great antiques, this is the place for you,” added Darnell.

The Belle Grove Plantation is located just 90 minutes from Washington D.C. and Baltimore, and 50 miles from Richmond. Built in 1791, it is set on the banks of the Rappahannock River, and offers views of both the river and plantation. The bed and breakfast offers four suites or guests to rent, as well as public tours, events, and other activities. For more information on Belle Grove Plantation, visit the site at:


The Belle Grove Plantation is the birthplace of President James Madison, as well as his mother. It was built in 1791, and today is a bed and breakfast that is open to the public.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Diary | No Comments »

Certificate of Excellence

May 19, 2015

Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellences

Press Release


Recognized as a Top Performing Bed and Breakfast as Reviewed by Travelers on the
World’s Largest Travel Site

KING GEORGE, VIRGINIA – 19, May, 2015 – Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast today announced that it has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award. Now in its fifth year, the award celebrates excellence in hospitality and is given only to establishments that consistently achieve great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor. Certificate of Excellence winners include accommodations, eateries and attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a superior customer experience.

When selecting Certificate of Excellence winners, TripAdvisor uses a proprietary algorithm to determine the honorees that takes into account the quality, quantity and recency of reviews and opinions submitted by travelers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period as well as business’s tenure and ranking on the Popularity Index on the site. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

“Winning the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence is a true source of pride for us at Belle Grove Plantation and we’d like to thank all of our past guests who took the time to complete a review on TripAdvisor,” said Michelle Darnell, Innkeeper and Business Owner at Belle Grove Plantation. “There is no greater seal of approval than being recognized by one’s customers. With the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence based on customer reviews, the accolade is a remarkable vote of confidence to our business and our continued commitment to excellence.”

“TripAdvisor is pleased to honor exceptional hospitality businesses that have received consistent praise and recognition by travelers on the site,” said Marc Charron President, TripAdvisor for Business. “By putting a spotlight on businesses that are focused on delivering great service to customers, TripAdvisor not only helps drive increasing hospitality standards around the world, it also gives businesses both large and small the ability to shine and stand out from the competition.”

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

About TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor® is the world’s largest travel site*, enabling travelers to plan and book the perfect trip. TripAdvisor offers trusted advice from travelers and a wide variety of travel choices and planning features with seamless links to booking tools that check hundreds of websites to find the best hotel prices. TripAdvisor branded sites make up the largest travel community in the world, reaching 340 million unique monthly visitors**, and more than 225 million reviews and opinions covering more than 4.9 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. The sites operate in 45 countries worldwide. TripAdvisor also includes TripAdvisor for Business, a dedicated division that provides the tourism industry access to millions of monthly TripAdvisor visitors.
TripAdvisor, Inc. (NASDAQ: TRIP) manages and operates websites under 24 other travel media brands:,,,,,, (including,, and,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and
*Source: comScore Media Metrix for TripAdvisor Sites, worldwide, December 2014

**Source: Google Analytics, average monthly unique users, Q1 2015

Brett and Michelle Darnell
Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast
Birthplace of President James Madison

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Diary | No Comments »
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Pictures provided by Chamberlin Photography, Rebekah Beasley Photographs & DG Photography