Progress Update

29/06/12 6:32 PM

Front Door and Main Hallway

We haven’t given much of a progress report lately so here is what we have going on. The contract… what can I say? The contract is still with the attorney. We haven’t even seen a draft yet. As of June 15, it was thirty days. So today makes 44 days since it was given to him to draw up. A week ago, the property manager said he got a call from the attorney, but when he tried to call back, he wasn’t there. The property manager has been calling and leaving messages ever since. Yes, very frustrating. But we have been at this since July, 2011, so we will just wait this one out.

But we haven’t been idle. Brett has been working on the zoning and occupancy permit. Zoning, what fun! In our county, we are zoned for farming. But they do allow bed and breakfast to use farming land. We just need a special exemption to do it. When Brett called the county, they let us know that we would need a preliminary site plan for the exemption. The site plan also has to be done by a certified engineer. We contacted the property manager to see if they had one already from the restoration work. They had a plat survey, but we don’t know if that will work. So Brett located a very helpful engineer from the county who has been helping us with this. The engineer wasn’t sure if we really needed it, so he is going to contact the Zoning Director to see if it is really needed since we aren’t changing or adding anything to the property. But we are now back to waiting on that one. The Zoning Director is on vacation this last week so we have to wait until next week to see what we need to do. The engineer also told us that the exemption process could take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. Let’s hope for the best case for that one! Or we won’t be able to get the doors open in September.

Brett also contacted the director for building codes. He is going to schedule a time for him to come out and inspect the main house. The director has been there before so he was somewhat familuar with it. He told Brett from what he could remember the only thing we might need to add is access for handicapped guest. We do have an elevator in the main house (yes that’s right a real elevator! You can’t see it because it is disguised) the only access we need to add is the entry. And we do want to have access for those that need it. Brett and I both are former military and we support Wounded Warriors. We hope to be able to have some events as well as offering a special for them.

Parlor Elevator Door

We are planning on heading back to Belle Grove on Saturday, July 7th to meet with the landscape contractor to discuss grading and hardscapes. The driveway and sidewalks all need to be improved before we have guests come to see us. We also need to get the grounds graded from years of erosion. We don’t want you to walk across our beautiful circle and twist your ankle by stepping into a hole. We are also restoring a small parking area next to the garage so we don’t have guest parking around the circle. We are also going to have the bluff overlooking the river graded. As it is, the terraces have eroded and need to be cut back in. The past farmer removed a lot of the ground cover on the bluff so we need to add it back to protect that bluff.

We are excited to tell you that we have contacted the caretaker for Rose Hill Plantation and he is going to allow us to come to Rose Hill to view the house and the family graveyard! You will remember Rose Hill Plantation (also known as Gaymont) from “A Father’s Love” post. It is the plantation owned by John Hipkins, father of Fannie Hipkins-Bernard. He purchased Belle Grove in 1790 and built the current home in 1791 for Fannie and her family. You can see Rose Hill Plantation from the Riverside of Belle Grove during the winter. We have heard that the house looks a lot like Belle Grove. Pictures and a posting to follow next weekend!

Main Hall View of Summer Kitchen

Right now our main focus is our three outbuildings. These outbuildings are original to the plantation and retain much of the original construction. We are working on raising funds through Indiegogo to restore and preserve these three priceless treasures. The Smokehouse is in the worst shape at this time, with one wall gone and only framework holding it up. It is our hope that we can raise enough money to restore them and then open them to the public. We plan on using the Summer Kitchen as a small museum to house the history we have uncovered over the last year of research. We have also discovered several artifacts from the 1700 and 1800s that we will place in there. We ask that you please consider a contribution no matter the size to saving these buildings. Even a contribution of $5.00 can make a big difference.

By contributing, you will also have the opportunity to register for our Free Getaway Weekend! You can also claim perks with other contributions! Please visit our Indiegogo site for more details on this Giveaway!

 This campaign will end on July 23rd so don’t wait to visit us!

If you are unable to contribute, you can still help us in two other ways.

First, you can go to the Indiegogo site. By visiting the site, it will be helping us increase our merit points which will in turn help us be placed on the Indiegogo Features Page. This will give us exposure that we could never get by being just another campaign.

Second, you can help us sharing this campaign. You can share our blog on your blog and on you Facebook or email your friends asking for them to visit our site. We can’t not tell you how much we would appreciate your contributions and sharing.

We have been asking you to please consider commenting on the Indiegogo site, but I confirmed this afternoon that you can only comment if you make a contribution. And they limit you to just one comment per day after that.

Without you, these buildings will continue to deteriorate and we will lose these time capsules from our Early American History. Thank you for reading this and thank you for considering helping us.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 40 Comments »

40 Comments on “Progress Update”

  1. My mum’s maiden name is Hipkins. She’s from England. I wonder if there’s any relation???

  2. There could be! Most of the families from this area are from England. Could be a relative. 😉 Don’t forget to visti our campaign site and check out the video! You can see our osprey “Dolley” flying over the house! If you can, please consider a contribution to help us save those beautiful Colonial Outbuildings! Thank you!

  3. njbrown Says:

    What is the relationship with the Historic Trust? Will they continue to be involved?

    Best wishes,


  4. The property is privately owned and is not protected by a Historic Trust. We do not have a Historic Easement attached to this property. So if we do not open this bed and breakfast, the owner, who we are going to be leasing this property from can take it and subdivide the 694 acres into a housing development if they so chose to do. (Not that it is their thought in doing it – just that they could if they wanted to) By us opening this B&B we not only open the house, but we will be there to make sure the history is protected. That is why we are asking for help in raising the funds to restore the outbuildings. Banks aren’t lending for projects like these.

  5. njbrown Says:

    Thank you. That is a very helpful clarification.

  6. The Haute Frugalista Says:

    Nice!! 🙂

  7. Thank you! Please don’t forget to visit our Indiegogo site and check out of video of the house! You can see our osprey “Dolley” flying over the house!

  8. Deon Says:

    Good going! looks like your getting stuck in!

  9. We are going to get this thing done 🙂

  10. Thank you for engaging in this very worthy enterprise . . . and for all your support.

  11. Thank you! We think this plantation is a very worth cause.

  12. baconbiscuit212 Says:

    Oh gosh. That sounds like a million things to keep track of at once! I would have to make a spreadsheet or something. But it looks like you guys are on top of it. Everything looks beautiful! I love the wall colors!

  13. Thank you! We do feel like we are juggling things at one time. But so far so good! You should see the color in person. It jumps off the wall they are so bright!

  14. I bet! It looks great. More people should paint walls bright colors. Beige is boring!

  15. The colors they used were a colonial color set from Sherman Williams. I don’t know how historic they are since I don’t know much about paint colors in Early America. But I have been told by someone that saw them that they are correct. We would like to put some wallpaper in the parlor and formal dining room and even found the print we like. It is from Montpelier and is available to order…. at $360.00 per roll. Guess we are going to have to wait on that one 🙂

  16. I know it’s a totally different era, but your reply made me think of something that I saw about Mary Lincoln. The colors they chose for their home were absolutely garish because artificial colors were very trendy. Isn’t that funny? To think of ol’ Abe in Vampire Red and construction paper bright green!

  17. Wow, that is garish! I didn’t know that! See now you taught me something new 🙂 When we bought our first home, it was an 1885 Federal Brick that had been painted dark brown. We changed it to a nice olive green to brighten it up some. But our neighbors had a wood Victorian that they painted… ready… Pepto Bismol Pink! They had trouble getting the job done with the painters quiting half way through. My neighbor and I offered to finish it. We told them that we would just have to run down to Sam’s Club to get a few cases of Pepto to do the job. 🙂

  18. That is hysterical! But apparently those Pepto colors were all the rage back around then. It just makes you wonder, as the President was drafting the Emancipation Proclamation, if he ever looked up and said, “Holy moly that is PINK!”

  19. HAHAHA!! I could see him saying it! Shaking his head and saying”What was Mary thinking?”

  20. Oh, man. Not to say anything bad about former first ladies, but I would suspect that he would have asked himself that with or without the garish interior decorating!

  21. haha… true. Mary Todd Lincoln was a character.

  22. The interior of the house is looking spectacular – well done for getting so far so quickly – great to have a progress report

  23. Thank you! We will get this done one way or another! 😉

  24. JulesPaige Says:

    I do hope the owners appreciate you! That you are doing all this work and just leasing the property. Continued good wishes towards your success.

  25. Thank you. You know I don’t worry about the fact we are just leasing. I see it as protect a part of American History that can’t be replaced. And it is my sincere joy to share this history and soon this plantation with everyone!

  26. Don’t you just love the legal system?!

  27. Psh… yeah :/

  28. Subhan Zein Says:

    Hello my new friend,

    I am happy to have found your blog and am gladly following. I think you have done a good job with your blog, so well done! 🙂

    Here I would like to thank you for following my blog. I hope my blog is not disappointing and that you will continue enjoying my blog in each of your visits.

    So thank you again, and lovely day to you! 🙂

    Subhan Zein

  29. Thank you! We are enjoying reading your blog! Thank you for following us on our journey! It has been great fun and look forward to more!

  30. KatZ Says:

    Looks very beautiful! I am confident it will be wonderful when you are done

  31. Thank you! We are getting there. Slow at times, but we know that it will be great when we are done!

  32. Amy Says:

    Takes a lot of patience for this massive project!

  33. It does and we know it. We have been working on this for one year now. But we know once we get done, it will be so worth it!

  34. Reblogged this on katherinehpurdy and commented:
    Update on the Belle Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast. Wonderful part of Virginia History at work!

  35. pileofbabies Says:

    WHAT an incredibly beautiful place. Kudos to you for restoring it!!!! I look forward to seeing it all unfold!!

  36. Thank you! The house is complete. We are jus needing to do the landscaping and restore the three outbuildings.

  37. iwtkangaroo Says:

    It looks awesome…I love the charm and the archways! 🙂

  38. Thank you! We love the archways and hall in Belle Grove! You have to come see them as soon as we open. Please don’t forget to check out Hurley and his mission!

  39. socallitvak Says:

    What a beautiful restoration, best of luck!

  40. Thank you! But the work is still ahead of us! We still have to restore the dependencies and do the landscaping.