Jan. 23rd 2014
We are so proud to have been recognized by the Virginia Center for Architecture as one of the top 100 architecturally significant structures in Virginia. We will be apart of a year long exhibition that will open on April 10, 2014 at the Virginia Center for Architecture in Richmond, Virginia.
After being so honored, I of course wanted to know more about the Center. So on an off day, I traveled from the plantation to Richmond for a day of adventure. My first stop was for lunch with my dear friend, Terri at one of our favorite spots, Can Can Brasserie on Cary Street. Cary Street is a wonderful place full of shops and restaurants. I have eaten at the Can Can before and really looked forward to enjoying this visit.
The last time we ate there, the sun was out and the temperature was warm with a nice breeze. So we chose the option of eating outside on the sidewalk cafe under the shade of the umbrellas. This visit, we weren’t so lucky. Rain had been coming down most of the morning and the air was crisp with winter’s breath. So when I arrived, I grabbed a small cafe table at the front inside so we could enjoy the view from the picture windows. Just outside was a flower vendor, near where we ate before. With the French Cafe interior and the flower vendor just outside, I could have sworn I just flew into Paris.
Our lunch was wonderful! I had just made my new dish, Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprout Hash with Poached Eggs and Thyme Hollandaise Sauce at the plantation the weekend before. So when I saw the Crispy Ham Crepe filled with Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts on top of Butternut Squash Puree, I knew what I was having. Terri followed suit and ordered the Chicken Crepe. Oh how delicious it was! Of course you know I tried to get the recipe, with no luck. But in my mind I was already forming my recipe to try at home. We just may have to make it this weekend!
Crispy Ham Crepe
After I said my good-byes to Terri, I programmed my GPS to take me to the Virginia Historic Society. I wanted to just see if there was something I might have missed when I “cleaned” them out before. Well, wouldn’t you know it, there was. I went in a different direction, looking for the portraits of three of the Bernard Family. I found out who donated the images and found that this family had also donated some paperwork. So I requested that they pull these papers. How I was rewarded!
I found out that the portraits of William Bernard and his wife Sarah Bernard were in fact large family portraits. And that these portraits were with a certain line of the family. So now I have a lead to chase to see if I can find the original portraits. I know these portraits are family heirlooms, but wouldn’t it be wonderful just to find them! I know from the family history that they once hung here at Belle Grove Plantation. I would give anything to see them return to hang here again.
After I finished and as if I wasn’t already excited beyond belief, I head over to the Virginia Center for Architecture. I had never seen it before so I didn’t know what to expect. The homes in the area were older Victorian homes and were just beautiful. But when I arrived at the Center . . . well words just couldn’t describe it.
The Center is housed in an English Tudor Manor Home called the Branch House. The house was designed in 1916 by the firm of John Russell Pope as a private residence of financier John Kerr Branch and his wife Beulah Gould Branch. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1967 and became a National Historic Landmark in 1997. One of the Branch family heirs gifted the home to a local charity in the 1950s and was later purchased in 2003 by the Virginia Center for Architecture Foundation. The Center opened in 2005 as headquarters of the Virginia Center for Architecture, offices for the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects and its publication, Informmagazine and as architectural museum.
Walking into this magnificent home was just overwhelming. Fortune for me, one of the staff members were on hand to give me a personal tour through the house.
After viewing this beautiful place, I just can’t believe that Belle Grove Plantation will be in an exhibition here! We are so honored! Of course I couldn’t get them to reveal the rankings. That will come on opening night of the exhibition on April 10th. But no matter where we fell in the rankings, we just feel so privileged to be apart of its history.
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The Virginia Living Magazine is holding their annual
Best of Virginia 2013 poll
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