By Richard Leggett
Historic Belle Grove, King George’s new bed and breakfast, is open for business
Belle Grove, the historic birthplace of former President James Madison and King George’s new luxury bed and breakfast, is open for business. And although the date for a grand opening has not been set, rooms and tours are available, and event planning is underway.
“We are currently in a soft opening as we get our curtains, rugs and décor added to the house,” said Michelle Darnell, who operated the majestic plantation with her husband Brett. “During this time, we are booking rooms and will be giving a ten percent discount during that visit and a ten percent discount on a return visit to see the finished house.”
The Darnells have leased the Belle Grove estate from Haas Belle Grove, Inc. which bought the plantation in 1987 and spent $3.5 million in historical renovations that were completed in 2003. Michelle and Brett have been hard at work acquiring furniture, landscaping the property, building a driveway and making plans for a parking area to accommodate their guests.
Several major events are already on Belle Grove’s schedule for the fall. On September 15, there will be a VIP Dinner and Salon with historical performers James and Dolley Madison. Scheduled for October 25, 26, and October 31 is a paranormal workshop and ghost hunting. Tickets for both events will be available on the Belle Grove website.
According to Michelle Darnell, the paranormal event will feature five classes with a paranormal team on ghost hunting, plus a session with a medium. Tickets for this event can be purchased per class or for the whole day event. The paranormal team is Southeast Virginia Paranormal Investigators out of Newport News, Virginia. This team is working on a pilot for a TV show called “Paranormal Apprentice”. Belle Grove will be featured in the show’s second episode.
Belle Grove is one of Virginia’s most historic homes. The Belle Grove property on the north side of the Rappahannock River was purchased by Captain Anthony Savage in 1670. The house and acreage were later acquired by Francis Conway and Rebecca Catlett Conway, James Madison’s grandparents.
Their daughter, Eleanor Rose Conway, returned to the riverside plantation in December 1750, for the birth of her child, the nation’s fourth president, on March 16, 1751. The plantation was named “Belle Grove” by Rebecca Conway’s second husband, John Moore.
Tours of Belle Grove are available daily from 12 to 3. “We do ask that you please call us at 540-621-7340 to schedule a tour. Cost for tours are $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under, and children 4 and under are free. We also encourage everyone to please visit our official website at www.bellegroveplantation.com,” said Michelle.
“We will be posting more events, as well as adding items to our online store. Gift certificates are now available in our online store. We have also been added to Tripadvisor, BedandBreakfast.com and ILoveInns.com. As always, to find out what’s going on today at the plantation, please follow us on our Facebook page.”
“If you are interested in a meeting or reception or party at Belle Grove, please call us to set up an appointment to schedule,” Michelle said. “If you are interested in Christmas parties, we ask that you book them early as dates are filling fast. Since opening the doors two weeks ago, we have had several sold-out nights, which is very exciting. We look forward to having many, many more.”
To see what we are up to at the plantation
Please visit our Facebook Page!