Look What Arrived!

Jun. 25th 2013

Yes, you guessed it!


We had another furniture deliver today from Gates Antiques!

Look what came today!


The Corner Cupboard we won last week has arrived!


An Inlay Chess Table for the library!


A 1776 Chest for the Hipkins-Bernard Room!


A Wardrobe to place the 32 inch television in for the Hipkins-Bernard Room!


The Conway Room now has a 1730 rare Acorn Tester Bed! 

It is made of Poplar but stained to look like Mahogony. 

We just need to finish the Canopy for the top!


The Conway Room has a Linen Press to hide the 32 inch television!

We are going to add curtains to hide it behind the glass.


A Card Table for the Library


The Madison Room with its new blue wall color is almost done!

We received this 1730 Mahogany Tester Bed.

We just need to add the Canopy.


Remember this Federal Line Press they were working on?

It is finally here and done!


A Tilt Top Table for the Madison Room!


Two End Tables for the Madison Room….

But there is a surprise with these!


They are wash stands!


Got the marble end tables and lamps in place in the Turner Room.


And added a Wardrobe to hide another television!


Check out these hard working guys!

They are from Gates Antiques!

They have worked up a sweat moving furniture around the Mansion!

Thank you Jamel and John!


We also got some mirrors in place


Two Gilded Mirrors on the West and East walls of the Formal Dining Room


And another larger mirror over the fireplace in the Formal Dining Room.

What else could we ask for today?

Wait there was a little


this morning when I went to let Hurley out!


Yes, we have decided to call our little skunk “Surprise” which was suggested by one of our readers!

But I don’t think “Surprise” is going to get to stay. 

We can’t have “Surprise” showing up to greet guest.

That would be Hurley’s job!

So tomorrow I will be contacting Animal Control to trap and relocate “Surprise”.


Hurley has agreed not to go on strike.

To see more purchase for Belle Grove

Facebook Link

Please visit our Facebook Fan Page!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 28 Comments »

Another Delivery This Morning!

Jun. 18th 2013

I couldn’t wait until the end of the day to write about this delivery!

This morning at 9am, we had a visit from the Fed Ex man!


He brought us a package addresses to

Brett, Michelle and Hurley!

Inside we discovered a wonderful book from Deborah in California! 

The book, “Dawn’s Early Light” is a romantic novel about a woman who dresses as a man in order to follow her man to war. Set during the Revolutionary War, this is the first in a series that works its way through to World War II.

But what made it even more special was a special treat just for Hurley!


Hurley will be coming to the plantation on Friday this week. He will be staying behind with me because he has a photo shoot coming up June 25th with a bride that will be staying at the plantation in July.

Don’t forget Saturday, June 22nd at 10am


We will be receiving our landscaping by flatbed truck!

If you can volunteer, we would welcome you to come and help us make Belle Grove Plantation beautiful again!

Hurley will be joining us!


Please bring the following if you have them:

Work Gloves



Plastic Rain Barrel if it is empty

Pickup Truck to help move items and water

Lawn Chair

Bag Lunch

We will have ice cold water on hand for everyone!

We look forward to seeing you at the plantation!!

Watch Our Facebook Page today!

Facebook Link

We are getting a delivery of furniture today!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 20 Comments »

Welcome Home

May. 17th 2013

Today, I decided to take a ride back to Chesapeake so I could restock, do laundry and see my family. Don’t worry, I will be returning tomorrow to continue working on getting the doors open!


I haven’t written too much about our favorite “Plantation Dog” Hurley lately because he is staying in Chesapeake while we get the work done around the house. But today was a classical Hurley moment that was too good to keep to myself.

When I arrived home, Brett and the kids were at work, so the only greeters at home were Hurley and my daughter’s cat, Millie. As always, Hurley was so excited to see me. We just love the whimpering sounds he makes when he hasn’t seeing you in a day or two. And as always, Millie hasn’t surfaced yet. Her daily nap time isn’t complete. Around 4:30, she will appear and let you know it’s time to feed her.

After I got my things in, I asked Hurley if he wanted to go outside. He just sat in his favorite place on the loveseat and stared at me. So the answer at that moment was “No”. So I sat down and started answering emails and reading over Facebook and WordPress.

A few minutes later, I get the cool nose pushing up from under my arm, which Hurley is saying, “I want your attention.” I gave him a pat and he twisted around for me to scratch his back. A minute later, I went back to my computer work. As soon as I did, I get the cool nose push again. This time I ask if he wants to go outside. With that he runs to the sliding glass door.

Our pool is in the backyard and as I pull the curtain back, I can see Brett has uncovered it and is working on getting it ready for the season. Now I have to explain something about Hurley. He LOVES the pool. It is his love and obsession during the pool season. He will find any way to get in the pool. When we let him out, we even have to tell him not to get in. Most of the time, he listens. But he can be really sneaky about it. So you have to watch him if you don’t want him wet.

As I open the door, I tell Hurley as we always do, “Okay, no swimming. Do not get in the pool.” He looks up at me and smiles. I know this means, “Yeah, right.” So as I slide the door, I get more firm and say, “Hurley, no pool. Stay out of the pool. No swimming.” As I am saying this he is trotting out the door. As I finish my last sentence, Hurley stops in his tracks, turns around at me and looks at me. So I repeat, “Hurley, no pool. Stay out of the pool. No swimming.” He pauses a second, looks back that pool, looks back at me and then finally looks back at the pool. Then he turns around and trots back in the door.

So I close the door and walk back in and sit down to the computer. I am no fool. I have been around this course before. So after a few minutes, I look up to see what Hurley is doing. He is sitting in the loveseat with looking at me.

09 (1)

He sure does have me wrapped around his paws!

So feeling bad, I get up and we go outside together for a quick play.





Classic Hurley. He is smarter than anyone realizes!

To see more pictures of Hurley, our Plantation Dog.

Facebook Link

Please visit our Facebook Fan Page!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 36 Comments »

The Voting is Almost Done!

Apr. 20th 2013

I voted

A little less than 36 hours and we will know who is

“The Official Cookie of Belle Grove Plantation”

Make sure you get your vote in before

Sunday, April 21st at 11:59pm Eastern

To find out how to review and vote for your favorite cookie

Hurley Vote

click on Hurley!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Food and Recipes | Comments Off on The Voting is Almost Done!

Poor Hurley!

Mar. 6th 2013

With all the wonderful Cookie Contest Recipes coming in…

I think we have worn poor Hurley out! 


But don’t let his lounging around stop you!

Keep you great recipes coming in!

Just click on James Madison

to go to our Instructions on how to enter!

Cookie Contest Image

Don’t forget to check our Facebook Fan Page 

for our new Opinion Question!

Facebook Link

Be apart of our “team” to help us open this grand plantation!

Thank you to all who have offered their thoughts!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Food and Recipes, Hurley | 16 Comments »


Mar. 1st 2013

Hurley Taste Test

Check out our

“Official Cookie of Belle Grove Plantation”

Cookie Contest!

Click on James Madison to find out how to enter!

Cookie Contest Image

Visit our Facebook Fan Page to see more pictures of our sweet Hurley!

Facebook Link

We will be posting new pictures of Hurley through the years soon!

Please “Like” Us and “Share” Us!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Food and Recipes, Hurley | 28 Comments »

A Quick Trip to the Plantation

Feb. 24th 2013
Hurley looking out of the Riverside door

Hurley looking out of the Riverside door

Today we drove up to the plantation for a quick couple of meetings. We met with a bride to be and her mother and sister. We also met a new friend and her daughter that came through our Twitter connections!

And who should be the center of attention through it all…

our sweet Hurley!

The bride finalized her wedding plans with us and we have officially booked our first wedding/honeymoon night for Belle Grove Plantation! It is so exciting! And we haven’t even opened our doors yet! The best part was that she has asked to do her bridal photo shoot with us before the wedding and requested to have Hurley in some of those pictures! Well, of course we will have to consult with his manager, but I think we can work her into his busy schedule!

The new friend we met today was really wonderful! She has introduced us to a band that we didn’t even know existed! Now you know that both Brett and I are former military. Brett served 21 years in the US Navy as a field corpsman, an independent duty corpsman and instructor. I served in the US Marine Corps as a field radio operator. We met in Camp LeJeune where he was serving with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines and I was with Communications Company, Head Quarters Battalion. With our service and the fact that we are opening James Madison’s birthplace, you have to know that we are pretty patriotic.

Well this band has both of our loves! Patriotic and James Madison! The band is called “Madison Rising” and was named after the Great Little James Madison! It is a rock and roll band with a bit of an edge to them. If you grew up in the 80s and listen to Van Halen and other heavy metal bands, like Brett and I did, you can understand why we like them.





But the coolest part is the lead singer, Dave Bray also served in the US Navy as a field hospital corpsman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines in Camp Lejeune! How cool is that! If you can a chance, check them out on their YouTube video. This one is their version of “The Star Spangle Banner”. It is really good and will give you chill bumps!

But we also wanted to share some picture we snapped at the plantation of everyone’s favorite “Plantation Dog”!

Believe me, he has a blast today running around and making new friends! 

We are currently booking his business schedule….. haha!

Hurley and Brett check out the river bluff

Hurley and Brett check out the river bluff

Hurley inspects the 1900 water fountain.

Hurley inspects the 1900 water fountain.

Hurley playing on the Riverside of the Mansion

Hurley playing on the Riverside of the Mansion

Hurley and Brett prepare to watch the "Evening Show", our sunset over the river.

Hurley and Brett prepare to watch the “Evening Show”, our sunset over the river.

To see more pictures of our famous Plantation Dog


Check out our Facebook Fan Page!

Facebook Link

Please Like Us and Share Us!

Help us Spread the Word!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Hurley | 49 Comments »

Well Deserved Reward

Feb. 13th 2013

Brett and I would like to thank all of you that have supported us through this journey.

We would like to also thank everyone for going to our Facebook Fan Page, Liking and Sharing us! 

While we didn’t hit our goal of 1000 Likes (we are up to 914 today), we still want you to know that it really showed the Planning Commission that we mean business. It meant so much to us!

And we want all our “Hurley the Plantation Dog” fans not to worry!

Hurley got his bone tonight!

Brett comes home with a special treat!(Notice all the tea cups lined up waiting to go to Belle Grove!)

Brett comes home with a special treat!
(Notice all the tea cups lined up waiting to go to Belle Grove!)

Hurley Attacks!

Hurley Attacks!



To see more pictures of our sweet Plantation Dog

Facebook Link

Please see Hurley’s album on our Belle Grove Facebook Fan Page!

Don’t forget to Like and Share us!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Hurley | 30 Comments »


Feb. 6th 2013

Hurley Promotes Belle Grove

Hey Everyone!

This is Hurley.

My humans are out to dinner and I have taken over again!

Please help me out!

I’m trying to get 1000 likes on our “Belle Grove Plantation at Port Conway” Facebook Fan Page! 

Facebook Link

If you haven’t Liked Us on Facebook, please stop by.

If  you are already a Friend on Facebook, please go and see my new picture!

Please share it on your facebook page so we can get the word out.

Can we make it to 1000 before the first Zoning Meeting on Tuesday, February 12th?

I think we can if I can get everyone’s help!

Thank you for your help!

Hurley Paw Print Signature

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Hurley | 26 Comments »