You may know I’m a Virginian living in the lovely Shenandoah Valley, but did you realize my family has been here for several hundred years and were among the earliest settlers in the valley, that the driving force behind my writing has been my passion for Virginia and its rich history, and reaches even further back to my English/Scots-Irish roots?
I find inspiration in the stories and places known to the people who’ve gone before me. Many of these homes were dear to them and still are to us today. I’m also an enormous fan of old gardens, mills, churches…if it’s historic, I’m on board.
Some of the old Virginia homes I’ve found most intriguing and inspiring are described and illustrated below. This is only a sampling of the many beautiful houses that date to various time periods in Virginia’s extended history.
Mount Vernon, (above), the home of George Washington (built in 1757). Mount Vernon is absolutely exquisite and the grounds are too. I can’t rave enough about Mount Vernon. The gardens are wonderful and the last time I was there, they sold heirloom flower seeds you can grow in your own gardens. Same thing at Monticello. Many of these historic sites are accompanied by museums and gift shops that offer items and books unique to that place. Excellent for doing research on any particular site or time period.
Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson (Built in 1772). I love Monticello, a wonderful old home, and the grounds and gardens are fabulous. It’s filled with Jefferson’s inventions. He was an amazing man whom I much admire. We are proud to claim him as a Virginian, along with a number of other outstanding founding fathers, including George Washington mentioned above. Not to neglect the founding mothers of whom my favorite is Abigail Adams. If you haven’t seen The Adam’s Chronicles, you really should. Extremely well done series, produced by Tom Hanks, much of which was actually filmed in Virginia.
The beautifully historic homes in Colonial Williamsburg…all of Williamsburg, actually, are wonderful. Largely restored in the 1930’s, Williamsburg is a major tourist attraction for visitors from all over the world. My dad tells me his aunt had an antique shop there he used to visit, now gone. Sigh. Wish that was all restored and still in the family. How kewl would that be? I’m a huge fan of colonial Williamsburg. You haven’t lived until you’ve visited Williamsburg, but if at all possible go during the less crowded and more pleasant seasons of spring or fall. Summer can be quite hot and humid, but anytime is better than missing it altogether and they do have air conditioning in most of the buildings. The last time I was there the weather was cool and the crowd thin. Just the way I like it. I toured once in cold wind-driven rain, but the crowd was light. Come to think of it, it’s high time I went back for another visit.
The magnificent Carter’s Grove Plantation (Completed in 1755) An amazing place! We visited Carter’s Grove repeatedly on our honeymoon as we went to Williamsburg and it’s not far. Carter’s Grove is spectacular. Definitely one of the most impressive colonial homes I’ve ever visited. I try to imagine actually living there.
Shirley Plantation (Completed in 1738) Fascinating old home and outbuildings. Shirley is part of the inspiration behind light paranormal romance Somewhere My Love. I have a separate post about Shirley’s famous ghost, Aunt Pratt. That’s an amazing tale in itself.
Berkeley Plantation (Brick home built in 1726 but the history of the site extends much further back into early America). I was particularly struck by Berkeley, part of the inspiration behind light paranormal Somewhere My Love. Berkeley has beautiful gardens too. I have a separate post on Berkeley, the actual site of the first Thanksgiving.
Chapel Hill, our Virginia family home place (Circa 1816) *the snowy pic. This beautiful old house had enormous significance in my life and undergirds every story I tell set in an old plantation. That ‘snake incident’ in historical romance Enemy of the King happened right here. Those of you who think snakes can’t wind themselves around the antlers of a buck mounted up on the wall best think again. And they like to do it at night when small children are on route to the bathroom.
The Joshua Wilton House: “The Joshua Wilton House…is a superb small inn and restaurant” – The Sunday New York Times ~ To quote from their website: “Joshua Wilton House offers guests an oasis of quiet charm and gracious living in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. In an elegantly restored Victorian home, Joshua Wilton House occupies a corner in the historic “Old Town” district of Harrisonburg, Virginia.”
This lovely old home is part of the inspiration behind light paranormal romance Somewhere My Lass. I used a compilation of Victorian era Virginia homes, some of which I’ve lived in, for the mysterious house in historic Staunton Virginia where the story begins~
Books I’ve written most influenced by old homes thus far include:
Colonial American Romance Novel Enemy of the King
Light Paranormal Romance Novel Somewhere My Love
Light Paranormal Romance Novel Somewhere My Lass (Release date TBD)
A Warrior for Christmas, in An American Rose Christmas Anthology.
I’ve explored my fascination with castles in Somewhere My Lass as part of my Scottish roots. This is the beautiful Eilean Donan. I hope you share my passion for the past and these wonderful old homes in particular. But whether you do or not, I will always cherish these places and my memories of them.