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Historic garden tour of Middlesex is Friday

The view from the water of the LeBoeuf home at Wilton Creek.

The Garden Club of the Middle Peninsula and the Garden Club of Virginia are sponsoring the Historic Garden Week Tour of homes and gardens in Middlesex County on Friday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This year’s theme is “Civil War History Along Our Waterways.” Numerous waterfront and historical homes and churches will be open for tours along with picturesque gardens and even a restored oyster buy boat. Looking out over the broad open waterways, it is easy to imagine the role they played during the Civil War. 

One of the homes on the tour overlooks Mill Creek, which served as a picket post where Confederate soldiers inspected smaller vessels with the hope of discouraging Union boats from entering the creeks and rivers. Camp Ashby, a Confederate camp, was set up in a field south of Urbanna. 

Another home overlooks Wilton Creek, where in 1863 Lt. John Taylor Wood ambushed Union gunboats that were trying to capture Wood and his men.

Meanwhile, Mrs. William Henry Kelly and her children were living on their farm in Deltaville fending off raids by Union troops while her husband was away fighting for the Union army. Her home has been restored and is open for the tour.

Homes and churches open for the tour are:

Shell Court
The wide welcoming pebbled driveway to this home invites visitors to discover the winding paths leading to the gardens, sandy beach and pier on LaGrange Creek. The gardens feature native Virginia and Coastal Honshu Japanese plants. This contemporary French country home was constructed in 2003 by local craftsmen. Mr. and Mrs. David Cryer are opening their home for the first time.

Urbanna Light
Urbanna Light overlooks the harbor of Urbanna and is modeled after a lighthouse on a St. Lawrence Seaway Island. Its 650-pound Fresnel lens in the lighthouse once lit Australia’s Perth Harbor. The bricks used in building the house, garage and guest house were rescued from an old warehouse. Evergreens, natural grasses and hollies define the boundaries of the property. A stone sculpture of a fisherman’s daughter is anchored on one side of the octagonal pool. Inside high ceilings and limestone floors mark the open floor plan. The massive travertine mantel surrounded by fieldstone and cherry cabinets was designed by sculptor and woodworking artist, Philippe Faraut. Urbanna Light is open for the first time by Mr. and Mrs. David Cottrell.

Built in 1810, Millmont gets its name from its location on a hill overlooking Mill Creek and the Rappahannock River. Today, the shade trees and gardens dot the long expanse of lawn where a hand-pegged barn is located near the home. Inside the home the 16-foot-long-running heart pine floor in the dining room is original to the home. Following World War II, a living room was added and recently a new kitchen. A sitting area and screened porch have replaced an old addition. There are many hand hewn pieces of furniture made by Berkeley Plantation craftsmen from family walnut trees. Mr. and Mrs. David South are opening their home for the first time.

Wilton Creek
This contemporary “farmhouse” welcomes visitors into a circular drive screened with mature trees, hollies, dogwood and wax myrtle. Pathways invite visitors to wander the 1.5 acres located on a bluff overlooking the Piankatank River facing the Chesapeake Bay. The gardens provide surprises at each turn where plantings provide color all year. In particular the summer garden displays hydrangeas and roses beside a pool. Selected low maintenance plants attract birds and butterflies. Mid-1800s family antiques and a collection of bird prints add to the charm of the interior. Mr. and Mrs. Robert LeBoeuf are opening their home for the first time.

Providence is one of the oldest brick homes in Middlesex County. It faces a wide expanse of the Piankatank River. A tree-lined drive leads visitors to the house which is surrounded by extensive formal, sun and shade gardens with over 40,000 bulbs, many perennials and 100 hydrangeas.

A brick above the river-front porch and county records dating back to the 1760s indicate that the property was owned at the time by the William Morgan family. The beautifully-restored home features two new wings with massive brick walls and chimneys. It shares the grounds with a new guest cottage, pool and deck. Inside the house there are the original rooms, stairs and hand hewn beams. Chinese Canton and a mural from the owner’s home in Richmond complement carefully chosen southern antiques. The day of the tour visitors can speak to Master Gardeners and tour a buy boat from the Middlesex Maritime Museum. Mr. and Mrs. William Cawthorn are opening their home and grounds for the tour.

Christ Church Parish
Christ Church Parish, built in 1714, replaced an even earlier church and is on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Historic Landmarks Register. It will be open with the theme of celebrating “Beauty and Holiness with Flowers.”

Other places of interest on the day of the tour include Middlesex County Museum and Historical Society, Lower United Methodist Church (sanctuary only), the Kelly House, and the Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park.

Services at Lower United Methodist Church at Hartfield began in 1650. The original wooden church was replaced with the current brick church in 1717.

Money raised from the tour funds the restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic gardens. For more information about the tour, call tour chairman, Marilyn South (Mrs. W. David) at 776-6983. Tickets are $30 the day of the tour and may be purchased online or at any of the homes on the tour.

Coffee, tea and water will be served at Church of the Visitation on Route 33 near Topping from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Restroom facilities will be open at the church and at the Middlesex County Museum and Historical Society in Saluda from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

posted 04.25.2012

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