Go for a Drive in Loudoun’s Countryside for the Western Loudoun Art & Studio Tour

Written by Lia Hobel | Photos by Wade Creative 

Western Loudoun’s serene countryside, sprinkled with villages and towns, boasts many working artists who choose to call the area home. On any given day, a traveler can see how this portion of Loudoun could inspire creators with its beauty and tranquility. However, artists may not always have their studios open to the public. That’s why for the last 16 years, volunteers have collectively hosted a three-day, self-guided tour for the community known as the Western Loudoun Art & Studio Tour. The tour is entirely free. 

“One of the great things about the studio tour is that the artists are in their studio,” shared G’Ann Zieger, chair of the planning committee. “They’re working studios and they’re demonstrating their process, so they get a chance to engage with the public.” The tour is the largest of its kind in Northern Virginia, notes Zieger. 

The variety of art is what makes this tour spectacular. There are paintings, pottery, jewelry, photography, drawings, fiber, sculptures, and more. Those who’ve been on the tour in the past know the brilliance showcased. 

This year’s event will be held on June 2-4. Over 50 artists are participating in more than 30 locations. The public is given a map, available in person and online. From there, they can choose where they wish to stop on their road trip. There are a handful of newcomers to this year’s tour. 

For more, visit WLAST.org. ML

Renowned Oceanographer and Ocean Advocate Dr. Sylvia Earle to Speak at Foxcroft School

The public is invited to attend at 7:00 p.m., March 23, 2023.

MIDDLEBURG, VA — Dr. Sylvia Earle, a legendary oceanographer and ocean advocate who holds the record for the deepest walk on the seafloor, has been named the 2023 Alison Harrison Goodyear ’29 Fellow. Dr. Earle will speak to the community about her life experiences and advocacy on Thursday, March 23, at 7:00 p.m. in the Engelhard Gymnasium of the Athletic/Student Center at Foxcroft School.

The public is encouraged to attend this event. There is no admission charge, but space is limited. RSVP by submitting this form or calling 540-687-4510. 

Dubbed the “First Hero for the Planet” by Time Magazine and a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, Dr. Earle is the President and Chairman of Mission Blue, an Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society, Founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Inc. (DOER), Chair of the Advisory Council for the Harte Research Institute, and former Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

Dr. Earle is the subject of the Emmy Award-winning Netflix documentary “Mission Blue” and the recipient of more than 100 national and international honors and awards, including being named a 2014 UNEP Champion of the Earth, Glamour Magazine’s 2014 Woman of the Year, member of the Netherlands Order of the Golden Ark, and winner of the 2009 TED Prize, the Walter Cronkite Award, the 1996 Explorers Club Medal, the Royal Geographic Society 2011 Patron’s Medal, and the National Geographic 2013 Hubbard Medal.

The author of more than 225 publications and leader of more than 100 expeditions with over 7,500 hours underwater, Dr. Earle is a graduate of Florida State University with M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Duke University and 32 honorary degrees. Her research concerns the ecology and conservation of marine ecosystems and the development of technology for access to the deep sea.

Before her presentation, Dr. Earle will spend the day with Foxcroft students. In the morning, she will speak with the entire student body about her experiences as a woman in STEM. She will then visit with AP Chemistry and AP Biology students about her research and diving experience and participate in a lunch discussion with students interested in ocean advocacy or marine biology.

The Alison Harrison Goodyear ’29 Fellowship program, offered through the generosity of the family and friends of Alison Harrison Goodyear, Foxcroft Class of 1929, brings distinguished speakers and provocative performers to Foxcroft to deliver a keynote address and conduct small group seminars with students. 

Fellowship recipients during the program’s 53-year history include such remarkable voices as Maya Angelou, James Baker III, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough, Sally Ride, Barbara Walters, tech entrepreneur Sheena Allen, National Geographic “Adventurer of the Year” Jennifer Pharr Davis, “Hello Fears” founder Michelle Poler, NPR’s Morning Edition host Rachel Martin, GenHERation founder Katlyn Grasso, The Social Institute founder Laura Tierney, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dr. Marcia Chatelain, former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, and Haitian-American director and global philanthropist Claudine Oriol.

Posted on: March 4, 2023

Sixteen Works by Foxcroft School Students Earn Prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

Four receive Gold Keys and advance to the national competition.

MIDDLEBURG, VA — Nine Foxcroft students created 16 outstanding works of art and writing that have been selected for special recognition in the 2023 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards regional competition.

Four works achieved the coveted Gold Key status — the highest regional designation. The “golden” artists are senior Helen Ventikos of Purcellville, VA, who earned two Gold Keys in the photography category; senior Vassiliki Margas, Washington, D.C. (ceramics); and sophomore Huston Sgro, Asheville, NC (photography).

A panel of noted visual and literary leaders in New York City will now judge the Gold Key works. The National Medalists they select will be invited to a ceremony at Carnegie Hall, and their works included in a national traveling exhibition. No stranger to this process, Ventikos earned a national Gold Medal for her photograph titled “Kafes” during last year’s competition and attended the Carnegie Hall ceremony with Fine Arts Department Chair and Photography teacher Julie Fisher to accept her medal.

“Through the creative process, our students share their unique voices and perspective on the world around them, gaining important skills in confidence and self-expression,” explains Head of School Cathy McGehee. “I am proud of their accomplishments and of our expert arts faculty who support them.”

Silver Keys were received by seniors London Hershey of Hagerstown, MD, and Ventikos for their works in the critical essay and photography categories, respectively. Sophomore Rowan Jones of Haymarket, VA, also received a Silver Key for her mixed media submission.

Senior Sophie Matthews of Ashburn, VA, earned four honorable mentions in the ceramics category, and junior Juliana Rose, Dayton, WY, acquired two in the photography category. Additional honorable mentions were earned by Ventikos (photography), junior Madison Burget, Philomont, VA (drawing), and sophomore Ella Johnson, Upperville, VA (ceramics). 

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, established in 1923, are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers in partnership with more than 100 visual arts and literary arts organizations across the country. It is the nation’s largest, longest-running, most prestigious visual and literary arts program recognizing the accomplishments of students in middle and high school.

Among the artistic luminaries who have served as judges are Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Edwidge Danticat, David Sedaris, Nikki Giovanni, and Roz Chast. The list of past winners is equally impressive, with Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Sylvia Plath, and filmmaker Ken Burns — as well as Foxcroft Fine Arts teacher Karin Thorndike — among the honored.

Photo courtesy of Foxcroft School.

Posted on: February 21, 2023

Seven Students and One Faculty Member Elected to Foxcroft School Chapter of Cum Laude Society

MIDDLEBURG, VA — Four Foxcroft School seniors, three juniors, and one faculty member were recently elected to the Foxcroft School Chapter of the Cum Laude Society. They join four members of the senior class who were named to national high school scholastic honor society a year ago as juniors.

Seniors Gabby Garrison (Morgantown, WV), Wilhelmina McQuarrie (London, UK), Cate Williams (Las Cruces, NM), and Sage Wolf (Warrenton, VA) were elected to the Foxcroft School Chapter of the Cum Laude Society (modeled on the collegiate Phi Beta Kappa). In addition, Grace Pumphrey (Goochland, VA), Katelyn Smith (Ashburn, VA), and Elizabeth Viney (South Riding, VA) received the impressive distinction of being selected during their junior year. Assistant Head of School Dr. Tanya Hyatt was also elected to the Society to honor her dedication to the scholarship, teaching, and love of learning fundamental to the ideals of the Society.

Seniors Molly Catlett (Middleburg, VA), London Hershey (Hagerstown, MD), Lucy Moan (Middleburg, VA), and Helen Ventikos (Purcellville, VA) were inducted last year as juniors. They, together with current faculty members of the Chapter (Head of School Cathy McGehee, Athletic Director Michelle Woodruff, Director of The Innovation Lab and History Department Chair Alex Northrup, and STEM teacher and Chapter President Dr. Meghen Tuttle) will officially welcome the new members into the Society during the Cum Laude induction ceremony held at Foxcroft’s annual Awards Assembly in May.

The presence of a Cum Laude chapter at a secondary school indicates a commitment to outstanding scholarly achievement. Students selected for induction must have superior academic records, as reflected in their course load, grade point average, and other factors. They must also demonstrate a serious interest in the pursuit of knowledge and academic integrity. National guidelines limit membership to 20 percent of a senior class; up to half of those students are eligible to be elected in the junior year.

The Cum Laude Society was founded in 1906 and has grown to include 382 chapters, with the vast majority located at independent schools in the United States. Foxcroft’s Chapter was established in 1958.

Photo courtesy of Christine McCrehin.

Posted on: February 7, 2023

Best of Hunt Country Weddings 2022

Hunt Country had no shortage of gorgeous weddings in 2022. From a traditional Hindu ceremony at Goodstone Inn to a classic Hunt Country celebration at Stoke Farm, here are some of our favorites that are easy to love.

Nikita & James

Goodstone Inn & Restaurant, Middleburg, VA
6.2.22 – 6.4.22

Nikita and James celebrated their nuptials across two days with both a traditional Hindu ceremony followed by a Cinderella-inspired celebration complete with a baby blue dress. The couple shares, “Our two-day fusion wedding was a dream come true in every way possible! We hosted a traditional Hindu ceremony on the first day that allowed James and I to fully embrace my Indian background, while sharing all the cultural significance with our loved ones. … We couldn’t have imagined a more magical time with our friends and family!”

Venue & Catering: Goodstone Inn & Restaurant 
Planning and Design: Cherry Blossom Weddings and Events
Photographer: Jordan Maunder Photography
Florist: Wild Fleurette Floral
Hair: Shannon Kappel and Maria Arsha
Makeup: Sara Mabrou
Officiant: Rakesh Pathak and Wedding Ceremonies by Jeff
Horse: Harmon’s Carriages
Cake: Market Salamander
Henna Artist: Maria Arshad
Indian Attire: Custom Shyamal & Bhumika

Morgan & Joseph

Red Fox Inn & Tavern, Middleburg, VA

Morgan and Joseph exchanged vows and hosted guests in the heart of Middleburg. Their ceremony was held at Emmanuel Episcopal Church and followed by a reception at the Red Fox Inn & Tavern. Morgan and Joseph share, “Our wedding perfectly married who we are as a couple and our love for Middleburg, the place where we grew most as a couple. So much credit is owed to our incredible planner, Kim Newton. We explained to Kim that we wanted the details to accentuate our incredibly beautiful venue, Red Fox, which to us is the epitome of Middleburg charm.”

Venue: Red Fox Inn & Tavern
Planner: Kim Newton Weddings
Photographer: Vicki Grafton Photography
Florist: Floral & Bloom
Cake: Market Salamander’s Jason Reeves
Rentals: Party Rental Ltd., White Glove Rentals, BBJ La Tavola
Tent: Sugarplum Tents
Band: Good Shot Judy

Emily & Micah

Rust Manor, Leesburg, VA

Emily and Micah’s late summer celebration could best be described as “marvelous,” with touches from the Marvel universe like the Infinity Gauntlet and Captain America socks, a glow stick send-off, and an abundance of love which is apparent just from the photos. Pops of dark green and pale gold added extra elegance to this stylish wedding weekend.

Venue: Rust Manor House
Wedding Coordinator: Meghan Farra
Photographer: Karis Marie Photography
Florist: Wander & Whimsy Floral
Hair & Makeup: Beauty by Aubrey
Cake: Honey Bee Pastries
DJ: Ian Lade

Kelly & Andrew

Stoke Farm, Middleburg, VA

Andrew and Kelly’s Stoke Farm wedding is classic Middleburg with Hunt Country touches around every corner. When asked about his wedding day, Andrew says, “Two moments stand out to me when I think back to our wedding in the fall. The first was seeing Kelly walk through a pergola of wisteria down to the garden where our ceremony took place while a string trio played our favorite song. It was the exact scene that we had dreamed about for over seven years since we first came to Stoke Farm together. 

And the second was when we were finishing up our dinner at the sweetheart table and looked out across the tables of guests. Not one person wasn’t engaged in conversation with someone else, a lot of them [just] meeting for the first time, and it filled us with so much joy seeing everyone else laughing and smiling with each other.”

Venue: Stoke Farm
Catering: Bluewater Kitchen
Planner: Joy Suits
Photographer: Danielle Towle
Florist: Mini Rose Farm

Ryann & Kevin

Mortgage Hall Estate and The Middleburg Barn, Middleburg, VA

Ryann and Kevin describe their wedding best, saying, “It was really important to us that our wedding was a true representation of the people that we are. We are proud to have showcased that in all of the details that we included on our big day. From our epic entrance, dancing on a cloud, a horse at cocktail hour, our late night speciality cocktail, a getaway car, and cold sparks, our wedding was a dream and we feel lucky that we were able to celebrate our special day at two of the best Middleburg venues, the Mortgage Hall Estate and The Middleburg Barn.”

Venue: Mortgage Hall Estate and The Middleburg Barn
Catering: Main Event
Planner: Alyssa Carl from B.Mingled
Photographer: Kir Tuben
Florist: Lisa from Rosy Posy
Desserts: Simply Dessert 
DJ & Special Effects: John Howard from A2Z Music Factory
Hair: Nam Nguyen
Makeup: Kaytee Spanoghe
Tap Truck: Bubbles & Brews
Videographer: Michael Lemley
Stationary: Designs by Allison Rene

Jessica & Brandon

Great Marsh Estate, Bealeton, VA

For Jessica and Brandon, the color orange took center stage at their Great Marsh Estate wedding. The groom’s suit, groomsmen’s ties, pops of orange in the table settings, and the venue’s fall foliage all added up to a very autumnal feel. The duo exchanged vows in front of friends and family on the sprawling lawn with the statuesque Manor House as the perfect backdrop to their big day.

Venue: Great Marsh Estate
Catering: Serendipity Catering & Design
Planner: Vida Events
Photographer: Jennifer Gray Calcagno Photography (Second Shot under Victoria Heer Photography)
Florist: Sarena Floral Designs 
Hair & Makeup: Evergreen Beauty Makeup & Hair Design 
Desserts: Signature Sweets by Amanda
DJ: Repeatable DJ

Relax the Body and Mind at BodyBloom

Story by Lia Hobel | Photos by Michael Butcher

A few steps from the hustle and bustle of downtown Middleburg’s shopping district is a massage therapy studio that has comforted the community since 2018. BodyBloom, nestled on a quiet residential street, offers all who enter the promise of tranquility in the capable hands of Peggy Finnegan. 

The name “BodyBloom” refers to how massage and bodywork can help one’s body “bloom” with an improved sense of strength and wellbeing according to Finnegan, the owner and therapist. “I create a peaceful, private, and unhurried experience for my clients from the moment they arrive,” she explains. “My cozy studio is designed to feel restful and inviting. Clients receive my undivided attention for their entire appointment.” 

Finnegan works as a solo therapist. She starts by carefully listening to her clients’ preferences and needs. From there, she works quietly using skilled, compassionate touch and a slower pace to help soothe the nervous system while softening and loosening muscle tension. “For most people, it’s a welcome treat to have this uninterrupted downtime with zero demands on them,” she says. “Clients tell me they feel totally safe and cared for when they’re on my table.” Each session includes comforting extras like a heated table, eye pillow, hot stones, and steamy towels — the perfect accoutrement for an exceptionally relaxing experience.

Taking care of people comes naturally to Finnegan. She was a United Airlines flight attendant for 20 years, exploring the world while providing front-line safety and service to the traveling public. “On my days off from flying, I did rewarding work as a certified nursing assistant and also served for many years as an in-home hospice volunteer,” she says.

Finnegan was ready for a change after 9/11 and chose to follow her therapeutic spirit. She knew a quieter and more intimate setting appealed to her. After graduating from massage school and getting her license in 2012, Finnegan began work at a luxury spa and opened a private practice in Hudson, Ohio. For the next few years, she juggled both jobs, took advanced training classes, honed her skills, and built her clientele. In 2016, everything came to a screeching halt due to an unexpected health crisis which left Finnegan physically unable to do massage therapy work for nearly a year. “During my recovery, I experienced immense healing from a variety of complementary therapies including reflexology,” she says. That’s when she decided to make use of her time off from massage by getting trained and certified in the Ingham Method of reflexology which she has proudly offered at her Middleburg studio since she moved to the area with her husband. 

Since opening its doors, BodyBloom has been a retreat for anyone looking to decompress in a peaceful atmosphere. Finnegan is trained in a variety of therapeutic modalities including deep tissue massage, neuromuscular therapy, and Thai massage. She has chosen to focus solely on restorative relaxation work “because it’s what I love the most and I believe that [it] is exactly what a lot of folks need,” she shares. Finnegan helps many people seeking relief from general muscle tension from physical activity or from long hours sitting at their computer. “I also see many others who are feeling stressed out, anxious, or overwhelmed.” Her clients include all genders and range in age from 16 to 93. 

Massages not only restore the body, but also the mind. Finnegan says the relaxation massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which reduces your body’s stress reactions. This is also known as the rest and relax response. “As the physical touch of massage activates the parasympathetic system, your heart rate naturally slows down. Then breathing also slows and your blood pressure lowers. Your hormones are also affected.” Stress hormones like cortisol drop off and serotonin, the feel-good hormone, spikes. This provides that improved sense of wellbeing and peacefulness that people feel after a massage. “I believe that the additional nurturing and care [clients] receive at BodyBloom just adds to those good feelings,” Finnegan emphasizes.

Finnegan also strives to build a nourishing relationship between client and therapist. “My favorite part about having my own practice is being able to take the time to get to know my clients as people, not just bodies,” Finnegan says delightedly. “I love building a therapeutic relationship of trust with my clients, getting to know their needs, likes, and dislikes. I don’t like to rush, and I never want you to feel rushed, so I leave myself plenty of time between my appointments so your whole experience feels relaxed and unhurried.” ML

BodyBloom Massage & Reflexology
107 West Marshall Street, Suite 106
Middleburg, Virginia 20117

BodyBloom specializes in restorative relaxation services including massage therapy, foot reflexology, and luxurious body scrubs. Those considering booking can do so through the BodyBloom website: bodybloommassage.com.

This article first appeared in the January 2023 issue.

The Rosemary: A New Boutique Hotel and Gathering Place in Marshall

Written by Lia Hobel

The historic white building stands at 8393 West Main Street in Marshall. For locals, the property has been known simply by this address — until now. Opened in late October, The Rosemary, a boutique lodging and event center, is breathing new life into those lovely old bones. 

“Our building has lived many lives prior to our ownership,” says Leah Washer, The Rosemary’s  general manager. Washer and her husband Regan, and in-laws, Melissa and Mike Washer, purchased the property as a family endeavor. They own a farm together as well, also named The Rosemary. “The reason [for] the name Rosemary for the farm and the building is because the matriarch of the Washer family, from Louisville, Kentucky, was Mike’s grandmother, Rosemary Ennis Washer. The green clover in both logos is [because] she was very proud of her Irish heritage,” Leah Washer explains. 

Although the Washers don’t know all the history behind 8393 West Main, they know the lovely building has an important place in Marshall. “The structure at 8393 West Main dates to the original stone storehouse built circa 1800 and has ebbed and flowed between residential and commercial uses during its long history [including] the addition of a two-story log structure used as the counting room for cattle drives,” Leah Washer shares. Over the years, the property also served as a doctor’s office, flower shop, school, and book shop (which helped Bunny Mellon stock her impressive garden library at Oak Hill, the owners have been told), as well as a private residence. 

The Washers purchased the home from a local interior designer, Daniel Moore, in August 2022. Moore had transformed the three offices the building housed into three Airbnb rooms in 2019. “He designed every aspect of the rooms and did an amazing job,” Leah Washer says. When the family got word that it was coming on the market, Melissa Washer, Leah’s mother-in-law, went to see it first. “It has a wonderful peaceful vibe when you’re in that building, and I like that it was historical but yet it’s been redone nicely,” Melissa Washer shares. 

Having the property already restored and beautifully decorated made it an easy transition. In August, Leah left a job in HR to devote her time entirely to The Rosemary. “Since then, it has been a total whirlwind in the best way,” she shares. “The family aspect is very important to us, and we maintain the building all on our own, everything from cleaning the rooms, laundry, lawn care, and general maintenance.” 

The Rosemary is a unique addition to Marshall. “There are little to no Airbnbs, no hotels, and no event venues aside from the Ruritan Club,” Leah Washer explains. Inside The Rosemary, the three luxury king rooms are referred to as “The Rooms Up There.” Each one radiates its own character with carefully selected furnishings and similar color schemes to promote cohesiveness. The names of the individual rooms, The Clover, The Julep, and The Derby, are all references to the Kentucky matriarch. The rooms are designed for relaxation with televisions intentionally left out. Guests are welcome to visit the Common Room for reading, games, or to sip wine (a complimentary wine bottle comes with every stay). Morning coffee is also provided in these rooms, as well as locally sourced snacks. 

The Drawing Room is the event space at the Rosemary. It can accommodate 75 guests making it the perfect intimate setting for baby showers, weddings and receptions. The family has been busy meeting with local event planners, caterers, and florists.“Our ultimate goal with The Rosemary is to expand into the wedding and events world. With such a beautiful space we want everyone to see it,” Leah Washer notes. 

When the space is not in use for an event, The Rosemary hosts yoga classes. Melissa is a yoga instructor and has hired three additional instructors to teach classes on different days. There’s also a Tai chi class. Melissa says the family has enjoyed making the Drawing Room a place for everyone in the community to use. They have even hosted sip and paint events. 

The Green House is part of the Drawing Room’s event space but deserves a standalone mention. With trailing green vines adorning the adjacent wall, it offers a garden party aesthetic for any occasion. Guests who rent The Rosemary accommodations for a two-night stay have an option to add the Green Room for an additional fee to host a private dinner party or other small event. 

With its many uses, The Rosemary is certainly a welcome addition to the rural community of Marshall and will undoubtedly become a popular stop or stay in town. ML

The Rosemary is located at 8393 West Main Street, Marshall, Virginia. For more information visit: Theroomsupthere.com. 

History and Art Collide at Burwell-Morgan Mill

Written by Heidi Baumstark

In 1782, during the final stages of the Revolutionary War, two men struck out on a business venture – the Burwell-Morgan Mill – which became one of the most successful merchant mills in the colony of Virginia. Continuing a 200-plus-year legacy in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, its wheels still turn today to produce freshly ground grain. 

The two founders – Nathaniel Burwell (1750-1814), a Tidewater planter and great grandson of former royal governor of Virginia, Robert “King” Carter, and Daniel Morgan (1736-1802), honored Revolutionary War hero and wagoneer – came together to initiate the project in the tiny hamlet of Millwood, just 23 minutes from Middleburg. 

Art Old and New

The mill itself is a piece of art. Its lower portions are built of rugged, native limestone, and a walk through the front door opens to 200-year-old scroll and block lettering on the rustic walls. The structure is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.

Twice a year, the mill transforms into an art venue for the Art at the Mill show. Fine art in various forms – paintings, metalwork, pottery, ceramics, woodwork, and sculptures – is on display and for sale from over 300 gifted artists near and far. The 2022 fall show will be held from October 1 to 16. Patron’s Night, a ticketed evening gala event that includes local eats and spirited beverages, will kick off the exhibit on September 30. 

Nathan Stalvey is the director of the Clarke County Historical Association (CCHA), the organization that owns the mill. Stalvey earned a Master of Arts in Public History and Museum Management and a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of South Carolina where he worked as curator of traveling exhibits and graphic design at McKissick Museum.  

“Art at the Mill is our primary fundraiser,” Stalvey says. “Funds generated help keep the water wheel turning now and for future generations so they can understand the important history it plays in the story of Clarke County and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Kathy Campbell is a former CCHA board president and in the past has chaired the art show committee. She lives in neighboring Boyce and is an artist who taught art at Clarke County High School for 12 years. 

“The first [art] show was in 1990; it started as an idea to raise money for the mill’s restoration,” Campbell explains. “We have a little bit of everything in the art pieces: horses, barns, landscapes, foxes, nature scenes, abstract art. The jury works hard on picking different things to showcase. A whole team of people set up the show which includes hanging each piece (a puzzle in itself). This team is led by Snow Fielding who has been involved with the show in many capacities since the early days.”

Kathy Hudson of Berryville is on the CCHA board and currently chairs the art show committee. “We get local artists and many others from out of state,” she notes. Hudson came to Clarke County in 1985 from Pennsylvania. When she first spotted the mill, she remembers, “I was instantly enamored and taken with the area’s history.” She credits the mill as the reason she chose to stay in Virginia.

“Over the years, the caliber of the art [has been] amazing,” Hudson says. Local artist Gwen Casey-Higgins supports the art shows behind-the-scenes by responding to artists’ inquiries and handling all the advertising. “She’s my right-hand person; I’d be lost without her,” Hudson shares. 

The show is juried, requiring artists to submit photos of their work for possible inclusion. Art is displayed on the main and upper levels; extra wall units are installed for additional space to hang the multitude of pieces. “People make it an annual event to come here,” Hudson says. “Art is one way to bring people together.” 

The Mill’s History

The mill was built between 1782 and 1785 when the changing economy in Europe caused a sudden demand for grains. With Burwell’s 8,000 acres, he had the land, but he needed a partner. Enter Daniel Morgan. 

Before the war, Burwell was a 1774 graduate of the College of William and Mary. Morgan was from the north but his exact birthplace is unknown; he lacked a formal education and was a farmer. He became an experienced wagoneer who hauled freight to the eastern part of the Virginia Colony. Though Burwell and Morgan had very different starts in life, they shared one thing: their military service in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783).When Burwell chose Morgan as his business partner, he had already known of Morgan’s success in the military and as a businessman. Thus began a partnership between the Colonel and the General.

The lowest level of the four-story mill houses the mechanical gears including the huge wooden water wheel that is 20 feet in diameter and turns the French buhr stones on the main level for grain grinding. These gears rotate as a result of falling water provided by Spout Run.The wooden third and fourth stories were added in 1877.

“The mill’s number one purpose was to make money. This mill was used for mass production. Its [products] were put in hogshead [barrels] for export,” Stalvey shares. Flour produced here was sent to ports in Alexandria and Dumfries for shipment to Europe and the West Indies.

According to the 1969-1970 “Proceedings of the Clarke County Historical Association: The History of The Millwood Mill 1782-1785” booklet, the area “mushroomed into a thriving post-Revolutionary village with the large merchant mill as its economic heart, including also a tanyard, a fine extensive manufactory of leather, a boot and sow maker, a large store, a tailor, a blacksmith, a waggoner, one tavern, two distilleries, and a post office.” 

Carl Maples of Berryville has volunteered at the mill for 20 years. “The Buttery [Restaurant] across the street was originally the grog shop,” he confirms. “That’s where they stored barrels [of spirits].”  

On Saturday mornings, local volunteer millers and Stalvey stay busy grinding various grains including corn varieties, buckwheat, rye, nine-grain, and wheat, all of which are available for purchase at the mill. The mill also sells recipe books so customers can bake up a fresh batch of bread at home. According to Jess Foltz, wine manager at the Locke Store across the street, “The Buttery uses the mill’s rye flour in their sourdough breads.” 

In addition to owning the 18th-century mill, CCHA owns two more 19th-century structures on the property: the miller’s house and a tollhouse that allowed paying passengers through on what was then a section of the original U.S. Route 50. The meadow surrounding the mill is an inviting space with picnic tables dotted around Spout Run, a tributary of the Shenandoah River.   

Preservation for Future Generations

To walk around this mill is to witness the vision of Burwell and Morgan and appreciate the investment and hard work by many villagers to make it a success. As the nation was just breaking free from Britain, the mill was busy providing a valuable resource for those who lived here.

Stalvey points out, “Millwood sprung up around this mill and was a center of economic activity. In its heyday, the mill served as a local gathering place. And it continues to serve as an anchor for Millwood, bringing in people from all over. Making sure the mill is preserved and operational for present and future generations is at the very heart of CCHA’s mission.”

With regard to the art show, Hudson emphasizes, “It’s a labor of love for the mill and the community.”

Burwell-Morgan Mill is located at 15 Tannery Lane in Millwood. For tickets to Patron’s Night, (September 30, 6 – 9 p.m.) and more information on Art at the Mill (October 1 – 16, Saturdays 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday through Friday, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.), please visit: clarkehistory.org/art-mill.html. ML

This article first appeared in the September 2022 issue.

A Day in the Life of a Creighton Farms Family

Early on a summer morning, the Groupe family can be found relaxing on the back porch of their home in the Creighton Farms community, overlooking the golf course as they enjoy coffee and breakfast in the sunshine. Katie and Johnny Groupe have lived with their three children in Creighton Farms for the last two years in an atmosphere that Katie Groupe describes as “almost resort living without being at a resort.” Creighton Farms is a gated club community nestled in the rolling hills of horse country just outside of Aldie with abundant amenities including golf courses, tennis and pickleball courts, a pool, a social club, and year-round events and activities for children and adults alike.

Katie and Johnny Groupe.

“People see Creighton when they see the gates and they think it’s stuffy, and it couldn’t be farther from that,” Katie says. “It’s really laid back and enjoyable and stress free.” The Groupes were attracted to the slower country lifestyle in Loudoun County after living in Old Town, Alexandria. “When you’re in the city, it’s such a different mindset… from being in an urban environment to being out here where you can see the mountains and the rolling fields. And, I was always drawn to the Middleburg area,” Katie notes. “The view, the horse country, it’s just so peaceful to me, and also Johnny as well.”

Johnny, who is originally from the Northern Virginia area and runs a civil engineering company, is a long-time golfer and was drawn to the golf program at Creighton Farms. “I never knew about the [golf] community in Loudoun County so it was a pretty easy decision for us once we got to meet the members and our friends that we have now,” he says. He highlighted the golf tournament opportunities for adult and junior players, including charity tournaments.

Taking advantage of the driving range.

As parents of three young children, Katie and Johnny Groupe appreciate the safety of the community and the youth opportunities that are offered by Creighton Farms. Katie grew up in a similar community in Augusta, Georgia, and wanted the same environment for her family. “I know what it feels like to grow up in a community where you just feel safe, where you ride your golf carts around and meet your friends and ride your bikes everywhere. It’s just wonderful, so it felt like coming home when we started building here,” Katie remembers.

The Groupe kids.

Creighton Farms hosts plenty of events and activities for families including summer camps, holiday parades, and even weekly movie nights on Friday evenings. “You drop the kids downstairs and they show a movie while the adults can have a nice dinner upstairs and enjoy two hours for ourselves which is kind of like a little built-in babysitter,” Johnny says.

The Groupe’s children attend Loudoun Country Day School where Katie is an active member of the school board, but during the summer they have made the most of Creighton’s golf camps and visiting the club’s pool. Additionally, the club offers fine dining with weekend specials and plenty of family-friendly options. Katie recalls a time when she requested lemon pepper chicken fingers although they were not a listed menu option. “The chef [whipped] up his own lemon pepper seasoning. It was just wonderful. [It] makes you feel special.”

While all lots in Creighton Farms come with a club membership offer attached, it is optional, but most residents accept and embrace the social opportunities of the sports and activities. “I’d say 95% of the residents are members, so you get to know your neighbors very well,” Johnny explains.

The Groupe family relaxes by the golf course.

Katie says that the family has everything they need within the gates of the community or just a short drive away. “Living in here, we always laugh, we really don’t want to leave the gate,” she says. “It’s wholesome.”

The Groupes appreciate the relaxation and fun of Creighton Farms and encourage others to come experience it. “When the right lot and the right builder and the right house all came together, we jumped on the opportunity. We couldn’t see being anywhere else,” Johnny says. ML

This article first appeared in the September 2022 Issue.

“Shades of Autumn” at the Byrne Gallery

For Immediate Release:
September 22, 2022
The Byrne Gallery 
Middleburg, VA

The Byrne Gallery in Middleburg, Virginia, is proud to present Shades of Autumn, the latest series of plein air landscape and garden oil paintings by noted Virginia painter, Robert Thoren. This new exhibition for the month of October features impressionistic views that showcase the beauty of the Virginia countryside as well as scenes from Italy and France. Goose Creek and the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains are both represented in the splendor of the autumn season with color and majesty. The exhibition will be on display from October 5th – 30th, 2022. There will be a reception for the artist on Saturday, October 8th from 4:00 – 7:00, and a gallery talk on Saturday, October 15th, from 2:00-4:00. Drinks and refreshments will be provided. Both events and the exhibition are open to the public and all are invited to attend. 

Robert Thoren is an avid proponent and practitioner of plein air painting.  He has relished the opportunity to paint the Northern Virginia landscape, particularly the lush terrain of the Shenandoah Valley. Before moving to Virginia in 1993, Robert studied with teachers closely associated with the late Russian emigre impressionist Sergei Bongart.  Mr. Bongart’s work was often featured in exhibitions at the Frye Gallery in Seattle along with other noted artists and fellow emigres Nicolai Fechin and Leon Gaspard. 

Like Sergei Bongart, Robert Thoren paints in a sensual, impressionistic style emphasizing vivid color and employ fresh dramatic brushstrokes. His artistic goal is to suggest spontaneity while maintaining a firm mastery of drawing and painting techniques. In his many still lifes, Robert celebrates the Bongart school’s focus upon color and its ability to transform everyday objects into scenes of powerful emotion. Robert teaches both oil and acrylic landscape and still life painting through the Fairfax County Parks Authority.  He is an active member of the Washington Society of Landscape Painters.

The Byrne Gallery is located at 7 West Washington Street in Middleburg, Virginia. Gallery hours are Monday and Tuesday by appointment only, Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Contact the Byrne Gallery for more information by phone at (540) 687-6986, by email at [email protected], or online at thebyrnegallery.com