Sperryville: Thriving through the village — and beyond

Restoration of property and business expansion continues in Sperryville and environs.

Investment in our village conveys the belief by individual entrepreneurs that our charming village will not only survive recent economic distress but will, in fact, thrive.

At 23 Main Street, owner Bill Pumphrey was delighted when his crew removed the hand-split lathe and plaster and discovered an 18-by-24-foot log cabin dating back to the late 1700s, with one roof built over a much older roof with hand split shingles. The hand-hewn logs were restored and rechinked, and two stone fireplaces rebuilt.

Among the many tasks of carpenters Elwood and Frankie Jenkins was building by hand the kitchen cabinets, joining them to the logs. The second floor bedroom retains the original wood floor. Pumphrey’s plan is to rent the home to a full-time resident, while his vacation rental home next door, the Summer Kitchen, is made available to tourists. Both properties have spacious decks on the Thornton River.

Three houses away, Jerome Niessen is renovating another 1820s log and frame home that has two stone fireplaces, a sun porch, three bedrooms, three bathrooms, living room and a new kitchen. Large rooms and windows, removal of walls and tantalizing colors create a warm and vibrant atmosphere in the house. Meticulous restoration of the house by Hampton and Massie is particularly evident in the logs and stone fireplace.

This guest house will be managed by Hopkins Ordinary and will bring to about 10 the number of vacation rental homes in the Sperryville area serving tourists and visitors.

Elizabeth Lee has furnished five rooms in the historic Engham house at 31 Main, ancestral home of Sperryville author James Russell. Offered at a lower fee than other guest houses and B&Bs, the Engham house has a hostel-like lounging space and shared bathrooms, well suited to groups of hikers and large families. All rooms are carefully furnished with antiques and are quite charming. Ann Bellomy, manager of the room rentals, lives right across the street.

Last week both Amissville’s Narmada Winery and Washington’s Blue Rock Inn hosted events for the business and tourism community to launch the spring tourist season. Narmada is unique in the county with its gracious Indian decor and food; owners Sudha and Pandit Patil, a mechanical engineer and endodontist, respectively, purchased the land in 11 years ago in preparation for realizing their retirement dream of operating a winery. Good wine, excellent ethnic food and the gracious hospitality of the owners combined to create a fine introduction.

Diners at a Blue Rock preview dinner last week. Photo by Sam Howar.

From the moment one steps into the Blue Rock Inn reception area, with its new raised ceiling and recessed lighting, the gracious and warm atmosphere is most welcoming. This landmark inn has been meticulously renovated, restored and furnished by owner Said Hawa and innkeeper Muna “Mati” Miller. Attendees at a pre-launch dinner were warmly welcomed Hawa and Miller and treated to a dinner prepared by acclaimed consulting executive chef Gerard Pangaud, and chef Rachel Rowland. All left wanting only to return to this excellent restaurant, which planned to open last night (April 21).

Copper Fox Antiques and Wasmund’s Distillery have consistently drawn larger and larger numbers of visitors to Sperryville’s River District. The addition soon of Jerome Niessen’s nearby Rappahannock Farmer’s Coop and artist’s cafe in the former antique market will undoubtedly bring even more.

As the county supervisors prepare to deal with the next fiscal year’s budget, one recognizes the role of sales tax income from the businesses of private investors who believe in the future of Rappahannock County, and whose businesses also provide employment for local citizens. Marketing of the county to support new investments and to increase local sales tax income and employment will be necessary to support their success. We welcome these new businesses and wish them well.

Annual plant sale: May 1

The ninth annual Rappahannock Plant Sale is 9 to 3 Saturday, May 1 at Sperryville’s Waterpenny Farm. Not unlike during the Oklahoma Land Rush, eager early-risers will once again line up for the best selection.

The quality and variety of plants and products makes it a much-anticipated community spring ritual; this year’s vendors and products include herbs, perennials and flowering vines from Blue Ridge Botanicals; Japanese maples and conifers from Eastwoods Nurseries; native plants from Enchanter’s Gardens; student-grown plants from the Headwaters/Rappahannock County Public Schools’ Farm-to-Table program; native perennials, shrubs, grasses and vines from Hill House Farm & Nursery; perennials, specialty annuals and herbs from Morningside Farm & Nursery; flowering and ornamental shrubs and trees from Persimmon Springs Nursery; vegetable, herb and flower starts from Waterpenny Farm; soil screens and slab furniture from Backwoods Enterprises; rustic furniture and garden objects from Green Pieces; food, drinks, farm-fresh eggs and meats from Belle Meade Farm School
Waterpenny Lane, just east of Sperryville village on U.S. 211, will take you directly to the plant sale. See you there!