The Rapp for March 15

At The Piano. At The Theatre.

Pianist Bill Harris
Paula Endo
Pianist Bill Harris

There are a few really great pianos hiding away in Rappahannock County – but to get close to most of them, you kinda have to know the owners. The exception, however, is The Piano on stage at The Theatre at Washington. While we’re never quite sure whether to capitalize the “The” before “Theatre” when referring to Wendy Weinberg’s intimate venue on Gay Street, the big Kawai grand that lives there is as close to being The Piano hereabouts as you’ll get.

Moreover, at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 31, it will be manned by The Jazz Pianist – Rappahannock’s own Bill Harris.

Harris, who’s been performing in clubs and on stages since 1978 in Washington, D.C. (and New Orleans, Los Angeles, Memphis, Mexico and Chile) and chose a decade ago to move to Flint Hill with his family, returns to the Theatre at Washington to play the music of American composers. These are composers he calls “those other guys . . . Arlen, Kern, Berlin and more.” He promises “it will be an exciting adventure in improvisation on many favorite American tunes.”

Tickets are $25 ($10 for students 17 and younger). For reservations, call 540-675-1253 or email

At The Inn: more inn?

Clopton House, right, will become part of The Inn at Little Washington (in background at left).
Rappahannock News staff photo/Jan Clatterbuck
Clopton House, right, will become part of The Inn at Little Washington (in background at left).

While we’re capitalizing definite articles, we should mention that The Inn at Little Washington – for more than 30 years the county’s most definite article – has purchased the fetching but too-long-empty Clopton House just across Middle Street, and plans to turn it into . . .

Actually, they’re not saying.

“We were very pleased to be able to acquire the Clopton House across the street from The Inn,” owner-chef Patrick O’Connell said in an email, which Inn spokesperson Rachel Hayden relayed from New York, where O’Connell is helping plan a major event next month for Relais & Chateaux, the international luxury hospitality association. (O’Connell currently serves as president of Relais & Chateaux North America.)

“This fine old Victorian structure is a focal point of Little Washington’s Town Square,” O’Connell said of Clopton House, which just about anyone in the town of Washington – except, of course, anyone at this newspaper – is happy to tell you the Inn plans to turn into additional rooms/suites and possibly a spa facility. Time will tell. (Or possibly the New York Times.)

In all seriousness, Hayden says the Inn is reluctant to announce definitive plans until it finishes its  “feasibility study” of what would work best in the building, which was once advertised for sale at $1.5 million but which the Inn picked up late last month at the foreclosure-like price of $900,000, according to documents on file at the courthouse.

“We look forward to being able to preserve another irreplaceable piece of Washington, Virginia’s unique heritage,” O’Connell said. “Restoring this handsome building will be an exciting challenge which will provide employment for county residents and increase the town’s revenues through the food and lodging tax.

“We appreciate the community’s support and encouragement as The Inn continues to evolve,” he continued. “All of us here feel so fortunate to live and work in such a rare and unspoiled part of the world.”

After-school alternatives

If you’re still looking to sign your third- through fifth-grader up for an after-school program at the Rappahannock County Elementary School, that Headwaters-sponsored program runs through March 29, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Call Headwaters at 540-987-3322 for more information.

A new alternative – on Wednesday afternoons, starting next Wednesday (March 21) and running through April – is on at Belle Meade School on F.T. Valley Road. The program’s open to grades four through 10, and runs from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Lectures include “Manners and Mind” (see the world through the eyes of the New Yorker magazine, for grades seven through 10); “Introduction to Electric Circuits” (learn the basics of electronic components and circuits used in everyday devices for grades four to seven); and Chess Club (students in grades four through 10 with an interest can learn the basics or enhance their existing skills in study and practice.

The first session is free; $37.50 per student will pay for the remaining five. Belle Meade School director Susan Hoffman says participants can take the #27 bus from the elementary school and either be picked up later at Belle Meade, or the school will bus them back to the High School for a 5:45 pickup. For more information, call 540-987-8970.

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