Three houses, three histories

Woodlawn, built by a Revolutiionary War veteran in 1797 and moved in pieces to Rappahannock.
Woodlawn, built by a Revolutiionary War veteran in 1797 and moved in pieces to Rappahannock. Courtesy photo

These three houses – a Federal-style home built by a Revolutionary War veteran in 1797, a local field stone and mud-mortar residence built in 1812 by Capt. John Dearing, a local veteran of that year’s war, and a contemporary wood frame home filled with early American primitives and artifacts – provide a dramatic focus on American history. They also display the immense respect that the three owners have towards this history.

Woodlawn, north of Flint Hill, is owned by Tom Glass, and was moved from its original building site in Appomattox County several years ago. Glass, a builder in Washington, D.C., took the house apart, numbering the pieces, and reassembled it here in Rappahannock County.

The living room at Woodlawn.
The living room at Woodlawn. Courtesy photo

Its simple design, with an asymmetrical entrance, side hall, multi-pane windows and high ceilings, had not been altered since it was built, and all the woodwork, doors, moldings, fireplaces and floors are original. Its most striking exterior feature is its double brick chimney with an arched doorway in the center leading to an English basement.

Inside, the home is furnished with a mixture of old and new pieces whose subdued colors and design subtlety showcase the original design and woodwork. Glass has called it his “dream house,” and Woodlawn itself may feel it is in a dream: abandoned for 70 years, taken apart, reassembled 150 miles away and lovingly restored and ready to be admired by the tour’s visitors.

Caledonia, built by a veteran of the 1812 war on the Fodderstack Road.
Caledonia, built by a veteran of the 1812 war on the Fodderstack Road. Ruthie Windsor Mann

Off the Fodderstack Road, Caledonia sits on its commanding knoll as it has for 200 years, overlooking pastures and dry stone walls. The stonework on the house itself is very fine, and the walls are three feet thick. Inside, 32-foot-long solid beams run the length of the house, and six original fireplaces, and mantels, paneled windows, and wide pine board floors attest to its age.

The mantel is believed to have been carved by Hessian soldiers who stayed in the area after that war. Furnishings and colors are true to the house’s early years. Phil Irwin, owner since 1965, hosts bed and breakfast guests in the historic home, as well as in the summer kitchen/servants’ quarters nearby, where John Dearing’s Revolutionary War rifle hangs above the fireplace. Previous guests have extolled the serenity of the house and its views, and it was last on the house tour in 1986.

In Amissville, the Grossos' collection of Americana fills the home they built in 1987.
In Amissville, the Grossos’ collection of Americana fills the home they built in 1987. Ruthie Windsor Mann

In Amissville, Paul and Jackie Grosso built their own dream house in 1987. The first impression of the property is that of colorful stone-enclosed flower beds, dotted with mill stones, old benches and other artifacts. Every side of the home is brightened by color, and many of the annual flowers are grown from seed or cuttings by the owners themselves, in a wonderful greenhouse built above the barn.

Inside, wherever one looks, one sees the Grosso’s collection of Americana, from white ironstone, tinware and wooden kitchen implements to two-man saws, singletrees, scythes, wagon wheels and ox yokes. All the furnishings are either authentic American pieces, or – like the dining table, chairs and side table – custom made to fit. A freestanding stone fireplace dominates the great room as well as a unique upstairs walkway. The kitchen features a corner fireplace, handmade rugs and more collections. An upstairs sitting room, generous bedrooms, and a separate downstairs apartment assure that all guests can be accommodated, whether they be the couple’s many children and grandchildren or the tour visitors.

As in past years, tea will be served on both days of the tour from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Middleton Inn in Washington. This house, built by Middleton Miller in 1850 and now owned and operated as a B&B by Mary Ann Kuhn, fills in yet another time period in our history.

This is the 56th year of Trinity’s House Tour and Dried Flower Sale. As is customary, the houses will be decorated with dried flower arrangements made by women in the county. More arrangements will be on sale at the Trinity Parish Hall on Gay Street during tour hours. Right now, flowers are being cut and dried, foliage preserved and containers collected for the October event.

For more information about the House Tour and Dried Flower Sale, call Helen Williams at 540-937-4279.