As the new owners of Avon Hall, we couldn’t be more excited and humbled to welcome our neighbors in Washington and the larger Rappahannock community for the 2017 American Festival.
Almost everyone we’ve met since moving here has a story of how they watched the fireworks at Avon Hall. Some of them were kids at the time, others were more seasoned, but all of them broke into a wide grin as they recounted memories of picnics on the lawn, music and hot dogs, and laughing about how they narrowly avoided firework soot falling from the sky. Describing it as a real-life Norman Rockwell painting of America at its finest doesn’t even seem to do it justice.
After spending a great deal of time with Judy at the Rappahannock Historical Society, we learned that Avon Hall has always been an important gathering place, especially in the early 1800s when it was a popular watering hole in town called Thorns Tavern.
Crowded July 4th celebrations at Avon Hall during decades past.
Courtesy of Rappahannock Historical Society; Rappahannock News file photos
Later it was moved up the hill and enlarged to accommodate the owners’ fondness for entertaining. During the 1900s there were only two families who lived here: The Baggarlys, strong, civic-minded folks who erected the Town of Washington monument on Gay Street, followed by the Carrigans, who most people know as the incredibly generous couple who hosted the famous Fourth of July festivities on their front lawn for decades.
Since then, things have changed a bit. The fireworks have moved to a much-needed, larger spot in Sperryville, Avon Hall fell into mild disrepair, and the sloping lawns surrounding the pond haven’t had a picnic blanket on them in years. And while it will still be a while before we are finished restoring the house, we’re very eager to help restore the less tangible, and much more important aspect of Avon Hall: a welcoming place where families, friends, and neighbors can unite and make new memories.
The Fourth of July was Bill Carrigan’s favorite holiday. It is in the spirit of the Carrigans, whose love for country and community was so palpable, that we return to the lawns, spread out our blankets, indulge in one too many hot dogs, and celebrate the birth of this beautiful nation together.
Please enjoy yourselves, be safe, and sincere thanks for making us feel so welcome,
Bill Fischer and Drew Mitchell
Owners, Avon Hall