Washington column for June 21

George Washington offers toast to the Inn; confirms he surveyed town in 1749

The Inn at Little Washington, one of the nation’s most celebrated restaurants, had a celebration of its own last Saturday evening at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The celebration marked 40 years of success for the inn.

President George Washington welcomed the Inn at Little Washington’s 40th anniversary celebration guests to his Mount Vernon home last weekend, including Mayor John Fox Sullivan, his wife Beverly and Chef Patrick O’Connell. Courtesy photo

When Patrick O’Connell started the Inn at Little Washington in 1978, could he possibly have dreamed of becoming a world famous chef running a two star Michelin restaurant which would celebrate its 40th Anniversary at Mount Vernon?

The small village of Washington, of course, was first surveyed by George Washington. A full circle. Wow! What an accomplishment.

More than 350 people attended the inn’s birthday and celebrated the achievements of O’Connell and the inn’s entire team. World famous chefs such as New York’s Daniel Boulud, San Francisco’s Gary Danko and Washington’s Jose Andres all paid tribute to Patrick. Other guests included Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, IMF President Christine Lagarde, and our own town of Washington Mayor John Fox Sullivan and his charming wife, Beverly. Longtime inn staffers Neil O’Heir and Sayed Ali were also present as honored guests, and O’Connell paid special tribute to them for their outstanding work. Other guests from Rappahannock included, among others, Megan Smith and Richard A. Clark.

That said, center stage was special guest George Washington, pictured above with O’Connell and the Sullivans, who helped host the evening and entertain guests with his many famous tales. However, when queried by Mayor Sullivan, General Washington, as he prefers to be addressed, did recall surveying the Town of Washington in 1749 and designing the 2×5 street grid that lasts to this day.

“Quite proud of my work, indeed,” said Washington.

The Inn at Little Washington Executive Chef Andrew Wright was working at the celebration on Saturday evening so that O’Connell could enjoy the festivities.

According to Sullivan, the food was fabulous and the Virginia wine selection reflected just how superior the commonwealth’s grapes have become since Washington’s friend, Thomas Jefferson, first planted his vines south of Rappahannock. The evening was topped off with a fireworks display bookended by the historic Mount Vernon home and the Potomac River that Washington threw his silver dollar across. Magical.

“Patrick O’Connell and the inn put together a soiree that only occurs every 40 years at his Mount Vernon anniversary celebration this past Saturday. The food was superb, the wine flowed freely, and the fireworks took flight across the Potomac! We didn’t want to leave” said Megan Smith.

It was reported that O’Connell, not resting on his laurels and seeking that third Michelin star, was back to work Sunday night overseeing his kitchen.

The next anniversary event will feature a “family reunion” of former employees of the last 40 years who will return to the mothership to create an outdoor feast on Sunday, Sept. 2. This culinary festival will also include a concert, bonfire, fireworks and glamping in the Field of Dreams. Friends and neighbors currently living in Washington will be able to attend at no cost.

The capstone event of The Inn’s 40th year will take place September 30 at Vaux-le-Vicomte, a 17th-century chateau outside Paris where in 1661, Louis XIV was honored with a party that is thought to be one of the greatest events ever created. O’Connell will channel the original party with a feast inspired by the actual menu served to the king. Only 150 guests will relive this experience when they dine by candlelight in the dining room of this magnificent castle watching a fireworks display over the endless gardens.

To make reservations, please call 540-675-3800 or visit theinnatlittlewashington.com. For information on ticket sales, contact 202-459-0853 or email theinnat40@linderglobal.com

1980 Reunion

It may seem odd to have a 38-year Rappahannock County High School reunion but it has been 28 years since the last reunion, so it was long overdue. All who attended had a wonderful time and reconnected with friends from the past. They may be older, but seeing old friends transported them back in time to their high school years of youth. The reunion brought back fond memories of school years, plus they also had the opportunity to learn about the lives their classmates formed since graduation. In some, they could still recognize the faces that they remembered back in elementary school.

The years have taken us far away but we are still the children of Rappahannock County, a common bond that brings all of us together. Photo by Angela Bywaters

All of those who attended extend sincere thanks to the reunion committee that organized the event and made it possible. They had lots of good food, fun, games and fellowship. They had a 50/50 drawing and are donating $55 to breast cancer research. Participation was 47 percent of the class, along with their families.

They missed those that couldn’t make it and honored those who have passed on. The afternoon passed by too quickly and before they knew it, it was time to say farewell again with a universal promise to see everyone in two years for their 40th reunion. The years have taken them far away, but the RCHS class of 1980 are still the children of Rappahannock County, a common bond that brings them together.

Story Time

Rappahannock County Library has Preschool Story Time on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. in the library’s Jamieson Room, free, open to the public. There is no registration required.


Sympathy goes out to John M. Clark Jr. of Washington on the passing of his mother, Dorothy Mae Fincham Clark. Dorothy passed away on June 10 at the Lynn Care Center in Front Royal. A wonderful lady indeed.

Stay cool and have a wonderful week!