Down Memory Lane for July 19

Feb. 17, 1966

Meadowbrook Hall, a palatial estate home near Huntly, was destroyed by fire Saturday night. The huge dwelling, unoccupied at the time, was owned by Dr. and Mrs. Werner Krebser of McLean, who had just recently purchased the 740-acre estate. The house, with its crystal chandeliers and elaborate furnishings, was completely razed in spite of efforts by six fire companies that responded to the alarm.

The fire was discovered about 9:30 p.m. by Emory Russell of Flint Hill who was en route to Front Royal. Mr. Russell, chief of Flint Hill Volunteer Fire Company, sounded the alarm in Flint Hill and called the Front Royal Fire Department also. In addition, men and equipment from Amissville, Washington, Chester Gap and Sperryville companies arrived on the scene, but the combined efforts of all were futile.

Meadowbrook Hall, valued at $150,000, was famous in years past for its social elegance, and many of America’s greats have been entertained here by the former owner, the late Mrs. William P. Slaughter. The ballroom of the 20-room mansion has been the setting of many delightful hunt parties and balls.

Sperryville ESSO Servicenter is under new management as of last Monday. Garfield Burke of Woodville assumed the proprietorship of the business last week, and Bobby Clater of Sperryville is also employed there. The service station was formerly operated by Jerry Brown who will assume a position with Rochester Ropes, Culpeper.

Sept. 30, 1998

This summer’s drought combined with the record heat is causing pastures to stop growing, streams to dry up and orchards not to produce at their peaks. For several weeks, many farmers have been feeding hay to their cattle, which usually does not occur until late October.

It will be a long, hard winter for the cattle, since they are not going to be in condition to face the cold weather coming, said one Flint Hill farmer. Eddie Williams has been feeding hay to his livestock for several weeks and the creeks and streams on his farm have dried up and become stagnant pools, forcing him to water livestock from his home well.

Louis Moore Jr., a farmer near Flint Hill, agreed that he, too, is feeding hay ahead of schedule, and the streams on his property stopped flowing in August. A pond he uses for watering his cattle is about three feet lower than usual and is no longer being fed by a spring. It has not been this low for a long time, he said.

In another field, where Moore installed a spring-fed waterer, his cattle have water. However, the spring the water is barely flowing. He expressed concern about the water-table and said unless a significant amount of rain falls soon, he fears wells and springs will go dry.

Williams, who also operates an orchard, said red and yellow delicious apples are smaller, but fortunately York and Stayman apples are the usual size. However, they are all about two weeks ahead in maturity. The high temperatures have caused the apples to ripen faster, and the trees, stressed by lack of water, are prematurely dropping their apples. Many are rotting quickly.

Jeff Light of Woodville is local proof that one person can make history if he persists against skepticism, against apathy, against little money and short time.

Light had been fretting for six years over cars going 65 miles per hour on Route 522 in Woodville, speeding within yards of his stately frame house. A few years ago, he had put up a tall fence between his house and the highway, but the speeders still rankled.

Route 522 is like a dagger bisecting the heart of Woodville. At Woodville Baptist Church, elderly drivers entering and leaving the parking lot risk collisions with speeders.

A year ago, a petition to reduce the speed limit in the village from 45 mph to 35 mph was circulated at Woodville’s annual party, and 160 people signed it. Light saw that the petition made it to the appropriate local and state policy-makers, but the speed limit remained unchanged.