Historic Garden Club Tour to celebrate Courtland’s past, present on Saturday

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Bell’s modern country farmhouse at 24056 Indian Town Road in Courtland is on the tour this Saturday. -- SUBMITTED

The Bell’s modern country farmhouse at 24056 Indian Town Road in Courtland is on the tour this Saturday. — SUBMITTED

COURTLAND—On Saturday, April 26, the Garden Club of Franklin will host its biennial tour by focusing on sites representing the past and present prosperity of Courtland, which was originally named Jerusalem in 1792.

Holly Fowler in the great room of her French country-style home in Courtland. -- SUBMITTED

Holly Fowler in the great room of her French country-style home in Courtland. — SUBMITTED

In addition to being the county seat, Courtland is also the cultural and commercial center of Southampton County. The tour is part of Historic Garden Week in Virginia, sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia. Lasting from April 26 through May 3, visitors are welcomed to more than 250 of Virginia’s most beautiful gardens, homes and historic landmarks.

“I think it is going to be fairly remarkable,” said Franklin Garden Club President Gail Urquhart. “I love historic garden week. It is a lot of work, but it is one of my favorite things that the Garden Club of Virginia does.”

She said there would be a lot of variety in what Southampton County has to display.

“We have got new homes, and we have got old homes,” Urquhart said. “We have modern furnishings combined with old antiques. The gardens will feature be bright and airy flowers, and we will also have beautiful spring landscapes.”

She said one of the best things about this years’ event is the collaboration between the county and city.

“I lived in Courtland for 35 years before moving to The Village, and this really warms my heart,” Urquhart said. “I love seeing the two work together.”

Proceeds from this eight-day statewide event fund the restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic gardens, and provide graduate level research fellowships for building comprehensive and ongoing records of historic gardens and landscapes in the Commonwealth.

Advance tickets are $20 for the full tour. They are available online at www.VaGardenWeek.org, in Courtland at Rawls Museum Arts, the Peanut Patch, EVB Bank, Edward’s Hardware, Southern Sisters and Grayson and Emma’s, and in Franklin at Alphabet Soup, Simply Divine and the Cat’s Meow.

On the day of the tour, tickets will be available at any site for $25 for the full tour, $10 for a single site and $10 for children 6-12. Children ages 5 and under are free.

Lunch will be available from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church for $13. Reservations are not required but quantities are limited.

Complimentary refreshments will be served at Rawls Museum Arts from 2 and 4 p.m.

Two exhibitions will be featured: one by local high school students and one by the Blackwater Artists’ League.

The nine sites are Mahone’s Tavern, the Rochelle-Prince House, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (the lunch site), Rawls Museum Arts, the Southampton Agriculture and Forestry Museum and Heritage Village and Museum of Southampton History, and four homes; Fowler, Bryant, Hartman and Bell.

“The homes are a wonderful variety,” said Judy Livesay, the tour’s chair. “They are also very beautiful. We are touched by the gracious hospitality of the homeowners.”

For questions, contact Livesay at 562-2600 or hlive@verizon.net.

“We have guests coming in from all over the state to see the tour,” she said. “Be sure to welcome them, and also please spruce up your lawns. We want the whole community to look its best.”

Ticket price includes admission to all of the following nine locations:

Mahone’s Tavern, 22341 Main Street, which is listed on both the Virginia and National Historic Registers. Mahone’s Tavern was a social, transportation, and political hub of Jerusalem because it was a stagecoach stop and was across the street from the first courthouse and jail. Built in 1796, the Federal structure served as a tavern or hotel until 1901 operated by different proprietors including Fielding Mahone, who bought it in 1840 and connected it to the building next door creating Mahone’s Tavern.

• Rochelle-Prince House, 22371 Main Street. The Rochelle family, dating from 1668 in Virginia, is most closely connected with this historic house through the generations. Ralph Rochelle was the attorney for William Rookings, a lieutenant of Nathaniel Bacon during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676. Rochelle’s grandson John Rochelle lived in Southampton County and his great-grandson James Rochelle purchased the home in 1821 and most probably built the major portion of the Rochelle House as it stands today.

• St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 22430 Main Street. This historic church traces its roots to the formation of Nottaway Parish in August, 1734. Of special note are the silver communion service and alms basin that will on display in the church. Made in London in 1746-47, it is one of three intact Virginia communion services from the period. In 1873  the three trustees of the Protestant Episcopal Congregation of Jerusalem bought a three-acre tract lying “immediately South by West of Jerusalem” for $25. One acre was set aside for the purpose of building a church; the remainder was to be used as a cemetery for the families of the church.

• The Fowler Home, 22444 Shands Drive. This modern country French home built in 2003 is hidden on 4 wooded acres in the midst of the town. With its screened porch and veranda on the back and generous sized windows throughout, the home takes full advantage that the only views are of the yard and surrounding natural forest. Holly and Jason Fowler are the owners. It is open for the first time.

• Rawls Museum Arts, 22376 Linden Street. In 1952 Walter Cecil Rawls, A St. Louis businessman who was born in Southampton County envisioned the Walter Cecil Rawls Library and Museum. Mr. Rawls enlisted the aid of a friend, Junius Pulley, who suggested the Courtland location. The goal was that the library would include a museum to house artifacts of the county and collections of art. In 1960 the library-museum opened. The museum/art division became a separate nonprofit entity knows as Rawls Museum Arts Inc. in 1980.

• The Hartman Home and Pool House, 22579 Main Street. Built in 1953 by Bob and Elizabeth Hancock, this Colonial Revival home was acquired by the current owners 13 years ago. There are two other buildings on the three acres – an “old maid’s” quarters and a pool house renovated in 2012 for family fun and entertaining. Pat and Ed Hartman are the current owners, and the home is open for the first time.

• Southampton Agriculture and Forestry Museum and Heritage Village, Museum of Southampton History, 22213 Linden Street. Southampton Agriculture and Forestry Museum and Heritage Village has been a work in progress by the Southampton Historical Society since 1989. It pays tribute to the area’s past displaying more than 7,000 items ranging from documents and memorabilia to antique farming equipment, hand tools and rural wares in more than 20 buildings, many moved from original county sites to the property.

• The Bryant Home, 23442 Thomas Circle. In a tranquil setting under mature pines and hardwoods, this traditional home built by the owners in 1985 was updated in 2000 with a kitchen expansion and renovation and the addition of a first-floor master suite and sunroom, all of which further enhance views of the lake in the back yard. The home is owned by Texie and Leroy Bryant. It is open for the first time.

• The Bell Home, 24056 Indian Town Road. The young owners of this Colonial-style home were drawn to this area because of the husband’s family ties from earlier generations. First the husband and his brother bought a farm on the Nottaway River for hunting and fishing. Finding the area to be beautiful and the people to be welcoming, the couple later decided to build and completed their home in 2011 on 17 acres. Ann Marie and Greg Bell are the owners, and it is open for the first time.