Residents to open homes, gardens for tour

Published 4:44 pm Thursday, April 18, 2019


Six houses in Franklin are to be featured for Historic Garden Week 2019 (April 27-May 4), which is presented by the Garden Club of Virginia. Regionally, the garden clubs of Franklin, Nansemond River (Suffolk) and Elizabeth River (Portsmouth) are responsible for Western Tidewater. Hosting duties alternate among the three and this time it’s Franklin’s turn. The local tour of houses will be among 31 in the state, and include nearly 200 private residences and gardens.

See for yourself what local residents will present on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Here are two examples, first 1312 Clay St., home of Jerry and Dottie Grizzard.

Built in 1960 for the founder of Franklin Equipment Company, this house has the appearance of a ranch but consists of two stories and a basement. The home was purchased in 2014 and has been completely renovated by the owners without changing the integrity of the home.

The original crystal chandeliers and three fireplaces remain. Baths were restored with new tile and fixtures, and the master was expanded to include double sinks, vanity and shower. A wine bar was added between a cypress-paneled den and completely remodeled kitchen to give a more modern, open look. A staircase was built in the foyer to add ambiance and to access a new bedroom and walk-in closet. The basement is “Virginia Country,” a man cave that honors the owner’s alma mater, the UVA Cavaliers.

The back porch was enclosed with new windows to provide views of the addition of an outdoor kitchen, patio, pergola, gazebo, putting green, and kopi pond with a year-round waterfall. This stunning space has brought a new outdoor lifestyle to a traditional home.

Second is 307 Meadow Lane, home of Ben and Joan Powell.

Ben and Joan Powell at 307 Meadow Lane are opening their house for the first time to a garden tour. The event will be on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Courtesy Ashley Cotton

This home was designed in 1984 by Glenn Yates and was a mirror copy of the owners’ previous home on First Avenue. The current owners removed a center fireplace to accommodate a piano. They have also combined family antiques from Southampton, Amelia, and Gates counties with American folk art throughout the home.

The back hall features the eccentric carvings of William Owen, Ann Murfree Allen’s portrait of the family, and Ann Simmons’ sweet grass baskets. Other artists in the collection are Faye Schools, Charlie Cello, Sis Hall, CEB Roderick and F.F. Vander Veer.

The home’s landscape design was largely destroyed by Hurricane Isabel. Azaleas and camellias have not been replaced due to the exuberant deer population that visit and dine daily. The large beech and magnolia were planted by the previous owner’s years before construction began. English boxwood grown from clippings from the current owner’s grandfather’s farm, American boxwood, and bulbs have been added to the garden.

A petrified tree section pulled from the Nottoway River by a son and nephew is in the front planting of boxwood.

Other houses to be featured on the tour:

• 139 Crescent Drive, home of Bobby and Diana Cutchins

• 1412 Clay St., the home of Kevin and Roberta Bowman

• 204 Meadow Lane, the home of Jenny Dixon

• 1401 Clay St., the home of Steve and Jane Gibson.

To learn about tours elsewhere in Virginia, or to find out more about the Garden Club of Virginia, visit or

SUSAN DUKE, publicity chairwoman for this tour, contributed to this article. Detailed descriptions of the houses are from her.