Historic Somerset: A Rare Opportunity to Own a Piece of History
When Frascati was completed in 1823 in Orange County, Virginia for Phillip Barbour who had just retired as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Somerset was already a pretty good neighborhood. Less than two miles away as the crow flies was Montpelier, the home of James and Dolly Madison where the United States Constitution was drafted. Madison had been retired since his second term as president ended in 1817. Five miles south was Somerset Plantation built for Thomas Macon and his wife Sarah, sister to James Madison. Somerset Plantation was the largest home in Orange County at the time and was situated on a commanding hill overlooking the Piedmont and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just to the south was the home of James Barbour, Phillip’s brother, a lifelong statesman having served as Virginia’s Governor during the War of 1812 and then as Senator and Secretary of War from 1814-1825. Thomas Jefferson designed Barboursville and indeed influenced all four of these remarkable homes all of which employed the craftsmen he used to build Monticello and the University of Virginia.
Today, Montpelier, Frascati and Somerset plantation still exist much as they did in the 19th century. Barboursville was gutted by fire on Christmas day in 1884 yet the ruins remain and are preserved by Barboursville Vineyards, one of Virginia’s premier wineries. This unspoiled part of Orange County is still entirely rural and each of these historic properties still command significant acreage. A drive through Somerset on Route 20, (Constitution Highway) or Route 231, (Blue Ridge Turnpike) will wind through rolling farm land, past antebellum estates and simple farm houses. You’ll catch your breath as each curve presents new vistas of grazing horses and cows and crops like corn, soybeans, alfalfa and sorghum with the Blue Ridge Mountains always present to the west.
I had the occasion to enjoy a gathering at Frascati with my wife this winter and as we sat in the magnificent parlor listening to someone playing the piano we imagined what other gatherings had listened to music in this very room. Surely, Phillip’s brother James, their neighbors James and Dolley Madison and the Macons of Somerset Plantation would have been regular guests. Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe were also contemporaries and friends and would probably have been overnight guests after a 20 mile carriage ride. History lives vividly in these important houses which are just four of the the 37 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Orange County https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/historic-registers/068-0304/.
Frascati is an historic treasure and the rarest of of opportunities to acquire to such an important home in museum quality condition in one of Virginia’s most beautiful estate areas. Frascati is proudly offered for sale through Wiley Real Estate.
Dutchmont: 100 Acre Estate Situated in the Heart of the Keswick Hunt in Orange County, VA
How private is private? A private back yard might be nice, a private wooded lot with some space between houses might be perfect or even a little acreage with where you can be away from the urban shuffle, get back to nature a little.
Having just returned from Oakland CA visiting family, sequestered in a charming 1920’s neighborhood lined with Arts and Crafts bungalows, I became well aware of my priorities. This very lifestyle that envelopes most of the human population in vibrant communities around the world leaves me gasping for oxygen and my home in Virginia’s piedmont where my soul lives.
More and more often my clients tell me they would like a spot where they cannot see another’s rooftop.. That can be hard to find, especially in the winter where all the curtains are drawn and you can see through the forest. There is a place though, in Orange County, Virginia tucked between two charming and historic towns near Charlottesville called Dutchmont. It’s down a long driveway on 100 acres with a most unique home overlooking a large pond in a private valley in the Blue ridge foothills. It has a wonderful shop/studio, a five stall stable with a caretaker’s apartment surrounded by marvelous, landscaped grounds. The views go on forever..without a rooftop in sight. What makes this property truly exceptional is that it is completely surrounded by large farms that can never be developed due to conservation easements that do not allow subdivision.
Dutchmont is a rare example of “perfect privacy” but there are many examples of homes, building lots, small farms or mountain getaways that will answer for those seeking a respite from the busy world of that surrounds most of our lives. Whether the quiet lifestyle is full time or part time, it’s an elixir that can go a long way in grounding those who might need it.
An extraordinary offering in the heart of the Keswick Hunt
Just prior to the year 2000, three 100 acre parcels were created from the stunning 18th century plantation known as Windholme in southern Orange County, Virginia. A carefully conceived conservation easement was created to protect each parcel and the remainder from further development.
Plans were drawn by noted architect J. Kestner (and are available) for a most unique home sited to enjoy the long reaching views of this unspoiled Piedmont valley. Repurposing materials from an 19th century mill found in the Blue Ridge mountains, a dramatic four bedroom post and beam home was created exuding rustic character at every turn while benefitting from modern technology and efficiencies.
For the horse enthusiast the situation could not be more opportune. The previous owner who was active with the Keswick hunt used the property as a hunt box and created an excellent five stall stable with a two bedroom apartment attached. There are several paddocks for turn out and marvelous riding opportunities on and around Dutchmont.
Dutchmont is comprised of 100 acres of prime Virginia farm land. It has approximately 75 acres in gently rolling pasture and hayland with the balance in mature hardwood forest reaching to the top of a small mountain. The property is well watered with several springs, a stream and a large pond of several acres stocked with gamefish. Except for the horse paddocks, the farm is currently maintained by a neighboring farmer who makes hay and grazes cattle on the land.
Dutchmont is located less than 10 minutes from the charming, historic town of Gordonsville and about 30 minutes from Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. Washington, DC is about two hours north.
For anyone who has been waiting patiently for the perfect property to come on the market, it’s been worth the wait!
Stilwin with 183 acres, nestled in a private valley less than 20 minutes from Charlottesville is available for your consideration. The land and improvements are in pristine condition and the setting boasts amazing views of the Southwest and Blue Ridge mountains. Surrounded by properties under conservation easement for perfect peace of mind.
Gaby and I are thrilled to present Maple Crest as a delightful short term rental less than 15 minutes from five wineries, great antiquing in Orange and Gordonsville and just 30 minutes from Charlottesville and UVA. We would love to host you for a weekend or a week. Have a look and let us know how we can help you have a memorable experience here in the heart of beautiful Orange County.
The C’Ville Expert is authored by John Ince, of Charlottesville Country Properties,
John Ince – Listing Agent in Charlottesville VA
specializing in the sale and marketing of farms, estates, and country residences within 50 miles of Charlottesville, Virginia. Apart from his 35-year career in Charlottesville real estate, John enjoys being an ambassador for one of the best places to live in America. For anyone who places a priority on “quality of life”, Charlottesville and its surroundings must be on your shortlist of where to spend the rest of your life. The town of Charlottesville is remarkable, a true melting pot with cultural venues not found in cities ten times the size. The countryside is breathtaking and just scant minutes from downtown with lush farmland and historic estates many tracing back to original land grants. The Blue Ridge Mountains rise to the west moderating our weather and providing endless recreational activities with hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and fly fishing for native trout all within 20 minutes of downtown. We hope you’ll enjoy some personal insights into the lifestyle one can enjoy here from these posts and that you will refer to Charlottesvillecountry.com for more information on real estate in this wonderful area.