I’d actually be a pretty good person to ask. I’ve lived in Orange County since 1983. I was a transplant from Sonoma County CA and never imagined I’d live here the rest of my life. But, here I am 40 years later having raised a family, grown a career and roots in one of America’s most beautiful terroirs. Horses are what brought me here. (Want a horse.docx) and a love and understanding of the land is what is what made me stay and be successful in country property brokerage in this area.
Orange county was settled early in America’s history (1734) due to the high quality of the soils
for agriculture, the amenable climate and overall beauty of the this rich land in the piedmont of
the Blue Ridge mountains. In the 1820’s Orange County was home to President James
Madison at Montpelier, Supreme Court Justice Phillip Barbour at Frascati, Virginia Governor
James Barbour at his home designed by Thomas Jefferson (https://www.monticello.org/
research-education/thomas-jefferson-encyclopedia/barboursville/) who along with James Monroe lived just 20 miles distant in Albemarle County. It is likely that each of these statesmen would have enjoyed each other’s company at Frascati, a remarkable home in Somerset which is listed for sale for the first time in 45 years. Frascati (Somerset, Virginia) – Wikipedia.pdf.zip)
Orange County also played a pivotal role in the Civil War with the full armies of both the north
and south encamped in Gordonsville and Rapidan then culminating in the terrible battle at
Wilderness. Artifact hunting for civil war relics with metal detectors is a popular past time here.
It is said that any large shade tree extant during the Civil War in the vicinity between Somerset
and Gordonsville was a confederate encampment and and old horseshoes, buckles and bullets
are still found regularly.
Today Orange County is much quieter but still sublime with a character that draws those
looking for a simpler, small town lifestyle. There are two small towns in Orange County, Orange,
the county, seat with a population of around 5000 and Gordonsville with around 1500 residents. There are groceries, pharmacies and fast food if you are just passing through and a cornucopia of antique shops, taverns and fabulous old neighborhoods if you slow down and
have a real look.
I live in Somerset just 15 minutes from either Orange or Gordonsville and we do most of our
shopping locally. We can expect to see folks we know at the grocery store and walking down
Main Street. It feels friendly and inclusive. It’s also nice to know that Charlottesville and all it
offers; UVA, two major hospitals, hundreds of amazing restaurants and entertainment venues is
less than 30 minutes away.
For us, the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful, affordable life in the country and the small town
experience or Orange and Gordonsville coupled with access to one of the most exciting
university towns in America is the best of both worlds.