Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Historic Garden Week - Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia

This week is the 83rd year of Virginia's Historic Garden Week which is put on by garden clubs across the state that utilize the proceeds to restore and maintain historic gardens across the Commonwealth. Today was Hampton's day to shine as homes and gardens in historic Ft. Monroe - now a National Landmark - were open for public tours (provided one bought a ticket) for the first time ever.  For the husband and I, the event is an annual ritual during which we typical host a number of the husband's clients and we get to see a who's who of Hampton/Newport News society and business leaders. While very traditional in many ways, both cities are surprisingly gay friendly, and with the husband being the hair stylist/salon owner of choice for many, we are always warmly received.  Indeed, it is a great marketing/networking event.  And the homes - many dated from the 19th century and turn of the 20th century on so-called General's Row were amazing to say the least (the commanding general's residence with its view across Chesapeake Bay is pictured above).  Among those doing the tours were both garden club devotees and former military service members who came back to see how the general officers had lived in stately splendor. Here are highlights from the Daily Press:
"We know visitors will enjoy looking at the beautiful flower arrangements in the five houses on tour. We hope they will visit The Casemate Museum, Chapel of the Centurion and Old Point Comfort Lighthouse, as well.
"And, The Marketplace, in the former Arsenal Building, will offer artwork, garden accessories, home d├ęcor, jewelry and clothing for sale."
As you walk along Fort Monroe's sidewalks, or stand inside the bayside bandstand, you can just imagine yourself living the life that so many military personnel enjoyed during their assignments at the scenic fort. Now that the property is no longer a major military command, the site is taking on its own brand of community for the families who occupy residences where generals and colonels once lived [one can lease homes and other housing options] .
"Additionally, everything is walkable at Fort Monroe. Residences are close to beaches, office spaces for work, restaurants, Hampton Community Center, YMCA fitness building, marina, soccer and ball fields, churches and the opportunity to walk the top of the fortress. Additionally, the retail portion of Phoebus is just over the bridge and also is in easy walking distance."
Historic Garden Week in Virginia, April 23-30, features 250 private homes and gardens open for public tours statewide. Sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia — — since 1929, the annual event raises funds for the restoration and preservation of public gardens at historic sites, including Monticello, Mount Vernon and Montpelier.
The garden club estimates the cumulative economic impact of the country's only statewide home and garden tour for the past 45 years is $425 million, according to a news release. The event attracts 30,000 visitors, and includes local residents and out-of-state tourists. 
 Below are a few more photos - and yes, I did pick up a couple new clients while enjoying the event.  After the festivities, our group decamped to the Hampton Yacht Club for Cosmos and dinner.

The beautiful Hutchinson Home

The Chamberlain - formerly owned by dear friends
Tiffany windows in the Chapel of the Centurion

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