Summer Fun To-Do List

Immerse yourself in history at the Holladay House. Built in 1830, the House contributed to local Civil War History by playing a pivotal role for both the North and South side. Events such as an 1862 open war and the wedding reception of an officer in Robert E. Lee’s army occurred at the inn. As you enjoy this stunning historic bed and breakfast, don’t miss out on these four amazing locations: Four Country Players (Barboursville, Virginia) Staying at Holladay House allows you to be minutes from the longest operating community theater in Central Virginia. Experience over forty years of masterful musicals, hilarious comedies, and thought provoking dramas such as Chicago, Bullet for an Unaccompanied Heart, Dancing with Myself and many more to keep you entertained all evening long. Early Mountain Vineyard (Madison, Virginia) A getaway is incomplete without visiting one of Virginia’s award winning wineries. Early Mountain is particularly special since Lt. Joseph Early agreed to house a weary traveler. Little did he know it would be General George Washington. The views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are as soothing and breathtaking as ever, and the locally-sourced food paired with the wines is not to be missed. Shabby Love Visit this cute one-of-a-kind shop selling upcycled, vintage, handmade furniture. It’s amazing how Hannah, the owner, can bring new life to and old beaten-down throw-away item. Don’t end your getaway empty handed: decorate your home with a beautiful and practical souvenir that will have you recalling this amazing weekend. Skydive Orange This is one to check off the bucket list! Nothing defines thrill better than skydiving. If you like, before...

Holladay House Celebrates 25 Years

To a house that’s been around almost 200 years (witnessing, in the course of its long life, Civil War battles, weddings, and generations of residents) its latest gig as a bed & breakfast is practically still in its infancy. Still, time passes quickly, and, this year, the Holladay House will celebrate 25 years of running with the “inn-crowd”. Two and a half decades ago, Pete Holladay decided to re-purpose the old Federalist-style family home/doctor’s office into a bed & breakfast. Flash forward through a few years, a few owners, and a few renovations, and you’ll find the inn still operating, stronger than ever, under the care of owners and innkeepers Sharon & Sam (and Shadow, a crack security team of one). This year, it looks forward to hosting a steady stream of old friends and newcomers as it hits the 25th anniversary of its latest “inn-deavor.” In celebration, the innkeepers have put together a year-long “thank you” to the guests who have made it possible. On the 25th of each month, visitors staying at the Holladay House will receive (or be invited to participate in) the following activities. Sunday, January 25, 2015: Rename the Garden Room contest Wednesday, February, 25, 2015: Craft VA beer and cheese reception for guests at the inn. March 2015: Celebrating your own anniversary? Take 25% off your second night stay. Saturday, April 25, 2015: ½ price appetizers at Elmwood at Sparks Monday, May 25, 2015: Free kayaking ride with Rapidan River Kayaking Company. Thursday, June 25, 2105: A gift basket filled with local treats. Saturday, July 25, 2015: Free 2-hour Montpelier tour. Tuesday, August...
Gordonsville Ghostbusters

Gordonsville Ghostbusters

For those of you looking to put your Halloween celebration on steroids (or just enjoy the spine-tingling effects of the Unexplained) you’ll want to take note. Gordonsville’s Exchange Hotel is billed, according to A&E “History Channel”, as #15 on their “TOP 100 Most Haunted Places in the Country”. This comes as no surprise, considering the building once functioned as a receiving hospital for wounded Civil War soldiers. According to the records, the hospital treated up to 70,000 soldiers during the war, and, temporarily, had around 700 of them buried there. In their backyard. For those looking to scare up some spooks themselves (or debunk the rumors), there’s the “Night @ the Museum” tour, which, according to the website, allows you to answer for yourself the question “…what happens after the museum closes, everyone goes home and darkness falls?” Check it out—http://nighttouratexchangehotel.weebly.com/ However, I have no particular hankering to dabble in the realm of Creepy (or to provoke my overactive imagination), so my husband and I opted for a more conventional approach and visited the Exchange Hotel during daytime hours, 10AM-4PM. The museum is broken into a few segments to represent various aspects of the building’s diverse life, but overall flows well and makes sense. The bottom floor contains a reproduction of the original hotel tavern–and humorous details about the “whistle walk”. The Gordonsville train depot artifacts are currently housed here as well, so you can explore train travel in the 1800s (an integral part of the hotel’s history), the origins of the name “Exchange Hotel”, and the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad mascot kitty, “Chessie”. The middle floor is primarily a...
A Game of Chess at James Madison’s Montpelier

A Game of Chess at James Madison’s Montpelier

I used to joust with my college room-mate over a game of chess.  We played for different reasons. For him, it was an intellectual challenge of strategy, an opportunity to demonstrate how victory (and bragging rights) could be secured through reason and endurance. For me, it was a chance to unwind and thwart the foundations of reason by asserting the supremancy of whimsy, blind luck, and psychology.  My opponent’s turns usually lasted 20 minutes or more.  Mine typically took about 2 minutes, and their completion usually invited a raised eyebrow of annoyance and disbelief from my compatriot. More often than not, deliberation and reason prevailed, and I lost more than one pitcher of beer for my insolence. To the victor went the spoils . I had forgotten about these semi-frequent sparring matches until recent events at James Madison’s Montpelier conjured them from my mind. You see, James Madison was an avid chess player, and he frequently sparred with his friend Thomas Jefferson.  Madison and Jefferson were both intellectual powerhouses–Madison was deeply learned and bookish, while Jefferson was more focused on breadth and application.  A chess match between these two was undoubtedly a serious affair. Around 1853, Jefferson’s granddaughter, Ellen Wayles Coolidge, wrote the following about her grand father:  “So he was, in his youth, a very good chess-player. There were not among his associates, many who could get the better of him. I have heard him speak of ‘four hour games’ with Mr. Madison. Yet I have heard him say that when, on his arrival in Paris, he was introduced into a Chess Club, he was beaten at once,...
Holladay Memories

Holladay Memories

I have a lot to write about, so I don’t know where to begin!  As 2010 winds down, I’m looking back at some of the extraordinary things that have happened at the Holladay House– receptions, events, 1500 costumed kids filling Main Street for Halloween, the Christmas  parade, wine festivals….  What should I write about next? With the Civil War Sesquicentennial (I’ll let you google that–it took me a little while to pronounce it correctly, too, and I was an English major!) kicking off in grand style next year, I’ll continue on an historic theme: our historic inn! Many of you may recall that late last year we hosted a Memories Reception.  The idea was to invite as many long-time local residents as we could to help us learn about and record the storied history of our historic bed and breakfast in Orange, VA. The food was fantastic (prepared by our friend and frequent chef, Paul Diegl), and the Virginia Wine  flowed like…well… like wine! But, the real joy was hearing local residents recount their tales of daring-do in the Town of Orange, and specifically the Holladay House. It was an historian’s delight. We even displayed much of Dr. Holladay’s antique medical and surgical equipment, some of which was over 100 years old! I’ll write more about the specific oral histories later, and will just say that our primary goal was to collect as much info as we could, and then invite everyone back a year later to hear about what we had collected. And, that’s what we did!  For the encore event, we unveiled an improvement we completed in...
Walking a Mile in Their (Civil War) Shoes: The Perils of Living History

Walking a Mile in Their (Civil War) Shoes: The Perils of Living History

Biblical parables and shop-worn cliches aside, my feet hurt. I simply cannot imagine marching hundreds of miles with these medieval torture devices on my feet, only to be thrown into some of the most brutal combat our country has ever seen. Ok, so I’m overstating the case. But, these shoes are not Nike Air Jordans (Yes, I’m dating myself here).  They are authentic recreations of the typical nineteenth century footwear worn by Confederate soliders on Civil War Battlefields during one of America’s darkest times. The soles are thin but hard, and they are fastened together by iron nails, as you can see in the photo.  The nails create the contact point with the ground, which makes the shoes slippery on hard, smooth surfaces (such as the ubiquitous hardwood floors of that era), as well as hard and inflexible on the bottoms of one’s feet. After about 30 minutes of wearing them, my feet felt like I had hiked on a concrete path for 10 miles. The souls of the men that wore these on long marches and into battle had to be harder than the soles on their feet. This, of course, is the point of Living History.  Civil War Re-enactment is much more than playing dress-up and fantasizing about daring adventures in the days of yore. Re-enactment is about treading where the people of the past have tread and experiencing what they experienced as best as one can with our modern sensibilities. In its purest form, Living History is about empathy and education. To an observer it may seem silly. To a participant, it is often quite serious....