10th Anniversary post: Our first day in Orange, VA

Travel back in time to 1996: Sam, the budding History and English double-major, was accepted in the July 1996 Montpelier Summer Archaeology Program at Montpelier. He stayed on Montpelier’s grounds with about a dozen other university students and wielded his trowel at the Mount Pleasant site on the property. Sam and Sharon, fellow students at James Madison University, had been dating for well over a year.  Sharon drove down from Northern VA on Saturdays to visit Sam. They would grab sandwiches at Sparks Deli (now Elmwood at Sparks) and have a picnic in Taylor Park (the park across the street from the inn.) Fast forward to September 15, 2006: Sam and Sharon just purchased the Holladay House Bed and Breakfast on Main Street. After a morning of directing the movers, they walked past Taylor Park to Elmwood at Sparks to grab lunch and take a moment to celebrate.  They met Randy Cooper, who opened Elmwood at Sparks just 6 months prior, and joked about being the two new kids on the block. As Sam and Sharon exited Elmwood at Sparks, they ran into the Sam’s summer archaeology director from Montpelier! She was still directing the archaeology program at Montpelier; and Sam pointed to the Holladay House Bed and Breakfast and said, “We just bought that today!” Over the last 10 years Sam and Sharon have shared many meals with his archaeology director and still take lunch breaks at Elmwood at Sparks. Save...

Here’s to 10 years – and counting!

How quickly ten years can fly by. That’s right—ten years! We’re commemorating our 10th anniversary innkeeping here at the Holladay House, and as part of the celebration, we thought maybe you’d like to know a bit more about our innkeeping story. Our story begins in the middle of heavy interstate traffic, which is where we had our “aha!” moment. Sam turned to me and announced he couldn’t stand another day of commuting and he had an idea. He asked if we wanted to leave it all behind and start a bed & breakfast, and without hesitation, I answered, “Yes.” We immersed ourselves in the B&B world over the next year and a half, researching, interviewing, attending conferences, and joining the Bed & Breakfast Association of Virginia (BBAV) and the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII). The more we learned, the more excited we became! While we were looking for potential inn properties, we happened to visit an inn for sale listed with a southern gentleman named Pete. Pete became our B&B real estate agent, and over the next year, he showed us all around the Central Virginia area as we continued to scout out potential properties. In the meantime, I quit my career in marketing and began working part-time at an inn and a winery. However, Sam and I grew concerned we weren’t finding the perfect property for our needs.  We finally decided if we found nothing after one last weekend of visiting properties with Pete, we would abandon our B&B plans and come up with a different idea. Little did we know, that one last upcoming weekend would...

Chef Cooper’s Whisky-rubbed Cured Salmon in Orange, VA

After writing my previous post about Virginia-made single malt whisky from the Copper Fox Distillery,  I thought I’d continue the Virginia spirits topic with a recipe.  I consulted one our region’s finest chefs, Randy Cooper, from Elmwood at Sparks.  Elmwood at Sparks is one of several outstanding fine dining restaurants in our region, but it is the only one of its kind right here on Main Street in Orange, VA, just a block away from our Virginia Bed and Breakfast! Our guests thoroughly enjoy Elmwood at Sparks. We have never recieved a negative review, and Chef Cooper puts his extensive experience with French and American style cuisines to good use. We recieve the best comments about the delectable sauces and scrumptious soups Chef Cooper crafts. Since I have been exploring the many options for Virginia-produced whisky and other spirits, I asked Chef Cooper to recommend a recipe using whisky as an ingredient. The recipe below is what he provided, and I can’t wait to try it!  Please try it yourselves, and tell me what you think! “Whiskey Rubbed Cured Salmon”  2# Fresh Salmon 375 ML Your favorite Whiskey 4 oz ginger- sliced 2 sprigs rosemary 2 sprigs thyme 3# salt 3# Sugar 1T black peppercorns Cheesecloth as needed Combine in sauce pot over high heat : whiskey, thyme, rosemary, half of peppercorns,  and ginger. Reduce by half- CAUTION- this may flame (remove from heat and allow to reduce over lower heat)- allow to cool. Wrap salmon in cheesecloth and place in a deep baking dish. Pour ingredients over cheesecloth-wrapped salmon  and allow to marinade for up to 24 hours. Combine salt,...
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....
Upcoming Reception for Renowned Civil War Artist

Upcoming Reception for Renowned Civil War Artist

The Civil War is brought to life at our Virginia Bed and Breakfast Inn! Historical Artwork, portraying historical events, in an historic house–what a great opportunity to Experience Virginia! We are excited to report a fantastic event next weekend, 17-18 September 2010.  A renowned artist of historical subjects, Mort Kunstler, will be visiting in Orange, Virginia  to unveil his latest work, Unconquered Spirit.  This poignant painting depicts a scene taking place in front of the historic 1859 Orange County Courthouse, just two blocks away from our Virginia bed and breakfast. This evocative painting depicts a scene from 1863, a few days after the Battle of Gettysburg, when General Robert E. Lee and his officers arrived in the Town of Orange to establish a defensive line and set up winter camps for his beleaguered men. According to Mr. Kunstler, “En route to their destination near the Rapidan Line earthworks, the Confederate forces marched past the Orange County Courthouse over a period of several days. The surrounding streets were filled with the sights and sounds of thousands of men, horses, wagons and artillery pieces passing by. On the left of the picture, an artillery battery rides by with infantry troops behind them. They would eventually go into their winter camps strung out behind the Rapidan Line earthworks and prepare for what we know would be the upcoming, crucial spring campaign of 1864.” In the painting, General Lee appears composed and in command as he organizes the activities of General A.P. Hill and General James Longstreet, both of who seem to come alive off of the canvas. Mr. Kunstler has painted other...