This 1878 Italianate mansion is the largest and finest Italianate mansion in the Daniel’s Hill Historic District and is the largest Italianate home in the city of Lynchburg.
n the spring of 1875, Richard Thomas Watts purchased the two lots on Daniel’s Hill for the sum of $2,150.00, onto which he erected his residence. Designed by R.C. Burkholder it was built between 1875 and 1878.
Watts enlisted in the Civil War as a private in Company A, Second Virginia Cavalry until he was promoted to take on the responsibility of adjutant with White’s Battalion. In May 1864, he was wounded at the battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse and taken prisoner, then sent to Fort Delaware for the remainder of the war. Upon returning home he started a partnership with his brother, James W. Watts, and brother-in-law, George M. Jones, to form one of the first wholesale houses in the city: Jones, Watts, & Co. Hardware. In 1874 he married Emma T. Hurt, sold the company in 1887 and moved onto others interests, including coal mining and real estate investments. R.T. and Emma had eleven children, with only five growing to adulthood. R.T. died in 1910 bequeathing the house and lot to Emma, who died unexpectedly in 1911. As she died without a will, her five children agreed that the youngest, Mary, would receive the house and lot. In 1920 Mary married John Williams James, from Culpeper. In 1928 they sold the property to Lena Fore who furnished rooms to travelers between 1938 and 1939, when the property was known as the Cabell and D Street Tourist Home.
One of Daniels Hill’s most ornate mansions, the red brick Italianate was enlarged over the years. The front porch addition, made popular at the end of the 19th century by Queen Victoria, terminates at the north end of the porte-cohere´. The elaborate carriage house was constructed about 1909. Surrounded by an iron fence with brick pillars, the house gives passersby a sense of dignity and opulence.
The original brick house was trimmed with three bay windows and with two small porches facing Cabell Street. Six outbuildings dotted the property, which consists of 1.5 acres, along with two large frame structures fronting D Street. By 1902 the Cabell Street façade of the main house had been renovated and the Queen Anne-style porch features, seen today, had been added. Both the exterior and interior walls are constructed of three courses of brick. The floor plan features a sweeping staircase in the entry foyer, two parlors, a library, 5 bedrooms and 4 full baths (that are original to the house) with wonderful claw footed tubs. A living space for a servant can be found above the kitchen. When the house was built each room had a fireplace, originally coal-burning, as this is how the house was heated. About 1900 steam radiators were added, which have since been converted to hot water radiators. Several of the original gas lighting fixtures remain in the house. Rounded Romanesque arches frame windows and doors. Pediments, scrolled brackets, pilasters, overhanging eaves and pillars were common on Italianate homes.
Mike and Kathy purchased the home in 2003. Working weekly, 3-4 days per week, for almost five years the property has been restored to it’s former glory. Except for the addition of central air conditioning and Wi-Fi the house is much as it was when R.T. and Emma raised their family here. Most of the doors, window casings, light fixtures, mantels, plumbing fixtures and baseboards are original to the house as are the wainscoting in the foyer, dining room and library.
As stated by the Lynchburg Historical Foundation “this house is a fine example of preserving the past for the future”.
150 years ago today, although not a major battle, the city of Lynchburg heard cannon fire and gunshots. The Battle of Lynchburg is technically a misnomer as the failure of the Union assault kept Lee’s supply lines open, which enabled him to fight for an additional eight months.
It took more than three years for the war to reach Lynchburg. Troop trains regularly pulled into Lynchburg’s Ninth Street Station bearing carloads of wounded Confederate soldiers, as the majority of the tobacco warehouses had been converted into hospitals, making Lynchburg the second-busiest hospital town in the south. Lynchburg manufactured ammunition at it’s foundries and provided milled grain and flour from one of the area’s largest grist mills. As a major supply route for the Confederate Troops, General Grant gave General Hunter orders to destroy Lynchburg thereby disrupting supplies to the Confederate Army and thereby ending the war.
As General Hunter marched through the Shenandoah Valley on his way to Lynchburg he ran into little resistance. He took a page out of General Sherman’s march through the south as he burned and plundered the small towns and villages, including VMI in Lexington as he headed towards Lynchburg. Meanwhile General Lee, knowing the importance of Lynchburg to the South sent General Jubal Early to defend the city as there were very few able bodied persons left in Lynchburg to mount any type of defense.
As General Early was racing to Lynchburg to defend the city, General Hunter and his men, on their way from Lexington to Lynchburg, arrived in the Town of New London where they were offered food and drink. This slowed the advance on Lynchburg by several hours buying General Early several hours of time. Finally, General Hunter arrives in Lynchburg and takes over Sandusky, a plantation in the northwest section of Lynchburg, as his headquarters. While preparing his battle plan he sends out spies to the city.
During the evening and night of June 17, 1864, empty trains kept pulling into the 9th Street Station to the cheers of the townspeople as the band played. Word got back to General Hunter that dozens of trains full of Confederate Troops were arriving to defend the City. Fearing that he was outnumbered General Hunter decided not to attack the City and retreated. In a letter to General Grant, General Hunter states, “It had now become sufficiently evident that the enemy concentrated a force at least double the numerical strength of mine and what added to the gravity of the situation was the fact that my troops had scarcely enough of ammunition left to sustain another well-contested battle.”
While there were a few small skirmishes in Lynchburg during the Battle of Lynchburg, the city was left standing and continued to supply the South for the remainder of the war. Because of General Hunter’s retreat from the Battle of Lynchburg we have many buildings that may have been destroyed if he was able to complete his mission. Sandusky stands today and has been restored to the way it looked when it was General Hunter’s headquarters. It is open to the public. Check the link for more information.
If you are interested in the Civil War, the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse celebrates its 150th year anniversary next spring. We are now taking reservations, and I recommend you book early, if you plan on taking part of all the activities the National Park Service has planned for that week. We are about 20 minutes from Appomattox Courthouse!
The Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College has begun presenting an 8-part series on American art. This series combines an account of American life and serves as a tribute to American art. Filmed in 100 locations around the country by Robert Hughes, a Time Magazine art critic, Hughes has applied his wit and imagination to the problem of revealing how art records and preserves both points of view and ways of life.
The series, entitled American Visions-The Epic History of Art in America, is being presented each Monday, between June 9th through July 28th, at the Maier Museum of Art, located at 1 Quinlan Street in Lynchburg, VA. All sessions begin at 1:00 pm and last until 2:00 pm. Admission is free.
On Monday, June 16th the documentary looks at America’s majestic landscapes. Traveling from Yellowstone to the Hudson Valley the artists explored include John James Audubon, Albert Bierstadt, Frederick Church, Thomas Cole and Frederick Remington. Hughes compares and contrasts the conflicting impulses to worship the land and to conquer it and to create a myth of the West while the frontier was closing.
Other sessions to be held are described on the Maier Museum website at maiermuseum.org.
Our sauteed greens with a fried egg is a hearty, healthy and gluten free meal that is great way to start your day. There are plenty of vegetables plus the protein of an egg. We fried the egg (over easy) but you could also poach the egg. To save time in the morning you can peal and cube the butternut squash, mince the onions and toast and chop the hazelnuts. We served this to guests that were going hiking and wouldn’t be anywhere close to a restaurant at lunch time.
- 2 cups butternut squash, cubed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 medium-size onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 10 oz. baby spinach, collard greens or kale (we used spinach)
- 1/4 cup blanched hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 2 over easy fried eggs
Directions for Sautéed Greens:
1. Preheat oven to 450°. Toss squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the cinnamon. Bake 20 minutes or until squash is soft and golden brown, stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, sauté onion in remaining 2 tablespoons hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat 10 minutes or until onion is tender. Add greens, hazelnuts, sherry and squash. Sprinkle with remaining salt. Cook, stirring often, 2 minutes or just until greens begin to wilt. Sprinkle with blue cheese and immediately top with an over easy fried egg or poached egg and serve. Season egg to taste while cooking. Hint–Use white pepper if you don’t want to see pepper flakes on the egg, but warn guests that it has been seasoned or they may add additional pepper.
Our guests loved this breakfast and we will be serving it again next week when we have a gluten intolerant guest checking in.
Each month we post a new recipe to our blog, but all recipes have been collected and listed on our recipe page. If you are looking for new and creative breakfast recipes we invite you to check them out. If you prefer to have someone else do the cooking then give us a call at 434-846-1388 and book your reservation, or book online and let us serve you our legendary breakfast each morning! We hope to see you soon at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast.
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