Friday, July 29, 2016

Whitney Stone, Historic Morven Stud and the USET

Did you know that the United States Equestrian Team (USET) was founded in Virginia?  Yes, Virginia, and with Virginia's deep history with horses, it's a fitting accomplishment.  Like most people, I assumed that the USET's operations in Gladstone, NJ is where it all started.  Not so.

Let's start with the venue, the historic Morven Stud or Morven Farm, in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The house, its barns and land is now owned by the University of Virginia. The farm has an illustrious history.

The land that makes up Morven was once owned by Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson deeded the property in 1813 to David Higginbotham, a leading merchant at the nearby port of Milton on the Rivanna River. Higginbotham renamed the property “Morven,” a Scottish word meaning “great mountain.” Higginbotham employed regional architect Martin Thacker to build a brick home on the property. The symmetrical two-story house combined a late Georgian pattern with Roman Revival features. The Main House remains one of Virginia’s important examples of Federal-style architecture. Higginbotham, with 56 slaves, produced corn, tobacco, wheat, hay, and oats at Morven until his death in 1853.

Morven’s next owner was Daniel Groff Smith. His son, Francis Henry Smith, taught mathematics at the University of Virginia in 1851 until his retirement in 1907. He and his family lived in the University’s Pavilion V until his death in 1928. Another son, Colonel Edward Buckey Smith  inherited Morven when his father died in 1879.

In 1906, Morven was sold to Samuel and Josephine Marshall. The Marshall’s expanded the Main House with a two-story addition on the north side by Baltimore architect Howard Sill. After Samuel Marshall’s death in 1923, Morven was briefly the home of David C. and Margaret G. Patterson. Mr. Patterson was a land broker.

Charles and Mary Stone purchased Morven in 1926, converting the farm into “Morven Stud” for thoroughbred horse breeding and cattle. Charles A. Stone in 1889 co-founded Stone & Webster, an engineering firm that later played a leading role both in the Manhattan Project and subsequent development of the U.S. nuclear industry. The Stones commissioned Boston architect Joseph Chandler to add a west terrace and attic dormers to the Main House in 1928. Mary Stone, in consultation with renowned landscape architect Annette Hoyt Flanders, redeveloped the formal gardens. Mary Stone opened the formal gardens to visitors of the first Virginia Garden Week in 1933, and Morven has remained open to the public for every Virginia Garden Week since. The Formal Gardens, largely unchanged from this era, represent one of the few intact gardens from the 1930s.

After Charles Stone’s death in 1941, Whitney Stone and his wife Anne took over Morven, concentrating on stud operations and founding the United States Equestrian Team. A number of famous racehorses were bred at Morven, including the Hall of Fame mare Shuvee, who won the Filly Triple Crown in 1969. In 1973, Morven was added to both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.  Whitney Stone died at Morven in 1979 and Anne Stone in 1987.  You can read his obituary here in the New York Times.

Stone was a Lt. Colonel during World War II and in 1950, after the Army ceased equestrian sports competition, Stone served as President of the USET from 1953 to 1973. He was Chairman of the Board from 1973 until he died in 1979.  He is also regarded as having revitalized the National Horse Show in NY after the hiatus of WWII.  He was a Director from 1932 until 1979.  Stone was also a Vice President and Director of the American Horse Show Association, President of the Coaching Club of America and a member of the Jockey Club.

 (The barn at Morven today, used as an event facility for UVa)

John W. Kluge purchased Morven in 1988. In the mid-1990s, he supervised the construction of a four-acre Japanese garden and house, built using ancient techniques and incorporating some 50 plants indigenous to Japan and America. Sculpture by Rodin, Maillol, Moore, and others was interspersed throughout the gardens. After Kluge relinquished his life estate in 2006, the Foundation renovated and refurnished the Main House, Guest House, and Meeting Barn. The Guest House, built during the Kluge era, now holds the Flowerdew Hundred Collection of AmerIndian, English, and African American artifacts unearthed at the Flowerdew Hundred on the James River south of Richmond.

The house and its barns are now used for events for the University of Virginia.  The barns are in lovely condition but no horses live there and there is no evidence of this fantastic farm's roots as the beginning of the USET.  It's sad that no one realizes this anymore but at least the farm is in tact, has not been torn down to build a Toll Brothers subdivision and the fields are still lovely and full of large round hay bales this time of year.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Early Fall Finds

I don't know about you, but with the blazing heat, I am actually looking forward to fall and am glad that we are starting to see some fall fashions pop out, even if just a little.  It's crazy I know, but the upper 90 degree temps have me dreaming of crisp fall mornings and evenings.  Here is what I am liking right now.....

Love, love love, this jacket from Tory Burch. How great will this look with jeans, brown booties and a t-shirt for fall.  Pair with a skirt or wool pants for work. Add a dressier skirt for a nice dinner outfit.  

These booties from Anthropologie come in a variety of colors. Can't decide which ones I like the best.  Any suggestions?  See them here.

J Crew's Downtown Field Jacket is a true fall staple.  I love it in the cream color (here) but it comes in three other colors.  

Thursday Therapy

Thursday is one of the best days of the week because your week is almost up (the work week that is).  What you need sometimes is "Thursday Therapy" to help you through a long, hard, hot week like the one we've had this week.  Huge storms rolled through late yesterday here in Virginia. Lots of wind, rain, no power until this morning.  Yes, some therapy is needed.

I've fallen in love with L.V. Harkness, a shop located in downtown Lexington, KY.  They have the largest selection of fine china, silver, linens, and anything else you'd ever need to entertain that I've seen in a long while. And if you like horses, well, you're in the right store.  If you are in the area, check this place out.  Here are some photos from their store.  You can shop online here but the store is the real deal.

I love to shop Tory Burch's big sales. One is going on right now. Last summer I picked up a ton of stuff more than 50 percent off.  Her sales stuff does not last you have to pull the trigger fast once the prices go down.  Here are a few things I am still loving on sale.

There are a few sizes left in this lovely tunic that would be a great staple going into fall with jeans, shorts, khaki pants.  Wear with white right now.

( Tunic)

Love these sandals and they could also go into fall (they also come in a deeper brown) with the right outfit. I bought these last year in navy/black combo and I have worn them a lot this season. 
Also a big fan of Trina Turk.  Love this dress!  So sixties don't you think?  You can see it here and it is on sale!
Love this necklace too.  See it here.

And lastly I saw this dress at the Trina Turk store in Atlanta in May and fell in love with it.  Now it is greatly reduced.  It is lovely in person. See it here.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

It's Blowing Rock Horse Show Time

It's late July which means it's time for the infamous Blowing Rock Horse Show.  It's a fixture on the show circuit and while it's held in the tiny little hamlet of Blowing Rock (NC), it's one of the best horse show venues out there.  And because it's such a cool place (in more ways than one) it's uber competitive.  If you have not been as a spectator or competitor, then add it to your bucket list.  You won't be disappointed.

Its rustic charm is special and when you aren't showing or watching the horses, the tiny village is full of cute shops and great restaurants.  It's crowded this time of year, but what a special place to be. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Visit to Rockbridge County Virginia

Rockbridge County Virginia has a lot to offer, no matter what your style, taste or affinity to the South might be.  There is much to do here and in case you are planning a visit, here are some of the highlights.  Come anytime of year too.  It's not too hot generally (except this week) and the cold snaps never linger. It spans all four seasons well.  Just off I-81 in the west central part of Virginia, Lexington, VA anchors this lovely county.

1) Downtown
A visit to the historic downtown area is a must.  It's not very big so it won't take you long to walk around, do some window shopping, see the sights.

2) It's a College Town
The town is dominated by Virginia Military Institute to the north and Washington & Lee University to the south. The two schools offer stark contrasts to one another - W & L, a WASPY liberal arts school known for its huge endowment. And VMI, a private military school, where George Marshall went to school. The campuses are beautiful.  At 5 pm during the school year, the canon is fired at VMI from the parade grounds.

 (Washington & Lee University)


 (Robert E Lee Chapel - W & L)

3) Restaurants
Lexington is not known for its great restaurants but the selection has improved in recent years.  Here are some favorites:
Taps - in The Georges Hotel, a small, snazzy pub-like restaurant offering small plates.  Not a place to dine if you're a big eater.
Haywood's - Tap's sister, across the street with a piano bar.  The portions are a bit bigger here.  Cozy, can be loud if the music is playing.
The Southern Inn - an old stand-by with reliable good food, not gourmet, but good. The acoustics here are terrible so do not go with a big party.  The bar is always crowded.
Napa Thai - Not a lot of atmosphere but the food is good and reasonable. Very good Thai for a small town in Virginia.
The Palms - Good local hangout. Sandwiches, beer, burgers.

3) The Natural Bridge
Once owned by Thomas Jefferson, soon to be turned into a State Park. Definitely worth the visit.  It's a small walk from the Visitor's Center.

4) The Safari Park
An unknown gem here, many people don't even know it's here.  If you love animals you should go here, Virginia's only drive-thru safari. If you have an old truck you can drive through all the better.  This is a blast!  Drive your car/truck through the park like you are on a safari.  It's so much fun.  Don't feed the animals though and don't take your sports car.

5) Hull's Drive-In
This is a great spot but it now caters to the kids, so it's not the fun place it used to be.   When they start showing real movies again, I'll go back.  But if you love the cartoons and G-rated kid flicks or action movies, bring your car on a Friday/Saturday/Sunday night from later March to October and go to the drive-in. Please bring back movies that adults like!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Stormy Skies

A huge thunderstorm bypassed the farm late Monday night and we watched it from a distance.  The lightning was incredible.  It looked like an atomic bomb had been dropped. Other than this one patch, the skies were clear and the moon was full. A beautiful sight, nonetheless.  Summer skies are full of surprises!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Quaint Virginia Farmhouse For Sale

I love old houses and this gem of a house can be yours and the price isn't bad either and it's move in ready.  Nestled just west of the Blue Ridge Mountains not far from I-81 and I-64, near Staunton, Waynesboro, about a half hour from Charlottesville.  See the listing here.

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