Monday, August 7, 2017

Magnificent Mirador

Virginia is home to many splendid estates, steeped in history, and Mirador, just outside of Charlottesville, is one of my favorites.

(Francis Benjamin Johnston photo, 1926)
The home was built in 1842 and underwent a renovation in the 1920's by noted architect William Adams Delano.   Mirador is located in Greenway, Virginia, just west of Charlottesville in an area full of large estates.  The estate includes several outbuildings and a Colonial Revival stable built in 1910.  Also on the property is the Sam Black Tavern, a log building dated to 1769 which was moved to the property from neighboring Seven Oaks Farm (currently owned by musician Dave Matthews).  

(Sam Black's Tavern)
 Mirador was the childhood home of Nancy Langhorne Astor who was born in Danville, Virginia (near the Virginia, North Carolina border).  Her father made his fortune in the tobacco and railroad business and purchased Mirador. He had lost his fortune during the Civil War but was able to build it a second time.  She lived here from 1892 to 1897 (she later became Lady Astor when she married Waldorf Astor).  She moved to England where she was the first woman to sit as a Member of Parliament. 

Her sister, Irene, also lived here. She became the wife of artist Charles Dana Gibson and was a model for the Gibson Girl. 

(Gibson Girl Muses)

The famous decorator, Nancy Lancaster bought the property and lived here until the 1950's.  Lancaster was the niece of Lady Astor and Irene Gibson.  Her mother was Elizabeth Perkins, eldest daughter of Chiswell and Nancy Langhorne. Nancy grew up in Richmond, Virginia and New York. Her fondest childhood memories were while visiting her family at Mirador. She married three times, and it was during her second marriage to Ronald Tree that she bought Mirador from her aunt Phyllis. She bought the house in 1922 and sold it in 1950 when she was living in England. Nancy lived in England for most of her adult life and she owned the interior decorating firm Colefax Fowler which is still in existence today and remains one of my favorite fabric sources.

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