Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Touring the Main House

Back in October I stayed at the Berry Hill Plantation Resort.  I wrote about the beautiful experience here. While in Virginia a few weeks back for my photo exhibition opening, I stayed again. The absolute beauty and visit to a time gone by is pleasure. 

Growing up in this little town there were many rumors about the big mansion and why it went unoccupied, but taken care of, for over 50 years. Several of us as high school students went over the wall, sat on the massive porch and had a picnic one summer afternoon. So yes, we all knew the stories. 

In the late 1990's it was purchased, completely remodel and turned into an education-conference center. AXA, a French-based insurance and financial services company, spent over 33 million dollar in restoration adding 90 addition modern room, a large indoor swimming pool and conference rooms. Also the main house was restored to it's once remarkable splendor. The home and plantation are back in privates hands and it operates as a resort, open to the public.  

The resort is primarily a wedding destination with much of the upstairs and its very large suits used to accommodate the bride and bridal party. Southern charm meets beauty and history.

The Main House - Berry Hill Resort, Southern Virginia
The main house is a pristine, near-perfect example of Greek Revival architecture modeled after the Parthenon. The original owner and builder, Mr. James Bruce (1806-1865), was the third wealthiest men in America at the time. He toured America and Europe and finally settled on a design reproducing The Second Bank of the United States, located in Philadelphia. The bank completed in 1824 was the second federally authorized Hamiltonian National Bank in the United States. Berry Hill's exterior resemblance is remarkable. See below. 

I had time after my morning presentation at the museum and rushed back for a guided tour. This was my second day of this visit staying at the resort. I had scheduled the tour ahead and was the only one that day so had my own personal tour of the main house and grounds. The main house rooms have been maliciously restored and only somewhat modernized. It is difficult to improve on perfection.  
View from the second floor landing 

The photo above is sitting in one of the back bedroom and the window photo is looking out from the second floor landing. I love the drive into the resort and from this window you can see the driveway and all the open land. The whole resort today is located on 650 acres. On all three of my evening drives in, there was a family of deer grazing at the edge of the woods. At night there are stars and the milky way visible you will never see in the city.  

Of course there are many stories associated with this old home and Mr. Leland Luck, my tour guide, told them with pride and a great sense of humor. We both grew up nearby and we knew people in the area. He was a teacher at my high school before retiring. Here is an addition article with more history as told by Mr. Luck.   

The travel writer Bruce King suggest:

Discover Berry Hill Resort and Conference Center now, before the rest of the world learns of its charm and luxurious grace. 

My suggestion: If you ever want to truly escape and visit a time gone by, it is worth the trip. However at night, be prepared for only the sound of crickets and maybe a few unexplained bumps. Just kidding about the bumps.       

The Second Bank of the United States
Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

No comments:

Post a Comment