The Several Stories of Carrington House

August 31, 2011

- By Annabel Hughes

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See also:

Page 2 - The Butlers create an addition

Page 3 - Conclusion

Carrington HouseI never found Carrington House, Carrington House found me.

When I first saw pictures of the house in the summer of 2003—sent to me in the mail by a realtor in Middleburg when I was living in Washington, D.C.—I’d never bought a house before, I’d never heard of Bluemont, and I’d never driven on a highway in America.

Shortly after I called her to say I wanted to see the house, I found the directions to Bluemont off the internet, I hired a car from M Street Avis, and set off with friends to claim what I sensed I knew was already mine.

Within five weeks of first setting eyes on Carrington House, I’d moved in. That I’d discover the house was in magnificent repair; that I could see the Blue Ridge Mountains from the back porch; that my neighbors would turn out to be the best I could hope for, were all just added bonuses.

Ad-2003 Ad-back Black-eyed Susans at Carrington House
Talk at Whitehall, 2009
Annabel Hughes presents the history of Carrington House, November 8, 2009.
First Bluemont Fair
1969: The mistress of Clayton Hall (Evelyn Johnson) meets the mistress of Carrington House (Joan Butler) on the front stoop, at the first annual Bluemont Fair.

Since moving out to Bluemont eight years ago from Washington, D.C. there have been many unexpected changes in my life.

Zimbabwe, my country of origin, has been destroyed by a dictatorial regime; my family broken apart and scattered to other countries after our commercial farm was stolen at gunpoint. Yet I have found a refuge here in Carrington House.

It is a place of safety and renewal, like the land beyond—like America itself, where in September 2009 I became a citizen. It is a place that has carried me through a deep catharsis, and the writing of my first book, a memoir called KUMUSHÀ–A Story of Home. It is a place that has beckoned me to let go of the past and put down new roots.

When I first gave these remarks as a talk (pictured above) at the Friends of Bluemont event, “If This House Could Talk” on November 8, 2009 at Whitehall Manor, my mother was in the audience, visiting me from Zimbabwe.

Joan Butler
Former owner, Joan Butler.

Another special woman present at that event to give her perspective and answer questions was Joan Butler (pictured right).


Joan, along with her husband Scot, can claim full responsibility for transforming Carrington House into the beautiful place it is now. She and Scot bought Carrington House in 1966 for $7,500 and spent 16 years painstakingly restoring it. Such was their care and precision that, 30 years later, all I have to do is cosmetic repair and maintenance.

Carrington House is named for Englishman Timothy Carrington, who built it in 1827, and then died shortly after. I have visited his grave, which still stands in excellent condition in Ebenezer Church outside Bloomfield, Virginia. Whenever I drive past the cemetery I shout out a salutation of gratitude for creating what is to me a great gift.

By an interesting coincidence, my paternal great-grandmother, who lived in England, was also a Carrington. My English cousins all carry the Carrington name, and were amazed to learn that I had bought an old house in Virginia bearing the same name. I have yet to explore the genealogy, but feel sure that such were the remarkable circumstances in me finding the house, we are connected.

The history of Carrington House is well documented in articles and books about Bluemont, Loudoun County, and Virginia. In précis, therefore, let me highlight those aspects that triggered my own imagination. Like how Timothy Carrington’s widow went on to marry Alfred Glascock whose son, it is presumed, was the “Alfred Glascock Jnr” in Mosby’s Rangers during the Civil War. In my mind’s eye I see Glascock and Mosby sitting in the house’s tavern—a tavern that existed for over a century—that today is my dining room. Its fireplace and wooden floors, the boards worn and uneven, tell a story, at least to me, of talk about livestock and harvesting and military planning; of knocking back home-brewed whiskey and brandy; of fiddle-playing and boot stamping.

Meanwhile, in the adjoining drawing room, where the afternoon sun shines through the deeply-set windows onto the Virginia heart-pine floors and the finely carved mantel—a mantel that in its intricacy illustrates a sophistication uncommon in a 19th century rural village—I imagine I hear voices conversing in gentler, more temperate tones.

Later, Carrington House went on to be called the Virginia House.

It seems clear from these historic photos (below) that the inn at Carrington House was an important stop in Snickersville for the stage coaches that served this region in the pre-automobile days at the turn of the century.

Carriage, turn of centuryAn unidentified gentleman stops his carriage at Carrington House around the turn of the century.

J.H. Fagitt - 1888
"J.H. Fugitt - Snickersville - May 5 1888." Taken from Carrington House. The house across "the Pike" still exists. The curved lettering of the tavern's "Entertainment Tonight" sign shows faintly mid left.

Winchester Stage - 1900
The Winchester Stage in at Carrington House. Photographed by pioneering woman photographer, Frances Benjamin Johnson.

Bluemont Station
Bluemont Station, early 20th century.

During Bluemont’s heyday as a resort town at the turn of the 20th century, Mrs. Mollie Weadon, who lived in the house from 1891 to 1944, ran a boarding house and was renowned for her cooking.

Betty Colbert & grandmother Posten
Betty Colbert with "Ma" Poston.

Abutting Carrington House by then was the Poston’s house, built in 1904, where my wonderful neighbor Betty Colbert has lived since she was three. The photograph (left) shows “Ma” Poston and Betty when she was little, which also shows how the kitchen of Carrington House exited directly into the Poston’s backyard.

Betty told me she spent many an hour in the Carrington House kitchen with Mrs. Weadon’s venerable black cook called Louise Grayson. Ma Poston was herself assisted by another black lady called Suzy Neil, who lived in the old Snickersville Academy, a one-room log schoolhouse built in 1825, since divided into rooms for a dwelling, which sits the other side of the creek at the bottom of my garden.

Suzy Neal-Snickersville Academy
Snickersville Academy.

I spent five years watching over the Snickersville Academy and mowing the grass for Tom Hatcher, until I helped to negotiate for the Hatcher family to deed it to the Friends of Bluemont in July, 2010.

Much later, when Betty was married to Sonny Colbert, Suzy’s daughter Margaret went into labor at the cabin when the rain was pouring down and the water was high. At 2 am in the morning they asked Betty to drive Margaret to the hospital in Leesburg, but just outside Purcellville she began giving birth to a baby girl in the car. Betty the Driver pulled to the side of the road in order to improvise as Betty the Midwife.

When later Margaret called her baby Dorothy there was much dismay in the Poston household for they all believed the baby should have been called Betty!

Book: From Snickersville to BluemontSince I’ve lived here I have met another of Margaret’s daughters called Ingrid Jewell, named for another well-known Bluemonter of days gone by. Jean Smith, the author who documented the history of Bluemont bought Carrington House from Mrs. Weadon’s heirs in 1948. Her love for the house is well illustrated in her book, From Snickersville to Bluemont: The Biography of a Village.

What isn’t officially documented, however, is what the next owners, the Butlers, did for the house in the late 1970s. Go to page 2 to learn about it.

 

 

...Page 2, the Butlers create an addition... ...Page 3, conclusion...