National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States
Garden Club of Virginia
2 folders + 1 3 x 4 in. lantern slide and 3 35mm slides
Mixed archival materials
United States of America, Virginia, Frederick County, Middletown
Belle Grove (Middletown, Virginia)
Major Isaac Hite Jr., who fought with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, and his first wife Eleanor (Nelly) Conway Madison, a sister of President James Madison, built the Federal style house beginning in 1794, using limestone quarried on the 483 acre property. The landscape plan included groves of trees for shade and was influenced by the less formal 18th century English gardens that complement rather than contrast with the natural setting. The fields would have been planted in grain for livestock, including cattle and Merino sheep. During Hite's lifetime the property was expanded to 7,500 acres and included a distillery and several mills. The house has a south façade of dressed limestone, and is in the pavilion style favored by Thomas Jefferson. There are several outbuildings. The only records of the garden show light foundation plantings around the house and a latticework fence.
During the Civil War, Belle Grove Plantation was the setting of the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864, in which Union General Philip Sheridan defeated Confederate General Jubal Early.
The Brumback family owned the property from 1907 to 1929. Francis Welles Hunnewell purchased the property in 1929 and bequeathed it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1964.
In 1983, the Garden Club of Virginia voted to restore the gardens at Belle Grove Plantation, using funds raised in their annual garden walks. The gardens were restored to the style of circa 1820. University of Connecticut Professor Emeritus Rudy J. Favretti (Fellow in the American Society of Landscape Architects) designed the restoration. Restoration included pruning the trees to restore light to the house and open the view of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains and replacing the large foundation plantings including diseased boxwoods with low-growing plants. In addition, an overgrown herb garden was converted to a demonstration garden comprised of plants used in cooking, medicine and commerce in the 19th century, with restored latticework fencing on three sides and post and rail fencing on the fourth side.
Belle Grove Plantation, now 283 acres, is operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and open to the public. Sites on the grounds include the ice house, old hall, dairy, smokehouse, blacksmiths shop, demonstration garden, slave cemetery, and agricultural fields. There is also a library of local, architectural, crafts and agricultural history, and an artifacts collection.
Persons associated with the property include Major Isaac Hite (former owner, 1794-1836) and descendents of the Hite family, the Brumback family (former owner, 1907-1929), Francis Welles Hunnewell (former owner, 1929), Rudy J. Favretti (1983, restoration landscape architect) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (owner, 1964-present),
The folder includes worksheets and photocopies of articles about the property.
This property is featured in "Tackling a Landscape Restoration" published in the February 15, 1985 Garden Club of America Bulletin, Photographic Studies of Old Virginia Homes and Gardens (1953) and Gardens and Landscapes (1993) by Richard Cheek, Rudy J. Favretti, and Garden Club of Virginia