Archive for the 'History' Category
July 4th will be here is a few weeks, and you may already have plans floating in the back of your mind—an outdoor barbeque with the family, fireworks with the kids, and a plethora of red, white, and blue décor. However, why not participate in something unique this year that not only occurs on the grounds of a historic location, but also features the orations of none other than lead singer/guitarist of the eponymous Dave Matthews Band.
The Fourth of July is always a particularly special day at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, as it holds an annual naturalization ceremony, and this year is the ceremony’s 50th anniversary: “There is no more inspirational place to celebrate the Fourth of July than Monticello, the home of the author of the Declaration of Independence. Since 1963, more than 3,000 people from every corner of the globe have taken the oath of citizenship at [Monticello]. It is the oldest continuous naturalization ceremony in the United States outside of a courtroom.” (Monticello.org).
Every naturalization ceremony features a well-known speaker, and this year, South-African born musician Dave Matthews will be making the presentation and perhaps sharing his own experience becoming a naturalized American in the 1980s: “His family moved frequently during his childhood, spending time in the U.S. and England in addition to South Africa, and he credits their travels with widening his frame of reference” (Monticello.org).
- The ceremony starts is from 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. on Monticello’s West Lawn
- Tickets are free but must be reserved.
- Dress for hot, sunny weather!
- Live music will include the Charlottesville Municipal Band and the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums
Click here for additional information and don’t forget to book your room at the Iris Inn!
Grand Caverns is a National Natural Landmark located in Grottoes, Virginia. As America’s oldest show cave, Grand Caverns went through a series of different names and owners until finally, in 2009, the town of Grottoes “took possession of this glorious property.”
The caverns themselves are magnificent with their series of naturally formed rooms and chambers—the Grand Ball Room, Dante’s Inferno, the Persian Palace, and more. Each room and hall has its own story, which subtle signs of times and people of the past.
Starting at 10 a.m. on June 15, 2013, you have the opportunity to celebrate the history of this landmark at Grand Caverns Heritage Day: “Daytime activities will include a Civil War encampment, apple butter and soap making, crafts and demonstrations, and living history exhibits.” That evening, those with advanced reservations will be able to partake in candlelight tours and an authentic ballroom dance (period dress is encouraged). Tickets for the tours and the dance are limited to the first hundred reservations. If you’re interested in making a reservation, click here. At the bottom of the page you’ll find a form to fill out and mail to Grand Caverns.
Fun Facts (courtesy of grandcaverns.com):
“The rocks in Grand Caverns are constantly in a state of growth and a single touch can stop this process permanently.”
“There are hundreds of Civil War soldier’s signatures in Grand Caverns.”
“Grand Caverns was ranked the #2 cave in America by Parade Magazine.”
“Virginia’s caves range in size from a short crawlspace to over 20 miles of passages.”
Enjoy a day of cavern festivities, and don’t forget to book your lodging at the Iris Inn!
Saturday, May 18, 2013, boasts a springtime festival at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello—Wine & Roses. Wine & Roses is part of the Center for Historic Plants’ open house and will feature wine tasting, workshops, a tour of the gardens, plant sales, and a family activities table.
The Center for Historic Plants has its roots in Thomas Jefferson’s horticulture interests. The center was established at Monticello in 1987 and its members “collect, preserve, and distribute historic plant varieties and strives to promote greater appreciation for the origins and evolution of garden plants.” While Jefferson’s interest spanned a number of North American plants, this particular event will explore the history of rose cultivation, demonstrated at the picturesque Tufton Farm.
Tufton Farm “was one of Thomas Jefferson’s quarter farms and borders the Monticello plantation…Tufton served as important agricultural land, providing large amounts of crops and food sources for the Monticello plantation.” Today, Tufton houses the Center for Historic Plants, flourishing in a display of brightly colored flora.
Now that you know a bit about the history of Monticello’s plant life, you may be wondering what specific activities the Wine & Roses festival will entail:
10 a.m. – 11 a.m: A discussion with Doug Seidel about the “various types of old roses and their myriad virtues.”
11:15 a.m. – 12 p.m.: A garden tour led by Peggy Cornett, Curator of Plants at Monticello, “focusing on the antique rose collection.”
12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.: The “Antique Rose Show” workshop with Doug Seidel.
1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.: Wine tasting with Gabriele Rausse, the Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello
1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.: A rose propagation and culture workshop with Briar Hartsock, the Nursery Manager
2:15 p.m. – 3 p.m.: A garden tour with Peggy Cornett
Be sure to book your room at the Iris Inn, where you can return to comfort after a day of stopping to smell the roses!
Out of all of the Monticello Wine Trails, the Southern Trail best reflects the work and accomplishments of well-known individuals, be they historical figures like Thomas Jefferson or modern day moguls like Donald Trump.
The first stop on this wine-tasting road trip is Monticello, the “the primary plantation of Thomas Jefferson, who inherited it….Located just outside Charlottesville, the plantation was originally 5,000 acres. At Jefferson’s direction, he was buried on the grounds, an area now designated as the Monticello Cemetery, which is owned by the Monticello Association, a lineage society of his descendants” (Monticello).
The next stop is Jefferson Vineyards, which still grows fruits that were selected by Thomas Jefferson in 1774. One thing that makes this winery and vineyard so unique is that it is entirely self-contained in Virginia. The grapes are grown onsite, and no fruit is purchased outside Virginia. As the winery states, “These choices are consistent with our values, and we believe they are true to Jefferson’s original vision of winemaking in Virginia” (Jefferson Vineyards). If you do make a stop at this vineyard, we recommend the Chardonnay!
Bleinheim Vineyards is next on the trip, and this property just happens to be owned by renowned musician Dave Matthews. Like the previously mentioned establishments, however, this one is also linked to Thomas Jefferson: “It was Blenheim where Thomas Jefferson and his bride, Martha, are said to have “rested and warmed themselves” after their coach stalled nearby during a snowstorm. Later, the Jeffersons continued on to Monticello on horses borrowed from Edward Carter. The property was sold in 1840 and the house burned a few years later” (Blenheim).
Lastly, there is Trump Winery, owned by Donald Trump, legendary real estate tycoon and star of NBC’s The Apprentice. This winery is known to have the best Brut in Central Virginia, and they also serve some fantastic cheese if you’re hungry for a midday snack.
Enjoy your Southern Trail road trip, and don’t forget to book your room at the Iris Inn!
We here at the Iris Inn are fortunate enough to be surrounded by a wealth of Virginia history, and one nearby city is proud to offer a celebration of its heritage. Charlottesville, Virginia, having been founded in 1762, is remembering its 250 years of history, and part of this commemoration includes the Virginia Festival of History, May 26-June 3, 2012: “The Virginia Festival of History teaches and celebrates the diverse cultural heritage of the Commonwealth. The culmination living history weekend allows people of all ages to step back in time and meet people from the past through reenactments and period crafts, music, dancing, games, and food. Most events are free and open to the public.”
This signature festival will begin by honoring all who have served and died in war, and it will end with a two-day costumed reenactment at Court Square and Lee Park. (Even if you’re not a hardcore fan of history, the reenactment will bring life to what is usually only observed in the written word.)
May 26- Remembering Those Who Died in the Civil War
May 27- Remembering the 200th Anniversary in 1962
May 28- 250 Years of Sacrifice in Our Nation’s Wars
May 29- 250 Years of African-American Community Life
May 30- 250 Years of Growing Neighborhoods
May 31- 250 Years of Religion, Education and Culture
June 1- 250 Years of Architecture, Development and Design
June 2- Living History Festival of Our First 200 Years
June 3- Reenactment of the British invasion of 1781
“But each spring…a gardening instinct, sure as the sap rising in the trees, stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground.” — Lewis Gantt
Nothing proclaims the arrival of spring quite like the sight of budding flowers and the gradual shades of green that seep in the landscape. The Shenandoah Valley is a lovely place to watch spring emerge, and as a result of such an ideal location, there are specific places that commemorate this coming season.
Historic Garden Week in Virginia takes place April 21-28, 2012, and it includes around 250 gardens, historical landmarks, and homes all over the Commonwealth. We at the Iris Inn are lucky enough to be located near several of the Garden Week participants:
Morven Farm, Charlottesville, VA- This beautiful property was open during the first Historic Garden Week in 1929, and “it has been open for every Garden Week since” (Virginia.edu). When you tour Morven Farm, know that you will be experience a piece of history laden with the flora of spring.
Monticello, Charlottesville, VA- Garden Week at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello includes a Revolutionary Garden Tour on April 21 and April 23 as well as a National Book Launch on April 23.
© James Maxwell
Woodrow Wilson Birthplace, Staunton, VA- On April 21, 2012, take a tour of the historic boxwood garden next to the birthplace of former U.S. president Woodrow Wilson. Sponsored by the Augusta Garden Club, the tour also includes both the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and the Woodrow Wilson Museum.
“The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” –Abraham Lincoln
Veterans Day will be here shortly, and you may be looking to join in the celebration which honors the lives of all men and women who have served in the various branches of the military. During your stay here at the Iris Inn, there are several different options of showing your patriotic thankfulness. You can, of course, adorn yourselves in red, white and blue attire while waving your own star-spangled banner. However, if you’re looking for a more subtle option of celebration, have no fear.
There will be a Veterans Day program at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Staunton, Virginia. The program begins at 10:30 am (the 93rd anniversary of President Wilson’s original Armistice Day address), and it is free to the public.
Shenandoah National Park will be offering free admission to everyone Veterans Day. What better way to thank the men and women of the armed forces than by getting out and delighting in the land they help to protect?
Another Veterans Day commemoration will be found at Ash-Lawn Highland, the home of President James Monroe, who was a Revolutionary War veteran. The event begins at 11 am and is free to the public. Ash-Lawn Highland will be free the entire day to all military personnel, active, former, and retired.
Presidents’ Day provides us with yet another reason to smile proudly and describe why the Iris Inn is so fantastic. Today’s reason? The Iris Inn is within reasonable driving distance of the homes of four previous U.S. Presidents. Not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR presidents’ homes. (I know you’re impressed. Try to contain that excitement before someone starts thinking you’re weird.)
And now, I present to you a list of random facts about these former presidents and their homes. This is fun stuff, so sit back and enjoy:
Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson’s personal library at Monticello contained 2,700 books that later became a big part of the Library of Congress. Aristotle’s Politico, read by Jefferson just before his death July 4, 1826, was lost to scholars for over 130 years, until discovered last week at Washington University in St. Louis.
Ash Lawn-Highland, home of James Monroe
Ash Lawn-Highland occupies 535 acres and is currently a farm, a museum, and a performance site for the College of William and Mary. It is located only two and a half miles from Monticello. James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson were close friends, and Jefferson helped with some of the architectural design of Ash-Lawn Highland.
The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum
For the first ten years of his life, Woodrow Wilson couldn’t read (ironic considering so many people now visit his library). Many people now suspect that he had an undiagnosed learning disability. However, this did not hinder his achievements, because so far, he is the only U.S. president to hold a doctorate.
Montpelier, home of James Madison (and his wife Dolley)
After James Madison died, his wife Dolley had to sell Montpelier to pay off her son’s gambling debts. Also, the Marquis de Lafayette gave the Madisons a Cedar of Lebanon tree as a gift, and to this day, that tree still stands out in front of the house.
Now that you’ve become experts (sort of) on these four places, you should book a room at the Iris Inn, then head out for some presidential adventures.