Winchester: Exploring Virginia’s Northern Valleys


October 20-23, 2016

The Shenandoah and Potomac River Valleys includes Virginia’s northeastern-most region as defined by pre-Civil War boundaries but composed of counties in both Virginia and West Virginia today. This area of prominent 18th-century development encompasses two major historic thoroughfares: the Great Wagon Road, luring settlers from eastern Pennsylvania down to the Southern Backcountry; and the Potomac River Valley, drawing families from the Piedmont and Chesapeake Bay toward the Western frontier. While exploring this region, we will encounter a rich and culturally diverse assemblage of 18th and early-19th-century houses that document the aspirations of upper Virginia residents as well as the brisk mercantile trade and talented artisans supported by the area’s robust local economy. 


ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

Thursday, October 20, 2016 – The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

  • Registration in the George Washington Hotel lobby
  • Opening Reception at the MSV’s Glen Burnie with an opportunity to tour the MSV’s decorative arts galleries
  • Welcoming Remarks and Opening Lecture
    “Most beautiful groves of sugar trees”: George Washington’s Shenandoah Valley
    Carol B. Cadou, Senior Vice President, Historic Preservation and Collections, Mount Vernon

Friday, October 21 – The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

  • Welcome
    Dana Hand Evans, Executive Director, MSV
  • Building along the Blue Ridge: Carpenters and Cabinetmakers in Winchester and Frederick County
    A. Nicholas Powers, Curator of Collections, MSV
  • Lower Shenandoah Valley Pottery
    Dr. H.E. Comstock, Independent historian and author, Winchester, VA
  • Coffee Break
  • Silversmithing in the Shenandoah in All Its Various Branches
    Catherine B. Hollan, Independent scholar and author, McLean, VA
  • A Quaker Winchester Quilt and the Apple Pie Ridge Star
    Mary Robare, Independent historian, Winchester, VA
  • Early Samplers of Western Virginia: Investigating the E. Hurst School Group
    Alee Robins, Independent scholar, Morgantown, WV
  • Following our morning lectures we will travel by coach to visit Cherry Row (1794) for a picnic lunch and tour. Built for Quakers Mary and David Lupton, who migrated from Bucks County, PA, to the Valley in 1741, Cherry Row is a handsome brick dwelling that retains its original woodwork, including three built-in corner cupboards. The current owners, David and Jenny Powers, have furnished the house with locally made furniture, quilts, and decorative arts.
  • Early settlers from Pennsylvania and Maryland established the first Quaker congregation in the Shenandoah Valley in 1734. The Hopewell Meeting House (1761) was built by Thomas McClun using coursed rubble limestone and then expanded in the 1790s to its present size. Featured on the National Register, the meeting house’s interior remains in pristine condition.
  • Greg Bott’s architect-designed home was planned for a growing collection of Shenandoah Valley regional decorative arts, from 18th-century iron to 21st-century folk pottery. His collection includes both painted and higher-style furniture, fraktur, pottery, samplers, decorated utilitarian objects, portraiture, folk art, and toys, all recording the cultural heritage of the Shenandoah Valley.
  • While best known as Stonewall Jackson’s headquarters during the winter of 1861-62, the carpenter gothic Moore House (1854) was owned by Lt. Col. Lewis Moore, an ancestor of actress Mary Tyler Moore, who was largely responsible for the dwelling’s restoration, including the reproduction of wallpaper admired by Jackson in a letter to his wife.
  • Fundraiser for the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program at Carter Hill
    Details below.

Saturday, October 22 – The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

  • Gateway to the West: The Upper Potomac River Valley
    Matthew Webster, Director, Grainger Department of Architectural Preservation, Colonial Williamsburg
  • Uncommon Vernacular: Early Houses of the Lower Shenandoah Valley
    John C. Allen, Jr., Architectural historian, Shepherdstown, WV
  • Coffee Break
  • Rifle Guns of the Northern Shenandoah Valley
    Wallace Gusler, Master gunsmith and consultant, Williamsburg, VA
  • Depart by coach for Jefferson County
  • Our afternoon will feature a range of noteworthy sites in Jefferson County, starting with lunch at Happy Retreat (1780), built for Charles Washington, who founded Charles Town, WV, in 1786 and was George Washington’s youngest brother. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the property also includes a stone and brick kitchen and smokehouse and an octagonal wooden schoolhouse.
  • Perhaps the most ambitious early house built in the area, Piedmont (1790) features an impressive Flemish-bond brick façade with a projecting, pedimented pavilion at the center. Although the interior woodwork is restrained, the house features built-in cupboards, paneled overmantels, a walnut staircase with decorative brackets, decorative painting, and Dufour scenic wallpaper dating to 1818.
  • A beautifully proportioned and wonderfully preserved Federal house, Hazelfield (1815) features a distinctive, gable-end front façade topped by an 8-foot-wide fanlight. The house was constructed for Ann Stephen Dandridge Hunter, and its design may have been influence by her daughter’s father-in-law, St. George Tucker of Williamsburg. Hazelfield is currently owned by a noted historian and author and is lovingly furnished to enhance the elegant interiors.
  • Travelers Rest (1760, 1781) was owned by the British Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates who settled in the area in 1773 and achieved fame fighting on the American side at Saratoga. The dwelling was expanded for Gates by local architect John Ariss. A thoughtful restoration has preserved much original material, and the house is furnished with a collection of 18th and 19th-century antiques.
  • The Shepherdstown Museum displays an important collection of early-19th-century furnishings in a period building, the Entler Hotel. A charming town with an impressive array of historic houses and craft shops, Shepherdstown evokes the bustle of the Potomac River trade.

Sunday, October 23 – The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

  • Remarks and Annual Meeting
    Matthew A. Thurlow, Executive Director, The Decorative Arts Trust
  • ‘Wel Don’ Chests and Pine Boxes: The Material Culture of Shenandoah County, 1800-1850
    Sarah Thomas, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, The College of William & Mary
    The John A. H. Sweeney Emerging Scholar Lecture
  • Coffee Service
  • A Fresh Coat of Paint: Recent Findings on Shenandoah Country Craftsman Johannes Spitler
    Elizabeth A. Davison, Independent decorative arts scholar


Thursday Optional Tour: Tidewater Aristocracy in the Shenandoah

Thursday, October 20

9:00am – 5:00pm

Join Ralph Harvard for an exploration of Clarke County’s architectural heritage. There are three periods of the region’s eminence that we shall enjoy. The first was when Thomas Fairfax, sixth Baron Fairfax of Cameron, established a bachelor’s lodge at Greenway Court in 1752. Fairfax was the proprietor of a five-million-acre tract, and several dwellings survive from this early period, including Clermont. After the revolution, old tidewater Virginia gentry (Wormleys, Washingtons, Carters, and Burwells among them),  their land worn out and their loyalties questioned, moved to Clarke County, creating a number of substantial stone structures in the later 18th century, both mansions and Nathaniel Burwell’s Mill. This era of country house building continued with Robert Carter Burwell’s construction of Long Branch with the assistance of Benjamin Henry Latrobe. In the early 20th century this hilly untouched land became an equestrian Mecca, and many Northerners flocked to the area, renovating or buildings houses aspiring to the grand old Southern plantation style in full-blown Colonial Revival taste. We will visit houses from each of these periods, including some choice private venues, such as an 1816 dwelling with Italianate gardens. Still remarkably rural with almost no development, Clarke County will take us back into several pasts, and we will revel in its rural but sophisticated architecture and lifestyle.

Registration is limited.

Sunday Optional Tour: Up the Valley of Virginia

Sunday, October 23

11:30am – 7:00pm

This outing serves as a perfect capstone for our immersion into the decorative arts of the Shenandoah Valley. Highly regarded auctioneers, collectors, and educators Jeffrey and Beverly Evans of Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates are throwing open the doors of their historic home in Rockingham County, the Christian Sites House, an 1811 German-style center-chimney dwelling with a handsome dressed-limestone façade and beautifully preserved interior.  We will be treated to lunch and a comprehensive introduction to their extensive collection of local furniture, textiles, and ceramics and American glass. We will benefit from the Evans’ highly-regarded expertise as we encounter thousands of Valley-made objects, with a special opportunity for an up-close view of their remarkable holdings of quilts and coverlets.

Following our afternoon of decorative arts exploration, we will stop in New Market, Shenandoah County, to visit two noteworthy historic structures. The home and apothecary shop of Dr. Solomon Henkel remain in the hands of this important family of early German Lutheran setters, who served as ministers, physicians, and newspaper publishers.

Registration is limited.


Fundraiser for the Emerging Scholars Program at Carter Hill

Friday, October 21


Carter Hill was built in 1949 by Louise Anderson Patten, a direct descendant of Robert “King” Carter, using colonial houses from the Rappahannock River and Northern Neck to guide the design of the exterior and interior. The current owners, Linda Ross and Tom Gibbs, have invited us to enjoy their extraordinary collection of Valley decorative arts, which includes the largest grouping of pieces made by the colorful Scottish immigrant cabinetmaker John Shearer as well as Winchester-made furniture, clocks, silver, and ceramics.

Please join us for a wonderful evening of connoisseurship and conviviality as we toast our hosts’ hospitality and lend support to the Trust’s efforts to encourage the next generation of curators and academics through a growing series of grants, scholarships, and internships.  In 2016, more than two dozen graduate students and young professionals will benefit from the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program.

Registration is limited.


  • The George Washington Hotel
    Special Room Rates: $99 on October 19-20, 23; $179 on October 21-22
    The Trust has reserved a block of rooms for October 19-24. These rooms are available on a first-come first-served basis until September 19. Please make your reservations as soon as possible to ensure availability by calling 540.678.4700 and referencing the Decorative Arts Trust.
  • The hotel is a 60-minute drive from Dulles (IAD) and 90-minutes from Reagan National (DCA). Contact William at Valley Connector (540.624.3011, to arrange shuttle service. If driving, hotel parking is available for $5 per day.
Terms and Conditions

By registering for this symposium, I/we do hereby release The Decorative Arts Trust from any and all liability in connection with the trip, Winchester: Exploring Virginia’s Northern Valleys, for any loss, delay, injury, or damage to or in respect to any person or property however the cause for arising. It is understood that The Decorative Arts Trust has acted as agent for me/us in providing means of transportation or other services and The Decorative Arts Trust is not to be held responsible for any act, omission, or event during the time I am/we are participating in this program, and this evidences my/our understanding that The Decorative Arts Trust has not now, nor will have in the future, any liability to me/us due to any consequences arising out of said program or in connection with said program.

Cancellation and Refund:
All cancellations received prior to June 20 are subject to a full refund less a $50 administrative fee per person. Participants cancelling between June 20 and August 20 will receive a 50% refund. Refunds will not be made after August 20.


Join our mailing list to receive the latest news, tour and symposium announcements from the Decorative Arts Trust.

Thank you for subscribing!


Join our mailing list to receive the latest news, tour and symposium announcements from the Decorative Arts Trust.

You have Successfully Subscribed!