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Eastern Shore House & Garden Tour

  • Ker Place 69 Market Street Onancock, VA, 23417 United States (map)

Hosted by The Garden Club of the Eastern Shore

Settled just a few years after Capt. John Smith landed at Jamestown in 1607, the Eastern Shore of Virginia is a narrow peninsula situated between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  It is also situated between two marvels: a link to the mainland by one of the longest bridge-tunnels in the world at one end and, at the other end, a link to outer space via a NASA rocket pad.  In between, is a land known for the warmth of its residents, the serenity of its waterfronts, the richness of its land and, most especially, the charm of its homes -- all exemplifying the fine heritage of the Eastern Shore.  Many properties are hidden from view, nestled amid mature landscapes or overlooking beautiful creeks, only to be revealed on rare occasions. Please join us on our 70th Anniversary House and Garden Tour to discover these gems in this singular place we call home.


Information

Ellie Gordon, Co-Chairman, 757-710-0763
Page Young, Co-Chairman, 757-710-4697


Group Tours

Susan Dixon (757) 641-2047

www.esgardentours.com and www.vagardenweek.org

Tickets

$45 pp. Single site ticket $15.  Children 5-12, $20.  Tickets available on day of tour at all tour properties.  

Advance Tickets

$40 pp. Available online or locally through Thursday, April 27 at all Eastern Shore Xenith locations:  Cape Charles, Exmore, Onley and Chincoteague; the Book Bin, Onley; Ker Place, Onancock and Rayfield’s Pharmacy, Nassawadox and Cape Charles. Cash or check only.

Lunch Options

Available at Christ Episcopal Church, 16304 Courthouse Rd., Eastville, VA 23347.  Visit www.esgardentours.com  for details and directions.

Special Activities

Check website for updated information.

Parking available at all properties

Directions to the Tour Area

From the south:  Rt. 13 (Northampton Blvd.) in Virginia Beach to Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and continue north on Rt.13.  From the north:  Delaware Memorial Bridge to Rt. 1 South to Rt. 13 South.  From Washington/Baltimore:  Rt. 50 East across Bay Bridge at Annapolis and continue on Rt. 50 East to Rt. 13 South at Salisbury.

Complete directions to each tour property can be found online


Ticket price includes admission to the following five locations

EYRE HALL, 3215 Eyre Hall Dr., Cheriton VA 23316
Recently honored as a National Historic Landmark, this acclaimed ancestral property offers a rare picture of colonial plantation life.  The key to Eyre Hall’s remarkable preservation lies in its descent through eight generations of the same family. The gambrel-roofed manor was completed in 1758 by Littleton Eyre, who lavished his home with expansive spaces, superlative woodwork and handsome furnishings. Before the end of the century, Littleton’s son and grandson had, in their turn, inherited his masterwork, adding an eastern wing and laying out a grand rear garden. Happily for historians, the three early owners were succeeded by stewards who declined to gild their classic legacy with the passing fancies of later eras. Today, Eyre Hall visitors are delighted to find that the refined but soft-spoken style of its creators remains wonderfully in place. The past also lives in the garden, where venerable crepe myrtles tower above parterres enclosed by ancient boxwood and set off by colorful mixed borders. On the west, the recently stabilized remaining walls of an early orangery add a hint of romance to the garden scene. Beyond the house and garden, broad stretches of open fields and long views over Cherrystone Creek complete the placid panorama awaiting visitors to this perennial centerpiece of the Eastern Shore tour.  H. Furlong Baldwin,

VAUCLUSE, 3350 Vaucluse Lane, Machipongo, VA 23405
Situated on a high bank near the mouth of Hungars Creek, Vaucluse was the seat of the prominent Upshur family from 1768 to 1844.  Littleton Upshur began construction of the main house in 1784, although a quarter kitchen wall may antedate the present dwelling. By 1829, his son, Abel Parker Upshur, had expanded the house and property, making one of the county’s grandest plantations. Young Upshur became Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of State under President John Tyler and was responsible for negotiating the treaty annexing Texas. His life ended tragically when, during a demonstration of a new cannon, it exploded, killing him and several observers. Vaucluse is of frame construction, with brick ends and chimneys, and distinguished interior woodwork. Twin neoclassical porches adorn both facades of this one-room- deep building. A gracious living room welcomes the visitor and the spacious kitchen is open, relaxed and an obvious place to gather. A thoughtful 2005 addition and carriage house join seamlessly with older features as an adaptation to modern times. Although the plantation was subdivided, the park-like setting remains intact. Reputed to be a gift from Thomas Jefferson, a pecan tree shades the gardens and lawn that roll down to the water. Visitors can enjoy the formal garden fountain along with the exquisite herb garden while in the distance, a dock house beckons to be explored.  Mr. and Mrs. David Rogers, owners.

COVE’S END, 6262 Fern Point Road, Franktown, VA 23354
A secluded serpentine drive slowly reveals the countless charms of this redbrick retreat on Church Creek. Designed by Floyd Nock, a noted Eastern Shore architectural historian, and built in 1981, Cove’s End was obviously created to capture the tranquility of its waterside setting. Long and low, this haven conceals surprises within that delight all who enter.  From the foyer, visitors are drawn through a spacious sunny double drawing room directly to the multi-windowed circular dining room with striking views of Church Creek.  Audubon prints grace the fireplace mantels, and an equine portrait reveals the owner’s interest in horse racing, as do the trophies proudly displayed. A well-appointed kitchen with a fireplace and sitting area invites one to linger, as do the comfortably furnished bedrooms. Family portraits along the hallway delight the eye. Outdoors, the patio, with fire pit, is surrounded by extensive gardens and natural woodlands that overlook the creek. A nearby pathway leads to a private dock and skiff that is ever ready for quick jaunts to the Chesapeake Bay. Cove’s End is a much-needed antidote to the owner’s active schedule and a sanctuary that refreshes with each visit. Open for the first time. Jane Merriam Cody, owner.

WALSTON PLACE, 23419 Walston Place Drive Accomac, VA 23301
Walston Place looks as if it were a painted landscape- the restful image of an elegant home in the middle of a quiet field.  Framed by the feathery branches of ancient Cypress trees and Crepe Myrtles, the mellowed brick ends and cheerful yellow clapboard of the main house and outbuildings creates a scene reminiscent of 1802 when the house was first completed and part of a working plantation. 

The home, tall and generously proportioned, embodies the beloved features characteristic to traditional Eastern Shore architecture.  With three sections, the big house, a long and low colonnade, and an unusually steep roofed kitchen, the home is as practical as it is beautiful, clearly cared for and loved with a meticulous hand and heart. A casual elegance emanates warmth rather than just nods to historical correctness at Walston. The current family has owned the farm for the past six decades and their dedication to maintaining every detail of the house and property is evidenced in its curated charm. The impressive craftsmanship of the home, the choice collection of Americana and European antiques inside, and the scattering of pretty gardens on the property will be admired by antiquarians, architectural historians and home bodies alike. Col. Christopher and Dr. Conya Needels, owners.

METOMKIN FARM, 23411 Walston Place Drive Accomac, VA 23301
Located three miles north of Accomac on Walston Creek, Metomkin Farm consists of a large brick house and several tidy outbuildings on fifty-three acres of horse pastures, pine forest and marshland overlooking Metompkin Bay. The original colonial style house was built in 1970, but the current owners dramatically expanded it in 2015 with a modern touch. At first the elegant white-washed brick main house appears to be a conventional example of traditional Shore architecture. A closer inspection reveals the fresh design ideas of the current owners, one an international art dealer, the other an artist and author. Inspired by the architecture of Hugh Newell Jacobsen, the old one-story colonnade/kitchen became a light-filled living area with 19-foot ceilings, an unobstructed view of the seaside and plenty of wall-space to display large contemporary paintings. The owners’ art and antique collection span centuries and continents, from Europe, America and Asia.  The contrasts in style make the transition between traditional and new exciting and fresh. In every season, perennials bloom against a wild backdrop of the ever-changing hues of the saltwater marsh. Layered gardens around the house are jaunty with color and create an inspirational setting wherever the eye lands. Mr. Barnaby Conrad III and Mrs. Martha Sutherland, owners.


Places of Interest

[GCV] Ker Place*, 69 Market St., Onancock, VA 23417. This brick mansion built in 1799 is home to the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society and is a restoration project of Garden Club of Virginia. Guided tours on the hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. No fee. (757)787-8012

Hopkins and Brothers Store*, 2 Market Street, Onancock VA 23417. Hopkins and Bros. Store is owned and maintained by the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society.  It is the home of Mallards restaurant and features an exhibit of Onancock’s historic and current business community, photographs and artifacts of the store in its heyday as a maritime trading center and information about Ker Place and the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society's preservation efforts.  No fee.

Barrier Islands Center* and Almshouse Farm, 7295 Young St., Machipongo, VA 23405. This museum provides photos, artifacts and written accounts of those who once called Virginia’s Barrier Islands home. Also preserved here is the most complete almshouse complex extant in the United States. (757)678-5550. No fee.

Pear Valley *, Rt. 628, Eastville, VA 23347.   c.1740 one-room yeoman’s cottage and a prime  example of vernacular architecture.  No fee.

Historic Cokesbury Church *, 13 Market St., Onancock, VA 23417. 

 

* Virginia Historic Landmark and/or National Register of Historic Places