Saturday, May 4, 2019

9:30-5:00, Rain or Shine


The Eastern Shore of Virginia

Come by bridge or boat to explore the homes, gardens and history on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Chesapeake Bay to the west, the Eastern Shore Peninsula is renowned for agriculture, seafood and small-town life. Our 2019 tour focuses on the bustling bayside town of Onancock. Founded in 1680, Onancock features a deep-water port, historic buildings and churches. The maritime town is complemented by vibrant shops, galleries and restaurants. Travel south to visit perennial tour centerpiece and National Historic Landmark, Eyre Hall, an acclaimed ancestral property displaying some of the country’s oldest continuously maintained gardens.


3215 Eyre Hall Drive, Cheriton, va 23316

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, owner.

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80 Market Street, Onancock VA 23417

A two-story Victorian with gingerbread trim, Sans Souci rests atop a small knoll overlooking Market Street in Onancock. The French phrase translates to, “without concerns,” aptly describing this relaxing and tranquil property. The back section of the home was built in the 1850s and the front was added in the 1880s. Surrounded by established beech and hardwood trees, a boxwood-lined path leads to the front entrance. Furnished with 18th and early 19th century American pieces, Sans Souci showcases an impressive collection of tall case and mantel clocks inherited from the homeowner’s father, a local builder and furniture maker.

The interior is complemented by a fine collection of Chinese Imari porcelain, a Bombay desk c. 1700s and a rare 18th century British Bermuda hunt board. When the home was remodeled in 1962, a bill of goods for building materials, c. 1858-60 was found in the rafters of the oldest section and is now displayed as a reminder of Sans Souci’s significant historical footprint. On the grounds, visitors will enjoy the gingerbread trimmed gazebo and informal gardens including drift roses, daffodils, iris, hydrangea, jasmine, salvia, magnolia and more. Open for the first time. Mr. & Mrs. John E. Morgan Jr., owners.

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5 AMES Street, Onancock VA 23417

Originally built c. 1927, the Grace Ames House sits on a point of land on the central branch of Onancock Creek. J. Grace Ames purchased the property in 1925 and negotiated access to what is now known as the Ames Street Bridge which was privately owned at that time. The Grace Ames House is a classic example of a craftsman bungalow “kit house.” Beginning in the early 1900s, kit houses were sold from the pages of catalogues and shipped by train across the United States. The current owners renovated the home from the foundation up in 2016-17, creating an open, flowing design that incorporates multiple vantages of the creek.

Light and lines prevail in the contemporary interior. Daylight streams through the open master bath, featuring floor to ceiling tile. Eclectic and diverse art by well-known Eastern Shore artists has been thoughtfully collected by the homeowners and displayed throughout. The cleverly constructed back of the house features a second story deck with panoramic creek views. Outdoors, the garden is whimsical and unstructured with a focus on nature. Migratory birds enjoy native plants and waterfront perches. Open for the first time. Dr. Greg & Patsy Felthousen, owners.

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16 Market Street, Onancock VA 23417

Located in the heart of Onancock, its Victorian façade in full view from Market Street, the Benjamin Fosque House was built in 1883. Sawn brackets and extensive ornamental tracery adorn the gables and porches. The front hall features a long case clock from Bristol, England (c. mid-18th century). The library is well appointed with treasures from the homeowners’ time abroad including glass collectibles, an inlaid Swiss music box and a series of hand-colored Thomas Landseer etchings. The living room was part of a substantial 1987 addition. The cathedral ceiling creates a bright, open space for modern family living while following the architectural vernacular of an historic Victorian home.  

Outdoors, the swimming pool is surrounded by brick patio, paths and a pergola – its white garden carefully curated to maintain a serene outdoor living space. A doctor’s office built in the front yard in 1910 was moved to the back yard in 1985 to serve as a playhouse for 5th generation Fosque children. A variety of deciduous and evergreen shrubs and perennials provide year-long color and foliage, framing views of the central branch of Onancock Creek. Open for the first time. Dr. & Mrs. Fletcher D. Fosque, owners.

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2 South Street, Onancock VA 23417

The oldest house in Onancock, Scott Hall was built in 1769. When land was purchased to build Scott Hall, Virginia was still a colony of Great Britain. Originally constructed in a telescope style, the house is now a Dutch Colonial with a cedar shake roof. Interior highlights include floor-to-ceiling bookcases and a recently renovated master bath. On the landing between the first and second floors, original, exposed hand-hewn notched beams showcase the home’s history. First built with thick walls, alcoves and trap doors, it’s believed that Scott Hall was designed as a fortress. Many such features were corrected in a 2006 renovation.

Behind the house, the central branch of Onancock Creek is viewed beside the iron gates of the cemetery where 17 relatives of early Scott Hall owners are buried. The last naval engagement of the Revolutionary War, The Battle of the Barges, took place just beyond Onancock Creek. Commodore Zedekiah Whaley, while in command of the Protector Barge, perished in this battle on November 30, 1782. His exact burial site unknown, the U.S. government added Whaley’s headstone in the Scott Hall Cemetery in 1928. Open for the first time. Ms. Elizabeth A. Lankford, owner.

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Due to unforeseen circumstances, this home will not be open for the tour.


18306 Hermitage Road, Onancock VA 23417

Situated on Onancock Creek, 18306 Hermitage Road is a Federal style brick and wood-sided home. Built in 2005, an addition was completed in 2014. Secluded by land, this home is located conveniently near the Onancock Wharf via water. Notable interior features include a hand-painted botanical mural in the front hall, detailed woodwork on fireplaces and mantels and raised paneling in the hall and den. Visitors to the home will enjoy the main floor master suite and gracefully appointed bedrooms with special furnishings such as a handmade needlepoint rug. On the main level, highlights include a 19th century American chest in the living room, assorted porcelain and a vast and diverse fine art collection.

Bold use of interior color provides a striking backdrop for the art. Function meets personalization through a series of his-and-hers parlors and studies, each reflecting the homeowners’ varied personal interests. From the back porch, guests will experience a flurry of maritime activity. Fishing boats, pleasure cruisers, sailboats and kayaks on Onancock Creek provide ever-changing scenery. Beautiful waterside gardens, from formal to less structured, add to the grandeur of this property. Open for the first time. George T. and Nell W. Minton, owners.

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