Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Investigating our earthworks

Historian Kris White came to Stevenson Ridge lately to help investigate a mystery behind our earthworks.

One of the things that makes Stevenson Ridge such a historic property are the Civil War earthworks that wind through our woods. The National Park Service has called them the best-preserved privately owned earthworks in the region.

But there’s a mystery behind them: They face in the wrong direction!

For most people, it might be hard to tell. After all, most earthworks look like nothing more than humps of dirt bulging up from the ground in a long line. But most earthworks also have a ditch on one side or the other. The soldiers stood in those ditches, behind their big mounds of dirt, for protection.

Based on the location of the two armies in May of 1864, the Union army should have been facing toward the west and south. However, our trenches face toward the northeast—whoops!

Our historian, Chris, has been wondering about that lately. He has started to map the earthworks and our trails using a GPS system. But because the earthworks are facing the wrong direction, he’s trying to figure out why.

For help, he called in his friend and co-author, Kris White. They’ve written a book about the battle of Spotsylvania Court House called A Season of Slaughter. According to Chris, “No one I know knows how to figure out a piece of ground better than Kris.”

So Chris and Kris went pounding through the woods the other day on a mission to solve the mystery. “It’ll take some research,” says Kris.

I’ll keep you posted!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Engagement Season...

It seems like the phone on Elizabeth’s desk has been ringing off the hook these days. As our head wedding coordinator, she’s been getting a lot of calls from excited brides-to-be this season. December, it turns out, is a popular month to get engaged.

Yes, a lot of lucky ladies found a ring wrapped up under the Christmas tree this year. But even before Old St. Nick made his midnight call, a lot of guys popped the question. The period between Thanksgiving and New Years offers a lot of opportunities for families to get together, and that, of course, means plenty of opportunities for newly engaged couples to share the big news with their loved ones and show off the ring!

Once the dust settles and the couple starts talking about logistics and dates, Elizabeth’s phone starts ringing. She’s been talking about venue availability, setting up initial meetings, and letting people know about our new catering services.  She’s been having a blast—so keep those calls coming.

Congratulations to all our newly engaged couples!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Misty Day

The wicked cold snap earlier this week has given way to warmer but grayer weather. A heavy mist sits over the property today.

Some people might see that as gloomy, but it’s so peaceful here today. One of the things I love most about Stevenson Ridge is that it finds new ways to show me how beautiful it is, no matter the season, no matter the weather.

A thin wafer of ice, left over from this week’s cold spell, still covers part of the pond. The mist is evaporating it, conjuring a thin fog that now hangs over the surface and creeps up the hillside into the woods around the log home. Otherwise, all is still.

But then a long, deep rumble of thunder comes through the forest. It sounds like the ghost of artillery fire from the battlefield. It’s dark. Foreboding. Another crack comes, less ghostly, more angry. The thunder this time of year, I realize, is exhilarating.

With guests touring the property today, Chris has gone over to the Riddick House to turn on the lights. Suddenly, there’s a glimmer of hominess in the gloom. There’s a light in the storm.

But the woods look beautiful, too. I’m so glad to be here today.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

First bridal show of the season!

What a wonderful time Elizabeth, Erin and I had last weekend at the Fredericksburg/Greater Virginia Bridal Show!

The show was held at the Hospitality House in Fredericksburg’s Central Park and, like most shows, it had electricity in the air. After all, any room with that many brides in it, all of them excited about their weddings, is bound to crackle.

The idea behind a bridal show is to get a lot of wedding and event professionals under one roof and then invite a whole bunch of brides-to-be, allowing for a brief meet and greet and presentation of services offered. DJs, photographers, caterers, cake bakers, florists, make-up artists, dress shops, and stationary printers are among the vendors who set up displays, offer samples, and make their pitches. Venues like Stevenson Ridge (well, to be honest, there are no venues "like" Stevenson Ridge!) also have the chance to show off their facilities and introduce our professional coordinators.

Typically, though, a couple tries to secure their venue of choice as one of the very first things they do, and then they go shopping for the other services they need. So, as brides come to the bridal show to shop for those services, it’s a chance for our coordinators to re-connect with brides who’ve already reserved Stevenson Ridge and meet those still in the hunt for the prefect venue!

Stevenson Ridge will be having our own Bridal Open House coming up next month—something like the Bridal Show but on a more intimate scale. On Sunday, February 23, 2014 from 1:00-4:00 p.m., we’ll showcase the venues at Stevenson Ridge, the cottages we have available for lodging, and our preferred vendors. If you'd like to join us, just register at happilyeverafteropenhouse.eventbrite.com. The event is free. More details to come!