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Bells Ring Out For Civil War in Middleburg

 

 

Lee did not surrender. Grant just stole his sword and Lee was too much of a gentleman to ask him to give it back.” (from the Complete How to Speak Southern by Steve Mitchell)

 

On Thursday, April 9th at 3:00 PM the bell at Appomattox Court House will ring in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. At 3:15 PM bells in churches and court houses  will toll across the Commonwealth of Virginia and other parts of our land to recognize the importance of that event. In Middelburg the steeple bells in the historic Middleburg United Methodist and Emmanuel Episcopal Churches as well as the Unison Methodist Church in the village of Unison will ring for 4 minutes, one minute for each year of the Civil War. A war during which these churches served as hospitals for wounded from both sides.

 

Please note that I carefully do not describe this event as a commemoration of Lee’s surrender. To do so might result in my husband who DOES speak really good Southern (noticeable every time he introduces me as his wiiife) suggesting that I find another place to live. We are clear that we are not celebrating a surrender but the end of a bloody and lethal war.

 

The Battle of Middleburg, one of the first of the Gettysburg Campaign, left an enduring mark in the hearts and minds of area residents who experienced it. JEB Stuart tried to hold Mt. Defiance while the Union army invaded Middleburg and the surrounding area as part of an effort to ascertain Lee’s location . Sort of like a 19th century version of Where’s Waldo? One would think that a mass of soldiers the size of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia would not be so difficult for the Yankees to locate but then they had not had much success locating John Mosby either.

 

My good friends who reside North of the Mason Dixon Line are always asking me why the South still seems to be fighting the Civil War. Well, it’s complicated.  A lot of animosity still festered during reconstruction. Parts of the South were left so devastated there was little left to reconstruct. While some Federal officials such as Lincoln and even his successor, Andrew Johnson, favored a post war gentle approach with the former rebels many others were determined to mete out as harsh a punishment as possible. It did not help that during the Civil War many ancestral homes in the South were burned to the ground or destroyed. Irreplaceable family heirlooms had vanished. Simple documents such as deeds, marriage and birth certificates had been recorded in courthouses which no longer existed.  There were many soldiers who were not from wealthy families or the landed gentry who returned home to find they no longer had one.  In many Southern families the expectation may have been to lose fathers, sons, and brothers in battle but not 200-300 years of family history. Southerners are proud people and proud of their heritage.  Naïve though it may appear to some today that is the reason some of the bitterness still exists and  still shapes the Southern point of view. Which to answer the question posed at the beginning of this paragraph is the only side I am presenting here.  I am very aware there is a converse ( with some merit) point of view so don’t be calling me and hollering about it at  3:00 AM. OK?

 

 

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The Sound of Music in Middleburg

 

 

Your chamber or mine?

 

The Vitali String Quartet
The Vitali String Quartet

Middleburgers and visitors will once again have the opportunity to embrace their love of the arts with the inaugural concert of the Middleburg Concert Series on Sunday, March 22nd at 4:00 PM at Middleburg United Methodist Church located at 15 West Washington Street across the street from the Safeway. The spring concert will be a journey through chamber music and feature performances by the Vitali String Quartet, organists Larry Correll and Karen Chase and pianist, Anna Nizhegorodtseva. It promises to be a great way to spend a relaxing Sunday in the ‘Burg.

 

This concert will be the first of four with others to follow in the summer, fall, and winter. The musical programs will be varied and easily accessible to the community and guests. Light refreshments will be served following the Sunday performance. Admission is by free will offering. For more information contact Artist in Residence ,Dr. Alan Saucedo, (540) 303-7127,alansa99@yahoo.com.

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Steeplechase Races in Middleburg

 I’ll Have Mine With a Chaser

Neck and Neck at Middleburg Hunt Point to Point
Neck and Neck at Middleburg Hunt Point to Point

Those of us who are lusting for the arrival of spring (yesterday, please) are looking forward to the impending steeplechase and point-to-point races in Middleburg and the surrounding area. One of the most popular is the Middelburg Hunt Point-to-Point, which takes place this year on Sunday, April 26th at the wonderful and picturesque Glenwood Park. Because the event occurs later during the spring race schedule Mother Nature has more time to get herself in gear and often delivers lovely spring weather.

Legend has it that steeplechase racing began in the early 18th century with a couple of stout ale infused Irish horsemen challenging each other to a race across the countryside from one church steeple to another. For anyone who has ever had a wild ride fox hunting with the Irish that explanation sounds very plausible. Whatever their origin these gatherings are a wonderful rite of spring here in Middleburg. The various fox hunt clubs host point-to-to point races almost every weekend. They are the place to see ladies in large hats and sample sumptuous food and libations at beautifully appointed tailgate parties. Spring is also the season for the famous Virginia Gold Cup race, which is held on the first Saturday in May attracting race fans from all over the world. It also attracts some scantily clad nubile young bodies that may or may not realize there are horses in the area.

Ladies Sporting their Chapeaux at Glenwood (one missed the memo)
Ladies Sporting their Chapeaux at Glenwood (one missed the memo)

 

Utopia Tailgate Party. Courtesy of Middleburg Photo
Utopia Tailgate Party. Courtesy of Middleburg Photo

Steeplechase horses or “chasers” for short hand are amazing equine athletes to watch as they soar like Pegasus over the jumps (OK, sometimes they miss). In the past it was a requirement that a steeplechase horse needed to have been “fairly hunted” before entering the point- to-point races but today, although some of the chasers are fox hunted during the season, most tend to be just racehorses.       Tickets for the Middelburg Hunt Point-to-Point can be purchased in advance at $5 per car and $10 per person. On race day that amount  increases to $10 per car and $15 per person. Tailgate spots range from $75-$200 depending upon location. For more information call (540) 454-2991.

Anne Sittman and the Greenwells sport classic race attire at the Middleburg Hunt Point to Point. Photo by Middleburg Photo.
Anne Sittman and the Greenwells sport classic race attire at the Middleburg Hunt Point to Point. Photo by Middleburg Photo.

 

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My Sixth Cousin Once Removed From Texas Says My Property is Worth A Million Dollars

There are many ways to value this property
There are many ways to value this property

Of much discussion in front of the post office these days is Oak Spring, the Mellon farm that is now on the market following the death of the 103 year old Rachel “Bunny” Mellon on St. Patrick’s Day. The list price is $70 million, which has initiated lots of chatter as to whether or not it is “worth” that price. Because a competitor lists it I would not presume to offer an opinion of value on this blog site although I am more than happy to become the buyer’s agent for anyone looking for property in that price range.

All the Mellon property chatter highlights the entire quandary of determining market value in real estate. As realtors we give our sellers an opinion of market value, usually based upon recent comparable sales. This is not to be confused with an appraisal which is value established by a certified appraiser. Neither is it to be confused with the assessed value established by the local governing body for the purpose of determining real estate taxes. Don’t even get me started on Zillow! No matter which approach is used everyone has a strong opinion about the result. This is one area of real estate in which almost everyone seems to be an expert, which causes lots of heated discussions.

Invariably Jack and I will list a property after much discussion about the price with the sellers and two weeks later they call to tell us that they want to RAISE the price because their “sixth cousin one removed has just visited from Texas and told them that their property” is worth at least several hundred thousand more than the listing price”. Besides, their neighbor’s house (which is only 10,000 square feet larger than theirs) sold for more. Having lived in Texas for 16 years I can tell you that I knew lots of very intelligent people there so I harbor no prejudice against Texans. However, to use a Texas expression, people from Texas offering opinion of value for real estate in Middleburg could very well be “all hat and no cattle.”

Pricing is the hot button throughout the sales process. If the seller accepts his first offer the buyer is convinced that he should have offered less. If the appraisal comes in above the list price the seller wonders why the property was not priced higher (and sometimes asks if he can go back and ask for an amount ABOVE that specified in the ratified contract).

It is important to keep in mind that an opinion of value in real estate is not an exact science and certainly subject to many variables. One never knows when that one buyer in a million who ACTUALLY wants a kidney shaped pool painted in bright fuschia may just turn up and be happy to pay the full asking price, maybe more. However, more often than not no one but the seller will see that feature as something that will enhance the property value. Well, maybe in Texas if the pool is large enough . According to the strict definition of market price once the buyer agrees to pay that full price and the seller accepts it, fushcia pool and all, that is the market value for the property. Even in Texas.

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Senior Living in Middleburg

The best part about living in a small town is that even when you don’t know what you are doing everyone else does.

Have you ever wondered why it is customary for people here in the United States to retire at age 65? I have concluded that it is not because we are no longer mentally acute but because it is impossible to sandwich in a full time job amongst all the doctor’s appointments! At this point in my life the greatest sense of excitement comes from anticipation of learning what body part will be hurting that day.

Middleburg VA Post Office
The Middleburg Post Office, the place to go for all the scuttlebutt.

Middleburg, with its serenity and slower paced lifestyle, is ideal for senior citizens who want to step (careful, now) off the fast track. Awakening every day with lovely vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains and miles of horse pastures is a sure fired way to chill.

That is not to say that there are not lots of community activities. Horses are key here, so we have fox hunting, polo, carriage driving, and the oldest horse show in the U.S. For those not of the horsey set, there are many other events such as Shakespeare in the Burg, the Middleburg Film Festival,watching the Middleburg Hunt ride through the streets as part of the annual Christmas parade, free summer concerts, and many other events too numerous to mention.

If you need to know anything about activities or gossip about anyone in Town you just go pick up your mail at the Post Office, where local gossip flows like Goose Creek. I have a guest towel that reads “the best part about living in a small town is that even when you don’t know what you are doing everyone else does”.

On the other hand we locals are pretty protective of our celebs like Bobby Duvall and Willard Scott and say very little about them to outside snoopers “from away”. I guess if you want to be private we are happy to help. Not only is this a welcoming village for the young but an ideal place live out one’s golden years.