REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Give me liberty: Or give me Hidden Springs Farm

ADDRESS: 3396 Fox Mountain Road


ASKING: $7,650,000

2007 COUNTY ASSESSMENT: $1,502,400 (under open space easement with Virginia Outdoors Foundation)

YEAR BUILT: Reconstructed 1991

SIZE: 5,695 fin. sq. ft. (main house only)

LAND: 157.4 acres

CURB APPEAL: 9 out of 10

LISTED BY: Joelle Meintzschel of Quest Virginia Realty  434-760-2601

How does one approach a nearly $8 million home? In this particular case, very, very happily.  The architect-designed undulating driveway teases visitors with brief glimpses of the house, so when we finally arrive, the tide of both anticipation and excitement is running high.

Built around 1800 in Brookneal for Patrick Henry's daughter, Hidden Springs Farm was carefully disassembled and reconstructed on its current site in 1991. At that time, the owners added a basement and installed up-to-date utilities. The original house, a classic colonial two-over-two, shines like a beacon from its hilly vantage point. At this price, though, it seems pretty pointless to mention that the attention to detail has in no way been shortchanged.

From the heart pine doors, floors, staircase, wainscoting, and mantels to the plaster and lathe ceilings and walls, authenticity was the paramount concern in the restoration. Unfortunately, the meticulousness lends an air of museum stillness to the rooms and creates the feeling that perhaps a velvet rope should be strung to ward off children's sticky fingers. Even so, with the beauty of the wood and the solidity of the modern foundation, it's easy to appreciate the work done to maintain historical accuracy. Better than watching it disintegrate in Small Town, Virginia.

A wide foyer splits the first floor into living and dining areas. Two stairwells– one in the entrance hall, the other in the dining room (separated only by a wall)– lead to the same place upstairs. Here, a little upgrading has been done to allow for a master suite complete with ample bathroom and massive closet. The relatively new basement is typical of other high-end basements, with Berber carpet in what is called  the "family" room. The rest is given over to storage.

Two identical wings have been added, one housing the kitchen, the other a library. Both rooms blend seamlessly into the vernacular structure, fooling visitors into believing that all is original. 

From the library, a newer construct appears and beckons alluringly. The current owners worried that they didn't have adequate views of the mountains and wanted a space that could be enjoyed from indoors and out. And so the same architect responsible for the driveway designed a curved 29-foot breezeway with stone floor that leads to a great room. French doors running the entire length provide views of the majestic scenery (this land plus a neighbor's 200 acres are protected by a conservation easement). A wall of windows in the great room opens to a wide stone terrace, perfectly suited for entertaining.

The owners also wanted to add more bedrooms since the main house has only one. Instead of building yet another addition, the architect decided to create what he calls a "village concept." Out the back door of the great room and through a formal garden with fountain sits a two-bedroom guest cottage. Mimicking the big house, it lures visitors with a tricky play of shadow and light. An unlit vestibule leads guests to seek out the light in the two bed chambers beyond. Each has its own full bathroom and fireplace.

But we're talking $7.6 million here, and so of course there's much, much more: a 120-square-foot stone garden shed, a log cabin circa 1800 reconstructed to perfection by Charles McRaven, an almost 5,000-square-foot barn/garage, a four-bay equipment building, two gazebos, extensive wildflower gardens, and chestnut split-rail fencing– all of it installed here in the last 15 years or so.

But these details fail to do the property justice. This is an almost perfect piece of Virginia real estate, all of it built to last and to enjoy. True, the sticker price is a shock. It makes us wonder: what would compel someone to leave a $7.6 million home? Where do you go from here?

Photos courtesy of the agent