The handsome, three-story brick manor house at Morven was completed in 1820 by local builder Martin Thacker in the late-Georgian/Federal style on land that Thomas Jefferson knew as Indian Camp, part of the original Carter land grant. The Stone family owned the Morven estate for most of the 20th century. John Kluge bought it in 1988. He gave his 7,378-acre estate to the University of Virginia Foundation in 2001. This gift included the historic Morven Farm, ten other working farms, and numerous houses and buildings. The main house and other buildings have been restored and adapted for University programs. Visitors will experience the 19th century ambiance of Jefferson’s time, while also seeing the 20th century additions of the Stone family and the recent Kluge interiors by David Easton. Selected antiques, Oriental rugs and documentary reproductions complement the elegant wallpapers, carpets and fabrics that have remained at Morven.
The grounds contain a number of unusual trees, including a pair of Osage oranges, the state champion Chinese chestnut, and a lovely dove tree. The extensive gardens form a series of distinct outdoor rooms, with thousands of tulips, pansies, forget-me-nots, lilacs, wisteria, spireas, deutzia and a rose garden. Annette Hoyt Flanders renovated the garden in the 1930s. Morven was a charter property open for the first Historic Garden Week in Virginia in 1929.
This is a once a year opportunity for the public to tour the estate that is owned by the University of Virginia. We were glad we took the opportunity, the gardens were beautiful. The house just completed restoration and this is only the second year it was open.
A gigantic pot of Amaryllis was at the entrance to a cute facility that looked like it was used for board meetings and other conferences. We were looking for where the tickets were sold, but had to keep going.
What looked like gigantic slabs of rock was actually an art installation made of metal. Guess that is what happens when owned by a university - random art.
Approaching the gardens, there was fun things to see tucked among the plants.
The views were amazing. This is near Monticello, but not up on the mountain, so was a different view.
The house that we toured briefly. Was interesting to see how the restorers tried to retain the historical and functional. Since the house is used frequently, there was a mix of antique and reproduction furniture.
Entrance to the garden.
Everywhere you looked, there were more plants blooming.
A white wysteria in one of the open spaces between the garden "rooms". Each had a different theme like spring, summer, roses, hydrangaes, etc. Several like the Japanese garden are still a work in progress.
Little tiny floating flowers looked like some one had sprinkled the pond with blossoms from trees, but they were actually growing in the pond. The flowers were so thick, you could barely see the small orange fish underneath.
Lilacs and tulips.
These were fun peonies, a very different variety than usually seen.
The little cottage tucked in the edge of the garden was probably used by a caretaker in the past. Now, it was open inside for meeting space.
Some of the plants were just starting to grow, the grounds were designed for all seasons, but were spectacular in the spring. After our adventures wandering around these two amazing estates (Monticello and Morven), we made our way to a coffee shop in Charlottesville for the free Wi-Fi and a chance to relax. There are lots of fun shops in the downtown mall area - the streets were blocked off and it was an open air mall with lots of restaurants tables in the middle. A very European feel. We finished the evening with dinner at a Creperie. It was a tiny shop with just a takeout window, but the crepes were filled with yummy things! Ryan had chicken, provolone and apples. I had the chicken, swiss, asparagus option. Finished off with a dessert crepe with dark chocolate and strawberries. That's one things we'll miss about the East Coast when we go home - all the great food options!