Belle Grove Plantation Announces the Beverley B. Shoemaker Welcome Center
1918 Barn to be restored to include new exhibits, museum shop, event space and visitor amenities
On May 7, Belle Grove Plantation announced a $1.1 million gift from The Shoemaker Family Charitable Trust given for an innovative restoration of Belle Grove Plantation’s 1918 Bank Barn. In addition to preserving this 100-year old structure, the renovation will create spaces for the Museum Shop, exhibits, events, and visitor amenities.
Mrs. Beverley Bowman Shoemaker serves as Trustee of The Shoemaker Family Charitable Trust and was a member of the Belle Grove Board of Directors from 2012 to 2017. As chair of the Building and Grounds Committee, she became well-acquainted with the preservation needs of the site’s historic buildings and for additional space and facilities to serve visitors. In honor of this tremendous act of generosity for the barn restoration project, as well as her previous significant support of other preservation projects at Belle Grove, the Board of Directors will dedicate the renovated structure as the Beverley B. Shoemaker Welcome Center.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THE BARN?
The 1918 Bank Barn is timber-framed, with an adjacent concrete silo located northwest of the Belle Grove Manor House. It was constructed by J. Herbert Brumback. The Brumback family owned Belle Grove from 1907 to 1929 and farmed the land; for a time, they operated an inn in the Belle Grove Manor House. The Evening Star of Winchester reported on January 25, 1917, “Mr. Brumback will soon begin clearing timber for a new barn” and it was completed in 1918. In 1929, the Brumbacks sold Belle Grove to frequent inn guest, Francis Hunnewell of Wellesley, Massachusetts who continued their efforts to preserve the Manor House. Mr. Hunnewell bequeathed Belle Grove to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1964; it opened as a museum in 1967. While Belle Grove is still actively farmed today by Mr. Brumback’s grandson, the 1918 Barn no longer serves an agricultural function. There is another barn in the Belle Grove complex that was built in the 1930s, which continues to be used for hay and equipment storage.
WHAT WILL THE RENOVATION OF THE BARN INCLUDE?
This is the most extensive infrastructure improvement since Belle Grove’s founding as a museum 50 years ago. The lower level that is built into a hillside, or bank, will be a climate-controlled finished space accommodating a gift shop, ticket desk, exhibits, restrooms, vending machines, and a media room. A lift and staircase will go to a lightly restored upper level that will be used seasonally for special events, as new venue for community gatherings, and for weddings or other celebrations. It will include a kitchen designed for caterers to hold and serve food. New exhibits in the Welcome Center will present the history of the building and Belle Grove’s role in Shenandoah Valley agriculture. In addition, the project will provide security and technology upgrades to the entire Belle Grove complex.
WHEN WILL THE PROJECT TAKE PLACE?
The project will begin on May 14, 2018 and will be completed by spring 2019.
HOW WILL THIS CHANGE THE BARN?
Planning the restoration of the 1918 Bank Barn to serve Belle Grove’s visitors has been in done in consultation with preservation and history professionals, community members, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (owner of the property). Architect Fred Andreae of Frederick Andreae Architects in Front Royal and past Chair of Belle Grove designed the Welcome Center to preserve the “barn-ness” of the structure. The heavy oak timbers, sliding doors, slatted openings, red painted siding, gambrel roof, and other iconic features will be retained and celebrated. The project will preserve the barn’s historic character and original materials, structural components, and the feel of a working barn, while modernizing it. This ethic for the project is one reason that the upper level will be a seasonally used space. To insulate the walls and provide heating and cooling into the large space would have been too radical a change; moreover, the excessive energy use would not be a prudent.
WILL ADDITIONAL FUNDRAISING FOR THE PROJECT BE NEEDED?
The $1.1 million gift will substantially fund the renovation and related infrastructure upgrades. Some elements of the project will require additional funds. There are opportunities for other donors to join The Shoemaker Family Charitable Trust in transforming operations and outreach at Belle Grove. To discuss donation opportunities, please contact Executive Director Kristen Laise at email@example.com or 540-869-2028. Donations may be made online at http://www.bellegrove.org/donate or by mail to Belle Grove Inc., P.O. Box 537, Middletown, VA 22645.
WHO IS WORKING ON THE PROJECT?
The Architect is Frederick Andreae AIA, Frederick Andreae Architects, Front Royal, Virginia. KEE Construction Services, Inc. of Winchester, Virginia won a competitive bidding process to be the general contractor. The structural engineer is John Matteo, 1200 Architectural Engineers PLLC of Alexandria, Virginia. The Plumbing Electrical and Mechanical Engineer is Michael Good of MEI Engineering of Harrisonburg, Virginia. The consulting architect is Ashley R. Wilson, AIA, Graham Gund Architect at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C.
WHAT IS A “WELCOME CENTER”?
The Beverley B. Shoemaker Welcome Center will create a new way to welcome visitors to Belle Grove. After entering the parking lot, visitors will come into the Museum Shop to purchase admission and be oriented to the entire site. The term “welcome” also encompasses how the restored building will be used as a community gathering space. It also symbolizes Belle Grove’s commitment to preserve and interpret the site’s rich and diverse history.
DIDN’T BELLE GROVE JUST RESTORE THE BARN?
In the recent decades, several projects funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation have stabilized the 1918 Barn including repairing and repainting the roof, fixing siding, and painting it in brilliant red. In 2016, Mr. Andreae donated substantial funds and oversaw an initial phase of construction on the upper level to install new flooring, railings, interior and exterior lighting, and ceiling fans. The doors were adapted to meet code and the electrical system was upgraded. This allowed the barn to begin to be used immediately as an event space. Belle Grove’s leadership and supporters immediately recognized the potential of the entire project and spearheaded efforts to make the full vision for the Welcome Center a reality.
WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THE PLACE WHERE THE MUSEUM SHOP IS NOW?
By moving visitor ticketing and the Museum Shop to the Barn, the lower level of the mansion can be used for interpretive exhibits.
WHAT IS BELLE GROVE?
Belle Grove Plantation is located at 336 Belle Grove Road just south of Middletown, Virginia. It was established by Major Isaac Hite Jr., grandson of one of the first German settlers in the region, Jost Hite. In 1864, the property was at the epicenter of the Civil War Battle of Cedar Creek and served as the headquarters of Union General Philip Sheridan. Since 1967, this site has operated as a 283-acre farm and historic house museum with its 1797 Manor House, agricultural outbuildings and barns, the plantation office and store, slave cemetery, archaeological sites, historic garden, and grounds open to the public. Belle Grove Plantation is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is operated by the non-profit organization Belle Grove, Inc., which also owns Fort Bowman the 18th century era property of George and Mary Elizabeth (Hite) Bowman. Belle Grove Inc. and the National Trust are partners in Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park. More information is available at http://www.bellegrove.org or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, 540-869-2028.
Beverley B. Shoemaker Welcome Center
Project Architect: Frederick Andreae Architects, Front Royal, VA
Construction: KEE Construction Services, Inc., Winchester, VA
Barn Restoration Kick Off, May 7, 2018
Danny McKee, President, KEE Construction Services
Fred Andreae, Fred Andreae Architects
Kristen Laise, Executive Director, Belle Grove
Bevereley B. Shoemaker, Shoemaker Family Charitable Trust
Elizabeth McClung, Past President, Belle Grove
Renderings by W. Scott Guerin
Visitor Entrance into Museum Shop
Lower Level Hallway Exhibits
Upper Level Event Space
Upper Level Event Space