Our House

GFH Bed and Breakfast House Details

drive up our country lane and you step back in time. GFH Bed and Breakfast Exterior FrontGracefield Hall™ is a historically accurate representation of a colonial Chesapeake plantation house as it would have been built by a colonial “middling” farmer. A middling farmer would have been a landowner able to vote but just below the two percent gentry ruling class. In the 18th century, plantations were remote and many miles apart; roads were bad and impassable most of the year. Travelers would have been invited to spend the night, refresh, and enjoy a hearty breakfast before continuing their journey. We offer the same friendliness and hospitality today.

The house would have been the second house on the property, replacing a rudimentary cabin as the farmer became more prosperous.

OH - GFH Bed and Breakfast FoyerA double pile (two rooms deep), single bay with side passage (hall) and gambrel roof house would have been built with a separate kitchen building. On the first floor, the front room would have been a day room, called the hall, where meals were eaten and the wife and any older daughters would have spun, woven, and made clothes and other items. The back room on the first floor would have been the chamber (bedroom) for the farmer and his wife and any infants. Children and any visitors would have slept in the two chambers above.

Later, as the farmer continued to prosper he would have filled in the space between the house and kitchen to accommodate a growing family and provide space for entertaining.

Our research on colonial Virginia architecture and furnishings began about 30 years ago and continued through construction. No detail was too small or insignificant to not be included in the design. Various floor plans and elevations were studied and we settled on a colonial design with a classic Virginia floor plan that showed modifications and expansion over the years.

For more pictures and details of our home, click the links below.

our house looks as described above and GFH Bed and Breakfast Rear Exteriorhas roof framing for a true gambrel roof. Modern gambrel roof houses today have the roof line kicked out beyond the exterior walls to make it look like a gambrel roof house. Some of the exterior details include beaded weatherboard siding with hand-forged rose-head siding nails, corner boards, dentils under the roof eaves, 9 over 9 double hung windows (6 over 6 on the kitchen wing), an English basement with hand-molded bricks in the English bond pattern, and bars over the basement windows. Three chimneys on the house and a chimney on the Carriage House provide authentic colonial details.

GFH Bed and Breakfast AddonAs you approach the front of the house, you will notice a vertical corner board to the right of the front porch door. This corner board is where the original house ended before the space between the house and kitchen was filled in. The seam continues down through the brick on the foundation wall.

Step back and notice that one side of the house is wider than the other side. The space between the original house and the kitchen is wider than the width of the original house to the side of the passage. The siding and foundation bricks on the kitchen do not match up horizontally with the siding and bricks on the house as would have happened when the space between the house and kitchen was filled in.

OH - GFH Bed and Breakfast Rear PorchYou will also notice there appears to be no exterior lighting. A small recessed fixture in the ceiling of the front porch roof illuminates the porch for guests. Sandstone steps on the porches would have had to be imported from England; today they are made domestically.

A large covered back porch provides a place to sit outside for cooling breezes. The ceiling is painted Gullah blue or haint blue (a haint is a spirit of the dead) and was used primarily on the outer islands of South Carolina. It was believed the spirits would be fooled, thinking the ceiling was the sky, and fly through the ceiling instead of entering the house. Eventually, that color for porch ceilings, which was thought to ward off insects and evil spirits, was brought to Virginia.

guests were received into the passage. GFH Bed and Breakfast FoyerDepending on their status, they would remain there or enter the parlor, or even the dining room if invited for a meal.

Now enter the house, stand on the heart pine flooring which is throughout the house, and you will see a center passage with the back door under a transom window visible at the rear. Front and back doors could be opened in the summer and provided a nice breeze through the house. Stairs and a landing lead to the second floor.

GFH Bed and Breakfast Owners PortraitsClose the door with the large brass box lock. A double row transom window over the front door provides light in the passage. A portrait of the owners is on the wall opposite the stairs and is lighted by adjacent sconces. Notice that wall sconces are used for lighting throughout the house. There are no chandeliers, which were rarely used in colonial Virginia houses. All doors are hung with H-L and H hinges.

Box locks are mounted on the surface of the paneled doors. Brass hardwareOH - GFH Bed and Breakfast Door Lock Detail on the front and back doors were used to signify wealth and impress guests. In the corner by the front door are tin candle lanterns used to light the front steps or the back sidewalk. Ceilings on the first floor are 10 feet high to allow heat to rise and keep the rooms cooler.

There is a hierarchy to trim and it is designed to impress. OH - GFH Bed and Breakfast Dining RoomBecause some guests would be ushered into the parlor and dining room, door trim in these two rooms and the passage is wider than in other rooms in the house. While the chair rail and a three-piece crown moulding trim the passage, the parlor and dining room are trimmed with wainscoting, chair rail, and extensive four-piece crown moulding. See if you can spot the difference between the crown moulding in the parlor and dining room.

To the left is the parlor with a small wood burning fireplace in OH - GFH Bed and Breakfast Parlor 2the corner with a custom mantle and slate surround. It is built with a square early colonial firebox using hand-molded bricks. All the trim is painted bright green. Vibrant colors were used to brighten a room on overcast days or during the evening. There are no drapes on the windows; just Venetian blinds, which are historically accurate. Framed prints are appropriate but the furnishings, especially a sofa, are more than an 18th century house would have had. Guests would have been seated on chairs brought over from the dining room. But here, modern comforts prevail. A large mirror with adjacent sconces helps light the room. Mirrors were used mostly to reflect light back into the room.

OH - GFH Bed and Breakfast Dining Room 2On the right is the dining room, with trim painted bright red. A large built-in corner cabinet contains Wedgewood Queens Ware dishes for display and storage. This room also has an early colonial wood burning fireplace with a custom mantle built with imported Delft tiles on the surround. Each tile has a different design. A large Delft charger hangs over the fireplace, flanked by two brass candle wall sconces. Swags on the windows, along with the Venetian blinds are appropriate for the period. A server at the other end of the dining room is accurate to the period, as is the gate-leg table at rest (folded) under the large mirror on the exterior wall.

The first floor bedroom is in the room behind the parlor.OH - GFH Bed and Breakfast Blue Room Since it is a primary guest room, it is trimmed with chair rail and a single-piece crown moulding. The trim is painted a bright blue; a minor color in the hierarchy of important 18th century colors as would be fitting for a room not seen by most guests. A pencil post bed with tester frame and a clothes press furnish the room with Venetian blinds on the windows. The bed is placed in front of a window as would have been done in the 18th century since windows were placed to satisfy the exterior appearance.