Red Bank is an historic, 19th-century country house set on nearly 500 acres of mature woodlands, open fields and meandering trails, all contained within a very private, 2 ½ mile-long horseshoe bend of the Rivanna River. The approach to the house, which sits at the front of the property, is along an unassuming drive lined with trees on one side and picturesque three-board white fencing on the other. At night, sitting on the front porch, you can hear the waters of the scenic Rivanna, known locally as Mr. Jefferson’s river, tumbling over the eroded foundations of an old dam at the property’s edge over a mile away.
The stately home dates back to the mid- to late-19th century and contains both pre- and post-Civil War architectural elements. It is a frame house with two stories and an English basement. The double-story, Greek Revival front porch provides a wide and open welcome beneath the hipped roof with Buckingham slate and Tuscan eaves. Behind the elegant double front doors await many original features that have survived the passage of time, including heart-pine floors, a walnut and cherry staircase, window sashes, moldings, and six fireplaces. On each side of the spacious foyer is a well-proportioned room, 18’ square with 10’ ceilings. To the left is the elegant dining room with its grand fireplace that sets the tone for a merry feast. To the right is the living room with ample seating space and windows that overlook the side patio below and impressive boxwood hedges beyond. To the rear, the eat-in kitchen is part of a 1980s addition that gives the historic home the space for modern conveniences and amenities. An adjoining butler’s pantry connects to the dining room, providing easy access to the kitchen while entertaining. The kitchen also has a doorway onto the front hall, just a step away from the back patio. Finally, just off the rear of the gracious front hall, a small den, with fireplace, and a conveniently located half bath complete the first story rooms.
As you prepare to ascend to the second floor, you will observe the original carved walnut and cherry staircase, its historic detail preserved, and note the generous width of the stairs. On the second story, the 8’ ceilings make for a cozier atmosphere, yet the rooms are still spacious. Two of the three upstairs bedrooms have fireplaces. The master bedroom contains a large walk-in closet, dressing area, sitting area, and an en suite bathroom. The master bath—another part of the 1980s addition—is complete with a double vanity and a large tub with corner windows overlooking verdant fields and trees. The other two bedrooms share a full bathroom. From the wide center hallway, a set of double doors leads out to the second story porch.
Below the main staircase is the entry to the English basement, which contains another two bedrooms (one with a fireplace with a gas log feature), a full bathroom, a utility room, and a mudroom with access to the side patio. The HVAC utilities (propane gas furnace, air handlers, and heat pumps) have all been replaced or installed within the last two to eight years. In total, the home has an estimated 4500 square feet.
New and old boxwoods dominate the attractive landscaping around the house, which includes two brick and slate patios. Each patio looks out on the surrounding fields as well as a maze-like configuration of tall, century-old boxwoods in four 100-foot long rows, specimens in size and number to rival perhaps any in Central Virginia. Two of these boxwood rows have grown toward each other at the top, creating a magical enclosed walkway with a lush canopy overhead.
Of the nearly 500 acres that make up Red Bank, about 424 acres are subject to a conservation easement that permits up to four subdivisions. This extremely private tract of land has a varied topography of rolling hills and dales, with high grounds along a center spine and low grounds adjacent to the river. Approximately 60 acres are in open fields with the balance in forest. There is a wide variety of soft and hardwoods, including 35 acres of loblolly pines, 100 acres of Virginia pine, and extensive stands of mature oak and tulip poplar. A splash of dogwood and redbud lend beautiful color in this bucolic setting. Total timber value is estimated at $400,000 to $500,000. A timber and resources management plan prepared by the county forester in 2011 notes the possibility – indeed, advisability -- of small-scale timber harvesting (and accompanying income), all the while managing the property principally for recreational, aesthetic, hunting, and wildlife objectives, according to the owner’s personal goals and preferences. About 60 adjacent acres purchased in 2015 lie outside of the easement with road frontage on Red Bank Lane. And a pole shed provides 3600 square feet of storage for hay and equipment.
Red Bank is located at a fortuitous spot. Not only is it equidistant from Charlottesville and Richmond, it also sits among a cluster of substantial conservation easements in Fluvanna County, including that of Chatham Plantation, which lies just across the river. The current owner has cared for the land for over 25 years and created about 5-7 miles of scenic trails that criss-cross the property but inevitably lead down to and continue along the property’s extensive river frontage. If you are someone who is interested in being a steward of the land and preserving architectural history in an environment of privacy and tranquility, Red Bank is a must-see.
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Gayle Harvey Real Estate, Inc. is a Charlottesville Va real estate broker that strictly abides by the U.S. and Virginia Fair Housing laws.