Rolling drive? Check. Board fencing? Check. You’ve got your mature oaks and boxwoods, your brick façade, your white columns. And, naturally, there is a historical connection to a towering figure of early American history (Patrick “Give Me Liberty” Henry).
It doesn’t get much more classic than Oak Grove, a 131-acre estate outside Scottsville. Visiting it would be an excellent primer for an out-of-stater who wanted to quickly soak up the Virginia vibe. Unlike Monticello, it isn’t eccentric; unlike Montpelier, it lacks major historical significance. But it shares with those two presidential homes a sense of dignity and specialness.
The front door delivers you to a spacious, sunlit central hall, where the details will invite you to pause. There are wooden wall panels, elaborate crown molding and wide thresholds between rooms. It’s funky in the universal old-house way, but it’s also high-quality in a way that many are not.
The house is very symmetrical: The spacious parlor on one side mirrors the dining room on the other, and each has a fireplace on its far wall. Above these, a pair of bedrooms share the same chunky proportions and the same window placement. From the rear extends a seamless addition, making the house a T shape, with an office on the first floor and a bedroom on the second.
Nope, we haven’t mentioned the kitchen yet—because it’s in the basement. And yes, that’s kind of odd. Travel down to a terracotta tile floor, and the kitchen lies to your right.
Here again, it’s abundantly clear that you’re not in a new house, because no contemporary builder would put the kitchen down here, a floor away from the dining room; nor would they likely put it on the northwest side of the house. The danger is that the room might feel cavelike, especially on a dark winter morning when you’re standing at the sink, looking out a ground-level window.
But, if this is a cave, it’s a mighty pleasant one. A low ceiling has exposed joists. A brick fireplace brightens the mood even without an actual fire. In the current arrangement, a big kitchen table occupies the middle of the room, but one could slide that toward the rear to add more workspace in the form of an island.
There’s nothing trendy about this kitchen (the backsplash tiles feature barnyard animals in a folk art style) but it’s a good place to cook something simple and then cozy up around the table. And if you really couldn’t take being in the basement, you could perhaps swap the locations of the kitchen and the first-floor office. Or, um, hire a cook.
The kitchen opens onto a brick patio, where big boxwoods and a mature herb/perennial garden provide a welcome touch. From here, you’ll wander around back to survey a broad, rolling expanse of lawn, fenced fields and a curtain of woods downhill from the house. It’s not visible from this spot, but we’re told there’s also a creek on the property, which is about half forested.
All this land is inspiring. It makes you want to roam, plant things, host weddings, set up badminton nets. In that spirit, someone has put in some young oaks behind the house and installed a pool down the hill, and there’s still tons of space to play with.
So, at nearly a million and a half, what are we paying for here? One, that sense of raw possibility. Two, the prestige and patina of a real antebellum estate. Three, a very nice but not incredibly convenient house.
We are not paying for giant bathrooms, induction cooktops or other millennial must-haves. This is rural, ultra-traditional and totally real.
Address: 91 Hardware Rd., Scottsville
Year built: Approximately 1854
Square footage (finished): 3,984
Extras: Pool, outbuildings
List price: $1.45 million