Category » About Chester
In the late 1800s and 1900s, Chester went through numerous remodels and renovations, bringing it closer and closer to the beautiful home it is today!
In 1880, the first indoor plumbing came to Chester as the north addition was built on the first floor. We do not know the location of the original outhouse, but are sure that this was a welcome change. In 1900, a caretaker’s cottage was built next door and remains to this day. In 1910, closets were added. Prior to this time, trunks and armoires would have been used to store clothing. In 1915, a second floor was built on top of the 1880 addition. During the 1920s, a small basement was dug, presumably for food storage.
In the 1930s, four porches were added on the north, south, east, and west sides of the house, adding fluted Doric columns and Greek Revival balustrades to the west façade and Tuscan columns to the north and south ends of the house. These additions brought an elegance that had not existed before. A total of eight woodburning chimneys were also installed over the years, all of which are still working today.
Water was originally supplied by a well underneath the shady, screened east porch. This well has been capped for some time now, and Chester uses water for city sources and a well in the front yard. There are likely many archaeological treasures and clues to be found in the original well. Hot water was brought to the house by great-grandparents of current Scottsville residents. Many clues as to the evolution of Chester are found during renovations, when you can see names, and dates signed onto the beams and infrastructure of the house.
In 1954, Harold and Ruby Parr purchased the house, and in turn, sold it to Gordon Anderson and Dick Schaffer in 1985. After an extensive kitchen renovation and refurbishing of the house, it was opened for the first time as a bed & breakfast. In 1995, Anderson and Schaffer sold the property and the business to us, and we’ve been here ever since.
As the current caretakers of this amazing piece of history, we have lovingly maintained its grace and elegance, while adding our own touches, including an expansion of the east back porch, where we enjoy birdwatching and morning coffee, and the addition of an ornamental fish pond and patio off of the north porch. The house was fully renovated in 1995 to ensure that each of our rooms were modernized and had private baths, and we reopened for business in 1996. Over the last 26 years, we have witnessed so many occasions in this home—from graduations, reunions and weddings to memorials, company dinners, and romantic retreats.
The grounds still house most of the original plant specimens from the 1800s. The oak tree in the front yard—one of the largest in the state—predates the home itself. Chester is home to the second largest holly tree on record in the state. Our beautiful white pine held the state record for largest tree until it came down several years ago. In its honor, we had the tree milled into lumber and replanked the kitchen floor with it, so it remains with us—just in a different way.
Despite its colorful history, we have never seen any ghosts at Chester, so we invite you to come and visit without trepidation. Simply enjoy the many details and beauty that make this one of the grandest homes and properties in central Virginia.
Everyone who has visited Chester has left their imprint on its history, and it is our hope that Chester has left an imprint on them as well. We hope that you will join us in continuing to make history here.
With the Chester established by Joseph C. Wright, the home and grounds that we know and love today began to take shape throughout the 1840s.
Mr. Wright began to plant many specimens of trees and shrubs throughout the property over the next several decades, most of which remain on the arboretum grounds today. As was fitting of his British heritage, he introduced stands of English boxwood, which grow very slowly (less than an inch each year).
These boughs are in great demand during the holiday season and are still trimmed each year by distributors who then send Chester boxwood off to florists throughout the country.
In 1851, Mr. Wright added a stable and sold Chester to John H. Coleman, but continued to live there as a caretaker. Coleman sold the property in 1853 to George Walton Dillard for $2,375. The price of sale continued to fluctuate and the property changed hands several times, actually once moving from the seller to the buyer and back again. In total, the Dillard family lived on the property for over 100 years.
The Dillards used the house as a country retreat from their lives in Richmond. During their time at Chester, many additions and changes were made to the home and grounds. During the early years of the Civil War, Chester was known as one of the “party houses” in a town surging with prosperity. There were picnics, dinner parties, quilting bees, teas, dances, and even ice skating on the pond that still remains on the property.
In 1865, Scottsville saw the full brunt of the Civil War. Sheridan and Union troops raided the town while Major Hill was occupying Chester, recovering from an amputated arm. Colonel George Custer and Sheridan came to visit and decided not to arrest who they thought was a “dying man.” They left Chester alone, Major Hill recovered, and the house remained unscathed.
It is often said that owners of historic homes are simply caretakers of its past and present, keeping it alive for those who come in the future. At the historic Chester Inn, we are so honored and privileged to have been the caretakers of this majestic house and property for 26 years! We are delighted to share that this year marks the 170th anniversary of Chester’s creation. Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing photos and interesting facts about our historic Virginia home here and on Facebook. To provide those of you with a keen interest information about how this home has evolved since the first board was laid in 1847.
The first records we have of Chester shows the arboretum grounds that the historic home sits on were owned by John Scott, whom you might notice shares the same name as the town we live in and was, fittingly, the founder of Scottsville, Virginia. James K. Polk was the current President of the United States, and Scottsville was prospering on the busy horseshoe bend of the James River, which was the main conduit of commerce and travel through central Virginia. In 1830, he sold the property for $325 (about $8,250 in today’s dollar) and it was sold again in 1831 for an unspecified amount. At this time, there was no building on the property yet.
After an 1841 private sale, it was sold at public auction after payments had not been kept up. Joseph C. Wright arrived in town during this period from Chester, England and purchased the property. A landscape architect by trade, he built the original structure right after Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello was finished, using many of the same construction methods.
The original house had two stories and was three bays wide. Built in the popular Greek Revival style, the foundation was propped on large boulders that were already on the land. Hand-hewn oak beams from trees on the property still support the original structure. The original stairs, banisters and molded handrails built by Joseph Wright remain to this day, standing as an example of the quality of these construction methods.
The home was finished in weatherboard of heart pine, which is known for producing a tremendous amount of resin. Much of this resin remains today, keeping paint from adhering to certain parts of the exterior, despite our best attempts to paint!
The pitched roof was laid in an intricate fish scale design made with slate from neighboring Buckingham County in a raised manner to promote air circulation within the home and to keep the slate dry. Two single chimneys adorned the house and provided heat for both cooking and comfort during the winters.
Stay posted for the next few weeks as we continue to discover the history behind Chester Bed and Breakfast in Scottsville, Va!
Looking for a romantic Virginia bed and breakfast getaway to relieve your cabin fever? Visit Chester Bed and Breakfast in Scottsville and discover why it is the perfect ‘Spring Break’ for any single, couple or family looking for a weekend getaway or extended stay near Charlottesville.
Discover carefully curated landscaping that showcases spring’s natural beauty. Enjoy the outdoors from our historic bed and breakfast’s porch with your morning coffee, take a walk around the property, have a picnic on the lawn, or read a book by the koi pond. Chester abounds in beautiful landscaping to enjoy, while our location outside of Charlottesville offers a secluded and quite feeling, while being right beside downtown Scottsville, and only 20 minutes from all Charlottesville has to offer.
Discover spring events and activities in the surrounding area. Scottsville is the ideal location for any spring activity, including hiking, biking, fishing, and canoeing and kayaking! Visit James River Reeling and Rafting just down the road for tubing trips and kayak rentals. Additionally, check out our Plan Your Stay page for links and resourced to all sorts of local events and activities.
Discover spring specials and planned activities. Chester Bed and Breakfast regularly offers specials and can help you plan your perfect getaway. View our seasonal Specials to see what is happening at Chester this spring, or call us to discuss specially planned dining or having wine delivered to your room for an evening beside your own cozy fireplace. We can also help you plan wine tours to the surrounding wine country, suggest local hiking trips, and much more!
A Virginian spring has so much to offer, and Chester Bed and Breakfast helps you take advantage of it all conveniently and easily. From wineries to hiking to kayaking on the James, don’t forget to stay at Chester when planning your next Charlottesville spring getaway!
There’s something about coming “home” for the holidays. It starts with the journey…whether it takes an hour or ten is irrelevant. There is preparation and planning and packing, and the hurried finishing of tasks that must be completed before you can leave. Then, of course, there’s the traffic and the weather that, while annoying, seem to matter less because you are looking forward to the destination.
Never mind where you’re headed–the home you grew up in, a place where good friends and family come together, or a new place that you’ve picked out just for yourself for a few short days–you finally arrive.
With all of the preparation behind you, you can finally find the space to take in and appreciate all things–the small and the large. A favorite tree. A warm fireplace. A special view. A glass of wine with your partner. A visit with an old friend. A walk in the woods with your mother. Reminiscing about holidays past with your siblings. Or maybe it’s simply the blissful sound of silence as you turn to the first page of a good book and enjoy a cup of hot tea.
Here at Chester, we’ve welcomed hundreds of guests into our home each year, with the goal of making you feel like it’s yours as well. Wherever you find your home this Thanksgiving, we here at Chester send our very best wishes for a peaceful journey, a grateful heart, and the knowledge that “home” is just as much a state of mind as a place to visit.
Welcoming wreathes at the main entrance
A festive welcome to the house
For the past twenty years, we’ve been entrusted with preserving the body and spirit of this wonderful home, built in 1847 in classic Greek Revival style. And there’s no better time to honor the beauty and history of this house than the holidays. We’ve done many different things over the years, from following the historic Williamsburg style of fresh fruit towers over the doors to decking the bannisters with wreathes, but when it comes right down to it, what makes this house so beautiful around the holidays is a nature-inspired approach that brings the outside in, and sends a warm and inviting glow back into the world during the darkest time of year.
English boxwood is a prized possession among the world’s best florists, and we’re lucky enough to have stands of it right outside the front door. Growing at only an inch a year, we actually have wholesaler florists who come and maintain them for us each year in exchange for what they trim! Luckily, there’s plenty to go around! Simple wreathes adorn the driveway pillars and front doors, and candlelit windows provide a beautiful winter evening scene.
200 bird ornaments and nests adorn the tree.
Our Fraser Fir
Those of you who have seen our Christmas tree know that, each year, we select the most beautiful Fraser Fir we can find and fill it with nearly 200 bird ornaments, the majority of which are authentic reproductions of what we see in nature, as well as a collection of nests from around the world. Complemented by classic ornaments that go back several generations, our share of children’s and grandchildren’s creations from years past, and the china doll angel that presides over the season, we think our tree is a sight to behold.
We also have a host of other interesting collections, from our Hummel crèche to our carolers and nutcrackers. All of them come with family history or stories. Along with our own traditions, many friends and neighbors bring their own touches to share with us, from a Kentucky iron horse on the front porch to handcrafted wreathes from the local commune. It is truly our privilege to add to the history and story that is this glorious and historic home, Chester. We wish you all a happy, peaceful, and joyous holiday season and look forward to seeing you soon!
Byer carolers on the piano
Nutcrackers on the mantel
Hummel figurines in the dining room
Hand-crafted bay leaf wreath
Poinsettias from Kingsland Greenhouse
Those of you who have stayed at Chester Bed & Breakfast know that we sit on arboretum land just outside of Charlottesville, where a wide range of flora and fauna live happily. But it’s not just our grounds that provide a haven. Twice a year, we are visited by endangered migrating chimney swifts, as they look for safe places to build their nests and lay their eggs in … you guessed it … chimneys!
Flocks of migrating chimney swifts are common sights in the summer and early fall as they head to warmer climates in South America. Their silhouette has been aptly described as a “flying cigar.” These delicate birds spend almost their entire lives airborne. Unable to perch when they land, they cling to vertical walls in hollow trees, caves, and chimneys while resting. The swift population has declined sharply as chimneys fall into disuse in North America. Not every chimney works well as a safe haven for swifts—only well-maintained ones will do. While we don’t provide down comforters or complimentary wine for our swifts, we do offer them a luxurious chimney during their brief stay!
Swifts build beautiful and strong nests, adhered to chimney walls by their glue-like saliva. Following the migration season, we save one or two of the most beautiful ones for our Christmas tree, which now boasts over 20 nests from around the world and a collection of over 200 birds (no real ones—we can’t get them to sit still for long enough!).
Rest assured that the swifts don’t come inside of the house … only down into the chimneys where you might hear a bit of chirping during the night. If you’re lucky, you’ll see them arriving just before dusk, as they circle the chimneys in a beautiful funnel pattern. We’re delighted to be a brief respite for them on their journey, and hope you enjoy their beauty as much as we do!
If you’ve been to visit over the last few months, you’ll notice that we have welcomed a new four-legged friend to our family. Actually, she’s a three-legged friend, but you’d never know it from the way she runs!
Trixie is a purebred Brussels Griffon, a breed originally developed to keep rats away on the wharves in Belgium. From what we’ve been able to learn, she was likely born with a deformed front leg, and was then hit by a car, losing the leg completely. She was surrendered by her first family to a high-kill shelter, and amazingly made her way through the shelter system to Green Dogs Unleashed (www.greendogsunleashed.com). This incredible organization specializes in rescuing special needs animals, and in many cases, training them to work with special needs humans! Trixie was lucky to get there, and we were lucky to find her.
We fell in love with her spirit and spunk, and picked the name Trixie for its fitting meaning: voyager through life and bringer of joy. She certainly has done much of both, despite the fact that she is only two or three.
Trixie is settling in here at Chester, and is taking her role as greeter very seriously. She has a love/hate relationship with our resident cat, Miss D, but we suspect they’ll work it out on their own, as most siblings do.
Once she settles a bit more, we think she’d like to give back to the people who helped her find a new life. We’ll both be going for therapy training so that we can work with children, war veterans, the elderly, and anyone who needs a bit of special love.
Come and see us soon–Trixie is waiting to welcome you!
Those of you who have visited Chester during the holiday season know that our Christmas tree is decorated mainly with birds. At our “taking-down-Christmas-census” today, we counted over 200 birds–from doves and wrens to the more flamboyant flamingos and peacocks! We’ve been collecting for some 45 years now, so as you can imagine, there’s quite a variety.
And what would a tree be without a few nests? As we head into the deep of winter, we thought we’d remind you that spring is just around the corner. Here at Chester, an arboretum and certified National Wildlife Federation habitat), we provide a home to many birds as they bring little ones into the world. We often have the privilege of finding their nests, which we gently place onto our Christmas tree each year. We do our best to identify them (some of our feathered friends are better builders than others) and thought you’d enjoy seeing some of them here.Below, you’ll find the nests of an African weaver bird, wren, cardinal, Carolina wren, chimney swift, mockingbird, and the red-eyed vireo.
Happy New Year from Chester!
It’s hard to believe another year has flown by, but here we are. With turkey leftovers in the fridge, it’s time to turn our attention to decorating Chester inside and out in a holiday style that befits this grand old house. Each year, the act of hanging wreaths and roping and adorning the entrances has such a feeling of tradition … and makes us think about past generations who were preparing Chester for the holidays in the mid-1800s.
We don’t normally adorn our gardening tools with wreaths, but they make a wonderful staging place for our preparations! As an arboretum property, we have lots of natural materials at our fingertips to create some beautiful things.
We just picked our bay laurel and wove gorgeous and fragrant wreaths that will last all winter long (and provide some wonderful seasoning for stews in this cold weather!). Chester is home to a majestic stand of English boxwood, which is sought after by the florist industry this time of year. You might not know that this greenery is rather rare; it only grows an inch or two a hear. A floral wholesaler comes each year and prunes the stands for us in exchange for the trimmings.
The nine-foot Frasier Fir is also staged in the garage, and will soon grace the living room. As a newly certified member of the National Wildlife Federation, we’re excited to send in a photo once our tree is decorated! With over 35 natural nests collected from as close as our backyard and as far as Africa, and 150 bird ornaments, we’re willing to bet you’ve never seen a Christmas tree like this one.
Chester is open, the fires are roaring, and we’re in the holiday spirit. Come and enjoy a toasty and warm stay with us!