Ben­e­fit on the knoll for a Pantry in town

Rappahannock News - - FROM PAGE ONE • EVENTS -

Jes­samine Hill, the home of Rap­pa­han­nock na­tive John An­der­son, is the grand set­ting for this year’s Food Pantry ben­e­fit din­ner on May 10, cap­ping a day of recog­ni­tion and sup­port for the com­mu­nity non­profit that serves an aver­age of 200 lo­cal fam­i­lies a month.

This year’s theme, “An Ital­ian Feast,” is meant to com­ple­ment the el­e­gance of the sur­round­ings. Jes­samine Hill was built be­tween 1825 and 1830 by James Leake Pow­ers, a pro­tégé of Thomas Jef­fer­son who also con­structed Trin­ity Epis­co­pal Church, the court­house, the clerk’s of­fice and the town hall in Wash­ing­ton. The brick manor house was orig­i­nally the home of Thomas Fletcher and his wife, Su­san Stack Fletcher. Atop a knoll in Tiger Val­ley, the house com­mands a breath­tak­ing view, with for­mal gar­dens giv­ing way to rolling pas­tures against a back­drop of the Blue Ridge.

When John An­der­son bought the property in 1997, he con­sid­ered raz­ing the struc­ture, which had fallen into dis­re­pair. Thank­fully for en­thu­si­asts of his­tory and ar­chi­tec­ture, he in­stead be­gan what he de­scribes as a “la­bor of love” — 15 years of restora­tion, re­pair, re­con­struc­tion and re­fur­bish­ment. The re­plas­ter­ing alone took three years, and it took six or seven years to fur­nish the house. The Louis XIV clock in the front hall, found in a Parisian mar­ket, was the first piece An­der­son pur­chased for Jes­samine Hill. “It was the only thing in the house for a long time!” he added.

The re­designed kitchen is crowned with a gi­ant fire­place built with stones re­cov­ered from An­der­son’s grand­fa­ther’s home. The house fea­tures a sweep­ing cen­tral stair­case, seven fire­places with their Greek Re­vival man­tel­pieces and a for­mal din­ing room with its por­trait of Thomas Fletcher, wall ta­pes­tries and hutch filled with Water­ford crys­tal and blue and white wil­low.

Tick­ets for the Food Pantry’s ben­e­fit din­ner (6 to 9 p. m.), for which lo­cal restaurant­s and winer­ies have do­nated food and li­ba­tions, are $85. Make reser­va­tions at rap­pa­han­nock­ or by call­ing Bette Mahoney at 540-675-3446.

May 10 is also Food Pantry Day in Rap­pa­han­nock, and in­cludes the pop­u­lar Pet Pa­rade, co-spon­sored by the Rap­pa­han­nock An­i­mal Wel­fare League (RAWL) and held on the lawn of the old Wash­ing­ton School ( reg­is­tra­tion be­gins at 9: 30 with a “fee” of dog or cat food), a ben­e­fit bake sale at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, food drives and ben­e­fit flower sales at River District Arts, St. Peter’s and the 211 Quicke Mart. For more in­for­ma­tion, call pantry di­rec­tor Mimi Forbes at 540-675-1177.

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