Elegant country living at historic Bellevue.
1 of 7
The home's entrance.
2 of 7
Bellevue’s front sitting room.
3 of 7
Sally and Joe Gladden
4 of 7
The upstairs landing area.
5 of 7
The master bedroom.
6 of 7
The breakfast room.
7 of 7
The patio looks out on the home’s parterre garden.
Photography by Stephen Barling.
For more stories from Virginia Living Property & Home 2016, click here.
That Bellevue began life as a dairy farm—albeit the largest in Albemarle County—is but a foil to the pedigree of the Greek Revival estate that has graced the Blue Ridge foothills for more than 150 years.
Tucked appropriately into a framework of more than 200 boxwoods and seven species of magnolias, the 9,000-square-foot-plus main house today presides over a full complement of equestrian facilities, including an indoor riding arena, show and dressage rings, an 18-stall stable, cross country course, tack and hay barns and two cottages.
Its well-being has been Joe and Sally Gladden’s focus for the last 12 years. The couple, both passionate about history and, in particular, the preservation of historic properties, discovered Bellevue after an exhaustive four-year search that led them through nearly 50 properties in the tony rolling hills that surround Charlottesville. When Joe, the former general counsel for Coca-Cola, retired in 2001, the Atlanta-based couple looked to the place where their life together had begun in 1966, when the second-year student at the University of Virginia School of Law married the Columbia, South Carolina, native Sally.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register, Bellevue caught the couple’s attention early in their search. While the home’s architect is unknown, historical records indicate that two wings were added to the original 19th-century house around 1913 by Quincy Adams Shaw, the brother-in-law of the renowned Lady Astor, a Langhorne who grew up at neighboring Mirador. The rear wing, gardens and most of the agricultural and service outbuildings date from the ownership of Colonel Herman Danforth Newcomb, a native of Kentucky, who is credited with transforming the property into one of the most important horse and cattle estates in western Albemarle County.
Warned in advance that the property, including the main house built in 1859, “needed some TLC,” the Gladdens were encouraged to find that structurally, the house was in much better shape than many they had seen. Their first two years of ownership were spent restoring the house and grounds, making careful additions that stayed within the original footprint.
Upstairs, the master bathroom was converted into two spacious closets. A former sleeping porch became the new master bath, appointed with a luxurious pedestal bathtub and marble-tiled shower. Furnished with what the couple refers to as a “mixed bag” of pieces from their homes in Atlanta and Port Carling in Ontario, Canada, augmented with furniture from Virginia (including a breakfront from Shirley Plantation purchased by the couple’s Charlottesville-based interior designer Jan Roden of And George), the home reflects Sally’s desire to stay true to the property’s agricultural roots. “It was important to me that it not be ornate,” she says. A soft, lichen-inspired blue is a constant refrain throughout the house: “People comment to us about how peaceful this house seems,” says Sally, “which I take as a great compliment.”
Outside, Sally has concentrated on the home’s parterre garden, created in 1919 in the manner popularized by famous Virginia landscape architect Charles Gillette. The garden was originally heavily populated by boxwoods, but blight later destroyed many, presenting the opportunity to create a different sort of garden. “There was more light and air,” says Sally. “It felt like you could breathe again, and we added roses, tulips and hydrangeas. It was wonderful.”
“We feel like we have been good stewards of our historic home,” says Joe, “and hope to hand off that baton to someone who will love it as much as we have.”
Bellevue, at 7285 Plank Road, Greenwood, is offered for $5,800,000 by Andrew Middleditch and Stephen McLean, McLean Faulconer Realtors. 434-295-1131.