Permit sought for guesthousePublished 10:12pm Tuesday, February 11, 2014
When Richard and Janet Goldbach purchased “the other half” of their Chuckatuck Creek property in about 2009, they set out to simply fix up the historic farmhouse resting on it.
The couple — he a retired CEO of Norfolk shipyard Metro Machine Corporation, she a retired magician — bought the first portion of Cherry Grove Plantation in about 2006.
One reaches the modern home the couple resides in by driving past the two-story farmhouse, complete with a root cellar, which they’ve transformed into a home theater.
“We didn’t have any goal in mind when we started it,” Goldbach said. “That came after the fact.”
What came after was renting out the carefully restored and opulently appointed farmhouse, which sleeps 14 people, and the accompanying barn that’s been converted into game rooms.
The project was finished in 2012 after two years, Goldbach said. The basic rental package advertised for $1,999 per week includes use of the 142-acre grounds, five-bedroom farmhouse, swimming pool, and game rooms with a billiards table, table tennis, spa and 1850s Chinese bridal bed.
After learning some guests had been holding events such as wedding receptions at Cherry Grove, Goldbach said, Suffolk officials said the Goldbachs would have to get a conditional use permit to continue renting the facility for special events.
The property is zoned in the Rural Estate district, and it’s listed as part of a Rural Agricultural Conservation Area under the 2026 Comprehensive Plan, according to a public notice for the Feb. 18 Planning Commission meeting, where the application is scheduled for a hearing.
Goldbach, who plans to speak at the meeting, thinks the city’s request has something to do with the publicity surrounding a fundraiser he let a local naturalist group hold at the plantation. “That’s when the city came and said, ‘We need to have a permit for that,’” he said.
“We got taken by surprise. But I guess so has the city — they have never seen anything like this.”
The guestbook shows folks from all around America have rented Cherry Grove. “We have had some people come from Europe,” Goldbach said.
“My wife and I have traveled all over the world, and we haven’t seen anything like it.”
The farmhouse, lined in places — including the kitchen — with heart of pine paneling salvaged from its exterior, is full of antiques, many of them imported from Europe by the Goldbachs, who lived in London for a stint.
Specific furniture was purchased for each room, Richard Goldbach said. Besides the Chinese bridal bed in one of the game rooms, various other antiques include a stained-glass dome in the kitchen ceiling that Goldbach said was from Russia and a kitchen table fashioned from cypress out of New Orleans. Guests dine off Limoges china. The theater seating is an 1800s parlor set.
Along with shipping items from Europe, Goldbach said he purchased many antiques from a 2012 auction of the Annas estate that also included Bank Street’s Truitt House.
Goldbach said Cherry Grove Plantation shows Suffolk off to many out-of-town guests drawn to its uniqueness.
“I think it’s just everybody trying to do what’s right,” he said of the city’s request.