Seaboard Station site of a plethora of activities in conjunction with Candlelight Home Tour

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 4, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Homes won’t be all that visitors on the Suffolk-Nansemond Historic Society’s 28th Annual Candlelight Tour will see this weekend.

The Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum, which the historical society owns, is extending its hours during the event, said Lynn Ward, the train’s station’s executive director.

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The station will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

today and 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Visitors to the train station will find a plethora of special activities, including:

Silent auction

A silent auction will raise money to operate the train station. Numerous items have been donated, including a recently refurbished dollhouse; two handcrafted wooden stools; a framed Nansemond Seminary program from 1864; and a framed Suffolk Military Academy commencement program from 1861.

Bids can be placed on the items throughout the weekend at the station, with bids closing at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Book signing

From 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. today, Susan Hight Rountree, author of From A Colonial Garden, will be on hand to sign her book.

Her book is filled with ideas, decorations, and recipes for all seasons, with creative ideas for the holidays using natural materials indicative of Colonial Williamsburg. Rountree, who lives in Williamsburg, is affiliated with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

She will be demonstrating a floral centerpiece using a traditional brass candlestick with some new ideas and current trends.

She will also have a delicious sample of one of her recipes, the Hedgehog cheese ball. Her book costs $19.95.

Genius in the Garden

Also on Saturday, people can purchase signed copies of Genius in the Garden: Charles F. Gillette and Landscape Architecture in Virginia by George C. Longest, associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth Univer-sity.

Gillette, the premier landscape architect in Virginia from the 1920s to the 1960s, had several projects in Suffolk. He frequently worked with a local nurseryman, the late R.W. Askew.

Before 1935, Mr. Gillette’s records were not very complete, Ward said.

There were names and project numbers but no dates or locations. Some Suffolk names can be recognized from that period on the list in the back of the book.

&uot;Some of the buildings are gone and no Gillette design has been left untouched but traces of Charles Gillette’s genius remain throughout Suffolk,&uot; Ward said.

His Suffolk projects include:

Project #14 – W. H. Jones, 302 Bank St., and J. T. Withers, 214 Pinner St. We assume that the father-in-law and son-in-law hired Gillette to plan the garden between their two houses. The Bank Street is open for this year’s candlelight tour.

Project #22

– Col. J. E. West, at the intersection of West Washington Street and St. James Avenue. Although now the site of the West End Baptist Church parking lot, the magnolias at the entrance are likely from Gillette.

Project #34

– J. M. Darden, 104 S. Broad St.

Project #36

– James H. Corbett, 117 S. Broad St.

Project #84 – H. L. Land, 613 W. Riverview Drive].

Project #101 – Laurel Cliff Country Club, which was once an island near Riverview. The clubhouse is long gone and nature has reclaimed the island.

Project #112 – Mrs. S. R. Brokenbrough, 217 Pinner St.

Project #33

– Nansemond County Courthouse, corner of North Main Street and East Constance Road.


– The former Henry McRae Pinner estate, located across from the old Obici Hospital site along Northgate Avenue. Although houses now cover much of the former garden area, some of the Gillette trees are still standing.


– Louise Obici Memorial Hospital. Although the building is going and parking lots altered Gillette’s landscaping plan, some trees are still standing.

1952 – Mr. & Mrs. B. E. Parker, 723 Jones St.