HISTORY OF LONG BRANCH
Located at the foot of the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains just sixty miles from Washington D.C., Long Branch is one of the most historic, elegant manor homes in the Virginia hunt country.
Since the early 18th century, the rolling hills of the Long Branch estate have been owned by a series of famous men: Lord Culpeper, Lord Fairfax, and Robert King Carter. A young George Washington helped to survey the property.
In 1788, Robert Carter Burwell inherited the land sitting along the stream known as Long Branch. Some twenty years later, he began to construct a mansion following the classical principles suggested by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, architect of the U.S. Capitol. While Latrobe is known primarily for his work on the Capitol and other public buildings , his private residences are rare. A Burwell descendant, Major Hugh Mortimer Nelson, purchased the Long Branch mansion in 1842 and finished the interior using elaborate woodwork designed by architect Minard Lafever. Although descendants of Nelson and subsequent owners, notably Abram Hewitt, made valiant efforts to maintain Long Branch, its condition had declined by the late 20th century. In 1986, Harry Z. Isaacs, a Baltimore textile executive, purchased the estate at public auction. His good taste, remarkable energy, and sizable fortune revitalized the historic house in less than three years.
The exquisite rooms at Long Branch boast a superb collection of 18th and 19th century furnishings from the United States, Great Britain, and France. Mr. Isaacs traveled throughout Europe and the United States to find antiques of great distinction that would have been available for his period home– for example, dining room chairs identical to those at the White House and several major pieces attributed to the workshop of Duncan Phyfe. Hand-painted wallpaper designed by Zuber of France adorns the Hunt Room and elegant fabrics adorn room after room.
Before he died in 1990, Mr. Isaacs established a private non-profit foundation to manage the estate for the enjoyment and education of its visitors.
The grounds of Long Branch are graced by beautiful gardens dedicated to Sheila Macqueen, MBE renowned British floral arranger. The gardens feature herbs, hellebores, hostas, Constance Spry Roses , and numerous plant species native to Mrs. Macqueen English Gardens. The gardens are established and maintained by nationwide donations from the Sheila Macqueen Flower Ladies.
Long Branch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and on the Virginia Registry of Historic Homes.
Long Branch is open for guided tours from 12 noon to 4 p.m., Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from April 1 through October 31. Groups of ten or more and bus tours are welcome year-round, seven days a week, by advance reservation.
For more information, please call Lockett Van Voorhis at 540.837.1856.