If your own plantation has you too busy to make it all the way to the James River Plantations tour, take heart; the Virginia Historic Garden Week touches down in many other locales, two right in our area and others within easy driving distance.
Starting right off is ALEXANDRIA, with its tour Saturday, 10 to 4:30, including seven houses and gardens, two additional gardens, refreshments at the Athenaeum and admission to Mt. Vernon. Bloc tickets (all stops on the tour) are $6, single admission $2. For details, call the Alexandria Visitors Center, 549-0205. Tour stops:
GILPIN HOUSE - 206 King St. Built in 1789 by George Gilpin, a friend and business partner of George Washington. Currently owned by clothing designer Frankie Welch.
219 S. LEE ST. - The portholes in the front door are thought to be the work of ship carpenter Lewis Weston, who built the house in 1783. The unusual mantels have an inverted wine-jug motif.
315 S. LEE ST. - Garden only. Two levels with magnolis, hollies, camellias and spring-flowering bulbs.
321 S. LEE ST. - Garden only. Walled area planted in broadleaf evergreens for easy maintenance with potted plants to add color.
419 S. LEE ST. - It's thought that the oldest part of this home (one of the few Old Town houses with a front yard) was built about 1820 on the foundation of an older frame house. The garden features English boxwood and a grape and wisteria arbor; the interior combines contemporary art and furnishings with country antiques.
212 WILKES ST. - One of four brick town houses built in 1972 in the former garden of the "mansion" next door. The exterior conforms to the Federal architecture of old Alexandria while the interior is modern.
ROBERDEAU HOUSE - 418 S. Lee St., built in 1787 by Gen. Daniel Roberdeau. One of the largest of old Alexandria, it contains eight fireplaces and much of the original woodwork. Once split into apartments, it has been carefully restored. Open for the first time.
2 POTOMAC COURT - Thought to have been a pre-Revolutionary inn. Features English and American antiques mixed with other period pieces.
713 PRINCE ST. - "The House of Two Doors" was built in 1784 by a merchant, with one door for the shop downstairs and the other leading to living quarters above. It was sold at auction in 1836 for $150, indicating it was probably damaged in Alexandria's great fire of 1827.
THE ATHENAEUM - 201 Prince St. Tea for tour guests 2 to 4:30. Maps on display illustrating Alexandria's early years. Now headquarters of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association; also on display will be the Ninth Athenaeum Juried Show.
On Saturday and Sunday, the WINCHESTER AREA (Clarke County) puts on its tour with four houses and gardens and an old mill. Bloc tickets $6, singles $2; 10 to 5 April 22, 1 to 5 April 23. For details and transportation reservations call 703/837-1239. Tour stops:
North Hill - The first-built portion of this estate was a log cabin (1774) with split half-trees tongue-and-grooved for the floor. Additions (1830 and 1935) include a ballroom with stained-glass windows. Betty Lewis Carter, a niece of George Washington, lived here and is buried in a small cemetery on the hillside overlooking the Shenandoah.Five miles east of Berryville on Route 7.
FAIRFIELD - A native limestone home built by Warner Washington in 1769, furnished with antiques and heirlooms. On Route 340 3.2 miles north of Berryville.
FARNLEY - Built by John Hay in 1832, features original woodwork including beautiful cherry doors. On Route 658, three miles south of White Post.
PROVIDENCE - Built in 1809. More than 100,000 bricks for the home and outbuildings were manufactured on the grounds. From White Post, east on Route 628, south on Route 626, west on Route 622, about three miles all told.
BURWELL-MORGAN MILL - Started in 1782, the mill was producing flour by 1786. During the Civil War flour and feed were sold at various times to both armies. Now owned by the Clarke County Historical Association. Refreshments will be served here. From Route 50, 13 miles east of Winchester, take Route 255 north about a half-time to Millwood. Sunday and Monday are the tour days for five posh estates in MIDDLEBURG, Fauquier and Loudoun counties. Tour headquarters is the Episcopal Parish House on Route 50 in Middleburg and all homes are within easy reach of there. Bloc tickets are $7, singles $2. Hours are 1 to April 23 and 10 to 5 April 24. Tour stops:
LOCUST HILL - A Georgian-style brick house built in 1934 around paneling, mantels, hand-carved cornices and other accessories imported from England, which accounts for the variation in size and shape of the doors. Lots of French and English antiques mixed in with sporting paintings and contemporary art. Stables. Open for the first time. On Route 709; look for a circular courtyard with masses of azaleas and bulbs at the entrance.
MUCH HADDAM - This is the only oldie on this tour. Pre-1797 is an educated guess for when this house was built, as attested by the hewn log beams, offset windows and doors, none the same size. Wide chestnut steps lead from the English basement to the second-floor entrance hall. Notable antiques include a Queen Anne chest and a drop-leaf table. On Route 50 on the western edge of Middleburg.
CEILIDH - A French country house designed by a Washington architect to include a hidden elevator from the luxurious master suite to the room below. The screened flagstone terrace with many swimming pool and lawn bordered by topiary gardens and trees. On Blue Ridge Avenue on the western fringe of Middleburg; look for a high white wall.
EGLINTON - Built in 1928 by owner's father, with a central structure of stone flanked by wings of red tile and stucco. The furnishings are exotic, reflecting the occupants' renown as world travelers. On Route 709; look for stone walls, pastures and stands of huge oak.
SALAMANDER FARM - A house and stable built about 50 years ago of stone "picked up off the place" by Fletcher Harper, Master of the Orange County Hunt for 33 years. The present owners bought it in 1974 and have extensively redecorated with accessories bought from the far corners of the world. On Route 709; look for a drive lined with elms and then 30-foot hollies.
On Tuesday you get your history around FREDERICKSBURG, although the takeoff point is New Post, six miles south at the intersection of Routes 17 and 2 and stops at Port Royal for box lunches (call 703/371-5317 to reserve). Bloc tickets $7, singles $2, 10 to 5 April 25. Tour stops:
ST. JULIEN - The long wing in back of this stately Georgian brick house was built in 1769 and the main house in 1812; the home of Judge Francis Taliaferro Brooke, a son-in-law of Col. Alexander Spotswood. Its most interesting feature is the suspended staircase in the spacious entrance hall, which winds all the way to the garret. Brooke's heirs sold the property to Aubin Lee Boulware of Richmond in 1879, and it's been Boulware ever since. Lots of heirlooms. On Route 2 less than a mile south of New Post.
EDEN - Probably built around 1790 (Caroline County Courthouse burned in 1842, and no exact records predate the fire). The old section shows mortise-and-tenon construction with wooden pegs, heart pine flooring, hand-hewn joists and sills. Extensive recent renovations and restorations. One Route 2 less than 1 1/2 miles south of New Post.
FLINTSHIRE - The property goes back nine generations in the owner's family, to an original grant in 1666, but current house on this working farm fronting the Rappahannock was built in 1976 in Williamsburg style. But its surrounding are old, and lots of heirlooms are on view in the house. On Route 17, 3.5 miles east of New Post.
MOSS NECK MANOR - Built in 1856 by a Corbin (the Corbin family abounds in Virginia history) as a replica of Lanesville, built by an earlier Corbin in 1758 and burned in 1843. A huge house - 225 feet wide - it has lots of history, not least as Stonewall Jackson's headquarters, where Robert E. Lee came for Christmas dinner in 1862. It was bought in 1938 by Sears, Roebuck Chairman Theodore Houser. On Route 17, 5.5 miles east of New Post.
YEW SPRING - Originally part of Moss Neck Manor, this white Georgian frame house built in 1846 was misnamed - hemlocks were mistakenly called yews then. The present owners are nurturing young yews. Lots of restored antiques and intricate needlework done by the current owner's wife. The original smokehouse now houses the swimming pool pump. From Route 17, 6.5 miles from New Post, turn left on Route 614 a mile to the entrance.
ST. PETER'S CHURCH - Built in 1835 in the Grecian style made popular in Virginia by Thomas Jefferson. Colonial influence is seen in the box pews. The choir loft has an organ installed in 1840. In Port Royal, 15 miles east of New Post on Route 17, one mile north on Route 301.
CAMDEN - Designed in 1859 in the style of an Italian villa for William Carter Pratt, and still in the Pratt family, this house is noted for its furniture - in 1970 the Metropolitan Museum in New York reproduced its parlor. Just north of Route 17 on Route 686 17 miles east of New Post.
Wednesday is tour day for FAIRFAX COUNTY, and you get eight stops for a $6 bloc ticket, but no singles. With the ticket comes a detailed map of the tour, which starts at the Falls Church and sticks close to the Falls Church area. April 26, 10 to 5. Tour stops:
THE FALLS CHURCH - The present structure was complete in 1769, replacing an earlier one built in 1734. A white oak in the south yard is considered the largest of its species in Virginia. Route 29-211 at Fairfax Street in Falls Church.
BELDEN HOUSE - Early records show a building at this site in 1833, but the date of the current building is not known. The stucco-over-salmon brick-over-stone structure apparently underwent extensive enlargements around the turn of the century. Current decoration reflects French influence, and includes a French chandelier from a former Washington theater.
HILLCREST - Built in 1865, this was for years a summer house for the Lothrop family of Washington. Current decor reflects the main interest of the current owner, horseman Randolph D. Rouse.
WEIR HOUSE - Completed in 1976 from a French provincial "design package." Feature a curving center hall staircase, a vast collection of traditional furnishings, a brick-walled garden and a swimming pool.
HIGHLAND VIEW - Built shortly after the Civil War, this white frame Victorian home has stayed in the Flagg family, which once maintained a toll gate on adjacent Leesburg Pike. Noted for its cupola, which gives a view of Washington.
HOLLYWOOD FARM - Built in 1750, original chimneys and mantels remain at either end of the large living room; extensive collection of period furnishings. Formal boxwood leads into a rock garden built around the overflow from the original well topped by one of the few remaining "water towers" extant.
WOLLENBERG HOUSE - Red brick Victorian home built in 1893. The Original barn still stands behind the house, and the heirloom collection includes antique toys and dolls.
CHERRY FILL FARM - The present house, built about 1840, is on the site of a 248-acre farm patented to Lord Fairfax in 1729. The house was apparently overrun by troops of both sides in the Civil to have hidden a Confederate soldiers. Now administered by a foundation, the home features many ante-bellum furnishings. Refreshments will be served here.