Built in 1799, the Retreat at Cool Spring is a recently restored historic manor house overlooking the Shenandoah River. Rich in history, the five bedroom home sits on terraces overlooking the river. A grand foyer, library, huge dining room, and elegant living room are all a decorators dream. The manor house is located in the heart of Virginia’s wine country with over 10 vineyards within 10 miles. It is truly an exceptional home, surrounded by incredible peace and nature – ever deserving of the name it was given in 1799… The Retreat
Owner, Suzanne Eblen, desires to share this beautiful manor house with others. April 2015, The Retreat officially opened its doors to many families and gatherings of friends. It has quickly become a popular destination for vacations. The Retreat is also a beautiful and exclusive location for intimate weddings, private events, workshops, and retreats.
• THE HISTORY •
The Retreat at Cool Spring has a history that spans more than 200 years. I think it’s important to share the background so you get a good sense of the land and historic setting.
Thomas Parker, a soldier of the revolution, came to the valley and purchased 1,120 acres from John Wormsley. In 1799, Thomas Parker built his home and called it “The Retreat.” War interrupted their peaceful farm life and in 1799, Parker was commissioned Lt. Col. of the Eighth Infantry of Virginia. He commanded the forces encamped at nearby Harpers Ferry. He became a Colonel in 1812 and a year later was promoted to Brigadier General. After fighting at Lundy’s Lane in Canada, he came home and lived at the Retreat until his death in 1820.
When his widow died, The Retreat became the property of their nephew Richard Elliot Parker. He had commanded a regiment of troops in the War of 1812, and was appointed judge of the General Court in 1817. He was the first United States Senator from Clark County, but resigned to accept a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court of Appeals. He served on the jury at the trial of Aaron Burr for treason, and was offered a place in the cabinet of President Martin Van Buren, but refused. He died at The Retreat in 1840. His only son to live to manhood, Richard E. Parker, inherited the property.
The new owner was admitted to the bar in 1836, and was elected to the United States House of Representatives. The next year he was appointed judge of the 15th judicial Court of Virginia. Judge Parker presided over the trial of John Brown in Harpers Ferry. It is rumored John Brown’s death warrant was signed on the front lawn of The Retreat.
War came close to the Retreat on July 18th, 1864 when The Battle of Cool Spring was fought in front of and across the river from the mansion. The troops of Joseph Thoburns division advanced down the hill to the rear of the mansion as they moved toward the Shenandoah.
In 1872 Judge Parker sold the retreat to Volney Purcell for $11,000. During the next 80 years the Retreat changed hands six times, but the 1120 acres were never divided. One of those inhabitants was William Wilson, one time postmaster general, who inaugurated the first rural free delivery.
The Retreat was changed from a farm to a golf and country club when a promoter named Dr. Freeman bought it in 1952. He divided the property into many small lots which they sold at great profit. They installed a nine hole golf course, remodeled the barn and tenant house into an office, snack bar, shower and locker rooms. He made some changes to the large original house and called it The Manor House. They lived there through the 1960′s.
My understanding is that the house sat empty for almost 20 years before Roberta and Stanley Kerns purchased the Retreat in the early 1980′s. I had the pleasure of meeting the Kerns this past summer. When Roberta saw the house she fell in love with it, sold her house in Herndon, and moved her family there to live throughout the 80′s. She recalled living there was like living in paradise 9 months of the year, but the winter months were difficult as the house, with its one foot thick brick and plaster walls, with massive single paned windows, and high ceilings was extremely difficult to keep warm.
Speaking to them gave me great insight to what it must have looked like for the early inhabitants. The Kerns sold the property to Cliff Boyd who was developing the golf course into what would become the Virginia National. Plans were made to turn the manor house into a restaurant and clubhouse. Trials and tribulations ensued and the propertychanged hands several times with the golf couse going into bankruptcy.
The Civil War Society of America purchased the golf course and donated it to Shenandoah University.
The manor house fortunately fell into the hands of a restorationist, Scott Lessler, without whose great work, we probably would not have been able to take on such a big project.
Today, the stunning beauty of the golf course is being returned back to its natural state, with its 5 mile paved path meandering along the river which was once used for golf carts, is now used for bicycling, and nature hikes.
Now we are proud to be part of the history of this incredible home. My husband and I purchased the manor last Febuary and are still in the process of restoring it. I’m excited to share with you the work we’ve done and how it’s coming along. We are not quite finished, but we’re getting closer every day.
– Suzanne Eblen, Owner of The Retreat at Cool Spring
Do you love the decor and aesthetic of the manor house? Well did you know that Suzanne is also the owner of The Old Lucketts Store in Lucketts, VA and is where she sourced most of the furnishings for The Retreat? Check out this amazing shop by clicking here & see what treasures you can find to create your own retreat!