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George Washington’s Original Tomb

George Washington's Original Tomb

Mount Vernon, VA

You Know You Have Too Much Money When

Agecroft Hall, Richmond Virginia

You buy a house in another country, have it torn down, crated, shipped across the Atlantic, and rebuilt 3,600 miles from where it first stood. That is the story of Agecroft Hall, a 15th Century Tudor estate originally constructed in Lancaster, England. By the early 1900’s, the estate fell into disrepair and was sold at auction to Thomas C. Williams, who had the house dismantled and rebuilt in Richmond, Virginia.

Agecroft Hall, Richmond VirginiaAnd that seems to be the entire available history of Mr. Thomas C. Williams. What happened after he bought the house, or how it subsequently became a museum, is nowhere to be found. What we do know, is that his timing was pretty terrible. He bought Agecroft in 1925, four short years before the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent Great Depression. I wonder if such extravagances as importing houses had anything to do with the fact that the Agecroft Hall is no longer family owned. What might have been the William’s family misfortune accrues to our benefit, though, because now this authentic Tudor estate is open to the public, right here in the good old U.S. of A. No passport required.

Vice Four, Virtue Zero

Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond

One of the highlights of Virginia’s great Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, is its tapestry hall. This particular 16th century Flemish tapestry is a fragment depicting the seven vices and was originally “balanced” by a similar work showing the seven virtues. Nowhere in the gallery, though, could I find the seven virtues. Little surprise, really. Who wants their vices diluted with virtues?  And yet, not all of the vices are shown, either. Extravagance and Envy are missing, which is understandable because they’re pretty lame vices. But probably the best vice, Gluttony, is somehow missing too (although Sloth, represented here by a lazy monkey runs a close second). Perhaps gluttony warranted its own tapestry or maybe it was simply too big to fit on this one. Some mysteries may never be solved.

Copy Cat

University of Virginia Rotunda

The University of Virginia in Charlottesville is another Jefferson inspiration and further proof that the man was one of those ridiculous overachievers put on this earth to make the rest of us look bad. Not only did he found the first secular university in the country, he designed UVA’s great rotunda (in addition to designing Monticello, essentially creating the Library of Congress as we know it today, drafting the Declaration of Independence, and being the nation’s 3rd President). Unfortunately for him, though, he modeled the rotunda after a far older and more impressive building, the Pantheon in Rome. So by comparison, Jefferson is really kind of a loser after all . . . now don’t we all feel better?

Continental Divide

By snafu or serendipity, we ended up dining at Continental Divide in Charlottesville. My lovely editor, Lisa, at National Geographic Books knows the town well (go Cavaliers). She recommended that we try Continental Divide, but, it turns out, she had actually meant to suggest we go to another, more upscale restaurant called C&O located on the Downtown Mall.

Given the choice, we most likely would have opted for Continental Divide. It reminded us of some of our favorite places in Hoboken—casual atmosphere, tasty Southwestern-style food, interesting beer list, and excellent margaritas. It was soft-shell tacos all around, pork for Brian and beef  for me. (I was sold as soon as I read the word “brisket.”)

Continental Divide’s cheeky motto is “Too Small, Too Crowded, Too Loud, Too Bad.” We followed the first two pieces of advice from a poster on Yelp.com: “Do as the locals do, go early, go on Tuesday and go often.” He was spot on, as there was no wait for a table. Add to it all a clandestine location—the restaurant name isn’t anywhere to be found, just a neon sign demanding “Get in Here”—and it was a C’ville highlight. Thanks, Lisa!

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