Another Ramsey Treasure

The best way to end the week is a trip to the country. Gleason is back with another home tour of a beautiful homestead in rural Virginia. Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend!

Duff Ramsey, Stephen Ramsey’s great nephew, moved to Buckingham County, VA from Manhattan in 2009. Ready to put down some roots and eager for a project, he fell for Prudence House, a charming home that was originally used as a law office back in 1850. After an addition in the 1930’s, the home had not received any further updates until Duff eyed the potential this historic gem offered.

The front door—decorated with a simple, sturdy brass knocker, picked up in a Santa Monica antique shop—beckons me to knock thrice, eager to see what treasures await inside. As I enter the hallway, I’m immediately captivated by walls covered in plaster lathe waiting to be plastered, a collection of colorful antique doors stacked along one wall and the most hilarious vintage neon “Triple Treat” sign left over from a Time Square adult club that had closed down. Duff wisely snagged the sign when he was hired to renovate the club into a new business.

The tour officially begins with a greeting from Delilah, the sweetest Neapolitan Mastiff. With a bone waiting in my purse for her, I quickly make a new friend. Duff hands me a glass of homemade dandelion wine and we gather around the table in the drawing room, munching on fresh fruit, settling into the groove of the afternoon. Taking in the space, I begin to relax and immerse myself in the history surrounding me. There’s an antique bed waiting for a nap (a fabulous find); a cobalt blue wood burning stove that provides heat for the whole house; a pile of old wood scraps that will be dispersed for different projects; an old sailing photo; a gorgeous, circa 1810 china cabinet, updated with columns that were added around 1890-1910, that serves as both a storage and a display piece; and an oversized quarter that was used to advertise for 25 cent peepshows, also snagged from the Time Square adult club.

Enticed to peek into the kitchen I am immediately drawn to the whimsy it exhibits. My eyes dart all around capturing as many details as possible, initially landing on an old copper ladle hanging from the ceiling, filled with homegrown peppers and local garlic; then taking in anchors suspended from an old jewelry maker’s bench, supporting cookware; a horseshoe for good luck; an old mask peeking down from the rafters; and a bowl full of corn picked from the backyard. The most intriguing repurposed item is a safe from the 1750’s and was likely used for a jeweler, banker, or goldsmith and now provides extra counter space and storage.

Across the hall, the master bedroom has the coziest feeling. With exposed beams and an inviting hearth, the furniture arrangement makes me crave a good mystery book, an old quilt, and a cup of hot tea. The room is furnished with the sweetest daybed (formally a child’s bed), antique dresser, and wing chair (that Delilah has claimed as her bed) and is simply accessorized with a sailboat pencil drawing, old top hat, work boots, an old wooden candlestick, and a dream catcher.

With admiration for the slate-shingled shower Duff designed and installed, a long, hot shower is what comes to mind.

Heading up the steep stairs to explore, I’m curious about the collection I come across in the guestroom. An old toy plane, a bird skeleton that was found on the property, a whale box, and an old photo all gather together on the mantle. The most enthralling lamp I have ever seen—a handmade family heirloom made out of a variety of old bullets in varying sizes and styles—sits independently on the middle of the floor waiting to be placed in the appropriate spot. With the range of unique items grouped in this guestroom, I can’t help but want to touch everything.

Out back, the patio and garden are playfully quaint. Keystones are used as the patio steps and a large collection of antique bricks from the 1700’s await to find their place amidst the patio floor. Homegrown vegetables and herbs fill the air with a rustic fragrance and miscellaneous items are repurposed as garden décor.

With my eye being drawn across the yard to the vintage 1968 hardtop Bowie Ford in 70’s green, I can’t help but think how stylish I would feel while cruising through the town. Duff, with ongoing projects in every corner, has taken the time to restore the 1968 engine, replacing the transmission suspension and the brakes and keeping the Bowie driving along smoothly. Next time I’m expecting a ride.

Just beyond the patio is one of two cabins original to the property that had been standing until strong winds blew it down. With the logs already conveniently numbered, three weeks is Duff’s estimated timeline to add pine floors and complete the restoration. It could become the perfect space for an artist studio, potting shed, or more appropriately, Delilah’s haven.

Saving the most magical part for last, Duff introduces me to Mir. Looming in the background, her presence doesn’t go unnoticed. Mir is a breathtaking English Channel Cutter from the 1890’s and is named for Duff’s Grandmother, Miriam. Finally getting the boatlift completed, Duff has hoisted her up and is concentrating on refinishing the deck. Mir is serenely waiting to return to the sea for her next adventure, having previously explored the Northeast coast.

Wrapping up the tour, we refill our wine and head next door to the neighbors’ house for a bonfire and cookout. As darkness sets in, I snap a few more pictures. I then hit the road for the hour drive back to my hometown with tunes cranked loudly and farmland rolling by, daydreaming about the history lesson I just received, the wonderful collection of antiques I experienced, and the simpler means of living a country life.

Duff & Delilah, a great duo, the perfect hosts. Thanks for the hospitality. I can’t wait to see the completed project.

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