Sweet Briar House among featured stops during Historic Garden Week

Sweet Briar House and garden
Sweet Briar House and garden

Sweet Briar House is a featured stop this year during the Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week, which takes place April 27-May 4. Sweet Briar House is part of the Lynchburg tour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30.

The tour is hosted by The Lynchburg Garden Club and Hillside Garden Club. Tickets are $30 per person if purchased in advance and $40 on site. Single-site admission is $15. Tickets are available here, along with detailed information about each location on the Lynchburg tour.

Sweet Briar House has been home to the presidents of Sweet Briar College since 1906 and has been on the Virginia Landmarks Register since the 1970s; it is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The original farmhouse was built in the 1790s and was purchased in 1830 by Elijah Fletcher, a schoolteacher from Vermont. Called “Sweetbrier” for the wild roses on the property, it was enlarged in 1851 with the addition of the tower wings, inspired by Italianate architecture the Fletchers saw on their European travels. It was furnished with pieces purchased in New York and Philadelphia. After Elijah’s death in 1858, his daughters, Indiana and Elizabeth, inherited the home, but by 1860, Indiana became its sole owner. She renamed the plantation “Sweet Briar.” When she died, she left the house and all of the land for the purpose of establishing a college for women. The College’s first president, Mary K. Benedict, used Sweet Briar House as her residence, as does the current president.

Sweet Briar House
Sweet Briar House

The home’s interior has been carefully restored with the assistance of the Richmond-based design firm Glavé & Holmes, and is filled with furnishings original to the house. It is surrounded by gardens restored by the Garden Club of Virginia.

Each spring, visitors are welcomed to more than 250 of Virginia’s most beautiful gardens, homes and historic landmarks during “America’s Largest Open House,” according to the Garden Club of Virginia’s website. The eight-day statewide event “provides visitors a unique opportunity to see unforgettable gardens at the peak of Virginia’s springtime color, as well as beautiful houses sparkling with over 2,300 flower arrangements created by Garden Club of Virginia members.”

Tour proceeds fund the restoration and preservation of more than 40 of Virginia’s historic public gardens and landscapes, a research fellowship program and a Garden Club of Virginia Centennial project with Virginia State Parks. Since the first statewide tour, over $17 million has been contributed to these worthwhile causes.

Historic Garden Week began in 1927, when a flower show organized by the Garden Club of Virginia raised an impressive $7,000 to save trees planted by Thomas Jefferson on the lawn at Monticello. The Garden Club of Virginia operates as a nonprofit organization comprised of 47 member clubs and 3,400 volunteers.

For more information about Historic Garden Week at Sweet Briar, please contact Rachel Pietsch at rpietsch@sbc.edu or 434-381-6163.