Waverly Estate open for tour

Published 12:08 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

In keeping with its annual tradition of sponsoring a Christmas house tour of one of the county’s historic homes, the Lunenburg County Historical Society invites the public to visit Waverly Estate, 11586 Courthouse Road in the village of Lunenburg, on Sunday from 1-6 p.m. Admission will be charged at the door.

Sarah and Collin Brown of Chesterfield County recently purchased the property from Kitty and Jimmy Elsaesser. This energetic young couple has moved to the “country” to create a charming wedding venue and bed and breakfast retreat in the heart of Lunenburg. The name Waverly Estate comes from Collin’s great-grandfather’s name; Waverly is also Collin’s middle name.

Research on the history of the house recently completed by published genealogist and historian June Banks Evans, who is a member of the LCHS

board of directors, confirms that the house dates from 1838, when it was built by Dr. Henry May (1804-1886), a physician, who had married Julia Ann Jones in 1830. Tax records show that the house at the time of construction was valued at $1,000, a considerable sum at the time. The original portion of the house (on the west side) had three stories: an English basement, a parlor with a side hall and winding staircase, and a dormered bedroom on the top floor. The plaster and woodwork in that section of the house are original. Later additions have greatly enlarged the house.

Many in Southside Virginia are unaware that Sarah “Sally” May, the Mays’ youngest of nine children, later married James Henry Dooley, an attorney, business leader and politician based in Richmond during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age. The Dooleys purchased farmland on the James River and developed the Maymont residence, which the Dooleys — who had no children — bequeathed to the city of Richmond as a public park and museum. The May family name lives on today in the name that Dooley gave his Richmond estate in honor of his Lunenburg wife.

Seasonal decorations at Waverly Estate are being done by the owners, as well as by a talented mother-daughter team of floral designers from just outside Richmond. Katie Bowman and Lisa Kochuba, who operate as “Over the Top Flower Shop,” specialize in weddings and special events in the Greater Richmond area. Photographs of their styled wedding shoot at Waverly Estate are being featured in Virginia Bride Magazine and can be seen at www.waverlyestate.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WaverlyEstate.