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If walls could talk, the Western Ridge adviser would accept a affair or two to say about afterlife and ache in the mid-1800s, a delinquent slave, and a arresting drillmaster who spent the aftermost two decades of her action active in the basement of her home.

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The adviser is the focal point of the arresting adjacency aloof off Route 240: a two-story, wood-frame farmhouse congenital in 1858, aloof afore the Civil War disconnected the nation in two. Like abounding absolute homes and barrio in Crozet, it almost able the annoyer in 2003 aback the homeowners’ affiliation was aggravating to adjudge whether to batter the anatomy to accomplish way for commodity newer and bigger.

“We canyon by these homes every day in Crozet, not acumen the history that lies amid the walls,” said Kimberly Gale, a Western Ridge citizen who was complex in the accommodation to accumulate the home from actuality demolished. “Their fate lies in our adeptness to apprentice their belief and accept preservation. If we don’t apprentice about them, again who cares?”

The Western Ridge adviser was ahead accepted as the Fretwell-Cree Abode (1850s-1940s) and Lady Walton’s Abode (1950s-1990s). Although the name afflicted with the altered owners during the accomplished 160 years, the absolute anatomy has remained abundantly intact. It still has the aerial ceilings and aboriginal pinewood floors that were archetypal of the Greek Revival appearance accepted at the time. Four ample apartment boss the aerial floors, two on anniversary level. The alpine bedrock basement, which acclimated to accommodate the winter kitchen, is now a accumulator room, lifeguard allowance and bathrooms for the Western Ridge pool.

Fretwell-Cree House

A chase of the aboriginal acreage annal at the Albemarle Canton Circuit Cloister Clerk’s appointment shows that Burlington Fretwell affiliated allotment of the acreage afterwards his ancestor died in 1836. Afterwards marrying Elizabeth Jarman in 1844, he bought added acreage from his siblings. By 1856, he had accumulated 185 acreage forth Lickinghole Brook in what was again accepted as St. Anne’s Parish south of Three Notch’d Road.

Fretwell was a agriculturalist and aloft crops that his brother, Franklin, a arresting merchant, awash to markets in Lynchburg and Richmond. But action was beneath than arcadian for the Fretwells. The brace had six children, but abandoned two of them survived into adulthood. Four-year-old Elizabeth died in May 1853 followed by 18-month-old Ludelier Burnley afterwards that year. In 1858, the aforementioned year they congenital the house, there was a measles beginning in the county. The ache claimed the Fretwell’s 11-year-old daughter, Mary “Kitty” Catherine, and addition son, Ritter, two canicule later. 

Letters the Fretwell brothers wrote to anniversary added are amid 2900 items that are allotment of the “Papers of Franklin Fretwell 1819-1886” in the University of Virginia’s Special Collections Library. In a letter anachronous May 6, 1858, Brightberry Fretwell writes to Franklin about the family’s loss: “Frank, Burl has absent Kitty and Ritter both. Kitty died aftermost Friday about 11 o’clock and Ritter died aftermost Monday about 2 o’clock and little Jimmy is appropriate ailing yet and I apprehend he will die too. The doctor says that he has the academician feaver (cq) and the bowel complaint.” Jimmy Burlington survived the ache and lived until 1918 aback he died at the age of 65.

Other belletrist afford ablaze on what action was like in what would become accepted as Crozet in those antebellum years. According to the Bondservant Schedules of the 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Burlington Fretwell endemic 12 slaves, alignment in age from 1 to 50. He wrote to Franklin about the agitation he was accepting with one slave, who eventually ran abroad afterwards several beatings.

“Dear Brother,” begins the letter anachronous Oct. 25, 1854. “Harry larboard actuality aftermost Sunday and accept (cq) not appear back. He took up with an old lath leg woman in Covington in July and has been up there about every Sunday aback and has been out of abode about every Monday morning affiliated afterwards the added easily accept got to work.

“I gave him 3 or 4 whippings about it, the aftermost one aftermost Monday was a week, and I told him again I would whip him every time he was out of abode on Monday morning actuality after.” He asked Franklin to accumulate an eye out for the delinquent slave.

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The Civil War was about to change the mural and the bolt of the abridgement in Albemarle County. Best of the canton men who enlisted were assigned to Aggregation I of the 7th Virginia Infantry in June 1861. According to historian S.B. Yates, the aggregation was assigned to Pickett’s Division. Its battles included Bull Run, Aboriginal Manassas, Williamsburg, Additional Manassas, Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, and angry about Richmond, Petersburg and the retreat to Appomattox.

But Fretwell never alternate in any of those. He died at the age of 40 at Camp Harrison in Centreville on Aug. 7, 1861, almost two months afterwards abutting the Confederate Army. Measles was listed as the account of afterlife in the aggregation rolls.

Cree House

Nearly 20 years afterwards in 1880, John Cree of Limerick, Ireland, bought 160 acreage of the Fretwell acreage for his wife and three children—Robert, Saint John and Meta. The years arch up to the about-face of the aeon and above were apparent by a time of prosperity. The arena was convalescent from the Civil War and the affection was optimistic. 

The apprentice boondocks of Crozet, called in 1878 aback a alternation annex was built, was experiencing a billow in tourism as visitors from Richmond and Washington approved to escape the burghal heat. Aback the bounded Liberty Hall Hotel and Crozet Hotel ran out of room, the Crees would put up guests at their home. John Cree congenital a tennis cloister abreast the woods, a flat, blooming breadth decline from the abode forth a baby creek. The Western Ridge neighbors now use the amplitude for their anniversary campout.

Saint John Cree became a accomplished tennis amateur and consistently hosted matches adjoin Hugh Flannagan, the battle drillmaster of the adjacent Miller School, who afterwards became the clandestine school’s fifth headmaster. The cadets at the academy would generally appear to watch the account amateur in the 1930s.

John Cree anesthetized abroad in 1906, but the Cree Ancestors affiliated to animate there until Saint John awash the acreage in 1945 to Dr. Thomas H. Alphin, a physician at the University of Virginia.

Lady Walton House

Leslie and Lady Walton bought the abode and farmland in 1952. The brace aloft blood Hereford cattle, some chickens, several horses and vegetables on the property. But they were abundant bigger accepted for their contributions to apprenticeship in the county.

They met while animate for Scottsville School, he as the arch and she as a teacher, and affiliated in 1940. They had no accouchement of their own, but Lady said they counted the array of acceptance they accomplished throughout their careers as their children. Leslie Walton served as abettor administrator for Albemarle Canton Schools for 22 years. Aback Paul H. Cale, a Crozet resident, retired in July 1969, Walton took over as superintendent. He fabricated his mark advancement avant-garde account such as arete pay raises for agents and year-round schooling.

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Sadly, he never got the befalling to see those account booty shape. He died aback of a affection advance on a Saturday afternoon at his home. The date was July 11, 1970. He was 64 and abandoned a year into his new position. Schools beyond the canton bankrupt the Monday afterward his afterlife out of account for the man, for whom Walton Middle Academy is named. 

Lady Walton was larboard to administer the acreage on her own. No shrinking violet, she was a acclaimed drillmaster in her own rite. She had accelerating from Longwood College at Farmville. Afterward teaching stints in Greenwood and Scottsville, she became arch librarian in the Albemarle academy arrangement and served as admiral of the Virginia Library Affiliation in 1967. 

“It’s aloof a plain, white house,” she said in anecdotic her home for a adventure in the Daily Progress on Aug. 16, 1961. She was actuality accustomed for her assignment as a librarian, which landed her in the “Who’s Who of American Women.” 

“It’s actual comfortable, but don’t get the abstraction we accept an estate,” she said. The commodity said the abode was an absorption of Lady Walton’s, but she didn’t go in for a lot of decorating. “Except for the kitchen table and that I accumulate accumulated aerial with newspapers, magazines and books.”

A acquaintance and adolescent affiliate of Mountain Apparent Baptist Church, area Lady Walton accomplished a men’s Bible class, acclimated to appointment her on the acreage afterwards Leslie Walton died.

“As affiliated as I knew her, she lived in the basement of that house,” Gloria Strickler said in a contempo interview. “Maybe she confused to the basement afterwards he died. I never went to the abode aback he was alive. I ample she had what she bare bench and it was too abundant agitation to ascend up the stairs.

“She had bags of books. Actuality a librarian that should be expected,” Strickler said. “She would consistently action you commodity to drink.” Strickler said Lady suffered several acclamation afore she died in 1993 at the age of 83. 

Western Ridge Clubhouse

In October 1994, Highlands West, a bound affiliation that included absolute acreage developer Hunter Craig, paid $541,500 in banknote to Lady Walton’s acreage to acquirement the house, its outbuildings and 144 acres. 

Craig larboard the autogenous of the abode intact, but fabricated cogent changes to the property. He

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took out the railroad brand arch from Route 240 and congenital a new access to the acreage with a arch over the tracks. A new road, Lake Tree Lane, affiliated to the house; the advanced of the abode became the aback and the aback became the front. 

A huge wraparound balustrade and French doors were congenital assimilate the new advanced adverse Lake Tree Lane. In went a pond pool, playground, tennis courts and a alluvium parking lot during the bounce of 1997. The above carrying abode was adapted into a fettle centermost for the neighborhood. 

By January 2003, best of the antecedent 100 lots had been awash and the developers angry over the acreage and all its amenities to the Western Ridge Owners Association. It was now up to the WROA to adjudge what, if anything, to do with the house. 

“When they conveyed buying of the absolute abode and area to the association, bodies started to anticipate what can we do to aerate its use,” said Kimberly Gale, one of the neighborhood’s aboriginal residents. The advance lath of WROA surveyed the homeowners to ask their opinion. According to Gale and her husband, Lee Gale, who served on the board, there were three options on the table: 1) Remove and clean the clubhouse; 2) gut the autogenous and modify, or 3) add on to the absolute structure.

“We did none of those options,” Kimberly Gale said. “Ultimately we voted to accomplish as few alterations to the aboriginal abode as possible. We chose preservation.” 

At the time, the acreage included abundant outbuildings. K. Edward Lay, an architectural researcher and assistant at U.Va., did an all-encompassing abstraction of the acreage for a affiliate advantaged “The Greek Revival (1830-1860)” in his book, The Architecture of Jefferson Country.

“It charcoal one of the best complete post-Civil War acreage complexes in the canton and includes a ancestors cemetery, icehouse, smokehouse, carrying house, and angel accumulator houses,” Lay wrote in the book, appear in 2000.

Sadly, the WROA had to breach bottomward the icehouse and smokehouse in 2007 aback they became unsafe. It is now the armpit of a cloistral barbecue pavilion and blaze pit. “They were so battered it was a assurance hazard,” said Lee Gale. “We had so abounding little kids aggressive in and out. It was the better assurance accident ever.” 

The budget on such an celebrated abode hasn’t appear after a cost. Financial annal appearance the adjacency spends about $10,000 per year abandoned on utilities and aliment on the house. In 2003, they replaced the crumbling metal roof with a chestnut one for $30,000.

The adjacency believes it is money able-bodied spent. Best days, the adviser is abuzz with some affectionate of activity. Over the accomplished two decades, it has served as the armpit of endless altogether parties, advance meetings, lath meetings, book clubs, bible studies, poker nights, summer camps, pancake breakfasts, and alike a wedding. 

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“It’s history appear to life,” Kimberly Gale said. “It maintains the appearance of the aboriginal acreage and property. It’s a connected admonition of how bodies lived simpler times in abate spaces.” 

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