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The sorry fate of tech pioneer Halsey Minor and historic VA estate Carter’s Grove

carters grove williamsburgSad story in the The Washington Post  today on the “fate” of Carter’s Grove,

For 260 years, it steadfastly survived looting, flood, hurricane, earthquake, a Hollywood crew filming a now-forgotten Cary Grant movie, and a marauding Revolutionary War colonel who billeted his Redcoats there and, legend has it, rode a horse up the main staircase, hacking the grand railing with his sword along the way. A 1928 renovation diminished the Palladian perfection of its exterior, but still, it endured.

Carter’s Grove may have finally met its ruin, however, in the unlikely form of Halsey Minor, a brash 40-something technology investor living in San Francisco.

 

After considering Minor’s moral failings against the Mayses, the unpaid roofers, Colonial Williamsburg, his own lawyers, Carter’s Grove, and, implicitly, all of Virginia and humanity, [federal bankruptcy judge Stephen C.] St. John gave Minor 48 hours to pay the Mayses. If Minor didn’t produce the money, St. John vowed to “re-devote my life to attempting to figure out how to remind Mr. Minor that you don’t invoke this Court’s protection and authority with the cavalier attitude he is now displaying.”

Minor sent a check, and on March 15, St. John had everyone wait while the caretaker and Minor’s lawyers took the check to a bank near the Norfolk courthouse to make sure it cleared.

Read the rest here.

Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, takes exception to our article’s description of the current condition of Carter’s Grove.  
She writes in an e-mail: 
Carter’s Grove is a national treasure worthy of the attention of The Washington Post. This masterwork of architecture, and National Historic Landmark property of historic and archeological significance as well, deserves more careful treatment than it has had at the hand of its current owner and, regrettably, from the author of your article. While the piece certainly made for dramatic reading, it did a disservice to Carter’s Grove by painting a dark and inaccurate picture of a house in ruin. 
The mansion has indeed suffered neglect and deterioration in very recent years due largely to the owner’s failure to repair an aging roof after purchase despite full knowledge that such repairs were needed and a commensurate reduction in the purchase price to reflect the cost of those repairs. Nonetheless, Carter’s Grove is no fragile museum piece, but a robust building. It is precisely because of the care with which it was maintained by Colonial Williamsburg, combined with its method of construction and the craftsmanship, that Carter’s Grove has withstood the test of time; it is, as they say, a building with “good bones.” 
Thus, Carter’s Grove can rebound from this sad chapter in its long history, and is in fact doing so right now thanks to the continued financial commitment of Colonial Williamsburg and the commitment of the recently appointed Chapter 11 trustee to work with qualified professionals to identify and make repairs to restore Carter’s Grove to its historic condition.

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