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The Oddment Emporium

A Cornucopia of Eclectic Delights

Posts tagged Virginia:

Virginia House: The House that Moved Homes

The house which would become Virginia House was originally built in the 12th century and served as a priory until Henry VIII split from the Catholic church and closed the hundreds of monasteries and nunneries around Britain. Over the next four hundred years the house would change hands numerous times, with each owner adding a personal touch; such as knocking down the surrounding monastic buildings and adding curvilinear Dutch gables to the front façade around 1620. The fortunes of the house rose a fell throughout the centuries with one owner entertaining Queen Elizabeth I there and another, in the early 20th century, being forced to sell it.

In 1925, Alexander and Virginia Weddell bought it at a demolition sale. They had it dismantled and rebuilt part of it in Richmond, Virginia, where they hoped the west wing would serve as a museum for the Virginia Historical Society. 

The company that was to demolish the Priory felt the stones would crumble in the process, so they decided to make a small explosion in the middle of the building and send only those stones that survived the blast to America. To their amazement, most of the stones fell intact. The more fragile ornaments were packed in boxes with sand to cushion them. The ship bringing the stones to America had to turn back to port as it was taking on water. Consequently, when the stones arrived in Richmond they were soaked in seawater and had to be washed and dried. The first group of stones arrived in Richmond in the spring of 1926. 

Virginia House was completed in 1928, and in 1929 it was presented to the Virginia Historical Society with the Weddells retaining lifetime tenancy.


[Image One: The house in England : Image Two: The House in Virginia : Images 3-5: (courtesy of Vintage-Royalty) The House now]

(Source: vahistorical.org)

Midgetville

Midgetville, or Tiny Town, is a name used to refer to real or legendary communities of “midgets”, people with forms of dwarfism who are normally proportioned, or collections of small “midget-sized” houses. As many of these places are legendary they are at times given qualities that might be more fanciful than real and even some “real” ones may play on mythology for tourism purposes. Hence some descriptions are not meant to imply anything concerning real people with dwarfism.

The “Midgetville” in Vienna, Virginia was a collection of six small cottages that were torn down in 2008. In 1892 the area was purchased by Alexander Wedderburn and in 1930 his son built six small cottages. The cottages were rented out but eventually became overgrown with ivy and trees, subsequently becoming associated with “Midgetville” legends bolstered by two coincidences: the nearby Bailey’s Crossroads, named for the Bailey family of Barnum & Bailey Circus, was used as a place to winter circus animals in the mid-1800s, whilst nearby Tysons Corner is the home of one of the Barnum & Bailey Circus headquarters. Those two facts are used to substantiate the legend that Midgetville was a retirement village for circus midgets. The legend is sometimes told with the midgets being xenophobic and throwing rocks at curious visitors to chase them away.

Another so-called Midgetville is located in New Jersey. At least six small houses, with small doors, smalls windows and small furniture inside are located on a secluded dirt road. Some have very ornate exterior decorations. There is one normal-sized house on the grounds, inhabited by an elderly, average height couple. Rumor has it that Alfred Ringling, famous for the Ringling Brothers Circus, built a few small-sized houses that had four-foot doors as a sort of retirement home for the little people acts in his circus. Again, visitors claim the “midget” residents are territorial and hostile and will shoot guns at outsiders.

[Images Sources: Top Row (VA) : Bottom Row (NJ)]

[With thanks to Vintage-Royalty]

(Source: Wikipedia)

The Female Stranger
During the fall of 1816 in Alexandria Virginia two people, a man and his wife walked into the Gadsby’s Tavern Hotel. The woman was ill and it was thought she was suffering from Typhoid fever. The woman’s condition continued to deteriorate despite being attended by one of Alexandria’s doctors. The husband then summoned the doctor and hotel staff and even the owner’s wife to the room to ask a very unusual request: He asked that everyone present swear an oath never to reveal their identities. All agreed and each took the secret to the grave. Several days after the oath was taken the Female Stranger died and to this day no one knows their identity. Before disappearing, her husband commissioned an extravagant headstone and buried her at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Alexandria Virginia.
The engraving on the headstone reads:

To the Memory of aFEMALE STRANGERwhose mortal sufferings terminatedon the 14th day of October 1816Aged 23 years and 8 months.This stone is placed here by her disconsolateHusband in whose arms she sighed out herlatest breath and who under Goddid his utmost even to soothe the colddead ear of death.How loved how valued once avails thee notTo whom related or by whom begotA heap of dust alone remains of theeTis all thou art and all the proud shall beTo him gave all the Prophets witness thatthrough his name whosoever believeth inhim shall receive remission of sins.Acts.10th Chap.43rd verse

The Female Stranger

During the fall of 1816 in Alexandria Virginia two people, a man and his wife walked into the Gadsby’s Tavern Hotel. The woman was ill and it was thought she was suffering from Typhoid fever. The woman’s condition continued to deteriorate despite being attended by one of Alexandria’s doctors. The husband then summoned the doctor and hotel staff and even the owner’s wife to the room to ask a very unusual request: He asked that everyone present swear an oath never to reveal their identities. All agreed and each took the secret to the grave. Several days after the oath was taken the Female Stranger died and to this day no one knows their identity. Before disappearing, her husband commissioned an extravagant headstone and buried her at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Alexandria Virginia.

The engraving on the headstone reads:

To the Memory of a
FEMALE STRANGER
whose mortal sufferings terminated
on the 14th day of October 1816
Aged 23 years and 8 months.
This stone is placed here by her disconsolate
Husband in whose arms she sighed out her
latest breath and who under God
did his utmost even to soothe the cold
dead ear of death.
How loved how valued once avails thee not
To whom related or by whom begot
A heap of dust alone remains of thee
Tis all thou art and all the proud shall be
To him gave all the Prophets witness that
through his name whosoever believeth in
him shall receive remission of sins.
Acts.10th Chap.43rd verse

(Source: listverse.com)