The Friends of Happy Retreat, the home of Charles Town founder Charles Washington, arranged for four of the Washington family estates to be open for a day that coincided with the Charles Town Heritage Fair. I made a point of traveling to Charles Town to view these estates. I had been inside three of the four when I lived in the area in the early 1970s. At that time, Bellaire was boarded up and falling into disrepair. I could see it in the distance located in an fruit orchard as I traveled the highway between Charles Town and Harpers Ferry. I had heard that it was now situated in a new housing development, and therefore feared that it was being commercialized or even worse, in an even more deplorable condition that when I last saw it. I was ready for the worse as I turned down the lane that led to it amidst the large newly built houses. Fortunately my fears were unfounded. The company building the development obviously realizes the historical qualities of the original property and are lovingly restoring and re-adapting the house and surrounding property for the 21st century while retaining much of its original integrity. If the structure were again filled with 19th century furniture and personal belongings. I'm sure Lewis Washington and his family would feel quite comfortable in their home again. Right now, it is striped of any furniture so the house can be used for a variety of public (weddings, dinners, club meetings, etc.) and private (company meetings and guest rooms) functions. Although the closets and bathrooms weren't part of the original structure, they blend in nicely and make for a more modern facility that makes it very usable for 21st needs. I do not know if this site is open at other times throughout the year, but it definitely is worth a visit whenever it is.
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