Enon Hall


These journal entries track our progress as we undertake our adventure of restoring this very old home. The main reason for keeping this journal on the web is that we have found that there are very few resources (books or websites) that follow all of the trials and tribulations of restoring an old home...from start to finish.

July 25, 1999

Tomorrow is the big day. We will close on Enon Hall at 4:00, ending what has been a very long process. I first saw the home in a photograph (see below) in a book call "Hathaways of America" that was published in 1970. I was immediately enchanted with the idea of a home that had been in my grandfather's family for such a long period of time (1666* - 1940). I should point out that I was just 7 years old at the time, but my grandparents had done an excellent job of instilling an interest and pride in family heritage.


Years later, my wife and I bought our first home in Richmond. An "old" 1922 brick victorian. And from time to time I would call White Stone and ask various people whether Enon Hall had possibly come on the market. I don't know what I would have done if they had said, "Yes! As a matter of fact it's for sale right now!" We were certainly in no financial position to be buying a second home. In 1993 our son was born, and we gave him my name. "William Hathaway Chapman, Jr." I've always liked my name, but the main reason for passing it on was a hope that I could somehow commit this new son to sharing my interest in our family. It was the original William Hathaway who established Enon Hall in Virginia's historic Lancaster County in 1666.

In October of 1996 I made direct contact with the Haydens, the owners of Enon Hall, who have lived there since 1968. I visited with Mr. Hayden on the screen porch that day and we hit it off. He was amazingly sharp for a man of 93 years. He and his wife (of the same age) moved to the Northern Neck after retiring in the mid sixties. First they lived in Lively, and then they purchased the last remaining three and half acres of Enon Hall...over 400 acres its heyday. I was awed that this fine gentleman has been retired for as long as I have been alive.

The meeting was exciting. I let him know that when he ever got ready to sell the old home, I'd love to have the chance to try to purchase it. He was receptive to the idea and that was the beginning of a two and a half year process of starts and stops that will finally culminate at closing tomorrow.

Mr. Hayden first hired the patriarch attorney of the county to coordinate the deal...Mr. C. Jackson Simmons. I am fortunate to have met this local institution, author and historian. He was quite the character. Unfortunately, he passed away before we could complete a deal.

I should mention ...or confess...one of the most unusual aspects of this purchase. Other than two rooms, the center hall, and the cellar, my wife and I are are "bravely" (feel free to replace this modifier with the word you feel might be more appropriate) buying this house sight-unseen and as-is. In the future, I will explain why this had to be. But mostly, my wife and I were willing to make this concession in order to get the home...and get it for an attractive price. We decided that there was nothing we could possibly find that would deter us from wanting to proceed with the purchase...so why complicate things...or scare ourselves to death?

We are buying the home with a life estate for the Haydens, so we will still have to wait to see what we've really gotten ourselves into with the house. That first walk through the house should be quite interesting. We'll have to have a video camera with us...mostly to capture our expressions. Hopefully not expressions of horror.

Meanwhile, we can start working on the grounds (uncovering wonderful old trees that are overgrown by vines and underbrush), the outbuildings (the original smokehouse and kitchen), and the dock. -- Bill

July 26, 1999

Well we did it! We closed on Enon Hall today! Gay and I decided that it seemed kind of anticlimatic since we weren't able to leave closing and go run through the house like we normally would. Instead we just drove by it on our way back home. Guess that's one of the trade-offs of buying a home with a life estate for the former owner.

The attorney and the Haydens' executor were both at closing and have been going through the house doing an inventory of the Hayden's belongings and beginning the clean up process. They both understand that any building materials, or anything that looks like it may have once been attached to the house, is to remain for us. Apparantly there are also some shutters that Mr. Hayden had custom made, but never hung for some reason.

Have been doing some reading on the bulletin boards about asbestos siding. From what I have read so far, there don't appear to be any regulations prohibiting homeowners from doing the removal themselves. Also don't appear to be any serious health issues since they are made up of so much cement and so little asbestos. Will have to do more research on this...but am anxious to find out if there are still some old clapboards under the ugly asbestos siding. Well, the adventure begins!

Got an email today from a Kevin Hathaway...descended from John Hathaway who was born at Enon Hall in 1733 and then moved to Fauquier County where he built "Hatherage." A new-found, yet distant cousin! Maybe I'll add a page to this site with lists of email addreses for people descended from people born at Enon Hall. -- Bill

July 27, 1999

Added a page of contact information for descendants of Enon Hall's Hathaway residents who have contacted us through this website. -- Bill