Of late on social media, our friends with offspring attending Washington & Lee and the Virginia Military Institute have been touting Lexington as one of the best small towns in Virginia. It’s been a while since we have roamed the streets of this historic hamlet and have longed for the opportunity to return to find out why all the fuss. With an irresistible invitation in hand, Alison and I recently headed west and must concur with its fans. Largely due to the sophisticated new boutique inn, The Georges, Lexington is indeed one of the charms of our Commonwealth.
The Georges name comes from the two historic buildings that comprise the boutique inn: The Washington (as in President George) Building on the corner of Washington and Main streets
and the Marshall (as in General George) Building across the street on Main.
From the moment we entered the lobby of the Marshall Building, we knew we were in for a design treat. Most all of the public and guest rooms feature a Sunny Goode painting that sets the tone for the decor. A sophisticated mix of modern and traditional furniture and accessories greets you at every turn. We ooooh-ed and ahhh-ed our way through our visit.
Co-owners Ann Parker Gottwald and husband Teddy Gottwald gutted and restored the two buildings dating from the turn of the eighteenth century in roughly a year, hiring general contractor John Adamson of Richmond to spearhead the impressive accomplishment. Along with Adamson and Goode, Ann Parker collaborated with James Farmer and a small cadre of family and friends to establish the welcoming and stylish interior design.
The Marshall Building is home to TAPS, the lobby lounge.
Alison and I enjoyed a post-dinner drink and cheese plate in front of the inviting fireplace. TAPS is a play on Teddy and Ann Parker’s initials and a nod to VMI and the military bugle call.
The dining space of TAPS hosts morning breakfast and special events, from meetings to rehearsal dinners.
Don’t you love the Sunny Goode triptych above that is the focal point of the space? The mirrored wall against the banquette above presented a structural design challenge.
The old stone walls bowed outwardly and the banquette and accessories had to accommodate (and disguise) the irregular bulge. This challenge was one of the many 18th-century construction era opportunities Adamson and the Gottwalds cleverly addressed.
Farmer recommended unifying the numerous public spaces in the two buildings with one wallpaper pattern,
and Ann Parker chose this textured Thibaut paper to do so.
The rear of the Marshall Building greets guests arriving by car. We lamented the timing of our visit was not a few weeks later in the spring as we would have loved to see the tuteur
and other plantings on the Garden Terrace in bloom. The terrace at the right of the entrance doubles as a relaxing gathering spot as well as special event space.
The guest rooms in the Marshall Building open to the terrace.
When tented, it transforms into an exquisite setting as shown in this photo of a rehearsal dinner from last summer.
The Washington Building is home to Haywood’s, a chic casual restaurant.
Ann Parker’s father, Haywood Hyman, enjoyed listening to jazz piano, so in tribute, she named the restaurant for him and included the instrument for ambiance. Music students from Washington and Lee often play the keyboard on Friday through Sunday nights.
W&L’s Audio Engineer has made Haywood’s a jazz music project for his students; what a benefit to Haywood’s patrons!
This original oil stick painting by Richmond artist Greig Leach and signed by many jazz greats, including Bruce Hornsby and Wynton Marsalis, greets diners.
Haywood’s Courtyard offers a charming al fresco spot in temperate weather.
Guest Rooms at The Washington Building
The inn-keeping staff at The Georges graciously gave us a tour of the 18 guest rooms at the inn. The guest entrance door to the Washington Building had us at hello.
door paint is Benjamin Moore’s Stratton Blue in high gloss
Stairs from the street-level entrance lead to a covered lounge for the guests.
ceiling paint is Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue in Satin
All five guest rooms in the Washington Building are suites.
This one boasts a fireplace
and balcony overlooking Main Street. A favorite of Ashley Farley’s, she claims this room provides
the best view of Lexington’s Christmas Parade.
In the next suite I flipped for the large oyster mirror, which reflects the ceiling painted in Bridget Beari Colors Sydney #15.
Each guest room and bath is unique, featuring different furniture, paint and accessories.
Ann Parker achieved this considerable design feat herself, calling upon her collaborative design team’s talent and resources to help create the upscale, refreshing look and feel she wanted her guests to experience.
The aqua and neutral palette of this suite
makes for a tranquil place to relax and restore the soul.
one of four free-standing soaking tubs at the inn
Sunny’s painting pops in the neutral palette of this bedroom.
Alison and I admired the crisp blue and white wallpaper and soaking tub in this, our favorite bathroom.
The heated bathroom floors in all of the rooms provide comfort during a winter visit, while the bath fixtures by Waterworks ensure exquisite luxury.
Our suite offered two dreamy queen beds by Sealy, standard heavenly fare in all rooms.
After the Washington Building tour, we walked across the street to visit the guest rooms of the Marshall Building, entering via the covered walkway overlooking the patio.
The first room was smaller, yet boasted one of the two balconies on the Marshall Building facing Main Street
with a bird’s eye view of The Washington Building and The Bistro, our lunch spot, from the balcony.
Once again, the unique decor of each room creates its own personality.
We had a fit over the chartreuse leather bed,
which looked upon this art-filled corner.
The L-shaped balcony gives this guest room impressive views of the city
and campus buildings.
The Town of Lexington
If you don’t have children attending W&L or VMI, you may not have a reason to visit Lexington. We say, you do now! Lexington offers plenty of shopping, walking and dining opportunities to satisfy its visitors.
Lexington is a pedestrian-friendly town, with most attractions within a 10-minute walk of The Georges.
We lunched at The Bistro, next door to the Washington Building.
Around the corner is the Cabell Gallery,
owned by Richmond’s own Cabell Gorman.
Artists in Cahoots, a local art collective,
includes the works of Richmond native, Sarah Gayle Carter.
At Cahoots we spotted beautiful pottery that Alison declared I should buy because it matched my outfit. Every gal needs a shopping assistant like Alison!
Of course we stopped to capture the stylish containers
adorning the downtown store fronts.
The campuses of W&L and VMI are a leisurely ten minute walk from The Georges. Each offers numerous interesting sites for the history buff and reside side-by-side just northwest of town center.
The body of General Robert E. Lee lies in repose in the Lee Chapel. Lee was president of W&L after the Civil War.
The unique imprinted patterns of the Lexington Bricks we spotted on campus were made to give traction to horses’ hooves while carrying riders and carriages throughout the town.
VMI’s castle-like Gothic Revival exterior inspires the cadet and visitor with a sense of history, service and valor.
The VMI Museum’s auditorium boasts a massive painting by alum B. West Clinedinst depicting the Battle of New Market, the basis for the 2015 movie Field of Lost Shoes.
At the time of the battle, the Confederate Army was in such dire need of manpower it drafted VMI cadets to supplement the Army’s ranks. The South claimed a key victory and defended the Shenandoah Valley with the help of these oh-so-young men.
Our visit ended with a scene of the VMI cadets on the parade ground with the oft-painted House Mountain in the background.
We left The Georges and Lexington refreshed by a very Virginia experience. We highly recommend you put them on your list for your next getaway with your loved one, family or posse pals. How about a family reunion or destination wedding? When you plan your visit to The Georges and Lexington, be sure to check out the Lexington Visitor’s Guide for events and happenings.
Many thanks to The Georges staff and Ann Parker for the lovely hospitality, and to our friends cHl, bJm and mDb for their helpful sightseeing suggestions.
April 12, 2017
Although we were guests of The Georges, the opinions expressed here are entirely our own.
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