Story by Michelle Baker
Photos by Joanne Maisano

Workers rushed to paint and plant on the grounds of 301 East Washington Street late last month. Staff rushed to get programs printed and offices set up while the interior designer wanted a rush order on the draperies so he could put the finishing touches on the new Masters of the Foxhounds Association and Foundation Headquarters and Museum for the big reveal.

With thousands of guests arriving for the Virginia Foxhound Club 72nd Annual Show of Foxhounds at Morven Park on May 26, the deadline was firm. And they did it.

Bob Thorsen and his Thorsen Construction crew, David Norden, Shepherd, Hinckley, Norden Architects, and Fred Root of Houndstooth Interior Design along with dozens of others worked with Masters of the Foxhounds Foundation Director T. Garrick Steele to turn the charming cottage on East Washington Street into a state of the art national museum for the fox hunting community.

Guests came from across the country to take a peek at the new headquarters during the day long open house on Saturday, May 25. The purchase and renovation of the Masters of Foxhounds Association Museum and Headquarters of North America was made possible by donors, volunteers and committees’ generous efforts to support their foxhunting community. The headquarters and museum was purchased under the presidency of Jack van Nagell and renovated under the presidency of Patrick Anthony Leahy.

The acquisition was made possible with the help of Middleburg Mayor Bridge Littleton, the Middleburg Foundation and Betsee Parker. The members of the board of trustees of the foundation expressed appreciation for the generosity of the donors, the 70 hunts and the more than 600 members who made the purchase and renovation possible in the program. The entire facility is paid for and that is in part due to the
generosity of donors Daphne Flowers Wood and C. Martin Wood III.

The new headquarters is a mix of old and new. The work took nearly eight months to complete. In the older part of the house, the original hardwood floors can be seen. However, the meeting of old, new and refurbished is so seamless that a person needs a tour with the interior designer to know where one starts and the other stops.

The board held the first meeting and a cocktail party in the new first level space even before the new curtains arrived a day before the open house. Many of the people who attended were relatives of people in the paintings. “So it really made this come alive to me, to meet them,” said Root, who hung the curtains and gave open house tours on the same day.

Visitors from out of state came for the foxhounds event but took advantage of the great timing to see the new museum. What was once the parlor is going to be the gallery. Many more locals like Dinwiddie Lampton, III were there on Saturday and toured the room where Mason Lampton’s portrait was freshly hung. Various paintings of local legends grace the walls including one of the first people to bring English hounds to the states.

“That plaque sterling silver was a gift to him, found online and was very close to being melted down,” said Root. A lot of the paintings had either been in storage or were being shown at Morven. “That piece we own but it was up at Morven Park,” sad Root, pointing to a beautiful wooden cabinet between two fireplaces in the boardroom. “We measured the piece. We came down and we measured (and the railing was put in after that) It is so wedged in there, it will never be moved,” joked Root.

The beautiful walnut board room tables were also moved from the board room at Morven Park. Root had them refinished and they look like new. The boardroom chairs purchased by one of the benefactors 25 years ago, were reupholstered before moving to Middleburg from Leesburg.

Root said Wood remarked on how nice the chairs turned out when she saw them in the new headquarters. All the colors were taken from the rug in the gallery that he picked out. Beautifully painted walls (blues and greens) and Root, a semi-retired interior designer, loved adding to the foxhound history by putting his touch on the house through choices of carpets and Ralph Lauren lighting. Just five years ago he was at a horse show, 17.2 jumping in the ring and had a massive heart attack in the ring.

“Ended up, had a quadruple bypass that day, in a coma for 10 days, in the hospital for a month, and I used to come down here years ago and always wanted to live here,” he said. When he “finally got over the drug haze” he said he made a major life decision to move to Middleburg. “This was a fun project,” said the man who helped design the next chapter for the Masters of the Foxhounds Association and Foundation Headquarters and Museum.

This article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.