I first came to North Point Plantation in early October 2012. Bill and I had met in Washington, D.C., only five days earlier. He wanted me to see his home on the Mattaponi River. I had always loved old homes and had collected antiques and art for decades. (I rushed my own ladder back chairs and reupholstered my antique seating.) My first home after college was built in 1907, my second in 1810. A career author and journalist, I had written one book about modernist architecture. Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright are among my favorite modernists, but my soul is foremost attracted to the old and handmade.
Bill is a modest man, and he did not prepare me for the astonishing majesty of North Point’s brick, Georgian main house, circa 1740, nor the exquisite beauty of the grounds and River when he first brought me here, at 1 a.m. on the Saturday of Columbus Day Weekend, 2012. In fact, thinking back on it, I don’t recall him saying much at all about North Point except that he wanted me to see it.
The instant we stepped inside, I was floored by the home’s interior architecture, features, and furnishings. Yet, it was not until we awoke in the light of day that I fully realized how awe-inspiring North Point is. I was still working in Washington as the writer to the head of a federal law enforcement agency, but from the early months of our fast moving relationship (we married less than one year after meeting and were only apart three nights from the time of our first date), I hoped that some day we could be together at North Point.
And so we wake up and go to bed in this heavenly place we are so fortunate to steward. In the early morning, a transcendent light pours in the more than 60 windows of North Point’s four levels, accompanied by the close, overlapping sounds of so many species of birds and insects. We go to bed each night to the funny bellowing of the bull frogs under a wide arced sky, all the more wondrous on a clear, starring night. No matter where I am in the world, I miss North Point’s sounds, smells, and sights. I never for one instant take this place for granted. Perhaps like a proselytizer spreading the Word, I love to share North Point with others because I feel its history and beauty so deeply. (We know more than a little about its 275 year history, but not nearly enough. So much research yet for us to do.)
The time at North Point is still full of a solid day’s work that rarely ends with the fading light or with the calendar week. The work is no longer devoted to harvesting tobacco or doing wash by hand, but rather, to maintaining North Point’s house and grounds so that we may share its pleasures with others.
In April, North Point hosted a fabulous editorial shoot styled by Elizabeth Gopal, owner of East Made Event Co. and photographed by Rachel May Photography. The models looked like they stepped out of central casting: an angelic, sinewy “bride” donning a breathtaking, flowing, blush-colored gown by Alexandra Grecco of New York; a handsome, dashing “groom,” in trim, white tux–both as graceful as gazelles. Watching the team work and then seeing the finished photos (look for publication and a full list of the talent involved on the prestigious blog, Once Wed, this June) was terrifically exciting for me. The photo accompanying this blog is from the shoot, one of nearly 550 photographs that Rachel May took over the course of eight hours.
We also hosted a dynamic team of Virginia-based videographers for three days. Now that was an experience, especially since it rained for most of the time. But the team, composed of Mauricio Cimino, Bob Cranwell, and Casey Lynch, were the very definition of working fast on their feet and adapting to whatever challenges stood in their path. Peeking at their dailies was a real thrill so I can’t wait to see their finished product.
More good news came in learning that a winter shoot we hosted will be published on the Tidewater and Tulle blog on June 1, and that our first shoot, last fall, which had already been published in Borrowed & Blue (photos by Brittany York), saw life again when photos taken by Shelby Dickinson were published on Virginia’s Hill City Bride blog.
If this was not nearly enough exciting goings on, I was interviewed by Richmond Bride Magazine for a piece being written on North Point and the romantic history of its Valentine Suite for the June issue.
As one ages, one comes to understand just how precious each passing year is, the birth of each child, each generation. And no matter how much happens over the course of six days or six weeks or 60 years, love is that ineffable thing–biological, spiritual, metaphysical, intellectual, anthropological, that connects us through time.
Maybe that’s why I am so richly gratified to share North Point Plantation with others. Here, love for each other and for one’s extended family resounds through the centuries. Here, we are connected to the past, to all those families and friends who brought life to North Point and bring life again, now, to this hallowed place.