There’s no better way to see history than on horseback, so I always enjoy signing up with the Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area for their wonderful rides through the historic countryside.
The trail ride on June 6 started at picturesque Long Branch, located near the small town of Boyce, Va. The 200-year-old house sits on 400 pristine acres and overlooks gently rolling hills that swell seamlessly into the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The known history of the property dates back to 1788, when Robert Carter Burwell, a descendant of Robert “King” Carter, inherited the land sitting along a stream known as Long Branch. He turned the land into a wheat plantation, and began to construct a mansion around 1810.
The property then passed into the ownership of Burwell’s sister, Sarah and her husband Philip Nelson, who didn’t move in until around 1820. Sources indicate they operated the house as a school for girls while continuing wheat production.
Struggling to keep the plantation running, Nelson ended up selling it to his nephew Hugh Nelson in 1842 for $32,000. Hugh and his wife Adelaide did some renovations including adding the beautiful spiral staircase that is there today.
Luckily Harry Z. Isaacs, a Baltimore textile executive, purchased the estate in 1986 and oversaw a large-scale rehabilitation. Before his death in 1990, Isaacs created the Harry Z. Isaacs Foundation to maintain and operate Long Branch Farm for charitable purposes.
Horse Retirement Farm
Today Long Branch serves as a Virginia wedding reception venue and a horse retirement facility. The scenery is breathtaking, from the treelined entranceway to the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The house is available for parties, meetings, and other large gatherings.