Huntland, the historic property once owned by sportsman Joseph Thomas just outside Middleburg, VA, had changed hands during the 20th century and its kennels lay vacant for decades. When Dr. Betsee Parker acquired the property, she began to painstakingly restore it with a keen eye for its original layout, functional design, and historical significance. The heartwarming result was highlighted at last week's kennel tour - really a demonstration of the building's unique plan - guided by Dr. Parker and generously supporting the MFHA's Hark Forward initiative.
Middleburg huntsman Richard Roberts and hounds enjoy the refurbished runs. Photo by Joanne Maisano.
For this special event, hounds from Middleburg Hunt took up temporary residence in the lodges and yards, in anticipation of the hunt's special meet the following day. As Dr. Parker explained the thoughtful setup of the kennels, huntsman Richard Roberts drew out doghounds and bitches from their respective sections. The property has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2013 and its earliest section dates to 1834, but it was during Thomas' ownership, beginning in 1915, that the innovative kennels were developed and the estate became a sporting landmark. Dr. Parker's renovations have sought to return the kennels to their 1920's appearance.
Following the hostess' comments, guests were free to tour the U-shaped kennel building, including feed and treatment rooms, upstairs dwelling and changing rooms for hunt staff, and walls displaying many awards earned by Dr. Parker's champion show hunters.
All the senses were treated to a special dinner in the house, with fine music, food, flowers, and company. Photo by Joanne Maisano.
The brick home, beautifully decorated with floral arrangements and complemented by a string trio, welcomed guests for a full buffet dinner. Dr. Parker's generosity was cheered, and MFHA Executive Director David Twiggs thanked her for her contribution to the acquisition of our new headquarters building. Twiggs also emphasized "hounds, horses, and hospitality" as central elements of the foxhunting community, and the important role the headquarters building will play as a tangible, visible symbol of our sport.
Dr. Parker, with MFHA Executive Director David Twiggs and Middleburg Hunt Master Penny Denegre, welcomes guests. Photo by Joanne Maisano.
To read about the 2016 Biennial Staff Seminar visit to Huntland, please click here.