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On the grounds. The Vinyard home is embraced by gardens, statuary and old boxwoods replanted from Franklin County.
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Now with an updated accent on light and color, the dining room is a showcase for collections of antiques and new fabric and wall covering.
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One of Meadowbrook’s nine fireplaces, the den’s structure is unusual as the only catty-corner Deyerle design.Blue toile mixes plaid and contrast in the golden guest room.Original with the property, the MEAT house is a graceful reminder of the estate’s past.
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The grounds are full of hostas, camellias, roses, peonies and more.
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The great room offers more space for entertaining guests and access to the spacious patio and gardens.
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Part of the home’s addition, the master bath carries out an African theme with art, artifacts, and strong color.
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Small special touches, such as this sunny nook near the home’s second floor balcony, are hallmarks of Deyerle’s designs.
It’s a second-generation love affair. First, Bill and Ernestine (Teeny) Vinyard discovered the stately North Roanoke County home she dubbed Meadowbrook in 1960. It was a perfect fit with her specifications of “something old and something out.” Former Vintonites – he founded Vinton Motors in 1931, while she taught English at William Byrd High School – they soon acquired the 35 acres and spacious house, one of the valley’s original homes by the famous Deyerle brother builders.
“My father liked to work with cattle,” says son Billy who, with wife Virginia, inherited the property in 1998. “He told my mother, ‘I’ll buy the house but you have to fix it up.’” It was a mutual agreement. Over the years, Teeny devoted time, energy and resources to the project, bringing the house back as a comfortable, modern residence.
Amazingly, the Vinyards were just the second family to own the estate.
The house was built in 1866 by Christopher Nininger, a Brethren minister who also owned a warehouse at Hollins Station. Strange as it seems in today’s super-highway world, the property was a thoroughfare running near Tinker Creek, then used as a crossing place for people en route to other points. When the rains came and the creek overflowed its banks, making it impassable, the Niningers would take in travelers, many of whom they apparently knew. Mementoes of those stopovers are still visible today in messages scratched into the front porch brick, one poignantly pondering: “Where will we be 10 years hence?” – July 24, 1887.
Throughout the decades, ownership passed through the Nininger family. Some even took up such enterprises as an operating the land as an orchard before Teeny Vinyard found the property with its roses gone wild but the house still intact.
Only 15 when he moved into Meadowbrook with his parents, Billy thrived at the house. He recalls happy memories of fun holidays when, as a student at Augusta Military Academy and later at Virginia Tech, he often brought friends there for the holidays when they were unable to return to their own homes.
The Next Generation
Following Teeny Vinyard’s death in 1998, Billy and Virginia had a new home.
As fate would have it, they were then living in Franklin County and had just finished remodeling another historic home, this one vintage 1860, but more than 40 minutes from Billy’s work as principal dealer at the family dealership. Ironically, that experience was a boon when the couple began to put their own stamp on the property, a project that took a full year before they moved in 1999.
“A lot of my ideas came from the other house,” Virginia says of her decorating and living scheme. “I wanted some of the same things I’d had there… an open, bright room, a patio right off the house and an outdoor room.”
But one of her first priorities was simply opening up existing space.
Letting In The Light
“We took down all the heavy drapes and took up all the wall-to-wall carpeting,” she says. “Then we refinished the heart-of-pine floors, all of them original except in the den, where there is newer, pegged flooring.”
Later, Billy and Virginia had a two-story addition constructed, giving them a sunken great room leading to a charming patio and multiple gardens, while upstairs there’s a sitting room, walk-in closets and luxury his-and-hers bath. Incredibly, Virginia found matching brick in North Carolina to face the exterior addition.
Today, the structure is a happy blend: the best of old and new.
The first-floor layout spans the formal dining room, pool room, den, kitchen, great room and full bath, set off with the Deyerles’ traditional wide front hall and staircase. The upstairs includes four bedrooms and three baths. A charming back staircase bears the marks of wear in irregular-width treads pounded thin in spots by decades of use.
Outside, the original meat house stands close to the rear elevation while two stables and an equipment shed are sprinkled along the grounds nearby. Not yet constructed, a corral will house the couple’s four horses and mule as Virginia’s 50th birthday gift.
One of a Kind
Some features are distinctive, others simply very desirable.
“This is the only Deyerle house,” Virginia notes, “built with a catty-corner fireplace.” In all, the home holds nine working fireplaces, four converted to gas logs in areas where the couple frequently entertains. A tenth, in the basement, is walled up, though the mantel has been left intact.
“Walls are 18 inches, brick-to-brick,” Billy says, “with brick walls to the ground; no foundation.” The treatment is a Flemish bond and like the still-original glass, was made on site by workers on Tinker Creek
A Natural Palette
The décor reflects Virginia’s pet passions: gardening, antiques and collecting.
A member of the Mill Mountain Garden Club and board member of the Historical Society of Western Virginia and Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation, she’s filled every corner of the grounds with statuary and masses of flowers, including old boxwoods replanted from the Franklin County home, giant hostas, camellias, roses, peonies and tree peonies, Irish moss, even thymes planted in cracks of a slate seating area. Here in the grounds where Indians once lived – proven when workmen found arrow heads while putting in landscaping she originally designed with Chris Barlow of Garden Arts – the couple and their dogs, Sadie and Tanna, relax in areas of many moods.
“The house takes its cue from the gardens,” she points out, “with earth colors in deep reds, greens, blues and ochre.”
These vivid tones are splashed onto walls and reflect one of Virginia’s pet collections, her Chinese Mud Men. Other notable sets include a store of fish plates painted by her grandmother, Mrs. E. Lee Trinkle, when she served as Virginia’s First Lady and lived in the Governor’s Mansion; hand-blown glass, antique napkin rings and a variety of sea turtles, which her husband initiated.
Made For Easy Living
There are other pieces that fit the couple’s bent for entertaining and casual elegance.
Two prominent acquisitions, purchased from long-time local antique expert John Elkins and dominating the great room, include a stunning pair of architectural-designed English bookcases of bleached pine and a nine-foot antique country pine table, lit by a light fixture made from an antique farm implement and equipped with lantern-encased candles.
Some touches are casual, such as the “throwaway” rugs she uses – and replaces – because of the dogs. Others, like the green marble facing she added to the den fireplace are more elegant, working together with leather and hunting curios for a sporty look.
And there’s more: a former mud room, gutted and converted to a modern kitchen with handmade cabinets, Thermador appliances and a refrigerator built to mirror the cabinet look.
When Work Is Fun
Now married 13 years, Billy and Virginia have space and inducements to make visits enjoyable for their four children and five grandchildren. Two of the most pleasing: a miniature John Deere Gator, similar to the one Virginia uses daily for her horticulture chores, and Billy’s John Deere mower.
For the lady of the house, the estate is unquestionably a year-round delight.
“Each window is a picture,” she says, “and I wait for each season to come because of what it brings.”
Now complete with all the modern luxuries – upgraded wiring done by the parents, along with a gas furnace, and Billy and Virginia’s new three heat pump systems – there’s little left at Meadowbrook but natural beauty, an architectural delight and the open arms of the host and hostess there.
“Teeny trusted me with this house, which was her love,” says Virginia. “My gift is to share it with others.”