The Farm and its Legacy
Built in 1910, Westwood was an operating farm in the Robert Dabney Browning family up through the mid 1900's. The property was part of a large tract of land known as “Oakley” and was parceled to the one son, Robert, who wished to continue farming. In 1910 Robert and his bride Bessie Twyman built the Greek Revival style farmhouse which was in the "woods west of Oakley" . Westwood as it was named, was the first house built in Orange County with indoor plumbing!
The farm was passed onto Mr. Robert Browning's daughter, Mildred Berkeley and her husband Colonel Robert Lee Rodgers, a history instructor and rifle coach at Woodberry Forest School. A nephew of the Rodgers visited the property shortly after Jay and Elizabeth moved to Westwood and gave them the real tour of the farm. He pointed out where the apple and pear orchards once stood, the pig sties, the field used for growing crops and the one dedicated for hay only. In the back of the home was a blacksmith shop which explains the various metal pieces (old farm implements, horseshoes, spoons, hand tools, etc…) Jay has unearthed while digging in the garden. He also pointed out the area where they would pile up the unused farm equipment against a few trees. This accounts for the wagon wheel rim and farm tool sticking out of the tree at its base.
During the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate troops and look-outs were assigned along the Rapidan River in preparation of a large scale Union attack. A major encampment site has been unearthed in the past few years on Montpelier’s property less than a mile away. We have found a North Carolina Confederate button in the backyard giving more and more indication that troops did move over the property.
Since 2004 Elizabeth Goeke & Jay Billie have worked to reclaim the abandoned gardens and are slowly bringing Westwood back to a small working farm. Many old gardens have been reclaimed from years gone by and new ones established. During the growing seasons breakfast includes many ingredients picked from the Inn's gardens. Fresh cut flowers from the farm's perennial beds are placed in guest rooms and throughout the Inn.
Magnificent trees landmark the property. Black walnut, white and red oak, poplar, maples, hickory and cedar dot the landscape.