A 250-year-old house, eight generations, Civil War history, horses, jazz, and giraffes. The home that never forgets anything.
Photography by Jaclyn Dyrholm
Welbourne is so many things that it cannot possibly be summed up with a single description. Welbourne is a 1770 property and antebellum mansion in Loudoun County that has been in the same family since 1830; a treasured home for past, present, and future generations; an important piece of equine history and a retirement facility for about 100 horses; a refuge for jazz lovers (and giraffe lovers); a flagship leader in the drive for sustainable land use, historic easement, and preservation; and a bed and breakfast whose hospitality is a natural outcome of everything that Welbourne encompasses. It is a home that warmly welcomes all, but possesses a special meaning for those who share its values.
Seventh-generation host Josh Morison tells Welbourne’s story:
“It rarely feels like Welbourne needs our fixing so much as we need its. For all the minor year-to-year crises and tribulations, the house and farm abide, and for all that my father, mother, wife, and I do, we’re just another notch in the tally stick of the generations.”
At the turn of the last century, the story goes, dormer windows were put in the old manor’s attic to let the ghosts out. The apparitions might have gone, but Welbourne is nothing if not suffused with reminders of all who have passed through its heavy pine door.
And for every windowpane autographed by a Confederate officer’s diamond ring, for every F. Scott Fitzgerald story set here, there is a note in the guestbook from a couple staying at the bed and breakfast for the first time in 30 years, remarking on my grandmother’s storytelling upon their first visit. The antebellum is the draw, but all these histories matter. And the house is indiscriminate—its glass and stucco glow and sigh with them, its dust and floorboards float and creak with them.
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