rising sun newsletter

The name “Rising Sun” is taken from the Rising Sun Tavern in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The tavern is located in the house built by Charles Washington in 1760 and where he lived before he moved to Happy Retreat. The house became a tavern in 1792. It is now owned and operated by the Washington History Museums

rising sun tavern
December 2020 Rising Sun Newsletter

December 2020 Rising Sun Newsletter

Over the past year, we have been exploring ways to leverage historic preservation tax credits to finance the remaining restoration of Happy Retreat. In a nutshell, combined Federal and West Virginia state historic preservation tax credits can recover up to 45% of the cost of the restoration of a historic property, so that for every $100,000 spent, $45,000 can be recovered through tax credits. Since Friends of Happy Retreat is a non-profit corporation and does not pay taxes, we cannot avail ... read more

July 2020 Rising Sun Newsletter

July 2020 Rising Sun Newsletter

It is with great sadness that I report the death of Kevin Lee Sarring, the generous and multitalented architect who gave so much of his time and talent to the restoration of Happy Retreat. Kevin was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) earlier this year. He died on June 17, in California, where he had moved to be near his sister. His loss as a friend and advisor is inestimable. From the time we acquired Happy Retreat in 2015, Kevin devoted hundreds of hours to the work of restoring the read more

December 2019 Rising Sun Newsletter

December 2019 Rising Sun Newsletter

The year 2019 has seen us make continued important progress at Happy Retreat as we build on the success of the past. The most important progress has been the restoration of the smokehouse and stone kitchen, which nears completion as you are reading this. Thanks again to Bob and Tia McMillan, of Shepherdstown, for their commitment to making this work possible.  read more

September 2019 Rising Sun Newsletter

September 2019 Rising Sun Newsletter

We are excited to report that the restoration of the smokehouse and stone kitchen is happening as this is being written. When the team from the National Trust for Historic Preservation first visited Happy Retreat in 2015, they identified these two buildings as uniquely important. The limited archaeology we have done to date has helped us understand their history. We will soon be able to open them to the public to tell that history. We are indebted to Bob and Tia McMillan of Shepherdstown ... read more

April 2019 Rising Sun Newsletter

April 2019 Rising Sun Newsletter

The snow drops have already bloomed at Happy Retreat and the daffodils and forsythia are breaking forth. Several years ago, a cousin of mine named Sarah Brown, who lives in Austin, Texas, began researching the history of the people enslaved by our ancestors here in Jefferson County. Through family wills, family letters, the enumeration of property included in the appraisals of estates and other sources, she compiled a list of names of the men, women and children held in slavery at ... read more

December 2018 Rising Sun Newsletter

December 2018 Rising Sun Newsletter

We have had another successful year thanks to the support of so many people. Generous donors have helped us move forward with major restoration projects, both inside and outside the house. New roofs, gutters and downspouts and major repairs to the brick masonry now effectively protect the house from moisture – the greatest threat to any historic structure. The beautiful parlors are now fully restored and have hosted concerts, receptions and other events. Work has begun on the restoration of read more

September 2018 Rising Sun Newsletter

September 2018 Rising Sun Newsletter

On Saturday, September 15, 2018, the Bee Line Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution will dedicate a plaque to honor the military service of Charles Washington (1738- 1799), founder of Charles Town and builder of Happy Retreat. The plaque will be dedicated at a ceremony at Happy Retreat and then placed at Charles Washington’s gravesite. read more

April 2018 Rising Sun Newsletter

April 2018 Rising Sun Newsletter

The inaugural concert of the Charles Washington Chamber Music Society on Sunday, February 25, was thrilling. We are indebted to Gary Stewart for organizing the event and for bringing such a group of extraordinary musicians to Happy Retreat. It was so successful we are making plans for future concerts.  read more

December 2017 Rising Sun Newsletter

December 2017 Rising Sun Newsletter

As you read through this issue of The Rising Sun, you will get a sense of how many things are going on at Happy Retreat at different levels. We continue to make steady progress on the restoration of the house and outbuildings. We have established two signature annual events – the Wine & Jazz Festival and June and the Craft Beer and Music Festival in September – which will continue to anchor our calendar of activities. The Book Club has introduced many in our community to two excellent books read more

September 2017 Rising Sun Newsletter

September 2017 Rising Sun Newsletter

June marked the one year anniversary of working with the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of their National Treasures. We are indebted to Nancy Tinker, who led our project team, Rob Nieweg, Susan Berning and Stephen Crochet for the time they spent working with us. Under their experienced guidance, we developed a strategic plan for Happy Retreat, created a fundraising strategy and established valuable connections with other successful National Trust sites around the country ... read more

April 2017 Rising Sun Newsletter

April 2017 Rising Sun Newsletter

“If only these walls could talk,” is something we often hear people say at Happy Retreat, as I’m sure they do at most historic homes. It turns out that, in a way, walls can talk, as we learned from the paint analysis done as part of the first phase of the Historic Structures Report summarized in this newsletter. In one room, that analysis gave us a complete chronology of the colors of paint used back to the day Charles Washington first walked through the door. By comparing that sequence of ... read more

December 2016 Rising Sun Newsletter

December 2016 Rising Sun Newsletter

Two momentous events marked the year that draws to a close. First, in June the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Happy Retreat a National Treasure. We cannot begin to express our gratitude to the National Trust for this immense and humbling honor. The National Treasure designation is not simply a plaque to hang on the wall. It is a commitment between the Trust and our Board to work together to bring to life our plans for Happy Retreat. This work began even before the National ... read more