Several years ago for a day trip, Julie Haines and Dave Fulton hopped on their motorcycle and rode from Northern Virginia to the Culpeper area. That ride changed their lives.
â??We just kept coming down here,â? said Haines.
Not only did the couple keep visiting the area but also became so enamored with the Piedmont region that they decided to marry in Culpeper in 2011. In 2014, they sold their home in Northern Virginia, bought an historic 1810 home in Madison County and moved.
But the couple, who have four grown children and work for a London-based engineering company providing infrastructure in undeveloped countries, had their sights set on another goal.
Originally, Haines and Fulton thought about establishing a location for large scale events, such as weddings.
When Haines and Fulton married, they rented out Fountain Hall Bed and Breakfast on South East Street, as well as 249 Suites and Thyme Market on East Davis Streets. To them, it appeared that there were not enough luxury accommodations in the area.
With an event location in their plans, the couple realized that people attending large events would be in the same place they were when they married â?? the lack of high-end accommodations.
Haines and Fulton heard from friends that a spacious house on a 10-acre lot in Reva might be available. The couple jumped at the chance. They also had a plan to use the large barn for events and convert the home into a luxury bed and breakfast.
â??This was bought with the express intent to be a B&B,â? said Fulton.
On Feb. 4, the couple closed on the property.
â??We got going on the 16th of February,â? said Fulton.
In the 12 days from closing to the start of renovations, Haines, Fulton, Fultonâ??s son Eric and his fiancÃ©e Evanne Allen met with Rusty Robertson of P.J. Williams Co. in Madison to work out plans to convert the house.
â??Rusty has done an unbelievable job,â? said Haines.
Robertson put his contracting skills to work, while the rest of the team picked out colors, decorations, furniture and decided upon what amenities they wanted for the new bed and breakfast.
But first, the inn needed a name.
Hainesâ?? and Fultonâ??s dream coincides with the words of poet, author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau.
â??Live the life you dreamed,â? Thoreau wrote.
From those words, the estate in Reva was christened Walden Hall. The bucolic and restful setting within sight of the Blue Ridge Mountains greets visitors with a large pond at the front of the property.
The new inn contains five bedrooms named after 18th Century poets.
The Walt Whitman Grande suite upstairs is marketed as a bridal suite. It features a four-poster bed, gas fireplace, two skylights, hardwood floors and a huge shower adjoining the bedroom. It also contains a dressing room for the bridal party and a separate sitting room.
â??We are going to offer some wonderful elopement packages,â? said Haines. â??Everything is perfectly done for you.â?
Nothing was changed on the exterior said Robertson, but several major renovations inside, including new electric wire runs and gas lines, brought his innovative construction skills to the fore.
A downstairs office was converted to a bedroom and the adjoining pantry was transformed into a bathroom.
â??We wanted every bedroom to have a bathroom,â? said Allen, who serves as the innâ??s marketing director.
Instead of just covering the pantry door opening, Robertson created a bookshelf in the recess.
In one bedroom, two large built-in closets posed a bathroom access problem. As designed, access to the bathroom would have been from the hall. Robertson left one closest intact. The other closet was rehabilitated as an entrance to a spacious bathroom.
A fifth guest room was created over the garage with a bathroom and wet bar.
Several rooms contain whirlpool tubs. For those that donâ??t, a hot tub sits under a covered porch on the second floor.
The basement, dubbed The Club, has been converted to an entertainment and fitness destination. A large wet bar, with beer tap, greets visitors. A billiard table and air hockey table sit nearby. Off to the side is a home theatre with a projection system and comfortable chairs.
â??Weâ??ll have movie nights,â? said Allen.
A unique arcade room in the basement is bathed in black light, highlighting psychedelic designs on the wall.
â??Who has a Pac Man in a B&B?â? said Dave Fulton, with a smile.
A business center, with a computer and printer, is planned in the future in the basement, which has direct outdoor access.
A suite adjacent to the saltwater pool and outdoor covered grill area contains a full kitchen and can sleep six.
Above that suite sits the apartment occupied by Allen and Eric Fulton, who serves as the innâ??s general manager. Eric Fulton was the general manager of a Washington, D.C. boutique hotel. The couple maintains a travel blog and they spent about a year in Southeast Asia staying in various lodgings.
The banquet barn can accommodate up to 200 people. The garden provides a beautiful spot for an outdoor wedding.
Haines and Fulton canâ??t praise the county enough as the project approached completion for its Friday, May 1 opening.
â??The county has been great to work with,â? said Dave Fulton.
â??The whole process is well defined,â? said Haines. â??Every time we had questions, people responded.â?
The owners plan to partner with local restaurants and wineries to offer a unique experience for those visitors from the Washington, D.C area and Charlottesville.
Allen is promoting Motherâ??s Day and University of Virginia commencement stays.
â??Enjoy nature and have a real experience,â? said Haines.
A pastoral, rural setting with gorgeous sunsets viewed from one of the private rooms or on the wrap-around porch end the day.
â??Our neighbors are cows,â? said Allen, as she surveyed the property earlier this week.
Wally Bunker is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Planning an event?
What: Walden Hall Bed and Breakfast
Where: 17440 True Blue Lane, Reva, VA
Who: Co-owners Julie Haines and Dave Fulton, General Manager Eric Fulton and Marketing Director Evanne Allen