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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Once Elegant

As in many rural areas, countless homes have fallen into farmhouse chancetown 1006decline here on the VA eastern shore through neglect or years of abandonment.

As we’ve travelled many back roads in and around these parts, it has always surprised me how once large family homesteads were left to fall apart through the ravages of time and nature.Old Houses collageThat decline also extended to a once elegant landmark motel located on US Rte. 13 in Accomac, VA — The Whispering Pines which had centrally-heated rooms and featured an in-ground swimming pool, dining room and soda shoppe, and tourist cabins. It was usually referred to simply as The Pines. WP heydayThe Monticello and Cavalier at Whispering Pines Accomac, VAOriginally built in 1932 by the late Charles F. Russell, The Pines operated as a family business for 50 years; most of the seven Russell children and 12 grandchildren worked there as their first job. It also provided jobs for hundreds of local workers over the years. whispering pines collageSo well-regarded was The Pines that many regular travellers were known to schedule their southern route trips from NY to Florida around a stop at The Pines. It was known for gracious hospitality and good food. Local folks too often visited The Pines to dine or visit the soda shoppe. Celebrities stayed there, including the cast of the 1961 film, Misty of Chincoteague. Newsman Walter Cronkite and singer Diana Ross of The Supremes fame dined there. Years past, the Glenn Miller Band entertained at The Pines. WP long shotAfter Russell’s death in 1963, the family continued running the business, selling it in 1972. In the early 1980s, owner Ralph Powers, was fatally injured on the grounds. Afterwards, The Pines was operated by several owners, and fell into extensive disrepair. deterioationIn 2012, the property was sold at a tax sale for $27,000 in back taxes. But, on the day of the sale, the owner filed for bankruptcy; the property was encumbered in the bankruptcy process.Pines main afterWP after fire (14)THIS week, a fire of suspicious nature added to the deterioration and destroyed The Pines main building that formerly housed the dining room and soda shoppe. The block construction is all that was left standing. Several other buildings on the property remain standing in various stages of deterioration.WP after fire (9)As relative newcomers to the Eastern Shore, we were not familiar with The Pines grandeur as it was already well in decline in 2005. This week, blogger friend, Possum, featured a memory post based on personal experiences as a long-time resident.

Photos showing the decline and fire aftermath were taken by me. Background information and early photos of The Whispering Pines were obtained from sources that included the Eastern Shore Public Library. Also, Grenville, a former NJ firefighter, was at the fire scene as was local radio station owner, Charles F. Russell II, whose great-grandfather built The Pines.

10 comments:

Montanagirl said...

It's always so sad when a once wonderful property slides into decline. We have a lot of old homestead shacks around here too - abandoned, etc.

Cicero Sings said...

Yes sad. We don't have much in the way of elegance up here in my area but a lot of little towns are turning into ghost towns. The young people head for the cities as there is no way to support them in these small towns ... which gradually die as the old timers die or move away. Even since I moved here in Dec 2005 the economy has changed and places have closed down. SO sad to see. One remembers a better era, a more affluential era. This was a ranching area, by the way, a lot of hard work for little return these days.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Indeed a very sad downturn. I think about this when back home in PA where I grew up; worse than abandonment is the slum it has become. For some reason this is more prevalent in the east, do not notice such neglect in the Midwest. Also in former great cities like Detroit, the shambles prevail.

Doris said...

Very sad, indeed. I remember staying in a little cabin in Florida and in the Pocono Mountains when I was a kid. Neat history of the Pines. Thanks for sharing it!

Mellodee said...

Seeing abandoned homes is heartbraking. What happened to the families that lived there? How could no one care?

The landmark motel is more than just sad. The deterioration just shows how little tradition and history are valued. It's a shame.

Elaine said...

Sad to see such an important part of the community's past destroyed. With each old building that disappears we lose more and more of the character of individual towns. I don't think what's replacing them is an improvement.

Sandra said...

those old homes were beautiful in their times, but it would take a fortune to bring them back now. what a shame. my grandmother lived in one like those. and my grandfather had a place like the pines, it was a motor court, that is what they called them here, in Callahan FL, he had 10 little one room cabins and a restaurant.

Daisy said...

It's sad to see a place so full of history in such ruin and disrepair. Sounds like a lot of memories were made there.

Out on the prairie said...

it is sad to see all these fade away.I stayed in a hotel overseas that was bult in 1560, and still going.

Anvilcloud said...

Old derelict homes make for interesting photos. As I peruse Flickr, you seem to have a lot more of such palces there as opposed to here. At least I haven't found too many here.

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