Built on a Civil War battle site, Briar Patch Bed & Breakfast Inn’s humble beginnings have given way to the wonderful Northern Virginia inn of today. From log cabin to gorgeous B&B, this place has become a treasured place of rest and respite for those seeking a break from today’s hectic pace. Come stay with us and write yourself into the pages of our historic bed and breakfast.
Audrey Windsor Bergner researched and published the following history of Briar Patch in her book entitled Old Plantations and Historic Homes around Middleburg, Virginia and the Families Who Lived and Loved within Their Walls — Volume II:
“Briar Patch began as a simple one-room log cabin with a sleeping loft above in 1805. It is believed to have been a tenant house on Charles Fenton Mercer’s 1300-acre grant. The DiZerega family purchased Mercer’s home on the hillside over Aldie and its acreage in 1843, calling it by the name of Hillcrest. Hillcrest grew during the next twenty years, acquiring a large living room, library and dining room, as well as seven bedrooms in the main house, along with two cottages, a studio and ten-stall stable, milking parlor, and fenced fields for cattle and horses. By the 1860’s, the little log cabin had become a beautiful estate.
Then disaster struck. Civil War erupted and the little village of Aldie was alternatively occupied by Union and Confederate troops for four long wartime years. Their crops, horses, and food were “requisitioned,” fences were burned for firewood, and their homes were turned into hospitals. Then on a hot June day in 1863, a fierce battle occurred between General Alfred Pleasanton’s Federal troops who encountered severe resistance at Hillcrest from Colonel Thomas Munford’s Confederates. As smoke swirled around the mansion, cannons roared and bullets hit its walls…where their mark remains to this day.
Meanwhile, Alfred DiZerega, a New Yorker by birth, joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed in New Orleans, a vital position since control of the Mississippi was essential to the Union troop and supply shipments. This could not, however, have made him popular in an area where sentiment lay almost totally in favor of the Confederacy.
It was in New Orleans that Alfred met and married Alice Almeda Gasquet, and returned to Aldie where several children joined their family. Augustus, their first son, married Agnes Green and purchased “Sleepy Hollow” in Aldie. Another son, Gasquet, married Fredericka Foote Hauser of Prince William County, and upon his father’s demise, became the new owner of Hillcrest.
But those years after Appomattox gripped Southerners with poverty. With no money to plow fields, buy seed, plant, and harvest crops or get them to the Washington markets, times were tough. Hillcrest began its decline as the ability to repair leaking roofs, broken fences, barns and stables, diminished and soon became impossible.
By 1912, Gasquet was forced to take a job as postmaster of Aldie and a few years later, during the terrible influenza epidemic of 1919 which killed more people than the guns and cannons of World War One, he died. He was just forty years old. His wife, Fredericka, was left to carry on both farm and family at Hillcrest.
After more than a century of DiZerega ownership, Hillcrest was sold in 1965 to Jean and Bill Costin, who whimsically changed the name to The Briar Patch. The additions made by the Costin’s to the home are delightful – a new kitchen and breakfast area overlook a flagstone patio, gardens bloom with color, old trees offer shelter, and a sparkling pool invites a cooling dip on hot summer days while the Blue Ridge Mountains lend their majesty to the scene.
But this was more than just a historic home to the Costin’s. A love of theatre encouraged Jean, who had once played in Captain Jinks and the Horse Parade with Diana Barrymore and Gregory Peck, and Bill Costin, a Broadway producer, to start “The Middleburg Players,” which for over thirty years has encouraged local talent and produced shows. After Bill Costin’s death, Jean married Jay Gold and continues her involvement with the Middleburg Players to this day. (Jean has passed away since this was written.)
The current owners now walk the old pine floors, sit before a glowing fire, and perhaps wonder who came before them at Briar Patch. Like many recent residents, Ellen Goldberg works in Washington but fell in love with the beauty and serenity of the Piedmont. Her goal has been realized in using this old home as a Bed and Breakfast. (Ellen no longer works in Washington since this was written.)
Meanwhile, winter’s white blanket and the crimson geraniums of summer embrace yet another family…and another generation…to the door of Briar Patch where friends and visitors have received a warm welcome for almost two centuries.”