Blair House is one of the most impressive homes on Monument Avenue. With its two-story portico and prominent pediment reminiscent of a stately Southern plantation, this large, brick Colonial Revival home overlooks the Jefferson Davis monument. Blair House's most charming attribute, however, can't be seen from the street.
Tucked behind the house, within the confines of a walled courtyard, lies a formal garden that appears to have sprouted at the same time the house was built in 1913. The perfectly groomed landscape, featuring knot gardens of boxwood hedges, aged brick walkways, and mature cutting and rose gardens, is, in fact, a mere decade old.
Virginia and Jerry Pope orchestrated a complete renovation of Blair House when they moved in 10 years ago, restoring the interior to its past glory and creating an outdoor space worthy of its address. For many years, the ground floor of the house had been rented out for receptions, and the entire backyard was filled with raised wooden beds of chrysanthemums. Jerry drew up the new garden plans himself, creating a clean, geometric framework, the focal point of which is a central pond with an antique English fountain. The pergola at the rear of the garden connects a newly added garage to the house. The boxwood hedges have just recently filled in — some had to be replanted three times before they took off. During the spring and summer, seasonal flowers abound. But even in the winter, the precise geometry of the evergreen boxwoods wows.
In spring and summer, the Popes' side yard is ablaze with color. Azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, peonies, roses and a large cutting garden all put on a show. Some of the roses are original to the house and were transplanted during the garden overhaul. Also original: a magnificent magnolia tree and impressive large camellias in perky shades of pink. A small dining table in this area provides a wonderful location for late-afternoon refreshment. Two antique French planters, purchased from Thomas-Hines Antiques, flank the side entrance to the home, adding a sweet and whimsical touch.
A large covered veranda, complete with a porch swing, wicker furniture and many potted plants, provides a shady retreat from which to overlook the garden. When the Popes bought the house, this space was haphazardly enclosed with cinderblocks. Jerry found the original house plans in the basement and set to restoring it to the way it once was. The tile floor is original to the house.
Blair House's bright sunroom looks as if it were part of the original house, when in fact the space was once just an unremarkable hallway. Today, a wall of windows and French doors overlooks the garden, bringing the outside in. A barrel-vaulted ceiling and a stone floor add to the natural feeling of the room. Artist Paul Bertholet painted the walls with a mural depicting a trellis covered with Carolina jasmine. Large potted plants and a collection of orchids lend a tropical air, creating the perfect place to sip a cup of tea on a cold winter's day.