Berryville Main Street: Happy Birthday and Many Happy Returns

Berryville’s Booster-in-Chief Turns 25

Berryville’s commercial scene has changed a lot in the last decade. I remember visiting the town when working on a travel guide to the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. I remember thinking, “Cool, what a nice place.”

It was actually a functioning downtown. You could still come to Berryville to buy things you need — an almost extinct phenomenon in
America’s small towns.

Today, Berryville is more than a functioning town; it’s a truly awesome place. You can still buy things you need: eyeglasses, prescription drugs, flowers, electronics, appliances. All that good stuff. But now you can find things way beyond the everyday. Experiences that make life a little better, like galleries, gift shops, and locally sourced eateries.

There is much credit to recognize. Good planning, the Barnes of Rose Hill, and incredible community financial support for a town of this size, to name a few.

Let’s also give credit to the work of Berryville Main Street, a nonprofit booster for downtown that recently celebrated his 25-year anniversary.

The group has brought amazing energy to create an atmosphere hospitable to locals and tourists alike — and one which has attracted several businesses that have relocated to Berryville in the past few years.

There is an old saying. “Bad things happen through neglect. Good things happen only through intention.” When you look at all the wonderful things about Berryville, you see that the Main Street miracle is part inspiration and a heck of a lot of perspiration. It’s intentional.

Much hard work, most of its volunteer, has gone to create the charming yet still practical small town å is Berryville. It’s nice to know that Berryville Main Street is not resting on its laurels. Instead, Main Street is looking ahead to the Town of Berryville in the next 25 years.

Local Doctor Attends Climate and Health Meeting in Atlanta

Public Health in the Climate Change Equation

Story and photo by Jennifer Lee

Nick Snow has dedicated his professional life to helping people as a practicing gastroenterologist in Winchester for the last 22 years. For over a decade he has become increasingly concerned about the effects of climate change on public and planetary health.  “I began to realize that carbon pollution was beginning to affect my life and would most certainly affect the lives of my children,” he said. “As a gastroenterologist, I was caring for one patient at a time.  However, the health of the planet would impact not only my patients, but the health of all of us.”

Dr. Snow began reading scientific journals on climate change, taking online courses, and attending seminars on the effects of climate change — and solutions to it, including a three-day climate-change course sponsored by the
Climate Reality Project. (#CRPinFla).

This training, combined with his role as a physician, garnered him an invitation to attend the Climate and Health Meeting in Atlanta, February 16.  This meeting replaced a multi-day Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meeting that had been canceled shortly after the inauguration in January. Sponsors of the meeting included the American Public Health Association (APHA), the Harvard Global Health Institute, The Climate Reality Project, the Global Health Institute of the University of Wisconsin, and the Center for Health and Global Environment at the University of Washington.

He told us more about his interest in and commitment to this issue in a recent interview.

Q.  What is your background and what prompted your interest in climate change and associated issues?

A.  I have always had an interest in the health of the earth. I grew up in Ohio near a river that had repeatedly caught fire because of pollution. After the EPA was created, I saw this area become clean and vibrant again. In college, I studied quantum chemistry before going to med school.

Q.  What did you learn at the recent Climate and Health Meeting?

A.  2017 is the year of climate change and human health, according to the American Public Health Association. This meeting was not about the science of climate change, but more about how it is affecting our health now and how it will affect our health in the future.
Gary Cohen, president of Health Care without Harm, stated that, “Our addiction to fossil fuels . . .  is killing more people than AIDS, malaria and TB combined.”

Dr. Kim Knowlton of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia said that there are already 65,000 additional emergency room visits a year nationwide due to heat. This is only going to increase as our earth warms.

Dr. Mark Keim, Founder of DisasterDoc, laid out the effects of how rising sea levels will lead to food insecurity and displacements of millions of people. In fact, a quarter of the world’s sovereign nations are at risk of disappearing because of sea level rise.

Q.  Have you seen examples of how climate change is affecting the planet in your travels?  How so?

A.  I have seen the effects of climate change already. For one of my courses, I analyzed freezing temperatures for our local area and showed that over a 30-year time span, spring came more than a week earlier and fall more than a week later.  The last three years have been the warmest on record.

I was shocked this February by the unprecedented warm weather across the United States. High temperature records exceed cold temperature records by more than 100 to 1 this month.  In my travels, I have talked with a 27-year-old trail guide in the Andes who said he has witnessed significant glacier loss from the mountain peaks in his lifetime and this is confirmed by scientific measurements.

There is increased global demand for food, and climate change affects both the quality and quantity and location of where food is produced. This is because of increased CO2, increased temperatures, and changes in precipitation. Climate change affects pests, pathogens, and pollinators.  Because of decreased food, there is increased reliance on international trade.

Q.  What do you say to people who resist the science on climate change and that human activity is contributing to it?

A. We live in a country where denial of climate change and our burning of fossil fuel as the cause of it are common. Global climate is complex, though the physics of greenhouse gases is simple. In fact, scientists have predicted the observed warming since the 1800s. There is near universal consensus among scientists that carbon pollution is warming the planet faster than any other period in history.  All the major scientific groups in the world are in agreement. And 195 countries signed an agreement in 2015 to try to combat carbon pollution and resultant climate change.

Q.  With the proper tools and intention, do you think we as a society can combat climate change and avoid the
predicted disasters?

A.  We have the tools to combat climate change, but every year we waste, pollution increases in our atmosphere and the cost of adaptation increases. Encouragingly, the cost of green energy, wind, and solar has continued to come down. Presently, they are competitive with natural gas. Green jobs are the fastest growing segments of our economy, while fossil fuel jobs are decreasing, mainly because of automation. Green energy is a win-win-win.  It provides safe renewable energy and jobs that cannot be outsourced while improving human health.

While many people agree that climate change and its resultant effects are posing one of, if not the, greatest issues of concern of our time, Dr. Snow remains optimistic and committed to continuing to learn about solutions and sharing his knowledge with others.  “There are a number of things that people can do to improve their health and the health of their planet. The first is to merely become aware of the energy you use on a daily basis, whether for transportation, comfort, or food.  This is a global problem and will likely require global solutions.”

For more information about the conference and resources on climate change and public
health, visit:

Berryville Old Book Shop, Complete with Cat

Archie and Boomer and the Magic Shop

By Claire Stuart

There is a certain aura of magic around particular types of old bookshops. It’s no wonder that so many stories feature bookshops inhabited by witches, wizards, ghosts, and time travelers. The Berryville Old Book shop has that atmosphere — and the requisite bookstore cat as well.

I made my way along a narrow aisle flanked by some stacks of books that had not yet been shelved. I took a wrong step, blundered into them and sent books cascading all over the floor. To my astonishment, a small book of Calvin & Hobbes cartoons slid out of the pile. I had been looking for it for years.

A gray-bearded gent in a beret, holding a cat in his lap (and looking a bit like a wizard), nodded his head sagely and uttered one word:  “Serendipity!”

Archie Justice, retired from both the U.S. Army and the government, has been in the used book business for 16 years. Boomer, the cat, arrived as a stray kitten 11 years ago. She lives in the shop and often lounges in the front window, observing the passersby who stop to observe her.

The shop’s primary specialty is history, especially military history. There is also a huge section devoted to children’s books, and an amazing assortment of just about everything else.

“My wife filled in during the week when I was still working,” he explains, “and she’s more interested in children’s books.”

Justice says that he always loved books. He collected books on World War II and military history and was constantly on the lookout for books on the subject at yard sales, auctions and estate sales. Anyone who has looked for special books at sales knows that books are usually sold in boxed lots. You can’t pick out the ones you want, and you end up with a lot of books that you didn’t want. So, it is a natural transition to open a bookstore!

If you are looking for popular fiction, you will probably not find much here. With the exception of the children’s books and a big selection of paperback mysteries, they concentrate on non-fiction. What you will find is a wealth of factual information on just about any subject you can imagine. They do not stock romances, business or computer books.

It’s easy to lose track of time browsing through histories, ancient and modern, of wars, arms, battles, leaders and tyrants. Pick a country or a region, whether it is China, Britain, Australia, Europe, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East. Read about soldiers, spies, explorers, the U.S. frontier, Black history and Native Americans. Check out the extensive section on Virginia and West Virginia history, including Civil War, individual county histories and even family and church histories.

The gardener can visit classical English gardens, learn to make a rock garden, learn all about roses, tulips, or rhododendrons. Cook (and eat) around the world with cookbooks from just about everywhere. Nature lovers will learn about bats, mice, fish, identify trees or caterpillars. There is a whole section just for birds. There are sections for cats and dogs (“I keep them separated!” Justice notes). Browse art, architecture, chess, music, boats and trains.

The whole back room is dedicated to children’s books and a section of paperback mysteries. Children’s books run the gamut from vintage and classic to recent, with fairy tales, science, biography, rhymes, picture books, early readers, Dr. Seuss and Nancy Drew.

The shop also sells online through Abe Books, an aggregate bookseller that reaches around the world. Justice says that they offer only about a quarter of their stock online because Abe Books takes a cut of the sales, and the booksellers have to compete with each other for low prices.

“If there are 100 copies of a book on Abe, some books sell for a penny plus the shipping charge! The seller makes a few cents profit on the shipping. It’s not worth the bother. But if I have something like the history of some little county in Ohio, it probably won’t sell in the shop, but it could sell online.”

The shop buys some libraries and collections, especially military history, Virginia history and vintage children’s books.
“You still have to be selective,” said Justice, “unless you have a stadium to put them in!  You pick out the ones of value. That’s not necessarily monetary value but rather something you think someone is going to want to read. Anything we think we can sell. There’s only so much space in the shop, so you have to make judgments.”

Justice reports that they give a lot of books away, donating to the Blue Ridge Hospice thrift store and library book sales.  They recently donated 100 books to the elementary school.

“If there are any illiterate children in Berryville,” Justice laughed, “don’t blame us!”

Berryville Old Book Shop, 7 East Main Street. Open Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 pm; Sundays noon–4. Other times by chance Phone: 540-955-7070.

Hometown Girl Returns with Detroit Band

Art Exhibit by Winslow McCagg Accompanies

Story and photo by Jennifer Lee

A vibrant, thought-provoking, and hip-shaking show is coming to the Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville on March 25, when paintings by local artist Winslow McCagg will provide a colorful backdrop for the eclectic and upbeat sound of Detroit-based band, The Sugar Clouds.

Missie Bradley Hoenstine grew up in Clarke County and, at 25, moved to the Detroit suburbs in 1993 because, as she says, “there was a really hot job market here and gainful employment was easy to find.” The live music scene was also a draw and she says you could find live music any night of the week if you were willing to venture out to find it.

This scene, offering a plethora of cover bands as well as original local musicians, inspired Missie and her then husband Greg Hoenstine to take their combined talents of songwriting, singing, and musical chops to collaborate with professional musicians and create a band called the Hosts in 2005. “Aside from me, all the other band members are, or have been, in other bands. They are a great and very active group of musicians,” she says. The band plays mostly “dive bars,” events such as the Pop Overthrow, The MetroTimes Blowout, and the CityFest, as well as occasional private events. One of their songs was used in an independent film in a California film festival.

While Missie writes, sings lead and back-up vocals, and plays small percussion, Greg is the primary songwriter and plays rhythm guitar, keyboard, and also sings lead and back-up vocals. Jim Faulkner is a sought-after Detroit drummer, Paul Einhaus plays lead guitar, and Todd Breadon plays bass. “I always have a bit of a hard time categorizing our musical style. We are heavily psychedelic-60’s inspired with folk and pop rock influences. We actually have a couple of songs that smack of good ol’ country and some straight up rock’n’roll. Maybe you can tell us what we are,” she invites.

Musical influences for the band range from Stevie Nicks to Elvis to the White Stripes and to the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Brian Jonestown Massacre “and all sorts of modern underground indie rock and electronica,” Missie explains. And her hometown has certainly had its influence, too. “Berryville has provided plenty of content for some of my more personal stories. Unlike on TV, the names have not been changed…”

Art Meets Music

On one of their trips to Berryville to visit Missie’s family about 14 years ago, Missie met Millwood-based artist Winslow McCagg; there was an instant synchronicity. “I could not stop thinking about his art, and eventually I asked Winslow if he would create two pieces for me that could hang side by side but would lose nothing of their meaning if they hung separately,” she remembers.

This directive was motivated by the fact that Missie and Greg were headed for divorce, and she wanted each of them to have a piece when they found separate homes. “In a nutshell, Greg and I started the band while divorcing. After playing many months together, our bandmates at the time had no idea we were soon to be unmarried. Greg and I used writing and music-making as a way to express our feelings, and saved the money we would have spent on therapy to record our first CD by our then name, The Hosts. Winslow’s pieces turned out so perfectly that when we recorded our first CD, there was no question as to what the cover art would be,” she explains.
Winslow’s complex, intellectual, and psychedelic art, full of meandering shapes, vibrant colors, and mysterious stories, seems almost made for album cover art. “Over many visits, I saw them (Missie and Greg) evolve from dormant musicians to allowing in the Muse, and eventually forming The Sugar Clouds. I have been honored to have my artwork grace their two album covers: a bucket list desire for an artist, at least this artist,” Winslow says.

Finding a Stage Together

The idea of the collaborative show came about when Winslow was asked by the Barns of Rose Hill to hang an exhibit and he suggested that The Sugar Clouds play the opening night. Everyone was on board.  “When we decided to record the second CD, we sought out Winslow immediately to do our cover art again, so naturally when he asked us to play his art opening, we were all too happy and honored to do so,” Missie says. Called ‘One More Round,’ Winslow says this art exhibit is “a continuation of the visual conversation I have with this beautiful place wherein we live.”

When asked how she feels about playing for her hometown crowd, Missie says “nervous, excited, privileged. I’m proud to bring my bandmates and friends to my home. I can’t wait to introduce them to my family and friends and show them the river and the mountains and my family’s farm.”

The pleasure should be all ours as we celebrate the arrival of spring with some fantastic original music and art, rousing fun and playing in
harmony together.


The Sugar Clouds: March 25 at Barns of Rose Hill, Berryville. Opening reception begins at 7pm, music starts at 8pm. $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

One More Round: Paintings by Winslow McCagg opens March 25 with reception at 7pm, and runs through
April 20.

Tickets at

Do it Yourself Ideas 

By Karen Cifala

I have to laugh because my stepdad Bob, who is 85 and a former structural engineer, always has a jury-rig for something in his house to work around day-to-day obstacles. There is a hook to adjust the TV on the wall to his view liking. There’s the composition book where he records all of his bills that come in so that he doesn’t have to go through so much paperwork again to pay the bills.

Then there is the refrigerator door seal that has lost some suction, and he has tilted it back a bit with blocks under the front. Now it really slams shut good. Who cares if the Jello always comes out a little tilted. The 300 or so egg cartons downstairs hold at least 3,600 golf balls that need to be stored as well. All of these ideas are a creative way to satisfy these conundrums.

Whether you are having difficulty turning door knobs, or putting on your socks, we all have our way of working around day-to-day obstacles; some more practical than others. Here are some tried and tested, creative and funny workarounds that you can share with your family and friends.

Mobility and Personal Care

  • For user-friendly crutches, use pipe insulation to make additional padding on crutches to avoid bruised ribs and make softer grip areas.
  • A plant hook screwed into a dowel to fit your hand will make it easier to carry plastic bags.
  • Use hiking poles to improve balance and reduce strain on knees.
  • Use those pink sponge curlers to slip over eating utensils or toothbrushes for an easy-to-grasp handle.Remember soap on a rope? Take an old nylon stocking and drop the soap in it, and then tie to the shower head or grab bar for easy access.
  • Tape an emergency kit on the wall where it is highly visible — include important documents such as DNR, an aspirin, nitroglycerin, info on meds and allergies, doctor’s phone number, and other people to contact.
  • Having difficulty holding small objects? Glue and attach a nail clipper to a 3-4 inch long 2 x 2 inch wood. Add a popsicle stick to the arm of the clippers and duct or electrical tape. On one side of the wood block, glue an emery board to block of wood — then figure out the best way to attach to the counter. That’s where your ingenuity has to jump in.


  • Make light switch pulls that make it easier to turn lights on and off by drilling a small hole in the light switch and inserting a ring of some sort (like a key ring), and tie a string with a cork attached.
  • Install cord lights in areas around the house to help guide the midnight rambler or motion-activated lights and touch-on lamp switches.
  • Glue a piece of plastic tubing to a clothes pin and attach to a glass so you have a no slide straw holder that stays in place.
  • Sticky notes everywhere always help with reminders of everyday health and hygiene chores, as well as appointments.
  • Replace the purse with the 1982 Fanny Pack to keep both hands free.
  • Rubber bands around a glass or jars can create a no-slip grip.
  • Use foam tubing around doorknobs to improve usability.
  • Keep a magnet on the refrigerator to grab small things with. This helps improve dexterity when trying to pick up hard-to- grab items.
  • Keep frozen peas in the freezer as ice packs in a pinch.
  • For those card sharks that have a hard time holding all of their cards in their hands, cut a section of a pool noodle and slice the section in half lengthwise so it lays flat on a table. Then cut a 2-inch slot in the top of the noodle to hold your cards; like a dominoes tray holder, but for cards.

Another idea would be to turn plastic ice trays upside down to hold your cards. Make a picture of your remote, tape it near the TV, and detail the instructions on it so you don’t have to call your kids.

It can be hard sometimes for people to admit they can’t do something or that they need help. Why not enlist the grandkids to help with some of your good ideas and make it a fun and creative day together?

Karen Cifala is a SRES realtor for Remax Roots in Berryville, VA. You use a specialist for your health care needs, why not to sell your home? She can be reached by email at or by cell phone 303-817-9374.

Time for the Clarke County Studio Tour

By Liam Harrison

Mark your calendars for the Clarke County Studio Tour on Saturday October and Sunday October 2. This self-guided, free family-friendly tour will take visitors through the Clarke County countryside and the towns of Berryville, Bluemont, Boyce, Millwood, and White Post. The tour offers a diverse group of 30 artists and 22 different locations. The artist studios will be open 10am–5pm each day. Most artists will be doing demonstrations, offering refreshments, and have items for sale. Locations will be marked by a tour sign at

the location.

On the tour you will see woodworkers, furniture makers, fine artists in watercolor, pastels, acrylics, and oil painting, pottery, a variety of sculpture, fiber art, jewelers, floral design, antique upcycled/repurposed items, art in nature, and hand carved gilded work. The following 30 artists are participating on the tour:

Julie Abrera, Gale Bowman-Harlow, Scott Carpenter, Tim Chambers, Mizue Croswell, Christy Dunkle, Jay and Peggy Duvall, Constance Fisher, Norma Fredrickson, Malcolm Harlow, Diane Harrison, Liam Harrison, Russ Harrison, Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton, Hip and Humble – Julie Ashby & Steve Scott, Dave Hickman, Sue Hickman, Ron Light, Carl Maples, George Maxwell, Tia Maggio, Julie Miles, Peter Miller, Keith Patterson, Kellie Patterson, Nancy Polo, Rachel Rogers, Mikisa Shaajhante, Bruce Smallwood, René Locklear White-Feather.

Peter Miller, a frame maker on the tour, was key in helping revive the tour. A Connecticut native who moved to the area and opened his shop on Main Street in Berryville was amazed at the number of artists and artisans in the county. Peter started in January by pulling in a key group of artists, shop owners, citizens, and staff working on tourism in the town and county. After receiving all the responses from artists, the group was surprised by how many newcomers and the variety there is in the area that will be opening their studios.

The Clarke County Studio Tour organization, headed by Miller, hopes to highlight the abundant creative talent that resides in Clarke County. Also, the group wants to help promote tourism which will benefit the county as a whole. The Clarke County visitor’s center at the Barns of Rose Hill is the center point of the tour, providing information on the area and tour, brochures, and a viewing of the raffle items beginning mid-September. The center will have extended hours that weekend from 10am–4pm on Saturday and 10am–3pm on Sunday.

Diane Harrison, a Berryville potter, helped run the previous tours in the county. She said that this tour goes above and beyond any that we have had in the past. The quality and the variety of skilled artists and artisans is amazing. “It has been a great pleasure to work with the group to get this one off the ground and to meet so many new artists to the area,” she said. A number of the artists are also participating in the new Top of Virginia Artisan Trail kicking off in September. This will help to give tourists and locals an idea of what a treasure of artistic talent Clarke County has to offer.

A Passport Program gives each tour visitor a chance at one of many artist-donated items which will be on display starting September 16 at Barns of Rose Hill. Visitors will pick up a passport at their first stop. At each stop, the passport will be stamped marking where you have been. When a participant is finished with their tour, they turn in the passport at their last stop to be entered into the raffle. You must have visited at least one tour stop to be eligible for the raffle. Winners will be drawn the following week.

A website allows visitors to preview artists with links to their websites and maps are available so that you can plan the route. The site is also phone friendly, and ties into Google Maps. You may also download the PDF brochure if you want to ‘go green’. The website address is clarkecountystudiotour. You may also access the tour Facebook page directly from the site for posts highlighting artists on the tour and updated information.


Cruise In: A Great Berryville Bash

News from Berryville Main Street

Photos by Sandy Williams

On Saturday, August 26th, over 200 cars rolled into Berryville to enjoy Berryville Main Streets first annual Summer’s End Cruise In. There were specials all over town for lunch and coupons for retail businesses that stayed open late for the event.

Mitzie Myers, owner of Jane’s Lunch said, “I have never seen so many people in my restaurant and downtown enjoying themselves.” Many folks also commented on how great the music was, provided by D.J Bret Fuller, owner of Big Daddy’s Automotive. Berryville Main Street would like to thank the many businesses in town that helped to sponsor the event, especially Bank of Clarke County, Blossman Gas and Trip’s
Auto Sales.

Along with business sponsorships, local police officers and a dedicated team of volunteers dove in and helped springboard this first time event. One name in particular needs to mentioned: Mary Liz McCauley who has set up many Cruise Ins and car shows. A Berryville resident who works for the Bank of Clarke County, Mary Liz jumped in with both feet at the first phone call and showed us how it’s done!

We also had Peoples Choice Awards for first, second, and third place prizes for the most popular car. First place went to the owners of Family Run Trash Service who had a Shelby Mustang named Jack Pot.

Second place went to Dickie and Sally Wolfe for a 1933 Dodge Sedan Delivery Car. Third place went to Wayne Armbrust for a 1966 Ford Cobra.

Great food, toe tapping music, and of course pristine classic and antique cars were a winning formula for a great day in downtown Berryville. Thanks to all who came, and if you missed it, see you next year for Berryville Main Streets, second annual Summer’s End
Cruise In!


Beaumont House Design: Telling your love story with flowers

By Claire Stuart

Whether it’s a single lovely bloom, a bouquet, or a whole garden, flowers have a certain magic that elicits smiles and happiness, and there’s no happier occasion for flowers than a wedding. As a floral designer specializing in weddings and events, Julie Wheeler Abrera radiates enthusiasm when she talks about her work. She understands how important flowers are to a bride and believes that every bride “needs to feel amazing and wonderful with everyone on her team of wedding vendors.”

Growing up in Berryville, Abrera always loved flowers and trees. “Gardening is in my DNA,” she says. “Mom was an avid gardener — Dad, too. But at 18, I never would have thought that I’d be doing this.”

Actually, Abrera took a vastly different path before returning to her figurative and literal roots. For 20 years, she lived in Alexandria, working in management of nonprofits involved with humanitarian projects like affordable housing and school nutrition programs. She was proud of her work, yet felt that something was lacking in her life.

Pondering a career change, Abrera thought about how she had always enjoyed working with flowers. It could be possible to make people happy while bringing herself the joy that creative people seek in
their work.

She decided to take some classes at FlowerSchool New York while still working, “to see if I could seriously do this for a career.” FlowerSchool New York offers floral design classes on a host of topics, from beginner’s level through the latest new design styles for experienced professionals. Intensive workshops are taught by top floral designers from all around the world.

“It’s a wonderful place to hone your skills,” said Abrera, “and discover the things you are good at.”

Abrera came away convinced that she could be successful, and launched her own studio, Beaumont House Design, in 2013. The first wedding she booked was for a friend of a friend in Alexandria. She recalls that she felt tremendous pressure to make her flowers live up to the bride’s expectations, and she was happy to report that the bride loved them.

Her business has continued to grow through brides referring her to friends and through social media. She does a lot of networking, building relationships with photographers, wedding planners, caterers and other wedding vendors. She joined the Ashburn chapter of the Rising Tide Society, a national online creative community with local chapters. They offer business webinars, educational opportunities, and ideas for creative entrepreneurs, and they meet in person once a month.

Abrera enjoys the challenge of constantly stretching herself to learn more. “Working with flowers, you are always learning new things and practicing,” she reported. “You have never completely mastered it.”

She recently attended a workshop in Bethesda
learning a new technique for making flower crowns. She follows Ponderosa and Thyme, an Oregon fine-art wedding and event floral boutique online. She was so taken with a picture of a bouquet they posted that she contacted them. When it was announced that they were giving a workshop, she quickly grabbed a spot before they sold out and flew out to Oregon
to participate.

Abrera loves creating everything from wrist corsages to floral arches. She shared a photo of a stunningly beautiful arch made for a wedding, using a trellis base covered with chicken wire, into which the flowers were placed.  “I did one with eight or nine hundred individual blooms,” she said. “Each bloom is in a flower pick with water to keep it fresh.”

She also loves to teach. She has held wreath-making workshops and looks forward to doing some flower
crown workshops.

Some of her flowers are gathered from her own cutting garden, which she started just this year. She pointed out a stack of seed catalogs and noted that she is taking what she learned this year into her planning for next year. She also enjoys foraging for wild flowers and green accent plants in the fields near her Clarke County home. “I always keep clippers and a basket in the car,”
she declared.

Other flowers are purchased, and she buys as many locally-sourced flowers as possible. Additional flowers come from a wholesaler in Baltimore, where flowers from all around the world are available. She buys a lot of flowers from Greenstone Fields in Purcelville, where they raise over 90 varieties of flowers and something beautiful is available throughout the growing seasons.

“Greenstone Fields raises their flowers using organic methods,” she said. She noted that this is especially important for weddings, so that the clients will not have to be concerned about pesticides on
the flowers.

Of course, Abrera admits that production work can be stressful, particularly on the wedding day. “I might have 20 centerpieces to pack and load safely,” she explained.  “My husband Richard helps me with deliveries. He is the vice president of logistics!”

Abrera likes to form a relationship with every bride-to-be, inviting her to bring her ideas, lists of favorite flowers, and dreams of what she wants her special day to look like.  She reports that she has never experienced a “Bridezilla.”

“All the brides I have worked with have been wonderful and appreciative. I love to present the bouquet to the bride. I want to be her personal connection with the flowers. When the bride says, ‘It’s what I imagined,’ it makes me float!”


Visit her website at or call  703-801-3529; studio hours by appointment

Stone’s Chapel, Steeped In Clarke County History

Story and photos by Betsy Arnett

Larry Hardesty began cutting grass at the cemetery next to Stone’s Chapel when he was thirteen years old. Fifty some years later, he is cutting the cemetery’s grass again. However, his pay has dropped considerably. Back in 1960, he received $8. Today, as president of the Stone’s Chapel Memorial Association, he does it for free.

“The gas for the mower costs more than I got paid back then,” Larry laughs.


In the late 1950s, the cemetery was in rough shape. According to Larry, it was covered in berry vines and even had a couple of locust trees growing up between headstones. The cemetery was a “community cemetery,” made up of mostly family plots. The families, who were not necessarily members of Stone’s Chapel Presbyterian Church, were responsible for maintaining the cemetery. As families died off or folks left the area, the cemetery fell into disrepair.

To care for the cemetery, M.W. Jones and several other remaining family members formed the Clarke County Cemetery Association in 1958. At the time, several plots were surrounded by wrought iron fences. Most of the families agreed to sell the fences and donate the money to the Cemetery Association. Today, the only plot with its original wrought iron fence is the Jones family plot.

Larry became president of the Cemetery Association in 1993, when his father who had been president for many years, passed away.

Stone’s Chapel Presbyterian Church closed in 2000 and, over the next several years, the building began to deteriorate. One day in 2009, Larry met with the guy who then cut the cemetery grass to discuss removing some brush. “We were standing in front of the Chapel,” Larry remembers. “I looked up through one of the tower windows and thought, ‘I never noticed that ceiling was blue.’ I realized I wasn’t looking at a ceiling. It was sky. The tower roof was missing!”

Larry called the Shenandoah Presbytery office in Harrisonburg the next day. Using money remaining in Stone’s Chapel Presbyterian Church accounts, the Presbytery reroofed the tower and made other repairs, including treating the floors for powder
post beetles.

When the church first closed, the Presbytery had offered it to the Cemetery Association, but wanted to put too many restrictions on the property’s use. After the Cemetery Association turned them down, they put the property up for sale but had no takers. In 2010, Reverend Thomas Rhine, the Presbytery’s representative, approached Larry with a proposal. If Larry could form a nonprofit organization with an endowment fund sufficient to care for the Chapel, the Presbytery would give them the Chapel, no strings attached. The Cemetery Association was dissolved, its remaining assets transferred, and Stone’s Chapel Memorial Association was born.

“I thought once we got the nonprofit formed, transferring ownership would be quick and simple,” Larry recalls. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The only deed recorded for the Chapel was in 1793, when Jacob Stone and his wife Barbara conveyed the property jointly to the “trustees of the Lutheran and Calvinist societies.”

Long before the Stones conveyed the property to the Lutheran and Calvinist churches, it had been a place of worship. By 1785, a log structure stood on the site, known as “Steinkirche” by the area’s German-speaking Lutherans. The earliest recorded reference to Presbyterian use of the Chapel was the appointment of Reverend J.C. Leach by the Winchester Presbytery in 1824 to preach at “Stone’s
Meeting House.”

The cornerstone of the current brick chapel reads “1848” but it is uncertain exactly who built the building. Most likely, construction was a joint effort between Presbyterian and Lutheran congregations. Anecdotal evidence suggests that bricks for the chapel were fired at the Glendale plantation just across Old Charles Town Road.

As the Lutheran population of Clarke County dwindled, Presbyterians became the exclusive users of Stone’s Chapel. By 1888, when Stone’s Chapel Presbyterian Church was formally organized as a separate congregation, the chapel was presumed to belong to the Presbyterians. However, no new deed had been ever recorded.

In order for the Shenandoah Presbytery to transfer Stone’s Chapel to the Memorial Association, they first had to prove they owned it. “The Presbytery had to go to court and have a judge determine that the chapel belonged to them,” Larry says. “Then they could give it to us.”

In November 2012, two years after agreeing to the transfer, Stone’s Chapel Memorial Association received the deed to the chapel. Since then, the Association has been raising money to restore the chapel. Fundraising efforts began with soliciting donations from former members and friends, including passing a collection plate at chapel events.

So far, a new roof has been installed, mortar on the back of the tower repointed, water damage to the interior plaster repaired and the interior repainted. Larry estimates that there is another $80,000 worth of repairs needed, including repairing and painting the windows, repointing the bricks, and a new electrical panel.  “That doesn’t count repairs to the cemetery,” Larry notes.

On September 10, the Memorial Association held a benefit concert with Kevin Dunn, an Elvis tribute artist, at John Enders Fire Hall. Larry hopes that the event will raise awareness about the chapel, as well as some needed funds. The Memorial Association would like to lease the chapel to a congregation, continuing the building’s traditional use as a place of worship. However, they need to install a bathroom, which will entail digging a well and installing an alternative septic system. In the meantime, the chapel is available for daily event rentals.

The public will have two opportunities to see the chapel this year. The Memorial Association’s annual Fall Gathering is Saturday, September 24, starting at 11am. Following a short program, there will be a potluck luncheon. A main dish will be provided. Everyone is invited to bring a salad, side dish or dessert.

In December, the chapel will host its 4th annual Candlelight Christmas Service on Sunday, December 11, at 6:00pm.

For more information about Stone’s Chapel and these events, visit

Betsy Arnett is an historic preservationist, writer and award-winning photographer. She is the current chair of the Clarke County Historic Preservation Commission and lives in Boyce.