Monday, April 15, 2024

Where We Live: Countryside B&B run by family

At the War Hill Inn, a picturesque piece of property you’d never expect to find right off of Longhill Road, hospitality is a family business.

Originally, the 18th-century-inspired Manor house was meant to simply be a family home, built mostly by the Lee family themselves — with some oversight from a Colonial Williamsburg architect.  

Over time, the family home evolved into a successful bed and breakfast located on a 32-acre estate with an operational farm, gardens, forests, an orchard and plenty of room for the cattle.

The current innkeepers, husband-and-wife duo Will and Cherie Lee, took over running the inn from Will’s parents, Bill and Shirley, who purchased the property in 1967.

They built the house according to eighteenth-century architectural standards. Colonial Williamsburg-era paint colors and reclaimed materials, like the banister and handrail that had been salvaged from a church in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, make it feel more like an original than a reproduction.

The décor features antiques and art appropriate to the time period, which Shirley, a collector, picked out herself. Some of the furniture pieces were even built by Will’s father.  

It wasn’t until the mid-1980s when the family decided to dabble in the bed and breakfast industry.

Will’s sister listed the property with Colonial Williamsburg, which at the time would place travelers from out of town with local lodging when the hotels were full. The Lee family really enjoyed the experience, and decided to go all in on the bed and breakfast idea, adding bathrooms where needed to make private suites and even building two cottages on the property over time to house more guests.

The cottages serve as a unique selling point for the War Hill Inn. Most bed and breakfasts, Will says, are typically catered towards adults. But the privacy of the cottages offers families with children a little extra space.    

“When we built the first cottage we thought, ‘will people be afraid to come out and stay in the country in a little house all by themselves?’” Will said. “That was not a concern we should have had, because they love it.”

In 1990, when Will found himself in between jobs, he and his dad built one of the cottages together. Will ended up sticking around to help with the bed and breakfast, and the rest is history.

He and Cherie now live in the inn and keep things running. His parents have their own private cottage on the property.

“We have just loved this property since we got it in 1967,” Will said. “The whole farmthe land, the orchard, the gardensit just has always been in our family genetics.”

The Lee family realized that the farm alone, where they raise cattle and produce hay, couldn’t support itself, but with revenue from the B&B, they are able to maintain their little slice of the countryside and share their love of the land with people from all over the world.

“I always thank the guests for letting us keep it,” said Will.

To learn more about this home, click here.

Where We Live is a weekly feature looking at homes in the Historic Triangle. Do you have a home, on or off the market, that our readers may be interested in seeing? Let us know at

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