A Minor Catastrophe

Published:May 31, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

The Washington Post reports today on the “sorry fate” of Carter’s Grove, the Georgian-style plantation built in 1750 by Carter Burwell, grandson of the larger-than-life Robert “King” Carter. (We don’t have an entry on Carter Burwell, but we do on his older brother Lewis.) Anyway, back to Carter’s Grove:

For 260 years, it steadfastly survived looting, flood, hurricane, earthquake, a Hollywood crew filming a now-forgotten Cary Grant movie, and a marauding Revolutionary War colonel who billeted his Redcoats there and, legend has it, rode a horse up the main staircase, hacking the grand railing with his sword along the way. A 1928 renovation diminished the Palladian perfection of its exterior, but still, it endured.

Carter’s Grove may have finally met its ruin, however, in the unlikely form of Halsey Minor, a brash 40-something technology investor living in San Francisco.

What follows is the story of a rich but seemingly and apparently infuriatingly unreliable man, an otherwise staid nonprofit, and a guy, Robert Mays, who just wants money for gas to mow the lawn at Carter’s Grove.

After considering Minor’s moral failings against the Mayses, the unpaid roofers, Colonial Williamsburg, his own lawyers, Carter’s Grove, and, implicitly, all of Virginia and humanity, [federal bankruptcy judge Stephen C.] St. John gave Minor 48 hours to pay the Mayses. If Minor didn’t produce the money, St. John vowed to “re-devote my life to attempting to figure out how to remind Mr. Minor that you don’t invoke this Court’s protection and authority with the cavalier attitude he is now displaying.”

Minor sent a check, and on March 15, St. John had everyone wait while the caretaker and Minor’s lawyers took the check to a bank near the Norfolk courthouse to make sure it cleared.

Read the rest here.

IMAGE: Carter’s Grove (Washington Post)


4 Comments on “A Minor Catastrophe”

  1. Henry Wiencek

    From The Great Gatsby:

    “I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

  2. Sue Perdue

    This is a real tragedy. I recall, as a former employee at Colonial Williamburg, having the staff picnic on the hillside facing the James River at Carter’s Grove. Eating barbecue and listening to live music in the fading heat of a summer day–it was a magical place and the house an architectural gem. I hope that there will be a happy ending to this whole episode.

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