Flowerdew Hundred and two other Virginia estates on the auction block

By CAROL HAZARD Richmond Times-Dispatch (Click here to review story on the Richmond-Times Dispatch Web site.)

Three historic estates, all within an hour and a half drive of Richmond, each on hundreds of acres of farmland — and owned by the same person — are hitting the market.

The family of West Virginia Gov. James C. Justice is selling the riverfront properties at auction June 28:

  • Flowerdew Hundred near Hopewell on 1,300 acres along the James River in Prince George County, about 36 miles southeast of downtown Richmond.
  • Horseshoe Farm on 880 acres at the juncture of the Robinson and Rapidan rivers in Culpeper County, 83 miles northwest of downtown Richmond.
  • Rapidan Farm in Culpeper on 1,700 acres fronting the Rapidan River, about 20 miles east of Horsehoe Farm.

Flowerdew Hundred is available only in its entirety, while Horseshoe and Rapidan farms can be divided into five parcels each.

“These are unique properties; once they sell, they may never be for sale again for a generation or more,” said Michael Schwartz with Premiere Estates Auction Co., the Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based firm handling the auction sale.

“They are truly special with incredible histories, yet they have all this farmland. Owning a piece of history is what this is all about.”

Each property has a manor home: Flowerdew’s 14,000-square-foot mansion with 12 bedrooms and 12 baths (nine full, three half); Horseshoe Farm’s 7,200-square-foot home — also with 12 bedrooms — and eight fireplaces; and Rapidan Farm’s 4,480-square-foot main house — three bedrooms, four baths, pool, cabana, tennis courts and formal garden.

Prior to his election as governor, Justice spent most of his time leading his family’s agricultural business. Since taking office in January, he no longer has time to focus on the farming operations, hence the decision to sell.

The Justice family is the owner of more than 50 companies specializing in coal mining, agriculture and timber. It also owns The Greenbrier, a resort in the mountains of West Virginia.

“Our family has owned these plantations for quite some time, and now with my dad’s duties as governor of West Virginia, we have decided to auction these incredible properties, so that a new owner can enjoy all that they have to offer,” Jay Justice, who leads the James C. Justice Cos., said in a statement.

“The plantations are ideal for buyers looking to own a special piece of American history or to acquire top producing farmland,” Justice said. “We look forward to seeing them prosper for years to come.”

The Justice family bought Flowerdew for $8.35 million in October 2011, county records show. It was marketed earlier this year on the multiple listing service for $12.2 million.

The property is listed on Virginia’s Capt. John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, Civil War Overland Campaign Lee-Grant Trail and the National Register of Historic Places.

Horseshoe Farm was on the market in the fall for $9.2 million. The original Horseshoe manor house was built in the Greek Revival style, circa 1859. The rolling hillside land was part of a large grant by the English Crown to Alexander Spotswood, who was appointed lieutenant governor of Virginia in 1710.

Rapidan Farm, with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Rapidan River Valley, was listed for $18.8 million. The property features a manager’s house and tenant houses in addition to the main house.

The property has grain handling facilities with silos, a lagoon for water storage and irrigation and multiple outbuildings for equipment, storage and livestock.

“Now it doesn’t matter,” Schwartz said about the prior listings. “We will let the market decide what the properties will sell for.”

Richard P. Buckingham IV, a real estate agent with Engel & Volkers in Richmond, said the properties have generated interest from people in Virginia and other states.

One day about a week or so ago, he said he showed Horseshoe four times, Rapidan twice and Flowerdew once.

“There’s interest and there are serious bidders,” Schwartz with Premiere Estates Auction said. “How many turn out to be serious bidders always comes at the end of the process.”

The properties will be sold in a two-tiered sealed bid process. The first tier will be a qualifying round where bidders submit bids by 5 p.m, Eastern standard time on June 28. Refundable deposits of $100,000 are made with the Williams Mullen law firm in Richmond.

The top third bidders for whole or individual parcels will have the opportunity to advance to the highest round of bidding. The deadline for that round is June 30 by 5 p.m.

The Justice family can accept, decline or counter the highest bid.

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