Thistle Cove Farm is the last remaining 30 acres of a production family farm that dates to before the War Between the States. Mr. Shad White, from Ohio, came to Tazewell County, VA and bought the farmhouse, barns, stables, outbuildings and 800 acres for $300 in back taxes. This was during the Reconstruction period following the War.
The brick farmhouse burned to the ground during the Christmas Holidays of 1899. Mr. White hired Mr. Thomas Hawkins, Master Carpenter of Wytheville, VA, to rebuild the house as a wooden structure. When renovation was begun in 1995, 19th century bricks were found stacked between the outside clapboards and the inside plaster walls.
It took Mr. Hawkins 2 years to complete building of this house; construction was begun in early 1900 and finished in 1902. Mr. Hawkins was a large man, weighing 350+ pounds. He would stand in the window frames and if they swayed he had his men remove them and build them sturdier. In the attic, the joists are numbered in Roman numerals and notched and pegged.
In 1995 we, Sandra and Dave, bought the farm and named it Thistle Cove Farm and set about restoring the farmhouse to its former beauty. We are using sustainable agricultural practices to lessen our impact upon the land. We also began clearing the farm of debris, re-building fences and reclaiming the farm as a working homestead.
In restoring this house, we have made minimal changes to the structure. We've added a half bath in the front hallway and put up a wall in the old kitchen (along the back end of the house). The old kitchen was made into an entry mud room and a pantry for food storage. We've also added a sunroom and handicapped bathroom on the first floor. On the second floor, no structural changes were made.
The buildings on the property support the business of the farm in hay and grain storage, VDACS approved scales to weigh animals, stables for the horses, run-in shelters for the livestock and a farm office building. We breed American (Bashkir) Curly horses and have Romney and Shetland sheep. Our Curly horses and Shetland sheep are rare breeds. Shetland sheep is also a primitive breed.
We are located in the Cove section of Tazewell County, VA in the same valley where the 50th anniversary movie ~Lassie~ was filmed. If you've ever seen the video cover for ~Lassie~, our farm is visible in the distance behind the boy and dog. This valley has been farmed much the same way since the late 1700's and some area farms are being farmed by the 7th and 8th generation.