Fat Tuna Grill is a local Oyster bar and Grill co-owned by two of Williamsburg’s own talents. Chef Ken Brown and Victor Minichiello.
Check out their great atmosphere and great food while you’re in Williamsburg.
I should have known when I called this lodge to reserve a room for the weekend and didn’t get an answer for two days, it would be a bad sign. On the third day, I finally got someone on the phone. They confirmed our reservation and explained that they were very busy and also short-staffed. However, this place seemed ideal due to the indoor waterpark and lodge being connected. I booked the room over the phone.
We arrived early in the day as planned since we wanted to enjoy as much time as possible at the waterpark to celebrate my child’s birthday. We drove three hours to visit this location and it was hot July weather so I asked the water park front desk staff if we could keep the birthday cake in the refrigerator until we could check in to our room. They said no. So this meant that we had to leave the cake in the hot vehicle for several hours until check in. We spent a few hours at the waterpark, which was much smaller than expected and also had very high prices to rent a locker (almost $20 dollars for one day).
There was a large bar and adult beverage area for adults but the bar area was not being used at all. It was completely empty. The waterpark area felt a bit cramped and the humidity and noise made it much more difficult to enjoy. The adults in our party went outside to the hot tub and outdoor area to soak up some sun and get away from the noise. The hot tub was hot and the jets did not work so that was a bummer.
Around check in time, I went over to the front desk at Cherry Valley Lodge to check us in and get our room settled. I stood in line for two hours at the front desk to check in because it was apparent that the lodge staff was having major problems with room reservations and all sorts of issues. While I stood there waiting for my turn to check in, every single person who checked in before me, came back with complaints about the rooms already being occupied, the rooms not being what they reserved, the rooms being dirty and so forth and so on. By now, we were cutting in to our dinner reservation time for the birthday dinner and we still had not been assigned to a room.
Finally we were assigned to a room. It had taken so long that the rest of our party had joined me in line as we were all anxious to get a shower and get dinner. We went to the room that we were assigned and it was a disgrace. It was dirty and there was only one bed for two adults and two teenagers. It was definitely not what we reserved and paid for so we all gathered our belongings and headed back down to the front desk. The search for another room for me began and took another 30 minutes. This time we were sent to an “executive suite.” When we entered the room, it smelled like mildew and mold and had stains and other unidentified filth all over the sofa, chairs, and floor. Please see my blog and photos for these.
By this time, the cake was ruined. We were tired, hungry and still didn’t have a room. Three hours in to this fiasco of checking in, my patience was thinning and I asked to speak to a manager. I was told there isn’t a manager on site at night. While I was standing at the front desk waiting for another room, one of the other patrons who had been checked in right before us came back to the front desk looking appalled. She said, “You gave me the keys to an occupied room and I walked in on people and I am so embarrassed. This is horrible.” Then she looked at me and said, “Are you STILL waiting for your room?”
Another half an hour later, we were assigned to another room. On our way to the room, we passed housekeeping staff. The housekeeper seemed to be frustrated and overheard me talking about how horrible this experience had been thus far. She interrupted our conversation and explained that they were short staffed and that she was expected to clean three times the amount of rooms as she would normally be assigned. She explained that she was thinking of quitting because this had become a regular thing. She also told us that the front desk staff was not very good at communicating with the housekeeping staff and that caused a lot of trouble with check-ins and such.
When we entered the room, there were only two clean towels and a light bulb in the bathroom area was blown out. This made it difficult to see.
There were stains and some type of sticky looking substance on the walls and cobwebs all over the place in the room. (Please see the photos on my blog for more detail).
Basically, this weekend birthday trip had turned into a fiasco of uncomfortable inconvenience. We would have had a much better time if we had stayed home. The birthday cake was ruined and we ended up having to cut the cake and eat that before we went to dinner because we were so hungry and still had to wait for towels to be brought to our room before the other half of our party could take showers.
We ended up finally getting to go to dinner around 9pm which was really late for dinner but we were absolutely starving. It started pouring down the rain so walking through the dimly lit parking lot in the pouring rain was not a fun event. We had to park pretty far away since no maps were provided to us to show us where our rooms were located in regards to the parking lot. Some of the entrance doors were locked. The entire trip seemed like a disaster. It was far from relaxing on any level. We were very disappointed.
Upon check out, I voiced my disappointment and dissatisfaction to the front desk staff who seemed genuinely polite but not surprised at all. Apparently this is nothing new for this location. The grounds had a lot of potential as they were very pretty. However, the courtyard view was nothing to write home about. It was, for the most part, mud and a bit of grass around a small insect infested pond.
The highlight of our stay at Cherry Valley Lodge was the unexpected wildlife coming to our door that opened into the courtyard.
The waterpark and lodge have a lot of potential if anyone would ever care to pay attention to cleanliness. Proper lighting and fresh towels are essential and it would be more enjoyable if the reservation system actually worked and a manager was available on site. The lobby area and outdoor area beside the lobby were the nicest but they certainly aren’t an accurate representation of the rest of the lodge and waterpark.
It was certainly not relaxing and we weren’t going to find any relaxation at the spa on site either because it wasn’t open during the weekend at all.
At least we made some new friends.
New River Gorge National River protects and preserves 53 miles of the New River as well as over 70,000 acres of the magnificent gorge that this river created.
The park is 53 miles long and has two visitor centers. Food, lodging, and full service campgrounds are available. Primitive camping is also available at no extra charge but it is available on a first come – first serve basis.
By: Cindie Harper
Lynnside Manor is located in Monroe County, West Virginia and is the main building of the Lynnside Historic District. Lynnside is a Greek Revival structure built in Jeffersonian style. It was built in 1845 and was the ancestral home of the Lewis family of Virginia. The Lewis family founded the Sweet Springs Resort and St. John’s Catholic Church. St. John’s was the first Catholic Church in the area.
During the Civil War, General David Hunter and his Union soldiers raided the mansion and the General ordered the mansion to be burned. It is believed that General Hunter’s harsh treatment toward the Lewis family was because Mrs. Lewis was the daughter of Confederate General John Floyd. According to local folklore, Mrs. Lewis was a brave and resourceful woman who repeatedly put out the fires set by the drunken Union soldiers until they left. The soldiers left very little food or fuel for the family and the livestock had been destroyed or driven off. Despite the devastation and obstacles to overcome, the family made the best of the situation. The manor remained home to the Lewis family and later the Floyd family.
In 1933, there was a fire that gutted the mansion. Partial restoration was initiated by the family in the 1950’s but they were forced to abandon the project when they ran out of money for the project. The red brick Greek Revival home has sat vacant ever since.
Lynnside is about a mile away from the historic “Old Sweet Springs Resort” and St. John’s Church.
At the top of the hill toward the rear of the house is the Lewis Family Cemetery and the Catholic Cemetery.
Virginia Governor John Floyd and his wife Letitia Preston Floyd are buried on the hill beyond the house. He died here in 1837 while visiting his daughter Letitia Preston Lewis. His wife Letitia Preston died in 1853 at her home in Burke’s Garden, and her body was brought here to lie beside her husband’s.
The governor was supportive of the Catholic Church. Letitia converted to Catholicism very late in life. Many relatives were active church members. There is still an association between the Catholic Church and Lynnside even today.
By: Cindie Harper
The Old Stone Presbyterian Church was built in 1796. It is the oldest church still in continuous use west of the Allegheny Mountains. It was erected under the direction of Col. John Stuart who also composed and carved the inscription stone above the main doorway. The church has rough limestone walls, stands two stories tall, and has two tiers of rectangular windows with shutters. The original square meetinghouse was expanded in 1830 which gave it the current rectangular shape. In 1834, an octagonal belfry with an ogee-domed roof was centered on the new hipped roof. The bell was cast in 1855 by Meneely Foundry of Troy, New York.
In 1909–1910, a brick Sunday school building with a Doric portico was built north of the church and hosted the denomination’s General Assembly in 1910. A few years after that, The Presbyterian Synod of West Virginia was formed there.
The church cemetery is the oldest in Lewisburg. There are many old stone markers that are said to have been carved east of the Alleghenies and brought in by oxcart. Henry Erskine’s marble tombstone stands six and one-half feet tall and is decorated with a carved Masonic insignia that was commissioned in 1848 by Erskine’s son-in-law.
It is thought to be West Virginia’s only remaining example of a design by Alexander Jackson Davis. Davis’s daybook contains sketches of the monument, along with records of its cost. It was fabricated and carved at the Tuckahoe Marble Quarry in Westchester County, New York.
By: Cindie Harper
The Old Stone Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Lewisburg, West Virginia has its very own “Angel of Death.” This statue marks the final resting place of an 11 year old girl named Maud Mentague (Montague) Mathews.
It should be noted that West Virginia Vital Records has Maud listed as Maud “Mentague” Mathews but her tombstone actually reads “Maud Montague Mathews.” Different local folklore versions say that Maud passed away from fluid on her lungs, influenza, or pneumonia. Being the curious researcher that I am, I checked her death record and confirmed that Maud passed away from pneumonia.
Maud was born on October 2, 1876 to Alexander R.F. and Laura G. Mathews and died on May 30, 1888. Legend tells that Maud’s grief-stricken parents had the carved angel statue made to mark her final resting place. Maud’s friends and family held a small ceremony to commemorate the placing of the angel statue at the site of her grave. During this ceremony, folklore states that two of Maud’s best friends, a set of cousins who were said to be approximately 14 years old, each placed a kiss on a cheek of the angel in memory of their lost friend. Shortly after the ceremony, one of the girls fell ill herself. The legend states that she contracted the influenza virus and died of fluid on the lungs, similar to the way Maud had died. A short time later, the second girl broke her ribs in a carriage accident. Her lungs were punctured, causing them to fill with blood which resulted in her death. The three young girls dying from fluid on their lungs, less than a year apart, caused quite a buzz in this small town. Shortly after that, the locals began referring to the angel statue as the “Angel of Death.” Legend states that anyone brave enough or foolish enough to kiss the statue will die within a year.
Although I was unable to find any details, there are rumors that the angel is able to foretell the deaths of some of the people who come to visit the ominous “Angel of Death.” So far, I have not been able to verify the deaths of the other two girls mentioned in this legend. I was able to find a few death records that leave room for the possibility of some truth to it though.
If you plan on visiting the “Angel of Death,” it is located in Section C-2 of the Old Stone Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Lewisburg, West Virginia. When I visited this cemetery earlier this month, I was immediately drawn to this statue and even remarked on how creepy and ominous it appeared to be. Perhaps the fact that the statue had a children’s play area and a picnic table nearby, made the “Angel of Death” a bit more creeptastic to me. Since I am not one to accept others’ beliefs as my own, my curious nature got the best of me and I gave that Angel of Death a kiss on each cheek!! All in the name of research of course.
By: Cindie Harper