Belle Grove Crawl offers insider’s tour

It’s not every day that your historical site tour includes a whiskey sampling and ends with a rock ‘n roll show, but that’s exactly what history buffs will get at the Belle Grove Crawl on Saturday.

Executive Director Kristen Laise said those that think they may have seen everything the plantation has to offer will get access to behind-the-scenes parts of the historic site as part of the crawl.

“What we’ve called our overseer’s cottage … I don’t think that’s been opened to the public in many years,” she said. “We are talking about some specific topics in the house that we don’t typically get to cover.”

The cottage is undergoing initial steps in restoration efforts to return it to a more historically accurate building that can still be used by researchers or those holding events at the plantation. Gee Gee Pasquet will be describing her life in the overseer’s cottage when her family resided there.

Graffiti dating from the early 1800s all the way up to recent decades went up for display in photographs when the plantation opened its “The Writing is on the Wall” exhibit last spring. Laise will be taking small groups up the treacherous attic stairs to see and learn about some of the more than 550 signatures on the walls.

Images of the graffiti can be seen on the plantation’s Flickr account, but as Laise said, “it’s neat to go up there and look around and to see how full the walls are.”

Laise said the icehouse and smokehouse are only opened to the public on occasion and although the gardens are always accessible, the crawl will provide a unique opportunity to learn details through interpretations. Guests will also get to sample some history in Copper Fox’s Belle Grove 1797 Whiskey, made in the fashion of the distillery once in use at the plantation.

After touring these rare spots on the crawl, guests can gather at the Bank Barn for craft beer, barbeque and musical performances by Movin’ On. Belle Grove regularly hosts a Hite of Excellence series of more formal dinner parties, but Laise said the plantation staff members were looking to hold a private event with a slight change of pace.

“We also like to do events that have a broad appeal and are a little more casual,” she said. “You don’t think of a museum having that entertainment … and we’re starting to use our barn more for events.”

Tickets can be purchased for $40 at the plantation’s website or museum shop and cover the tour stops and party. All proceeds will benefit Belle Grove’s preservation and education programs.

IF YOU GO: 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Belle Grove Plantation, 336 Belle Grove Road, Middletown. Call 540-869-2028.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or

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