The School Teacher’s Cabin enjoys a peaceful, private creekside location at historic Wade’s Mill in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley midway between Lexington and Staunton. The cabin is only 10 minutes off Interstate 81 (Exit 205) but the secluded, rural location is a world away.
The School Teacher's Cabin sits in a grove of trees at the end of a private lane, bordered by Ott’s Creek and surrounded by woods and pasture, with sheep, lambs and a donkey just across the fence.
Originally built c.1820-40 for the school teacher of a German-speaking community west of Lexington, the cabin was relocated to Wade’s Mill in 1992.
The living room, dining room and the two upstairs bedrooms (one with queen bed and one with twin beds) are the original early 19th c. cabin. The fully-equipped kitchen, recently refurbished bathroom and creekside deck are “modern” additions.
In the summer of 2018, the cabin was freshly furnished and upgraded with central AC/heating and new appliances, and in early 2019, high speed fiber optic internet/wifi and cable TV was added.
This rustic, rural gem, combining modern comforts with historic charm, is now available to the public for the first time in 2019.
Enjoy a drink on the deck or have your meal on the picnic table under the trees, with the babbling creek as a backdrop. You might even catch a glimpse of our resident great blue heron, kingfisher or otter. After dark, the fireflies are magical in the summer and away from city lights, you’ll enjoy a bright moon and sky full of stars year round.
Wade’s Mill (c. 1750), Virginia’s oldest continuously operating commercial grist mill, is at the other end of the private lane. During opening hours (Wed-Sun, 10-5), you can have a tour with the Miller, explore three floors of historic milling equipment and museum displays and enjoy the beautifully landscaped gardens.
Further afield, there is plenty to explore in the surrounding area. Lexington, home to Washington and Lee University, Virginia Military Institute and the Virginia Horse Center, is 25 minutes south. Staunton, home to the American Shakespeare Center, the Frontier Culture Museum and the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, is 30 minutes north. Both towns are known for their vibrant arts, dining and boutique shopping scenes.
For tasting adventures, choose from local craft breweries, a brand new cidery and award-winning wineries. Our neighbor, Rockbridge Vineyard, is 5 minutes up the road.
Virginia's newest state park, Natural Bridge, once owned by Thomas Jefferson and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is an easy 35 minute drive south on I81. Once there, Virginia Safari Park is next door.
Charlottesville, with two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, UVA and Monticello, is an easy day trip, just an hour up and over the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
You are spoiled for choice of recreational opportunities. Road biking enthusiasts have a choice of many circuit trips through beautiful countryside right from the property. Rockbridge County offers a range of hiking trails of various distances and for all abilities. The Blue Ridge Parkway, Natural Bridge State Park and George Washington and Jefferson National Forests are within easy reach. The nearby Maury River has Virginia’s most challenging whitewater run for kayaking, as well as several good swimming spots. On a gentler note, the James Rivers offers swimming, tubing, canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Masanutten and Wintergreen ski resorts are approximately an hour away.
And after your busy day out and about, you’ll look forward to returning to the quiet, peaceful, relaxing School Teacher’s Cabin on the banks of Ott’s Creek.
A bit of history: The cabin dates c. 1820-1840 and was built by the Todd community of German settlers just west of Lexington, in what is now Kerr’s Creek, for their school teacher. At that time, most of the small Shenandoah Valley communities taught school in their church and housed their teacher among the families. The Todd community was affluent enough to build a school teacher’s cabin, to attract a higher caliber of teacher. They also built a separate school house.
In 1992, the cabin’s stonework foundation, timbers, floor boards and chimney were labeled, carefully dismantled, transported and restored to its current location on Ott’s Creek, and a kitchen, bathroom and deck were added across the back, where the original porch used to be.
Many of the cabin’s original features (e.g. windows, front and back doors, stairs to the sleeping loft instead of a ladder and the brick chimney top) reflect the relative wealth of the Todd community. The brick chimney top was a traditional Shenandoah Valley style used as a sign of affluence. The bricks were handmade and signed in a kiln outside of Brownsburg.
The Todds were some of the earliest settlers in western Rockbridge County and by 1778 their community was known as “Todd’s Creek”. With German as their first language, they pronounced their name “Toad”. Native English speakers naturally thought of the amphibian and an 1863 Confederate engineer’s map identified the creek and surrounding area as “Toad Run”, which it has been ever since.