|The property on which Ednam sits was originally part of the David Lewis grant of 3,000 acres made in 1745. The land then passed largely to the Garth family who built the Birdwood estate. The Ednam estate occupies former “Birdwood” lands, among others.|
More recent history of the estate begins on September 17, 1901, when Edwin 0. Meyer, a bachelor in the import business from New York City and the original owner of the estate, purchased 90.75 acres from E. B. and Ella H. Gianniny (for $6,000 cash), on which parcel he built his home. D. Wiley Anderson, a self-taught architect from Richmond was commissioned by Mr. Meyer to design the home. Anderson specialized in fine residences and had designed other estate homes in Albemarle. The home “ranks among Virginia’s most ambitious examples of the early Colonial Revival style.”
An article in the Daily Progress in June 1906 described Ednam thus:
“Perched like a baronial castle overlooking the majestic hills of Albemarle, stands Ednam Hall, the home of Edwin 0. Meyer. . . .It is an expression of the home life of Mr. Meyer, showing his love for nature, for hills, woods and flowers, for green fields and the pure free air of heaven . . . .me surroundings are with things ancient, that always have a charm, with things modern, that are comforting to practical mankind. One appeals to the sentiment, the other to the side of human nature that loves luxury and ease . . . Here are majestic dining halls, library, princely papers, etc., all made possible by . . .the possession of the means to acquire them. . . .the worthy home of a worthy man.”
The actual year the home was completed is in question. Some writings refer to a date of 1906, but local historian, Bernard Chamberlain, who lived at Birdwood until 1903 remembers the home being built around 1901, prior to his leaving Birdwood. The article in the Daily Progress Historical and Industrial Magazine, June 1906, also states that “Ednam was erected at great expense in 1901.” Mr. Meyer did not occupy the large manor by himself. Another couple, Emilie U. and Louis Borchers of New York City, also resided at Ednam. In 1908, Meyer transferred full ownership of the home and an additional 71 acre parcel he had purchased to Emilie Borchers.
After Mr. Meyer’s death, the Borcherses, already owners of the manor house and 161.75 acres, continued to occupy the property until 1924. On July 1, 1924, ownership of the property (less .89 acres conveyed in 1921 to the Commonwealth of Virginia) was transferred for $10.00 to Maplewood Building Corporation of Richmond. In September 1924, shortly after Ednam was transferred to Maplewood, it was sold to Mrs. Sallie Bertie Copps for the sale price of $70,000 for the home and 160.86 acres. Her husband, Michael J. Copps, the operator of Alberene Soapstone Company, purchased an additional two parcels of adjoining land and the Ednam estate now occupied as much land as it ever would, 367.06 acres.
In 1927, Mrs. Copps died and left Ednam to her husband. Upon his death in 1931, the property transferred to his children who in 1937 sold it to settle their father’s estate. The property was listed for sale at $60,000 and was finally purchased by John L. Dryden of Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. He paid $40,000 cash. John Dryden, his wife, Helen, and their two children, John and Virginia, moved to Ednam in 1937 and began a cattle and dairy operation. Improvements were made to the main house, among others, the renovation and addition of bathrooms and the enlargement of the drawing room. After Mr. Dryden died in 1954, Mrs. Dryden remained at Ednam. Upon her death in 1970, the property was willed to her daughter, Virginia Dryden Kellogg, who lived nearby in Farmington with her husband, Marion K. Kellogg, a professor of law at the University of Virginia. In 1960, a large part of the estate, approximately 328 acres, had been sold to become the Boar’s Head Inn/Ednam Forest area, leaving a residual of 35.43 acres with the main house.
In 1976, the Kelloggs devised a plan for Ednam which called for preserving the mansion and barn and building 132 residences on the 35 acre site. This plan did not materialize and in 1978, the property was listed for sale. In 1979, the estate was optioned to Retirement Homes of Virginia, Inc. Their plan called for the construction of 255 retirement condominium apartments in mid-rise structures and remodeling of the main house to accommodate a hospital wing off the back of the home. The financing for this plan did not come through before the expiration of the option period, leaving the property available for sale.
In August of 1980, the Ednam estate property was purchased by a limited partnership named Ednam Corporation, with plans to develop the property into a planned urban development (PUD). The principal partners were William Petty and Caleb Stowe, with a minority interest in the partnership owned by two brothers, Charles and David Fullgraf. The developer’s land was placed under the control of an entity named Ednam Associates. The manor house property was placed in a trust named the Ednam House Land Trust. Plans for development were started in late 1980, and underwent several mutations before the governing documents for the homeowner’s association were drawn up in 1982. Ednam Community Association became a legal corporation in August 1982, when the original governing documents were filed with Albemarle County. The planned maximum number of homes was 140.
Two sections of the manor house property were parceled out as the initial development areas. A construction firm was created by one of the principals of the developer, Caleb Stowe, to build the homes in the new development. The construction firm was first named HomeCraftsmen, but was later changed to MasterCraft Building and Development. What is now Dryden Lane became the first area, with the renovation of three existing structures that were dependencies of the mansion, and construction of seven additional homes. The second area was called Section C and became the twenty lots that are now Wiley Drive and Kellogg Drive. The first home was occupied in 1983, by Marcus and Kay Barbour at 1121 Dryden Lane. Several other homes quickly were completed. Construction began on the homes along Worthington Drive before the majority of the homes on Wiley and Kellogg were finished. The development was well underway by the mid 1980’s.
The construction of Worthington Place Condominiums began in 1984, and the first residents moved in during 1986. This addition made Ednam different from any other PUD in the area, being the first condominium/single family community in Albemarle County. The second condominium, Chamberlain Village Condominiums, was begun in 1986, and the first owner occupied a home there in 1988. Sales continued slowly through the second half of the 1980’s, and due in large part to the declining real estate market, MasterCraft Building and Development filed for protection under Chapter 11 in late 1989. Ednam House Limited Partnership also filed for protection at about the same time. The owners attempted to market the mansion several times, however no deal materialized. The property was assumed by the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) and placed up for auction, where it was purchased by Ednam Associates, the property owning arm of the developer.
The bankruptcy of the builder put further constraints on the developer, with no builder to develop the property. Three local businessmen, Gaylon Beights, Edward Cusick, and Henry Browne created a company named Ednam Development Corporation, and formulated plans to develop the plateau that is now Dryden Place, and convert the land originally planned as Chamberlain Village to single family homes. This parcel later became Marion Drive. Their plans for Dryden Place began to take shape in late 1989, and were finalized in early 1990. Marion Drive plans were finished in early 1991.
Meanwhile at the manor house, Ednam Associates made attempts to market the manor house at various times as a private residence, a condominium, and as a business. Plans were generated for a condominium on the hillside behind the manor house as well. None of these came to fruition, however. In 1994, the death of the principal partner, William Petty closed the possibility of further development by Ednam Associates. The manor house property was placed on the market, as were the remaining parcels of land for development. In mid-1995 Roy Wheeler Realty Company made an offer to purchase the property, and officially closed the deal in October of that year. The remaining development property (24 lots) was purchased along with the development rights by Weather Hill Homes in December 1997, and the final home was completed in July of 2002.