Renovation nears completion at English Meadows
At the end of a long, gray winter coming at the end of a year of uncertainty, people who live in Crozet’s English Meadows Senior Community will find themselves in sunny new surroundings.
Patti Williams of LMA Senior Living Design is now finishing up the substantial remodeling of the interior of the building, which had its beginnings as the Carter cold storage plant in 1912 and, after several reincarnations, became Mountainside Senior Living, and now English Meadows.
There’s a lot to consider besides new paint and furniture colors in her design specialty, Williams said, especially when it comes to cleanliness and safety. Flooring is an important component, as transition strips and rugs can cause falls, and swaths of a dark color can look like holes to those with dementia or low vision. The new floors are also anti-microbial and easily washable, Williams said.
Those accustomed to struggling up from a seated position will find the new chairs make it a little easier, Williams said. They’re custom-made to be easy to wash and have extra support for easy use. The new furniture is spaced to leave plenty of room for wheelchairs and walkers.
Resident rooms are being updated, too. Newcomers will settle into rooms with added bathroom safety features and doorways wide enough for wheelchairs and walkers.
After considering cleanliness and safety, Williams said she is always aware that the space means home in every sense to its residents, so it’s important to make it warm and inviting as well as functional, with color, texture and artwork. For a homey feel, she likes spaces where small groups can gather in a comfortable way. She’s created a bistro inside the dining room, where residents can drink coffee, sit and chat with each other, or visit with family members.
She hopes once English Meadows is fully open to visitors, the space can be used for parties and special events, and for church services on Sundays. Along with the management at English Meadows, she’s eager for a grand-reopening as soon as the health department says its time.
What’s next for the venerable building in the heart of Crozet? Williams said plans are to move on to the exterior, with concrete repair, painting, and replacement of sliding glass doors and balcony railings, but the feature most noticeable to those going about their business or having coffee or lunch downtown will be a mural created by an artist-architect team (see separate story).
Despite the painstaking nature of the job and the pandemic-related delays, Williams loves her work. She’s been impressed by the patience of the residents and the staff, she said. “They have tolerated construction noise, and dust, and closed-off areas for a year now.”
Williams noted that she and her husband (Mike Williams, one of the owners of English Meadows) have come to love Crozet and have rented a townhouse nearby. Her daughter and son-in-law share her feeling, and they’ll be moving to an apartment here shortly. She’s become a fan of Crozet’s restaurants and coffee shops, she said, but there are other, more significant rewards for the huge undertaking she’s about to finish in Crozet. She loves the interaction with the residents and recalled one event that made her smile throughout a long day of physical exertion.
“Just a few months ago,” Williams said, “as I was hanging the last picture in the seating area on the fourth floor of the Crozet building, I turned around to find an elderly woman sitting in the brand new armchair. She said, ‘I never thought I would live in a place this beautiful!’”
Former schoolmates collaborate on downtown mural
For all the years he was at Henley Middle School and then Western Albemarle High School, Charlie Crotteau passed by the downtown landmark he knew as Mountainside Senior Living, but it wasn’t until he became interested in architecture that he began thinking of it as more than an older industrial building. “That and the Mudhouse building across the street intrigued me,” he said.
Crotteau graduated from Western in 2017 and is now in his fourth year at the Virginia Tech School of Architecture and Design. He’s very interested in the evolving streetscape of his home town and thought the vertical, blank walls of what’s now English Meadows would be a good background for a mural. “Crozet’s not really what you’d call urban,” he said, “but you’re seeing more and more murals like this in urban settings.”
He got in touch with Patti and Mike Williams. “I didn’t know how to reach them except to register as a potential resident,” he said. “But I used the form, told them my idea, and they got right back to me.”
Crotteau began sketching out the best placement for a mural, and also began to work on some other ideas for the outside of the downtown building, including screening on the roof top. “I’m not really an artist, though,” he said. He recruited a former Western classmate, Emmy Thacker, who graduated from high school with him and then from James Madison University’s School of Art, Design, and Art History in May 2020. She began work as a graphic designer and artist and, at Crotteau’s invitation, joined the mural discussion.
Thacker had no doubts about the subject of the mural. It had to be fruit: “I was inspired by the building’s history as a cold-storage facility and my experience of spring in Crozet,” she said. “The fruit orchards are essential to my sense of home. Few things feel as hopeful as spring’s sudden blossoming.”
Mediterranean Bistro to open in Clover Lawn
A few Cupid look-alikes arrived just in time for Valentine’s Day, and other classical statues appeared outside the former Pap and Zan’s (previously Mountainside Grille) at The Shoppes at Clover Lawn. Landlord Benton Downer confirmed the March opening of Basil Mediterranean Grill, a second location for the popular restaurant, Basil Mediterranean Bistro, serving Charlottesville from Fifth Street Station.
Basil Mediterranean Bistro is known for its sunny flavors and big portions of Greek, Italian and Lebanese specialties. There’s a small courtyard for outdoor dining amid the statuary. The exact opening date is yet to be confirmed.
The Crozet ABC Store is closed, as construction continues on its expansion into the adjoining vacant commercial space in the Shoppes at Clover Lawn. According to the Virginia ABC Board, the Crozet store is expected to re-open in mid-March. Meanwhile, the three closest ABC stores are in Charlottesville at Barracks Road Shopping Center; Nellysford, on Route 151; and Waynesboro, on Lucy Lane.
Crozet Insurance, formerly located in Crozet’s Blue Goose building since the 1930s, recently moved to a portion of the space vacated by the former SWAY Tap House and Grill in the Crozet Shopping Center, between Crozet Pizza and Sam’s Hot Dogs. Fleischman said the move will allow the employees to be less crowded and to have the ability to expand. Fleischman has owned the business since 1987, and it has since grown to include a staff of four, all of whom are bilingual in Spanish. Local realtor Rod Phillips, who now owns the Blue Goose building, noted it’s good for Crozet to have the independent agency remain right in town. The new address is 5790 B Three Notch’d Road.
Ladybird Farm, a new community-supported agriculture (CSA) venture established in partnership with Wildrock, Crozet’s nature play and discovery center, is enrolling customers for the 2021 season. The farm will be a learning center as well as a food producer, and there will be on-site educational workshops for children and adults focused on gardening and biological control practices. Kyle Crawford, Wildrock’s director of land stewardship, manages the operation. To find out more and purchase a share, visit ladybird.farm/csa/.
Peter Welch, long-time woodworker, shop teacher and sign-maker, has opened a studio at his home in Nelson County. The Big Red Barn houses his new enterprise creating one-of-a-kind wooden objects, including turned bowls, kitchen utensils and specialty pens. The barn is open on weekends from noon to 5, or by appointment. Welch’s work is familiar to anyone who drives around Crozet. He’s the one who created the Crozet signs as well as many others located at the town’s commercial businesses.
The Crozet Artisans Depot welcomes Cass Girvin as its featured artist for March and April. Girvin is a high school English teacher and self-taught photographer from Charlottesville who has won many local and regional awards for his stunning photography. He spends a great deal of time outside, running, hiking, and taking photos of the natural beauty of this area. Focusing on landscapes and wildlife, Girvin finds an ideal landscape and then waits for a vivid sunset to unfold. Although these images typically feature an abundance of color and contrast, Girvin also skillfully captures quieter moments of luminescence, like mist rising in a forest. The show runs through April at the Depot.
Veteran photographer Justin Ide has opened a headshot and portrait studio in downtown Crozet, above Mudhouse. He’s been a photojournalist for the Boston Herald and a staff photographer for Harvard University as well as a freelance contributor to national and international publications. “We’re so hidden from each other in these days of masks and telecommuting,” he said. “It’s more important than ever to present yourself well.” See Ide’s work and make an appointment at headshots434.com.
Rockfish Gap Outfitters seeks a new owner. The Waynesboro business, owned by Chuck Walker, has been a landmark on Main Street since 1998, serving hikers, boaters, backpackers and all those with a love for the outdoors. Walker is anticipating retirement, and the store remains open. Charlottesville realtor Stuart Rifkin is handling the sale. Find details at rifkinassociates.com.
Carrington King of Crozet’s King Family Vineyards was named “Grower of the Year” by the Virginia Vineyards Association at its 2021 winter meeting. The VVA represents and promotes the wine industry in Virginia, and provides a number of educational resources for the state’s grape growers and winemakers.