In 1852 Charles H. Senff, a New York sugar merchant, purchased the then 3,250 acre Curles tract along with the adjoining farms of "Bremo" (home of Richard Cocke) and Strawberry Plains. Senff built the 15-room brick Georgian Revival mansion that exists today to replace the pre-Civil War house owned by William Allen("the richest man in Virginia") which had fallen into disrepair. Charles H. Senff applied principles of scientific agriculture to the farm. Senff also commenced breeding Red Polled cattle, buying the best available breeding stock in the world from English breeders to establish the “the best herd of Red Polled Cattle to be found in the United States.”
"This property is among the most significant properties in Henrico County covering almost four centuries in American history". Click HERE for more from the Henrico County Historical Society. The history of the area goes back to 8000 BC.
|The riverside is dominated by a monumental portico with Ionic Order columns, brick pediment, and classical entablature.|
|When the land-side porch was raised to two stories and enclosed, one of the second story windows was converted to a door accessible from the stair landing and was used as a sleeping porch.|
|The mansion, which had fallen into ruin, is being comprehensively and sympathetically restored.|
Located in the Scott's Addition of Richmond, architect Louis W. Ballou designed the Curles Neck Dairy Sales & Distribution Building in 1939, as a sales room and processing plant for the dairy. The plant closed in the 1980's. The attached restaurant, now The Dairy Bar, remains open. "Said to have the best milkshakes in town". wikimapia.org location.
|Photo from Prominent Virginians Dedicated to the Fourth Estate 1916|
In Nordic mythology Vanadis is another name for Freya – the goddess of fertility, youth, beauty and the dead
|In 1912 Billings paid "in excess of $50,000" for THE HARVESTER, a world champion trotter stallion. The Harvester Cigar was named after this record holder. "Smoked where men of discrimination gather". Photo from Prominent Virginians Dedicated to the Fourth Estate 1916|
Billings paid record prices for the best-known stallions and brood mares and erected one of the largest enclosed race tracks in the United States and two, one-mile-long outdoor race tracks, one built of sod, the other was a clay track of natural loam which dried quickly. At his own expense Billings shipped his stable to Russia and Europe for an exhibition promoted as "the finest horses bred and raised in this country." He never bet or raced his horses for money! "The American Horse King".
The Strawberry Hill Races(steeplechase) were held at the farm during Billings ownership. Click THIS LINK for more. https://www.facebook.com/StrawberryHillRaces
Founded in 1981, the C.K.G. Billings Amateur Driving Series, is a monument to his phenomenal achievements. The C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Series is unique in that drivers, not horses, are nominated for the competitions. https://www.facebook.com/CkgBillingsHarnessDrivingSeries?hc_location=timeline
He sold the farm and liquidated his stables in 1917. The farm was advertised for $700,000, a loss of $300,000 over Billings’ investment in the property. He abandoned the East Coast for California, "ostensibly because there was no more room there for racing and breeding", and died in 1937. The land was offered to the U. S. Government for use as a cavalry station.
Silent film "The Mad Lover"(a modern Othello) was filmed on the farm in 1917.
In 1951 Eastern Airlines Flight 601 belly-landed into the fields - click HERE for more.
In 2004 heirs of Frederick Watkins(dairy) put the Curles Neck property on the market for $24 million. It sold in 2006. In 2009, a 156-acre parcel was sub-divided from the larger property to preserve and protect most of the historic buildings. https://www.facebook.com/CurlsNeckCreekEstuary. The marsh is pockmarked with water-filled depressions because of sand and gravel mining.
Since then plans for a steel wall to keep flood waters out of the marsh have been approved. Site of the VERY private Curles Neck Duck Club.
Click HERE to read the detailed nomination form for the farms inclusion into the National Register of Historic Places. wikimapia.org location is HERE. BING.
Charles H. Senff was the grandson of William F. Havemeyer, a former mayor of New York City and heir to the sugar refinery company Havemeyer & Elder. In the 19th century, Havemeyer & Elder controlled most of the international sugar market, evolving into the American Sugar Refining Company. Click HERE to see where Charles Henry Sneff had a home along Madison Avenue in New York City. After selling "Curles Neck Farm" to Billings, Mrs. Sneff went on to purchase "Knollwood" on the Gold Coast of Long Island.