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Exceptional Irvington, VA Hotels

History & Culture

It is most ironic that one of Southern Living’s “Four Favorite Romantic Getaways" today was once a school which separated the genders - boys and girls dared not converse going to and from school, or on its grounds. The girls wore sunbonnets and dared not look at a boy out the corner of an eye. Hopelessly romantic today, yet exceedingly strict then.

In 1889, The Chesapeake Male and Female Academy opened its doors for classes. Its being co-ed was something of a novelty for those days. Still, the school featured two front doors - one for boys and one for girls as the two rarely mixed outside of recitation where rivalry was considered beneficial between the sexes. This school became the Chesapeake Academy, which a hundred years and several evolutions later, became the Hope and Glory Inn, one of the finest Irvington , VA hotels.

It was a day school for most, yet many boarded. Steamboat and horse and buggy were the only means of transportation for who lived far away to school. This, of course, was not a daily regimen so dormitories were built. If they wanted an education, boarding was the only way to get one. Gender segregation and tough discipline must have been the best way to educate. By 1898 the school claimed its graduates were being accepted by “the highest colleges in the land”

How good was this school? No college entrance exams were required of its graduates.
Out of 450 graduates (about 25 new students per year) and its faculty, there were many physicians, attorneys and of course, professors. There are four of note: One became a Rhodes Scholar; another was named President of Hollins College(now University); a third was elected Attorney General for the State of Virginia; and, Edwin Leland James went on to be the Managing Editor of the New York Times. James, whom Gay Talese called “a flamboyant Virginia dude”, was its European correspondent and was the first to interview Charles Lindbergh when he landed at Le Bourget in 1927.

The school closed when the Irvington High School opened. Not much is known about this building until the 40s when it became a rooming house, and ultimately an inn offering rooms and “meals”. This continued for decades under the name “King Carter Inn”. In 1995-96, William Westbrook bought the Irvington inn and, with his vision, the Hope and Glory was created.



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