The Garth Newel Music Center: A Portrait

This book will tell the unique story of the Garth Newel Music Center, using photographs and words to capture the inspiring spirit of the place. The book will consist of narratives built upon historic records as well as contemporary interviews, and will feature a series of new, contemporary photographs to visually record the work that goes into preparing for each public performance and the excitement of the performance itself. The result will be a book that documents the history and development of the Garth Newel Music Center, and captures through photographs and words the experience of the live performance of classical music in this unique setting.

In parallel with the book, the authors will prepare a companion website to contain additional photographs, recorded interviews, and recordings of preparations for performances and the performances themselves, to highlight the experience of live musical events.

Garth Newel was the Bath County, Virginia, residence of William Sergeant Kendall (1869-1938) and his wife Christine Herter Kendall (1890-1981). Together they built the estate beginning in 1923, shortly after their permanent move to Virginia. The Kendalls, both music lovers, were known for hosting small concerts in the main residence at Garth Newel. A distinguished artist, William Sergeant Kendall achieved international recognition as a highly regarded painter in the academic style. From 1923 until his death in 1938, his Bath County estate provided him with studio space and storage for his paintings as well as a large residence suitable for entertaining family and the society of Bath County. Christine Herter Kendall was herself a noted artist, author, musician and patron of the arts, who remained in residence on the property after her husband died. Although designed by the Richmond architecture firm of Lee & Lee, it is likely that Christine had a strong hand in the design of the main residence. In 1954, she hired prominent North Carolina architect James Walter Fitzgibbon to design for her a one-story, modern Ranch-style dwelling, known as Kendall House or “New House.” In 1973 Christine co-founded the Garth Newel Music Center with Luca and Arlene Di Cecco and, upon her death, bequeathed her property to what became the Garth Newel Music Center thus ensuring that Garth Newel would continue as a venue for small concerts. The property remains the only residential music center in Virginia that exists strictly for the study and performance of chamber music. Garth Newel was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register on 21 March 2013, and on the National Register of Historic Places on 19 June 2013.

The property retains its original 114 acres. Historic resources on the property include the main house, three secondary dwellings, a riding arena, horse barn and stone landscape features including entrance piers, outdoor fireplace and retaining walls and steps.

Preface (Shawn Puller)
The Founders of Garth Newel
Early Music Performances at Garth Newel
The Establishment of the Garth Newel Music Center
Performing at Garth Newel
The Architecture of Garth Newel
Living and Working at Garth Newel
The Landscape of Garth Newel
Experiencing Garth Newel

The history of the Garth Newel Music Center is based upon a thorough examination of the historic material housed at the Center, as well as interviews with individuals involved with the founding and development of the Center, including current performers and administrators. Photographs will be made before and during performances, to capture the excitement of both preparation and performance.

This information will be presented with historic narrative and photographs to be prepared by architectural historian Bryan Clark Green and photographer Lee Brauer. The book itself will be designed by Garth Newel Music Center staff to be delivered print-ready to the selected printer.