A Lovely Legacy

Upper Bundoran preserves precious memories of a gracious heritage. 

The front facade of Upper Bundoran.

Photography by Catriona Tudor Erler

Completed in 1952 by Fred W. Scott and his wife, Elizabeth Pinkerton Scott, and located in North Garden, Upper Bundoran is a home with a legacy. The Scott family has deep roots in Virginia, and several family members have left important marks on the Commonwealth. The current owners of the house, Marc and Tracey Hedrick, originally from Texas, have discovered some surprising connections between themselves and the Scotts, and are putting down their own Virginia roots. 

Water lilies and white impatiens.

The Hedricks grew to love Charlottesville while their daughter Catherine was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia. When they decided to move east from California in the spring of 2017, they began their home search in Albemarle County. “We really weren’t sure what we were looking for initially,” says Tracey. “We started out thinking it might be a small vacation home in town. We looked at many properties in and out of Charlottesville, but once we saw this house and connected the history, it was a fairly easy decision. I only saw the home’s interior one time before we purchased it. The property and the view were what really sold us.”

There is a synergy in the world that creates unexpected connections between people, places, and things. After they moved into the house, the Hedricks realized an unlikely connection to the Scott family. As a UVA fourth year student, their daughter had lived in West Lawn Room 15, known as “The Good Guy” room. The room had been endowed by Fred W. Scott, the original owner of the Hedricks’ house, in honor of Augustus “Gus” Blagden, UVA class of 1963. Gus was a close friend of the Scotts’ eldest son, the third Fred W. Scott (now referred to as Fred Scott Jr.), and the entire family grew to love Gus when he lived with them while attending summer school at UVA. To all who knew him, he was “The Good Guy.” Scott Jr. was devastated when Gus died of a heart attack in 1966 at age 26. Two years later, the Scott family endowed the room on the West Lawn in his honor. 

When Scott Jr.’s mother, Elizabeth, turned 100 in April 2015, the family hosted a party and invited all of the people who had lived in “The Good Guy” room. When the Hedricks walked into the party and met their hosts, they hadn’t begun thinking of moving to Virginia and never dreamed they’d be living in the house that Elizabeth and her husband built. 

Courtyard garden with pond and fountain.

Elizabeth Scott was a remarkable woman with a remarkable history. Born in 1915, she was 104 years old when she died in July 2019. A stunning beauty, she met her future husband at a party when he walked straight up to her and said, “Hello, I’m Fred Scott, and I’m going to marry you.”

Garage and office space disguised as a barn.

She took an active leadership role in the community, serving as a trustee of Emmanuel Church in Greenwood and on the governing council of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at UVA. Elizabeth was president of the Sweet Briar College Alumnae Association, the University of Virginia Hospital Auxiliary, and the Albemarle Garden Club. She knew every president of the University of Virginia, beginning with the first, Edwin Alderman, who took the job in 1904, through to the current president, James Ryan, who was hired in 2018. 

Elizabeth was particularly passionate about trees and shrubs. Today visitors to Upper Bundoran see huge specimen trees, including sugar maples, cork elms, chestnut oaks, and American sycamores, that she planted in the 1950s. “The most spectacular part of the property is and was the trees,” says Brooke Spencer, owner of Brooke Spencer Designs and the landscape designer for the new gardens. “Elizabeth Scott was a master when it came to tree selection and placement of trees, and she carefully maintained the trees on the property.” 

A simple arrangement of roses.

“Mother was an avid, hands-on gardener,” says Scott Jr. “She had a paid gardener, but she also was out there pulling weeds and growing her vegetables. She knew the botanical names of all the trees she planted, and she loved vegetable gardens.”

Shelah Scott, a relative of the Scott family by marriage and an active member of the Albemarle Garden Club, remembers Elizabeth teaching the proper techniques for pruning boxwood, which “surrounded the house and gardens in billowing, cloud-like mounds,” she says. “We were told they should not look like round balls in a row. Elizabeth would demonstrate, bush after bush, showing us just what we should do, and we followed her instructions closely.”

Shelah also remembers garden club meetings at Upper Bundoran with lunch served afterward. The chicken salad Elizabeth served at one meeting was deemed so delicious it was served to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip when they dined in the Rotunda as part of the royal couple’s Charlottesville itinerary when they visited in 1976. 

Formal parterre garden.

Fred W. Scott was his father’s namesake and had big shoes to fill. In 1893, Frederic William Scott had co-founded Scott & Stringfellow with business partner Charles S. Stringfellow Jr. The brokerage and investment banking firm is now owned by BB&T. He was also a director of several of the country’s largest companies, including the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company, and served for many years as a director of the old Merchants First National Bank, which was co-founded by his father and grandfather. 

Front foyer.

A longtime member of the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia, Frederic joined the board on March 1, 1920, and was elected rector in April 1930, a role he served in until his death on September 24, 1939. His grandson Scott Jr. says, “During his first year as rector, university president Edwin Alderman told Scott the university was running a deficit that year. Scott responded, ‘It’s under my watch. How much are you in arrears?’ He wrote a personal check for that amount.” He also donated $300,000 (about $5 million in today’s dollars) to the school for the construction of its new football stadium, which was dedicated on Oct. 15, 1931, and named in his honor. Scott Stadium is the oldest active football stadium in Virginia. 

Fred W. started out as a stockbroker in his father’s firm. Although he loved the analytical work, he disliked the sales aspect of a stockbroker’s job. He left the firm and successfully invested on his own. After buying Bundoran Farm, he focused on farming. “He was a very serious farmer,” says Scott Jr. “He grew hay and raised beef cattle. My father loved growing grass.” He was also a generous philanthropist. “My father did a lot of good, but people don’t know about it because he did it quietly,” says Scott Jr.

View to the southwest.

Fred W. and Elizabeth purchased the 2,300-acre Bundoran Farm in 1940. At the time, it was called Oak Grove, a name the Scotts thought uninspired. They wanted to name it Ballyshannon to commemorate the Irish town where the Scott family originated, but there was already a property in North Garden with that name. They opted for Bundoran, the name of a village near Ballyshannon in County Donegal, Ireland. 

Tracey’s arrangement of hydrangeas and orange alstroemeria with berries and foliage.

The Scotts had a vision for their dream home on their land, but they had to wait until 1950 to begin construction due to post-war restrictions on building. When the restrictions were finally lifted, the Scotts found that building their seven-bedroom, Georgian Revival-style house was no small matter. Per the Scotts’ instructions, the architect’s design was traditional, but to an extreme—the kitchen was in a separate building. In addition, when the general contractor looked at the plans, he said the house couldn’t be built because the beams in the plan were too long. Undaunted, the Scotts had the plans reviewed by another architect, Henderson Heyward, who used the basic design, but modified it to make it more buildable and to bring the floorplan up to 20th century expectations.

In response to the 1950s angst about the atomic bomb, Upper Bundoran was built with 12-inch-thick concrete floors and walls, steel girders, and steel lath for the lath and plaster finishing. The floors were plumbed with radiant heat, eliminating the need for radiators. Although the walls were built with modern materials, the trim work inside and out was traditional, done in the Georgian style with dentil molding, baseboards, and wide plank wood floors. Fireplaces with elaborate surrounds are the focal point of each room. The house interior is graciously elegant with high ceilings and bright, well-proportioned, and well-lit rooms with views of the surrounding farmland, hills, and distant mountains. 

Tracey at home, where she creates her own arrangements.

The Scott family sold Upper Bundoran in 2006. Although the land was divided for development, the majority is still active farmland. Previous owners Jerry and Melanie Bias purchased the house in late 2011 and hired Madison Spencer Architects and Brooke Spencer Designs landscape design company to renovate it with new plumbing and wiring, to add new gardens, and to build the garage and office, which was designed to look like a barn in the field. “With the 12-inch-thick concrete walls, moving walls was a nonstarter, but even adding additional electrical outlets and plumbing was a massive undertaking,” says Brooke Spencer. “Fortunately, the bones of the house were spectacular, and both by virtue of the difficulty of making changes and the fact that the house had a timeless design and perfect orientation, most changes were cosmetic.” 

Living room.

Where the driveway and original garage had been, Brooke Spencer created a courtyard with a European flair. It features gravel paving; walls on three sides and a low boxwood hedge defining the open side; a round, raised central pond and fountain; and four symmetrically planted white-flowering Natchez crepe myrtles. She also planted a boxwood parterre garden with a central pond and fountain. “I squared the available space for symmetry and left the mature boxwoods planted around the perimeter to define the new garden room space,” says Spencer. Recently, Tracey Hedrick added white flowering roses to the parterre garden.

When the garden and house projects were completed, the Biases and Spencer invited Elizabeth to come see the changes. She was delighted with what she saw and enjoyed a brief conversation with everyone before announcing, “Now I will leave.” As Spencer points out, “At her age, she could do and say what she liked.”

The current owners, Marc and Tracey Hedrick, will create their own family history at Upper Bundoran and make their own mark on this beautiful, historic property. 

This article originally appeared in our April 2020 issue.

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