Riverfront Retreat

Tranquil and elegant, Morland is a sprawling King George County estate. 

To be fair, the setting was there first, but the estate that has evolved over the past century on 160 acres draped along the Potomac River’s south bank in King George County nearly eclipses the natural beauty of its surroundings.

Morland began life as a farm. Originally a modest two-story, the main house had blossomed into a much larger home more befitting a grand Virginia riverfront estate by the time it was purchased by its current owners, Ron and Nancy Rosner, in 2002. Additions included a two-story wing with a library, dining room and another bedroom completed in the mid-1930s. 

Among the many upgrades and renovations the Rosners undertook were the additions of a service kitchen, sunroom, elevator, bathrooms and a kitchenette off the master bedroom. They also enlarged the kitchen to include a breakfast room with French doors. The 11,228-square-foot house now includes 10 bedrooms and eight full and four half baths. 

Changes to the surrounding property were equally dramatic over the decades. Numerous guest houses were built, including a “Boys’ Cottage” for sons of mid-20th century owners who were returning from service in World War II. A caretaker’s cottage and a river cottage were added to the west and east sides of the main house. 

Formal gardens devoted to roses, hydrangeas, peonies, azaleas and camellias also took shape in the last century. A kitchen garden provides herbs, summer vegetables and flowers often used for table garnishes. 

“We are so self-contained at Morland,” says Nancy. “In addition to the kitchen garden vegetables, we have orchards of cherry, apple, peach, pear and fig trees and a small vineyard.” 

Current owners Nancy and Ron Rosner.

In addition to garden restoration work, the Rosners also brought improvements to a slate terrace and heated pool, building a pool house. The golf-loving couple indulged their passion for the game with a nine-hole golf “range” situated southeast of the main house and gardens. To accommodate their own and visiting watercraft, they constructed a 288-foot dock using sturdy concrete marine slats with a 200-square-foot platform at its end. (Watercraft do not convey with the estate.)

A soaring hemlock hedge—believed to be the largest in Virginia—separates a garden dominated by a boxwood-framed fountain and shade gardens situated to the west of the main house. “The grounds are magnificent,” says Nancy. “There’s a 200-year-old Osage orange tree and wildlife that roam the property, like deer, fox, wild turkey, pheasants and geese. Annually, a pair of eagles nesting on the property adds to its brood and ospreys lay their eggs in nests along the river front. This is a bird watcher’s paradise.”

The Rosners, who spent the first two years of ownership living in the Boys’ Cottage while systems upgrades and renovations took place in the main house, sought guidance from internationally acclaimed interior designer Scott Snyder of Palm Beach and New York (with whom they had worked on their Florida residence) to complete the renovated main house and cottages. 

“We appreciate beautifully balanced, livable interiors that complement and preserve the architect’s original intention,” says Nancy. “Scott shares our passion for classical, detailed and refined elegance.” 

Darrell Scott, an artist based in Central Virginia and adept at custom interior painting, created a Virginia flora and fauna mural in the dining room, faux finish walls in the home’s dayroom and library and a grey, pickled-wood effect in the Boys’ Cottage. In the River Cottage, Scott painted a stenciled pattern for the kitchen floor and a pale yellow wash using a rag technique on the walls. 

The couple, who has divided time between Morland and their second home in Florida, decided to sell Morland in order to spend more time pursuing their passions of traveling and golfing. Ron recently sold his automotive dealership businesses, which included the Rosner Auto Group Toyota dealerships in Fredericksburg and Stafford County, as well as a Nissan franchise in Stafford County and Ford dealership in King George County.

The couple will leave behind a labor of love and a tranquil setting for many happy family memories. “We have loved boating on the river and water rafting with grandsons, Chad, Evan and Jake Huber, fishing and bird hunting,” says Nancy. “We still chuckle about a Fourth of July party one year with large white tents riverside on the lawn. As guests arrived by boat, onlookers asked if the property was a new bed and breakfast!”

This article originally appeared in our June 2018 issue.

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