There and Back Again

Normandy, a spectacular home on Carter’s Creek, tells the story of a lifetime.

It’s one thing to show pride in your alma mater by wearing its colors on game day, maybe flying a school flag outside your home. It’s quite another to build a 4,300-square-foot “cottage” of stone chosen specifically for its resemblance to the majestic, craggy buildings on your alma mater’s campus. That’s exactly what Jim Hatch did at Normandy, a haven he created for himself on Carter’s Creek. “I wanted to replicate Virginia Tech’s ‘Hokie Stone’ as much as I could,” says Hatch, 69, of the home’s exterior.

When he considered his options for retirement from a successful career in banking in Charlotte, North Carolina, Hatch decided that he wanted to live somewhere on the water, in a slower-paced world than that of corporate banking. A Virginian by birth, Hatch grew up in Lynchburg, graduated from E.C. Glass High School and Lynchburg College, then went on to earn a master’s degree in accounting from Virginia Tech. So Virginia was a natural starting point in his search. “I spent several years scouting areas around the Chesapeake Bay,” Hatch says. White Stone, and his quiet stretch of Carter’s Creek—a picturesque tributary of the Rappahannock River, just a few miles from the Chesapeake Bay—felt like the perfect fit.

Because he was still living and working in Charlotte during the design and construction of Normandy, Hatch hired Charlotte-based architect Frank Snodgrass of Living Concepts, and the Catawba, South Carolina-based interior design firm Designs by Jeannine Burger Ltd. to craft the home to his exact tastes. He relied on White Stone contractor David Jones of Connemara Corp. to build it. While the stone on his home may be a deferential nod to his beloved alma mater, it also captures an Old World elegance he came to admire in his extensive travels over the years (one favorite spot was Normandy). But if you think the stone exterior of this home is preview to a stolid, imposing interior at odds with the laid-back atmosphere of the Northern Neck, think again. Though it’s grand in scale and appointed with top quality finishes and furnishings, the home is indeed warm and welcoming, well in keeping with the relaxed vibe that comes with river living.

Hatch’s two beloved golden retrievers, Kiley and Riley, greet visitors in a foyer featuring gracefully patterned Italian floor tiles in rich tones, as well as matching root tables and custom mirrors created to look like antiques. The entry tiles give way to reclaimed wood flooring throughout the home, made from antique barrels that once fermented cider in the United Kingdom, and now gleam with the varied coloration that only time and care can produce.

Just off the foyer is a sunny book-lined study with a limestone English-insert fireplace. This serene spot is where Hatch spends a great deal of time reading, his devoted pups at his feet, and where his Christmas tree stands during the holidays, greeting those who approach the house from its front window.

A massive, centuries-old double door from a French castle hangs in a small hallway that leads in one direction to a powder room with leather tiles and subtly patterned wallpaper (if you look closely, you can see squirrels holding acorns), and in the other direction, a generous master suite with a coffered ceiling, sitting area and water views. The master bath features creamy imported tile, custom built-ins, a shower with five showerheads, a large, leaded-glass window, and a soaking tub in a tiled alcove.

The hub of the home is what Hatch calls the gathering room: grand but cozy, with 21-foot coffered ceilings, a massive fireplace, and furnishings that are all about comfort. The room’s centerpiece is a wrought-iron chandelier with dancing elk poised around its perimeter—a favorite Hatch says he couldn’t leave behind in Charlotte. The chandelier and a smaller but no less interesting wrought-iron fixture in the foyer are hung on electric lifts for easy cleaning and lightbulb changing. All his electronics—including a large-screen TV and whole-house sound system—are secreted behind smooth built-in cabinets on one side of the fireplace. On the other side is a wet bar with a backsplash featuring a Portuguese compass rose hand-painted by a favorite Charlotte-based artist named Terry Reitzel, whose work appears throughout the home in other interesting faux treatments and paintings. Reitzel also painted the portrait of Jazz, Hatch’s now-deceased Golden Retriever, which hangs in a prominent spot over the fireplace in the study.

A gallery walkway overlooks the gathering room from the second level, a graceful balcony projecting slightly into the room at one end. “I like to tell people this is where I give my speeches,” quips the generally soft-spoken Hatch. Stairs leading up to the balcony feature unique wrought-iron balusters that are carried throughout the space, another detail that shows Hatch’s efforts to get everything just right. Upstairs, two beautifully appointed bedrooms with great views and warm light share a large Jack-and-Jill-configured bathroom suite.

Hatch’s kitchen is a cook’s delight, with top-of-the-line appliances—though all but the Wolf stove are disguised behind custom cabinet faces. “I have an aversion to stainless steel,” says Hatch. The result is a high-performing kitchen that reads more like a place to spend time and relax. Slate floors add a rustic note and are easy to keep clean. Branching off the kitchen are several places to take meals and entertain: a sunny dining room with coffered ceilings and hand-painted decorative treatments; a nook at one end of the kitchen; and the veranda overlooking the grounds and water. On the veranda, you can experience one of Hatch’s favorite things about living on Carter’s Creek: watching herons, osprey, seagulls and all manner of wildlife—if you’re not lulled to nap by the gentle sounds of nature.

Also coming off the kitchen, a vestibule leads to a two-car garage and a staircase up to Hatch’s media room, a big space that is home to a 10-foot projection screen and a vast collection of movies. A full bath makes this room another self-contained suite. “I spend a lot of time up here in the winter; this is a great place to watch football,” he says. Downstairs in the vestibule is also what he calls “the fun bathroom”—a powder room featuring whimsical yet somehow elegant frog wallpaper.

Another staircase off the kitchen leads down to the home’s lower level. Though it, too, possesses all the comforts of home—great light, comfortable furnishings—here lies the business hub of the house: tiled floors for easy cleanup of wet footprints; Hatch’s office; space to work out; and a whole-house generator, should a Northern Neck storm take out the power. And if building a big, crackling fire is in order, there’s a fireplace down there for that, too. In fact, Hatch says he recently hosted a fondue party complete with s’mores made in that very fireplace.

The lower level offers walkout access to an outdoor kitchen and patio where there is room for a pool as well. While these outdoor spaces and water views of Carter’s Creek always inspire, Hatch wanted to put his touch on this area and create even more interest. “Maybe I missed the rocks of the mountains of my youth; I wanted to hark back to my heritage with this design,” he says, explaining how he hired a landscape architect to design a small pond with a rock-lined stream flowing down into a lagoon. The gently sloping area is filled with native plantings and specimens, like mountain laurel, foxglove, yaupon holly and water iris. At the foot of this landscape is a sandy beach and a dock with a 16,000-pound boatlift and a jet ski lift, too. With a depth of seven feet, this stretch of Carter’s Creek is a boater’s dream. Hatch has spent many a peaceful day boating the creek and traveling to neighboring small towns up the Rappahannock and along the Eastern Shore.

At Normandy, no detail was left to chance; every fixture and feature is intentional. Inside and out, the home’s details tell stories of Hatch’s travels and interests, adding character that is only found in new construction when exhaustive attention is given to every facet of the process. And while his choices reflect his personal tastes—neutral palettes, warm woods and touches of whimsy here and there—this is a house where everyone can feel right at home.

Hatch and his dogs have loved the peaceful time at Normandy but, as retirement often goes, he says he’s ready to pursue a new chapter. With an offer from Virginia Tech, he hopes to relocate back to Blacksburg to teach part-time and live out another dream. “I like to think of my life as a journey—from the mountains to the Bay, and hopefully back to the mountains again,”

he explains.

Though he had a great career in public accounting and then banking, Hatch says he enjoyed opportunities he had along the way to mentor students and teach classes. During his retirement, Hatch has also done a great deal of volunteer work for the university, serving on the board of directors for the Virginia Tech Foundation and other committees in the Pamplin College of Business.

Volunteering in these capacities has rekindled his interest in teaching—love for Virginia Tech in its own right notwithstanding. “Having the opportunity to give back in this way transcends philanthropy,” he explains, “and feels like the opportunity to complete my journey.”


Normandy on Carter’s Creek is for sale for $2,200,000 through Coldwell Banker/Chesapeake Bay Properties. For more information, please call Sandra Hargett at 804-436-9145 or visit NormandyOnCartersCreek.com

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