The History of Airwell

Lucien Powell

  
The beautiful and charming Airwell Bed and Breakfast takes its name from the first known owner of the property, Lucien Whiting Powell.  Mr. Powell named the property Airwell because he enjoyed traveling from his home in the city of Washington DC to the clean air of Airmont, VA on weekends and in the summer.  Lucien Powell, who was no doubt one of the most prolific artists living in Washington DC in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, purchased Airwell in 1876, and lived his later years here full-time until his death in 1930.  Lucien’s grandfather was Levin Powell, a Revolutionary War colonel and the founder of Middleburg, who later became a member of Congress.
 
At a young age, Powell joined the Confederate Army, but due to a crippled leg he could only serve as a wagon driver.  After the war, Powell became a student at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts and studied art under American landscape painters, Thomas and Edward Moran.  It was after further study abroad that Powell purchased Airwell as his summer home.  He remodeled one of the outbuildings into his art studio, which is now one of our cottages known as “Powell’s Studio”.  It is from this studio that Powell would paint watercolors of the Virginia countryside.  In addition, he would paint scenes of Venice, the Holy Land, and the Grand Canyon, which he would sketch on his travels.  President Theodore Roosevelt was one of the first to recognize Powell’s worth as a landscape artist.  President Hoover also owned several of Powell’s Grand Canyon paintings.
 
After Lucien Powell died in 1930, Airwell sat vacant for 10 years and deteriorated.  The once grand home was purchased by Will and Hattie Ashby in 1940, who renamed the home Ashwell.  Mr. Ashby was a descendent of the famous Turner Ashby of the Confederate Army.  Mr. Ashby spent 8 years skillfully restoring the main house while living in Powell’s art studio.  As a carpenter by trade, he did most of the work by hand, including the beautiful fireplace mantels, the stairway bannisters, the unique kitchen cabinets, and the cozy library’s arch and built-in shelves.  His granddaughter, Diane Gavura, who lived here as a child, purchased the home from her grandmother in 1968.  She and her husband Tom raised their family here until they sold the property in 1995.
 
The moment we walked into Airwell in 2010, we fell in love with its uniqueness and beauty!  We knew immediately that it was the perfect home for our bed and breakfast dream.  After 5 years of hard work, we are so happy to be opening the Airwell Bed and Breakfast for our guests to enjoy.  We hope you enjoy this property as much as we do!
 
  

Powell's art studio in 2010