Shenvalee History

The name Shenvalee was chosen by the one-time owner and New Market newspaper publisher, John G. Miller, from a combination of three famous words: Shenandoah--Virginia--Lee, hence Shen-Va-Lee or Shenvalee

Property History

The Shenvalee is located on historic ground once owned by Valentine Sevier as part of his 378 acre plantation granted to him by Thomas Lord Fairfax on July 21, 1749. By Deed dated May 9, 1765, Valentine Sevier sold his former home and 378 acres of land at New Market to his 20 year old married son, John Sevier. In 1762, at the age of 16, John Sevier (1745-1818) had married Sarah, the 15 year old daughter of Joseph and Sarah Hawkins of Hawkinstown. Despite his early marriage, he went on to become General John Sevier and the first Governor of Tennessee.

Shenvalee, located on the central part of the Sevier plantation, has in notable succession been owned by Thomas Lord Fairfax, Valentine Sevier, (1749), John Sevier (1765), Joseph Strickler (1772), Henry Sulcer (1778), Mathias Sulcer (1779), George Lafferty (1802), William Steenbergen (1805), John Click, Jr., (1809), Dr. John Strayer (1818), Joseph B. Strayer (1876), B. P. Newman (1889), William A. Pence (1902), Clarence A. Pence (1919), Roland G. Hill (1926), Shenandoah Valley Estates, Incorporated (1926), and the family of Dr. Casper Otto Miller, whose son, John G. Miller, sold it to the present stockholders.

During the era that preceded the 1929 stock market crash, the area in and around New Market, Virginia experienced spectacular growth and development. Three major caverns, Shenandoah Caverns, Endless Caverns and Luray Caverns had been developed. Numerous spas such as Orkney Springs, Brock Springs, Shenandoah Alum Springs and others were catering to those of wealth and leisure, many of whom came from the nearby Washington-Baltimore metropolitan areas.  

It was into this climate of economic prosperity that Roland G. Hill came to New Market with the dream of building a resort type hotel and what was to be the first of its kind in the Valley, a nine-hole golf course. In 1926 Hill purchased the property (what was then known as the "Dr. Strayer Upper Farm") from Clarence A. Pence. Utilizing the dwelling that stood there, Hill enlarged it into a two-story hotel with rooms surrounding a central balconied ballroom. At the same time, the first nine holes of the present "Olde Course" were constructed by a large force of men wielding picks and shovels and using horse drawn wagons to transport the dirt excavated in the process. It was opened to the public on July 7, 1927.

The front nine holes of Shenvalee Golf Course occupy land which was within the area of operations of the Battle of New Market, fought May 15, 1864, between a small Confederate army under the command of Gen. John C. Breckenridge, and a large Union force commanded by Gen. Franz Siegel. Among Gen. Breckenridge's forces was the cadet corps of the Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Va., which gained undying fame by its famous charge that turned the tide of battle. This historic incident is now perpetuated by a well-endowed foundation, financed by the bequest of the late George Collins of Charleston, West Virginia, and former VMI cadet. The New Market Battlefield State Historical Park and Hall of Valor Museum was dedicated in May, 1970, just one-half mile northwest of The Shenvalee.

In January, 1929, disaster struck in the form of a fire which started in room No. 10 on the second floor, which resulted in extensive damage to the hotel. Upon rebuilding, a third story was added and the ballroom, now used as a dining room, was sealed over. The charming era of the balconied ballrooms had passed.

Around 1944 the U.S. State Department, looking for a place to hold their Italian prisoners of diplomatic rank, took over the entire facilities of Shenvalee. A small group of Italian diplomats, guarded by local New Market residents, enjoyed a leisurely 14 months at Shenvalee.

In 1956 a corporation was organized to take over the property. In 1960, the need for more space became apparent. The Poolside Motel, to the south of the Lodge, was built and the following year a swimming pool was added. In 1964 the back nine holes, "Creek Course" was constructed. In 1965 the present golf shop was erected, and in 1969, the Golf Course Motel was added. A new wing to the Golf Course Motel was added in 1973 and in 1992, the final 9 "Miller Course" was added to complete The Shenvalee Golf Resort's 27 PGA holes. 
Share by: