Historic Fredericksburg's Most Romantic & Luxurious B&B

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The Shady Lady

The 1890 Caroline House, fondly referred to by historians as “The Shady Lady,” has as storied a past as the vibrant city in which it lives.  This gorgeous Victorian was originally built by Robert Walker Adams, a Fredericksburg City Treasurer in 1891.     

Jane Steady, who owned the property where the Caroline House now stands, died a few months before the December 1862 battle that destroyed much of the downtown area, including her home.  Adams had partnered with A. K. Phillips from 1855 - 1859.  He left Phillips to join Seth B. French forming Adams & French, the firm Ms. Steady had an imposing debt with. 

Adams then served from 1862 until the war’s end in the Confederate Commissary General’s office in Richmond.  Upon leaving this position, he rejoined his old partner in the new firm of A. K. Phillips & Co. 

At that time, Adams was also elected Fredericksburg City Treasurer for life under the new Constitution of Virginia.

In May of 1891, the vacant lot where Ms. Steady’s house once stood was auctioned off by Phillips, the Trustee, and purchased by Adams for $550.  That same day, Adams purchased another piece of land on Caroline Street held under deed by Phillips. 

These “shady” transactions were only the inception of questionable events that would follow.

George W. Wroten was hired by Adams to construct a Victorian home with Italianate influences.  It was completed only one day before Adams died while riding in his carriage from his office to have lunch in his new home.  Adams’ eloquent obituary referred to him as a man of “Strictest fidelity and uprightness.”  The entire city council attended his funeral only to later discover his shortcomings.

The Free Lance reported Adams’ books were short $4,361.55, two times the value of his new home.  The City sought restitution from the three co-signers of Adams’ bond:  O. D. Foster, C. E. Bragdon and the partner A. K. Phillips.  The Commonwealth issued a judgment against the three, but Phillips had died and it is uncertain if the City ever recovered the shortfall. 

The Shady Lady sat vacant after Adams death until 1893 when George H. Timberlake legally purchased it for $2,400.

Jackie and Chuck Leopold purchased the house at auction in 2006 and refurbished it to its original grandeur with all of the modern conveniences to make your visit memorable.

Our Awards

1890 Caroline House was voted the “Best of Washington for Weekend

Getaways” by The Washingtonian and “Best in the Burg,” by readers of the local newspaper, The Front Porch.

WUSA TV said the 1890 Caroline House is “One of the most romantic Inns in Virginia, and The Washington Post said, “In less than and hour from Washington, you can feel far, far away by visiting Historic Fredericksburg and the Richard Johnston Inn.