When cotton broker Ralph VanLandingham and his wife, Susie, followed the textile boom to Charlotte in 1913, they brought pieces of their shared history: stones, cypress shingles, and heirloom furniture from their summer retreat in Linville. In the midst of a growing city, the VanLandinghams recreated the slow simplicity of summers spent in nature.
The VanLandinghams were famous for their dinner parties, but current owner Billy Maddalon is known for hosting weddings. And, on the third Thursday of every month, a quieter kind of party: gourmet picnics on the grounds. “I’d love to say I came up with the idea,” Maddalon says. They’ve been great for the wedding business, as many couples who become engaged at the estate later marry there. “A circle of life, if you will,” he says.
The most popular picnics are “Splendor in the Grass,” which comes with lamb chops and seasonal vegetables, and a European-style picnic with cheeses, jams, and bread. The picnics combine practicality and romance: Each basket contains a book of poetry, bug spray, and a blanket. After picnickers pick up their basket, they can wander the grounds to find a spot. Many, Maddalon says, end up at the waterfall in the back corner of the property.
The VanLandinghams built their house for entertaining, but their lasting achievement was bringing the tranquility of the mountains to the middle of busy Charlotte. Where the estate’s tree-lined gravel drive meets the busy streets of Plaza-Midwood is a place where the sidewalk ends, sweeping visitors back to a simpler, more leisurely time.
For more information, call (704) 334-8909 or visit vanlandinghamestate.com.