Rutledge Farm in Middleburg, VA reveals the work of an earlier version of Washington, DC’s Blackburn Architects, known in the 1980’s as Smith Blackburn Architects. Today’s pastoral view of fields, creosote fences, historic elms and elegant old barns carries the legacy of the renowned equestrian design practice and client Hermen Greenberg. The architect’s work on the estate has become more beautiful as it has acquired the rich patina of time.
In 1983, John Blackburn and his then-partner Robbie Smith got a call from famed landscape architect Morgan Wheelock about Heronwood Farm, a Middleburg, Virginia estate owned by philanthropist Bob Smith. Smith needed an architect to design horse barns on the property, and Smith Blackburn got the job – the firm’s first equestrian project. It was while working at Heronwood that the young firm was hired by Hermen Greenberg to work on Rutledge, a nearby farm. A Washington area real estate developer, Greenberg owned and raced Thoroughbreds. He hoped to create better racing stock by breeding and training horses at his own property rather than stabling them at the track. Then an “old cattle farm,” said John Blackburn, Rutledge was artfully reworked by the architects over several years. The project included restoration of the stone residence, the addition of a carriage house, and new barns for foaling and raising young Thoroughbreds.
Hermen Greenberg wanted hearty barns designed to match the historic stone residence and vernacular of the surrounding hunt country, built in stucco and timber, and painted a distinctive tan color. The paint remains a signature of the farm 35 years later. The color of these barns is entirely compatible with the surrounding farm. The Rutledge barns are simple, sensible and functional structures that sit beautifully in the landscape. Not a lot of fluff, but they’ve held up and worked incredibly well for decades.
When Mr. Greenberg passed away, his wife Monica and her son Aleco Bravo-Greenberg purchased the farm from the heirs. After a meticulous multi-year restoration, Bravo-Greenberg has brought world class riding back to his family’s estate. It’s becoming one of the top destinations for Grand Prix riders to train with Olympians like Phillip Dutton, Will Simpson, McLain Ward, Leslie Burr-Howard and others. The lovely old barns now offer a new generation of owners and riders a healthy, safe and elegant place to train.