The Story of Fearrington

The Story of Fearrington
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Garden Tour

Minimum 6 people, one hour, $25 pp. Email inquiry.

Records of the Fearrington farm in Chatham County date to the 1770s, when land grants issued by North Carolina Governor Ritchie Caswell first convey title to this farm. In 1786, William Cole, Sr. purchased 640 acres of land that eventually became Fearrington Village for $80. It was said that he was able to purchase the land for a pittance because the seller did not believe there was enough water on the property to run a gristmill or whiskey mill. The land passed through the generations and acquired the Fearrington name when it was inherited by Cole’s great-granddaughter and her husband, Edwin M. Fearrington, in 1915.

A fire destroyed the original homestead in 1925, and in 1927 Edwin’s son, John Bunyan Fearrington, built a homestead in a location close to US 15-501, where it stands today as The Fearrington House Restaurant. He turned the Fearrington property into a dairy farm in the 1930s, and the land continued to be used for that purpose until its sale. By the late 1960s, facing retirement, John’s son Jesse began looking for a buyer for the farm who would preserve the historic and aesthetic qualities which had made it an important part of the area for so long.

R.B. Fitch purchased the farm in 1974 and they named the community Fearrington to honor the stewardship of Jesse and his forebears. He began to slowly and deliberately craft a unique community from the rolling pastures and wooded acres of the farm, where residents would enjoy dining, relaxing, shopping and living.

R.B. and Jenny Fitch, 1983

Avid travelers, R.B. and his late wife Jenny admired the smaller villages of England and modeled the Fearrington Village Center after those they visited. They wanted to create a “coming together place” where one could pick up daily necessities or have lunch with friends, all enjoyed in a English garden setting. From other travels they picked up an interest in the Italian game of Bocce – lawn bowling – and croquet, eventually bringing those pastimes to Fearrington residents as well.

Over the last 30 years the community has grown to include nearly 2000 residents, an award-winning inn, a spa, several restaurants, Belted Galloway cows, acres of beautiful gardens, home and gift stores, and much more! Find out more about our gardens here.

Fearrington's Timeline