Mattie’s Place of Burke’s Garden, Virginia (27 Photos)
Signs for Mattie’s Place are one of the first things cluing you in as you approach Burke’s Garden, Virginia.
For about eight years now, this picturesque valley has been the site of one of the more uniquely-located Amish settlements in North America.
Photo by zeesstoff/flickr
“Mattie” is Mattie Schlabach. She runs one of the handful of retail businesses in the valley, a popular general store which I’ll take you inside today.
This sign instructs you at the turn-off from Tazewell, the town which lies just on the other side of the mountains, to begin the winding drive up over a twisting mountain pass that takes you into the valley.
More signs encourage you along the way. This picture is poor but you can see the instructions to turn left at the upcoming bridge.
Here’s the same sign taken a few days later on my return visit several days later (a few of these photos are from visit #2).
Once you reach the bridge you’ll also notice a historical plaque about the community.
Mattie’s business and home are just a little way down the road from the turnoff, on the right.
I stopped by Mattie’s Place the week of Thanksgiving, which I mentioned in a brief post on my visit to the valley. There was no one else around as the day was drawing to a close. Mattie was hard at work at something in the kitchen area.
Mattie used to run the General Store on the main road through the valley, which is now managed by another Amish person.
We spoke for about a half an hour, connecting on various topics like Amish settlements I’d been to and mutual people we might know.
Mattie is a friendly person. You can only conclude she is in the right line of work where she’s meeting new people all day long (reader Jerry also met Mattie on his 2015 visit to the valley).
This community has ties to Halifax County, Virginia, and both in turn would be back-and-forth with their 105-year-old origin community at Dover, Delaware.
As evidence of that, here’s the single buggy – with body style characteristic of Amish from Dover – which I spotted on my return visit the morning of Thanksgiving.
I asked Mattie if I could take some photos of her store to share with you on the site.
Here is the sandwich and food board at the main counter. Mattie says she may soon end up focusing more on the restaurant part of the business.
Mattie’s Place has baked items. Looks like most of it must have been sold by this point late in the day.
The seating area where you eat your sandwich or barbecue or pizza, with stove and bear skin on the wall.
The store has sections with canned goods and other food items you’d expect to find in an Amish food or variety store.
Some bulk foods. The store’s mixture of goods reveals its clientele – some typical items which appeal to Amish buyers, some geared more to tourists.
It’s a good bit smaller by comparison to King’s Kountry Store in Halifax County, for example.
Amish hats for sale.
The beautiful valley draws its share of visitors. Mattie has a neighbor who rents a cottage. Other than that, I am not aware of other lodging in the valley.
Mattie has a number of tourist souvenir-type items for sale. These feature both the Burke’s Garden name and imagery, and the name of her store as well.
You can even get a Mattie’s Place baseball cap.
They also rent bicycles here. Apparently cycling around the valley is popular with visitors. If you visit you’ll understand why.
Sweet tooth section.
What appears to be some creams, balms, and natural remedies near the front counter.
I signed the guest book before leaving.
I made my way out having picked up some treats including beef sticks, a Burke’s Garden calendar, and a photographic book on the history of the community.
The large porch hugging the log cabin-style store.
One last curiosity: Mattie has an ATM machine installed outside of her business. Can you say surprising?
I forgot to ask about why it’s there. It’s about the last place you’d expect to see an ATM. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a random “rural” ATM like this anywhere before.
This is not a heavily-visited store in the heart of Lancaster County. It’s an isolated, enclosed valley with no through traffic.
Maybe it’s handy for locals, or visitors to her business who need cash (I don’t recall that she takes credit cards).
If that’s the case, bravo to Mattie for covering her business bases here.
Store Location & Details
Here’s the address and store hours:
920 Gose Mill Rd.
Tazewell, VA 24651
Phone: (276) 472-2222
Monday – Saturday: 8AM – 6PM
Here’s a much higher quality photo of the shop, taken by tripadvisor.com user buffalorock.
I hope I gave you a feel for the store and a bit more of Burke’s Garden. Stop in if you are up for the trip and don’t mind windy roads. You’ll enjoy it.
Still to come is one more post on the community, drawn from my Thanksgiving morning visit.
Thanks for this story about Mattie’s Place. I was wondering if there was electricity there – I couldn’t tell by the lighting in the photos. There are fridges that I am guessing are propane? Any idea what fuel they use to run that stove? Thanks.
I think Geo is right, that is a wood stove. Refrigerator is likely propane, I don’t think this place was hooked up to the grid (sometimes Amish business places have public power but I don’t think that was the case here). Lighting is a good question, might have been LED lights on batteries (the Halifax County store uses them and that community is of a similar origin), I just can’t remember and none of my shots shows it clearly. But if I had to guess I would say they were LED rather than naphtha lamps.
The lights in the store are led powered by Dewalt power tool rechargeable batteries. She recharges them with a solar unit. The batteries last about 6 hours and then changed. I have pics of the units.
She does not accept cards inside the store. The house she built and the store are wired for electricity according to local codes. There are several cabins on the mountain coming into the valley that are owned by people from DC, Charlotte and Richmond. The stove is a wood burner. She used propane for cooking\baking. She also grills some foods. The Amish there rent one room in the old high school building but claim it’s expensive to heat. They hope to build their own school soon. The school also has a male teacher. It’s a unique settlement and I hope it expands.
I grew up in that area and all the people I know love shopping at both stores.
That's a woodburner
Some kinda woodburner, I reckon. Cooking surface on top, side door for loading wood, bottom ash door with draft adjusters. I grew up with one of these warming machines and they are like a big warm hug. The downside? Hauling wood, usually cold in the morning but with luck some embers left to start the first load of wood before breakfast.
What a neat little place! I’d visit if it weren’t so far away. I like that you can get a Mattie’s Place souvenir ball cap.
I think the ATM is likely there for visitors not having cash on hand, like you suggested, Erik. Very few small Amish businesses seem to take credit cards. The bulk food store and bakery near Richmond, Indiana, does not take credit cards and the owner has mentioned to customers (including me) where local ATMs are if they need more cash. Surprisingly, the visibly plainer store and Amish near Losantville, Indiana, take credit cards at their bent and dent. I’m not sure, but I think it’s technically the same community as both stores are run by Lancaster origin Amish. Losantville also has a Swiss settlement of Adams County origin in the area and some of the Swiss Amish work at the grocery alongside the Lancaster folk.
It’s a lovely place. She is very nice, friendly lady. They do not take credit cards but the ATM in the parking lot makes it work. The area is beautiful, something to see.
In the January 22 edition of The Budget newspaper, the scribe from the
Burke’s Garden settlement reported the following year-end statistics for 2019 for the settlement:
“Community statistics are: 14 families, one family moved in, 2 babies were born, a boy and a girl, 27 schoolchildren, 8 intermediates, 16 under school age. We had 8 young folks, 3 boys and 5 girls, with 5 16-year-olds.”
Also interesting in the scribe’s report was this news: “On Saturday January 11… around 8:00 a storm came in which they called a “micro-blast” where 2 warm air streams, with a cold air stream in-between, came through the valley, which somehow flipped and caused over 100 mile per hour winds right there where it flipped… It mostly did damage to trees, broke tops off and uprooted, or twisted some”, although there was also a desription of damage to some buildings.
If I ever get to visit the Pearisburg settlement again, I’m going to try to also visit the Burke’s Garden settlement, since they are not too far from each other. I’ve never been to Burke’s Garden, but it sounds interesting. Thanks for the report and the pictures.