A Continuous Story
If eclecticism could be epitomized by a single structure, the ineffable home of Bob and Joyce Peavey would be that very edifice that seems to integrate the best of everything. Located off one of Delaplane’s many pastoral byways, the aptly named Tres Siglos has a local reputation for seamlessly coalescing three centuries of architecture and partly serving as one continuous gallery for the couple’s massive collection of art.
“People are stunned,” said Bob, whose guest book is replete with admiring comments from amazed visitors. Such is the potential for sensory overload that the Peaveys actually offer a guided tour to invitees. “We introduce new guests to the house in the order in which it was all built and how it unfolded.”
This unfolding began a mile-and-a-half away in 1789 with a two-story log home that was considered quite complex and expensive for its time. Local historians believe the house was occupied by the foreman for John Marshall’s plantation based on the building’s original proximity to the Marshall house and the fact that homes with staircases and second floors—which usually signified the residents were important or well connected—were uncommon in the 18th century. Nearly two centuries would pass until the previous landowner, Louise Tribble-St. Martin, sold off most of the property she inherited and “kept what she considered the premium acreage for herself,” according to Bob.
St. Martin and her husband, Robert, moved the log home from its original location to this select spot in 1968, adding an English basement and building an adjoining home—or what the Peaveys call the “middle house”—which was completed two years after the move “She re-chinked this whole house by herself while her husband was stationed in Morocco by the U.S. Army. It’s pretty amazing. Talk about a frontier woman,” remarked Bob. St. Martin’s handiwork is especially evident in the floors and walls, which are made from some of the finest woods, including the highly sought-after pumpkin pine and the nearly-extinct American chestnut.
Fitted with four fireplaces, a breakfast room, a downstairs media room, and a cedar lodge entrance, the original and middle sections function as the “chill out” parts of the house where the Peaveys and their guests simply relax and recharge: “We want our house to not only be lovely, a place that is a feast for the eyes, but we also want it to be comfortable. We want people to feel like it’s a place where they can curl up and read a book, take a nap, or just look out the window. We want everything to be approachable, touchable, and livable.”
This livability can be found etched directly into the home’s interior. Carved into the exquisite walls are initials of previous residents and cryptic symbols that are still open to interpretation. And bordering the main entrance is the very photograph of the St. Martins relocating their carefully-crafted accommodations to the six-acre park-like setting the Peaveys now occupy. As part of a front-page article in a 1968 issue of the Fauquier Democrat, the image shares a shadow frame box with a hand-forged metal nail that took Bob three weeks to remove from one of the beams, so as not to bend or break it. “It’s just a continuous story, and we’re going to do everything we can to preserve it,” he assured.
This story would begin a new chapter in 2015, six years after the Peaveys purchased the house. Working closely with specialist architect Bill Turnure of Middleburg and veteran decorator Lowell Wade of D.C., the couple developed meticulous plans for Tres Siglos’s progression into its third century, deciding on its final configuration after six renderings. “There were thousands of decisions. We spent a year planning before we did anything, and it took every bit of that time,” Bob revealed. “Ultimately, the plan was to take the two existing structures, add a third one to them, but make them all fit and transition well, and allow the very old, the old, and the very new to coexist.”
The newest 5,000-square-foot addition would be a feat of engineering and a menagerie of creature comforts to suit the couple’s easygoing lifestyle. Contained in this part of the home – and graced by Joyce’s decorating skills – are the master suite with a breakfast bar and four-seasons porch, the master bath with heated floors and steam shower, an upstairs guest suite with kitchen and separate heating and air conditioning unit, a library lined with solid cherry wood bookshelves, a full-sized workout room, an indoor pool with current and Jacuzzi jets, and a half-bath with a two-million-year-old sink carved from petrified wood.
While the Peaveys enjoy a very comfortable home, they’ve also managed to create an environment that is free of pretension and grandiosity. Rather, they strive to emphasize the character and unconventionality of Tres Siglos, using the house as the perfect vehicle for their creative expression and free-spirited style. “Once you see it all, it doesn’t feel overwhelming. It’s 8,000 square feet, but you feel very comfortable,” said Joyce. “We have no huge rooms. Everything we have is small, private, and cozy,” Bob added. “But as you change [location], you see that every single room has a different personality and appeal to it. The rooms’ colors, purposes, ages, and architectures are different, yet they flow. That’s what makes the place unique; it’s so eclectic.” So eclectic yet so unified by the Peaveys’ insistence that the soul of the house be retained and any add-ons be in keeping with the structure’s quality, integrity, and chronology. “Louise had a vision, and we just came along and finished it,” Bob noted with a nod to the past.
This vision is crowned by the striking and evocative artwork—which includes pre-Columbian, Chinese Renaissance, Inuit, Russian, and Western art— displayed throughout the entire home. Each of the pictures, sculptures, and artifacts has its own story yet contributes to the overall narrative of Tres Siglos. “It all plays to the thematic of the home,” said Bob. “These pieces are all displayed to create [an effect] in each room with their colors and their shapes, and we designed some spaces to accommodate specific pieces. We had to have a home that was capable of fitting and displaying our artwork in a way that would complement it, while the artwork would help bring out the beauty of the home’s architecture.”
With a collection spanning 50 years and with acquisitions from each of the 143 countries the couple has visited, the multitude, variety, and layout of these creations emphatically endow the home with a museum-like appearance and eloquently adorn the walls that have been erected over the centuries. “My mother was an artist and art historian, so I developed an appreciation for art because of her,” revealed Bob when explaining the origins of his passion, one that he shares with Joyce. Among the Peaveys’ diverse collection are 15th and 16th-century Italian carvings, a 19th-century robe made with 22-carat gold that belonged to a Spanish bishop, an original Walt Disney cartoon cell, and eight paintings from Margaret Pace, founder of Pace Picante Sauce and best friend of Bob’s mother.
Broadening their sights, the Peaveys extended their artistry to the exterior of the house, complementing the finished product with a split-level wooden deck and an adjacent stone patio that are accessible from five rooms in the home. The patio, enclosed by wrought iron fencing from an old post office in Washington D.C., offers additional seating for the couple’s many guests and an inspiring view of the charming woodland garden. Highlighted by three arbors, stone retaining walls, and metal yard sculptures, the garden perfectly harmonizes the property and presents itself as a natural counterpart to the fine art imbuing the home’s interior. The creatively manicured grounds also hold a workshop equipped with its original wood vice and a 160-year-old workbench. A three-level split rail fence at the entrance of the property tops off the Tres Siglos experience and “creates that visual sense of an old-time homestead,” Bob explained.
Fulfilling a vision while honoring the past, the Peaveys find purpose and pleasure in merging centuries of stories and preserving everyone’s contribution to the home’s development. “You don’t have something like this where there isn’t always something to do, and that’s the thrill of it,” declared Bob. And this consistent upkeep suits the couple just fine.
Both native Texans and retired Air Force colonels, the Peaveys purchased Tres Siglos with the intention of making it a weekend home while they were still living and working in Alexandria. Twenty-five years of city life helped cement their decision to settle in Fauquier County, and the pull of such a serene setting would transform the house from a rustic country getaway into an elegant permanent residence.
The property met many of the criteria the couple established while house-hunting, including Joyce’s desire for a place that was “aesthetically beautiful and far enough away to have a proper setting.” Added Bob, “The house was set back from the road, and we wanted it to have curb appeal—the natural beauty, the open space, the trees, the ability to do a lot of clearing and create a park-like setting yet retain a lot of the vegetation in a nice, presentable way. It gave us that bucolic ideal, that place you would want to go to for respite.”
Much more than relief from the hubbub of urban life, Tres Siglos has provided the Peaveys with the space to manifest their love of art, the opportunity to unleash their imagination, and the incentive to share the story of an inimitable home crafted by three centuries of diligence and devotion. Their skill to turn a weekend retreat into a sprawling yet inviting home has left many speechless—and their ability to merge a multitude of design styles has added yet another layer to this continuous story.