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Camera and Flask // Steven Gray: Photographer. Storyteller. Artistic journalism and storytelling around the globe. Based in Pensacola, Florida.

Travel Blog: The Detention Bar

Irvington, VA.

It’s February. Dueling weather fronts volley the climate back and forth in 12-hour shifts of warm spring humidity and the knife-edged cold of a wet winter.

On one such cold night, both locals and visitors to the scenic, 450-person community, seek refuge at the Hope and Glory Inn. And, more specifically, the Detention Bar.

Dudley and Peggy Patteson purchased and remodeled the Hope and Glory Inn some 18 years ago, and embrace the building’s history with abundant photographs of the house’s past as a high-end boarding school.

Tonight, however, confined to indoor pursuits by the weather, we walk past the inn’s grand piano and grander central staircase to the bar, winkingly named “Detention.”

In further homage to history, stacks of copybooks populate corners and cubbies around the Detention Bar. The inn’s multilingual manager/executive chef, Meseret, passed a couple books to me and Terry with a grin. “When you’re in Detention, you have to do homework.”

I open my book to full pages of pen and pencil stories from past visitors. They ranged from simple expressions of admiration for the hotel to extensive recounts of days spent on the river and newlyweds’ giddy flirtations.

Licking a pencil and opening a book, I inscribe a few notes from my own visit. Tonight, Meseret’s menu expresses a lavish French theme, paired with local wines, and out-of-towners and a few of the local gentry find their way in to enjoy cocktail hour before the repast.

I sign my name and slip the book back into its place against the wall. I close my eyes and feel the atmosphere of the place seep in through my very skin. I start scheming on how to make it back up here for Christmas with Annie. Opening my eyes, I left my glass up toward Terry. “Cheers, man.”

Steven Gray