Many years ago, a love story was ignited between the future residents of Virginia House, Alexander and Virginia Weddell. Beginning in Calcutta, declaring itself in New York City, and defining the remainder of two lives forever joined in Richmond, this love was both a whirlwind romance and a lifelong commitment. The couple constantly wrote intensely personal and admiring notes and letters to each other, whether as far away as different continents or merely different rooms on the steamer ship where much of their four-month courtship took place. As with the greatest of love stories, this one starts with a chance meeting and ends with an eternal promise to be together until death.
The couple met each other during Alexander’s post as Consul-General to India on February 7, 1923, at a lunch date arranged by mutual friends. Completely fascinated by Virginia, Alexander quickly arranged a sabbatical so as to accompany her on the return trip to New York. Correspondence between the two paints a picture of a forty-something bachelor finally finding his soul mate in an equally smitten widow who was given a second chance at love. He writes to “My Lady,” “Belovedest,” “My dear and only love,” and signs his letters, “Your own always.” Her responses are most commonly addressed to “My Man” and signed a simple “Your V–.” Some are long and grandiose, indicative of too much time spent apart (“The hours drag until I clasp you again to my heart, my Beloved.”), and others are short and demonstrative of the intense longing felt for each other after only a few hours spent separately (“Wake up!!! I’m lonely.”). All are peppered with flowery and metaphorical language that defines their attachment to each other. After only a few months of dating, Alexander and Virginia were married at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC on May 23rd. It was not long after the wedding that they built their retirement home in Richmond, where they lived until their untimely deaths in a train accident on New Year’s Day, 1948. Their early correspondence shows so much reverence that it seems to them every day was Valentine’s Day: