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Shenvalee Golf Resort Brings Golfers and Families to Shenandoah County for Almost a Century

Shenvalee Golf Resort
Shenvalee’s picturesque golf course includes views toward Virginia’s famous Blue Ridge Mountains. (Image credit: Daniel Pezzoni/DHR, 2022)

A brief look back at the history of a popular vacation destination in the Shenandoah Valley as it approaches its centennial.

By Lena McDonald

The Shenvalee Golf Resort, located at 9660 Fairway Drive in the Town of New Market, Shenandoah County, Virginia, covers 145 acres, and includes a golf course and lodge/clubhouse that was first established in 1926 and added onto the property as tourism boomed after World War II.

The original 1926-1927 nine-hole course and a 1960-1961 extension called the back nine feature tees, fairways, greens, roughs, and hazards. Historic golf courses such as Shenvalee are still found in Virginia, although they are increasingly rare. The opportunity to play on a historic course continues to draw both travelers and local residents.

A 1927 postcard showing the Shenvalee Golf Course
A 1927 postcard showing the Shenvalee Golf Course. (Image credit: Shenandoah County Library Truban Archives)

Listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, Shenvalee’s nomination was prepared by Daniel Pezzoni of Landmark Preservation Associates. As described by Mr. Pezzoni, accompanying the golf course is the Shenvalee Lodge, which began as a 19th-century dwelling and was considerably updated and remodeled in 1926-1927. The two-story, Colonial Revival building features a monumental Doric portico with four columns and two pilasters on simple plinths, molded entablature with recessed panels, and a crowning Chinese Chippendale balustrade. Inside the portico, centered on the façade, is an entrance with double-leaf doors with multi-pane glazing above panels. The entrance has a robustly proportioned surround consisting of smooth Doric half-column pilasters, a heavy entablature and cornice that step out over the columns, urn finials positioned over the columns, and, between the urns, a center panel with concave sides that rises to the sill of a second-story window.

Next to the lodge is the 1959-1960 Poolside Motel, also Colonial Revival in style, with interconnected one-story brick-veneered wings arranged around one of the key fixtures of post-World War II family vacations—a swimming pool. In contrast, the contributing two-story Golfside Motel, built in 1968-1969 and enlarged in 1972, is Modern in design.

The brainchild of businessman Roland G. Hill and other developers—including supervising engineer Phinehas V. Stephens and a team of design professionals who included golf course designer Fred Findlay; architects Mims, Speake & Company and Dwight James Baum; and landscape architect Robert B. Cridland—the original golf course and its resort/lodge were completed in 1926-1927. Although business suffered during the Great Depression, the Shenvalee Lodge saw unexpected new use during World War II as housing for Italian diplomatic internees. Following the war, as the national economy boomed and many families enjoyed rising wages, tourism rebounded and prompted a period of growth starting in 1959 to 1960 with the construction of the Poolside Motel, followed by the Golfside Motel, and other buildings later in the 1960s to early 1970s.

A 1960s brochure for the expanded Shenvalee Golf Resort and its new amenities.
A 1960s brochure for the expanded Shenvalee Golf Resort and its new amenities. (Image credit: The Jumping Frog)

As the resort nears its 100th birthday, it continues to provide recreational opportunities to the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. Today, in addition to the golf course, the resort offers a full-service restaurant, banquet halls for special events, a pro shop, memberships for repeat visitors, golf lessons and clinics, and multiple types of overnight lodging. With its 100th anniversary nearing, Shenvalee is undergoing improvements that will allow it to continue providing recreational opportunities for guests and the local community in coming years.

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