Thomas Jefferson may have created the second home movement when he built a 4,819-acre planned development getaway house called Poplar Forest. Jefferson described the area as follows: “It is in the finest part of our state for soil and climate and near to Lynchburg, now the 2nd town in the state for business, and thriving with a rapidity exceeding anything we have ever seen.." May 8, 1816. He loved the area and made this description, “the mountains of the Blue ridge, and of these the Peaks of Otter, are thought to be of a greater height, measured from their base, than any others in our country, and perhaps North America.” His ownership of nearby Natural Bridge elevates his admiration of the areas native surroundings and desire to be apart of it. Another observation on Jefferson’s second home demeanor has to do with his use of time. One of his granddaughters remarked: “At Poplar Forest he found in a pleasant home, rest, leisure, power to carry on his favorite pursuits – to think, to study, to read – whilst the presence of part of his family took away all character of solitude from his retreat.”
With the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop and the creation of Smith Mountain Lake, Bedford County has defined itself as a key location for second and primary home living. Due to its location between two major municipalities, Lynchburg on the east and Roanoke on the west, Bedford County has become one of the fastest counties to grow in Virginia by percentage. The proximity of these two major cities has allowed Bedford County to maintain a rural charm throughout most of its area.
With 754 sq. miles of land area Bedford County offers a diverse range of land characteristics. Even with the numerous subdivisions that are being developed near Roanoke, Lynchburg, and Smith Mountain Lake comprising three-acres and less, the more rural areas offer great opportunity for medium and large acreage purchases. Two small rivers, the Big Otter and the Little Otter along with a major stream, Goose Creek, add to the natural beauty of this rolling community.
Bedford, Forest, and the shores of Smith Mountain Lake offer a variety of restaurants. The Sedelia Center, Little Town Players, and other local groups offer a variety of historic and cultural entertainment.
Jefferson may not have been correct about the height of the Peaks of Otter being the highest in North America, but many here feel he was correct about the soil, climate, and solitude.