Sunnyside House: A Story of History, Serendipity, and Determination

Whether you are visiting family, friends, or considering moving into Kendal at Lexington, Sunnyside House provides a historic, and a bit of a romantic stay.

Sunnyside House offers guest rooms, meeting space, and a quiet garden all tucked into Kendal’s 84-acre campus. The story of Sunnyside House is one of sustainability and serendipity, which residents such as Dianne Herrick and Mary Coulling shared during a May 2021 Zoom event.

Prior to the development of Kendal at Lexington, Sunnyside House and surrounding farmland was owned by Fred and Isabel Anderson Bartenstein.  Isabel grew up in Sunnyside House with her parents and three siblings.  She met Fred when he boarded at Sunnyside while attending Washington and Lee.

Bringing A Continuing Care Community to Lexington

In the late 1990s, Dianne Herrick and other residents of the area began brainstorming the possibility of an active retirement community in the area so that longtime residents would not need to leave their community for assisted living and skilled nursing services later in life. The Lexington Retirement Community Board was formed and began the process of determining viability, accessibility, economic support, and most importantly, location.

Within a couple years, many of the stages of the process had been successfully navigated, however, location, land, and the financial details remained.

It would be a fortuitous visit with the Bartensteins that shifted the project into final gear.

In 1995, Dianne, and David Cox, then rector of what is now Grace Episcopal Church met with the couple to discuss the possibility of purchasing Sunnyside Farm to build Kendal’s cottages, apartments, and other facilities on. To their surprise, Fred and Isabel offered to donate Sunnyside House and 85 acres of land to the project.

Restoration Begins by “Brave People”

As projects with various committee members often go, there was some debate whether to keep Sunnyside House. The first “phase” of Sunnyside House was built in the 1790s, with various rooms added during along the way during the 1800s, and the grand staircase added in the 1940s. But by the late 1990s, the house needed major repair. Sagging ceilings, foundation issues, and plenty of unwelcome rodents made for a reasonable argument to raze the structure.

While some other outbuildings around the house were demolished, the decision was made to restore Sunnyside House. As Dianne shared, several “brave people” enthusiastically pushed for restoring, rather than removing this little treasure.

Today, the warm and welcoming house reflects both the old and the new. Filled with period furniture mostly donated by Kendal residents, the house serves a renewed purpose as guest accommodations, and meeting and event venue. The modern kitchen easily accommodates caterers, and organizations and individuals from the outside community can rent the facility. Weddings, club meetings, and our own resident art shows help bring the house to life.

In October of 2006, Sunnyside House was officially reopened after renovations were completed. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places and a favorite landmark for residents at Kendal.

Visit Us

As visitation and prospective resident tours return to the schedule at Kendal, guests are once again staying at Sunnyside House. Prospective residents who opt for an overnight stay can stay at Sunnyside House, and Kendal residents can reserve rooms for their visiting guests.