Your Hosts

Your hosts at the Holladay HouseSamuel and Sharon Elswick became the third owners of the Holladay House Bed and Breakfast in the Fall of 2006. They love being stewards of this historic Virginia bed and breakfast, serving guests, and enjoying the surrounding community. We will happily tell you all about the many things to do in Virginia. For more information, contact our Virginia inn, read our Orange County Visitor’s Guide, or check out our Virginia Travel Packages!

Sam and Sharon have lived in Virginia most of their lives, and Sam’s family has been in the Commonwealth since the seventeenth century. These innkeepers and their families have lived all over Virginia--the western mountains, the Shenandoah Valley, the Northern Neck, the Middle Peninsula, Northern Virginia, and, of course, the central Piedmont. This special connection to the Virginia landscape is what has motivated Sam and Sharon to plant their own roots into the rich Piedmont soil. 

Sam and Sharon were first exposed to bed and breakfasts in Virginia at their own wedding. They wanted their marriage ceremony to have the special intimacy and flair that only a Virginia bed and breakfast wedding venue can provide.  After numerous champagne toasts, enthusiastic support from loved ones, and the unparalleled service received from the smaller bed and breakfast wedding venue, these two innkeepers were hooked! Three years later, they launched their own plan to own a bed and breakfast in Virginia, and realized their dream in September 2006. After settling in Orange, VA, Sam and Sharon have never looked back!



Sharon feels a connection to the Holladay House Bed and Breakfast Sharon Elswickand the long history tucked within it. After achieving success in marketing, sales, and advertising in Washington, D.C., Sharon was ready for a lifestyle change. She sought the challenge of owning her own business while at the same time embracing a traditional Main Street experience. 

Prior to becoming an innkeeper, Sharon worked at a Virginia Winery and is well-versed in Virginia’s world-class wine industry (for more information on Virginia Wine, Winery Tours in Virginia, Winemaker Dinners, and Virginia Vineyards, see our Virginia Wine page). Of course, fine Virginia Wine is an exquisite pleasure in and of itself, but there’s nothing like an ice-cold Virginia beer to slake the thirst and sooth the soul after a rough day’s work or a hard commute. Sharon loves helping her guests select the perfect beverages to suit their mood and wash away the day’s cares and concerns.

She also has a passion for the Constitution, so she lives in the right place!  A college internship at the Supreme Court of the United States sparked her interest, but she has continued to develop it while living three miles away from James Madison’s Montpelier. As often as possible, Sharon and her husband attend the thought-provoking lectures and symposiums offered by the Center for the Constitution at Montpelier. This is a great way to keep her natural intellectual curiosity fresh!

An avid baker, Sharon’s chocolate chip cookies have become well known in Orange, and her scones have received accolades from any guest who has tasted them (here’s a secret: print out Sharon’s buttermilk biscuit recipe and watch how excited your next dinner guests become when they smell these golden beauties come out of the oven!). Sharon loves being close to food sources and creating seasonal meals that use the freshest local ingredients. Most of the food served at the Holladay House Bed and Breakfast uses ingredients from regional producers, including the innkeeper’s own gardens! If guests like breakfast so much that they want to sample more of what Orange County can offer, Sharon is happy to direct them to the Orange County Farmer’s Market (only two blocks away), or to a number of Pick-Your-Own farms, Farm tours, and other nearby local food producers!

As a lover of history and the arts, Sharon has served on the Executive Board of the Orange Downtown Alliance, occasionally writes an article for the Orange County Review, has been on the Board of Directors for the James Madison Museum, is an active supporter of the Arts Center in Orange, sits on Virginia's Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, and is President of our local trade association, the Inns at Montpelier. 


Sam’s love of history, food, small towns, and good company motivated him to be a Virginia innkeeper. Educated as a writer, historian, and archaeologist at James Madison University and the College of William and Mary, Sam strives to be proactive in preserving Virginia’s colorful heritage while helping others experience it firsthand. He is a former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia (BBAV), is on an advisory committee of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII), and currently assists the Orange County Historical Society on a variety of projects.

Sam fell in love with Orange long before becoming an innkeeper. As an archaeology student at James Madison’s Montpelier, Sam helped to excavate a portion of the original Madison family homeplace that James Madison’s grandfather built before the construction of Montpelier. He has fond memories of coming into town on his days off and enjoying a sandwich on the fountain at Taylor Park, across the street from our Main Street inn.

As a lover of history, maps, exploring, and all things outdoors, Sam believes that the shortest path is often not the best path. The captivating scenery and rural character of this region is often best experienced by straying from the well-travelled road, and Sam will gladly help the adventurous visitor do just that. If you’d rather not travel a road at all, Sam can offer some advice on hiking, biking, canoeing, or kayaking opportunities in the area. If you want to let the soft Blue Ridge winds be your guide, a breathtaking Hot Air Balloon adventure may be exactly what you need! 

Sam also enjoys savoring a perfect glass of whisky, and is making every effort to sample all the wonderful locally-produced spirits from Virginia Distilleries (keep an eye on his blog for reviews and information about specific Virginia whiskys and distilleries in Virginia). With so much around Orange to suits his interests, Sam is thoroughly enjoying his innkeeping adventure!

Sam and Sharon Elswick eagerly await the opportunity to help you discover the history, the culinary delights, and the beautiful scenery of the Orange, VA area!

For information on Winery Tours, Romantic Getaways, Civil War Tours, and Restaurants in Orange, VA, check out our Virginia Travel Packages page and our Visitor’s Guide to Orange and Charlottesville!

To check room availability at our historic Virginia accommodation, visit our Availability page.

For more information on accommodations in Virginia, visit our Rooms and Rates page.

Sam and Sharon dressed in authentic Civil War dress on the front steps of their bed and breakfast in Virginia. Sam is probably a little too clean-cut in this photo to be a true Confederate soldier,and hopes hard core Civil War re-enactors will forgive the transgression!


Sam and his father Darnell celebrating Independence Day at our annual Hops and Chops festival.  If you weren’t there, you missed out on some fantastic Virginia beer, Virginia wine, and locally-produced chops of various types (beef, pork, and mutton, to be specific—all prepared using traditional, historically appropriate ingredients—absolutely delicious!).

Sharon laughing while discussing small weddings in Virginia with a group of wedding planners, wedding vendors, wedding cake bakers, wedding venues, and other wedding service providers during the highly buzzed Orange County Wedding Tour. Without question, Orange County is a premier wedding destination in Virginia, and the Holladay House Bed and Breakfast is happy to help you craft your most cherished memories. 

Sharon holding an award from the University of Georgia for her nationally-acclaimed buttermilk biscuits. In March 2011, the Holladay Family Buttermilk Biscuit recipe  was chosen from thousands of recipe submissions for the University of Georgia Food Services Loyal E. Horton Special Event Menu Competition. One of only 36 recipes chosen for their “Sunset Breakfast” competition menu, the biscuit recipe was adapted to feed over 8300 participants in its four dining commons! Georgians know good biscuits, so this was the best compliment Sharon could possibly receive!