Secretariat, “America’s super horse” has taken the country by storm again with the recent inspiring true story movie and book. Secretariat was born at the Meadow in nearby Caroline County owned by Christopher T. Chenery. Chris, born Sept. 16, 1886, was the son of Ida and Jimmy Chenery and grew up as a boy in Ashland. They lived at 402 Duncan Street at the corner of Race Course Street, near the site of a former racetrack. (See the Racecourse article.) Ida and Jimmy built the Queen Anne style house with funds from her wealthy sister. Chris visited relatives at the Meadow as a child and always loved horses. The Chenerys, like most southerners after the Civil War, had limited funds. Chris was full of ambition and attended Randolph Macon College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Washington & Lee in 1908 with a degree in engineering. He went to New York and by 1928 had earned a fortune. He returned to Virginia and bought the Meadow and restored it. His dream of breeding and racing winning horses came true with Riva Ridge and the super horse Triple Crown winner, Secretariat. Chris Chenery never forgot his roots in Ashland. He was a major benefactor in the building of St. James the Less Episcopal Church and provided for the establishment of the church’s Chenery Fund. He was very generous to many local people.
402 Duncan St. today – a brightly painted private residence at the corner of Race Course St. This home is on the 2016 Ashland Garden Tour (April 23, 2016). Prior to the tour, Kate Chenery Tweedy, granddaughter of Chris Chenery, visited the home’s current owner, Charles Sthreshley. Chris Chenery’s mother, Ida Chenery, rented rooms to Charles’ maternal grandparents (Moore) and babysat his mother. Ida sold the house to Charles’ grandparents. For photos from the visit, see the photo album on the Ashland Museum’s Facebook page.