Toad Hall, a 1922 Tudor Revival, is located in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was bought by Max’s late great-uncle Jacques deWinter in 1935. Jacques named it “Toad Hall” since he shared an affinity with Mr. Toad (Wind in the Willows) – fast cars. (In fact, Jacques participated in a couple of Gran Prix races.)
Jacques was born in Aix-en-Provence, France to a French father Alain and an American mother, a southern belle named Madeleine Edwina Hughes . (The Hughes family became friends with the deWinters during WWI when family members were stationed in France.) At her suggestion, Jacques went to William & Mary. He was so taken by the area that he bought a house there and eventually settled at “Toad Hall”. His family remained in France but visited him often. During a visit to Williamsburg, his brother’s son Pierre fell in love with LauraAnne Wilkes , the daughter of one of Jacques' neighbors. Pierre and LauraAnne married and returned to live in the Provence region of France. It was there that their only child Maximillian was born in 1963. Jacques never married.
After Max’s parents tragically died in a train crash, Jacques asked his great-nephew to live with him in America. Thus Great-Uncle Jacques became Max’s Aunty Mame. Max had an incredible childhood – including learning to love sport cars-- but most-importantly, to make the most of his life. He followed in his great uncle’s footsteps and majored in Botany at William & Mary.
During college, Max kept up his friendship with fellow car enthusiasts and lifelong buddies Roderick Alleyn and Iris March .
Max inherited Toad Hall when Great-Uncle Jacques died in 2003 at the age of 93. Max was devastated but with the support of his friends and students he carried on. Max loved his Toad Hall but realized that it needed a bit of restoration. Max wanted to preserve the Tudor Revival style but give it a somewhat minimalist and lighter look. He had the exterior re-surfaced in brown sandstone stucco. Only a few lighter-colored timbers were put back. The heavy dark ceiling timbers and paneling were removed and replaced with an airier style. The slate roof was repaired.
Max lives at Toad Hall with his dog Henry (every Tudor should have a "Henry") . His housekeeper Agatha comes in daily to make sure that Max has a good evening meal and a clean house (Max can be a bit absent-minded). He is fortunate to live next door to his best friends, the recently wed March-Alleyns (house on right)
Max has a big bash at Christmas time and his Uncle Louis and Aunt Simone often come and bring great wines from the family vinyard Chateau Neuf de Winter. Of course, Max always adds some Virginia wines to the table .
Max loves teaching Botany and chronicling the economic and sociological importance of plants from Colonial times to the present. He is actively involved with the plantings and studies at Monticello and Mount Vernon, and with those closer to home in Colonial Williamsburg. Max grows many plants around his house and in his greenhouse. His plantings are an eclectic mix: a vegetable garden, a formal English garden, and romantic groupings of any plants that appeal to him. Max and Henry are a welcome sight everywhere and his house is always open to his friends and students.