Elizabeth Winfree Quaiff, 87, lives not more than five miles from where she grew up. Sharp as a tack with a long memory and a family history with deep roots in Virginia, the spectrum of her life’s story spans the beginning of her education in Beulah’s one-room school house to a portrait of her in her teens that graces the cover of a coffee table art book and even to her raising Monarch butterflies on her back patio. She’s lived a full life and one that defines the area that is Beulah and Meadowbrook.
Mrs. Quaiff was named for the oldest of the three old maids on her mother’s side of the family, Susan Elizabeth Latane. Her father was William Ashton Winfree, son of Judith Gates Winfree and Rupert Wyville Winfree. “There is lots of history on my mother’s and father’s side,” she said. Her grandparents’ home on her father’s side still stands today on Hopkins Road and is known as Edgewood. “I stayed there more than at home. Growing up I would ride my bicycle down there. It [Hopkins] was a dirt road.” The only crossroads she would pass was at Cogbill. “Chippenham Parkway took that away.”
Further down Hopkins was Meadowbrook Farm where the Jeffress family lived and the J. Scott Parrish family had a home. “They raised cattle,” Quaiff said. The Parrish’s had 40-acres and called their home place Miniborya. Meadowbrook Farm, now Meadowbrook Country Club, minus the house that burned down some 70 years ago, contained 382 acres.
The Winfree house, Mrs. Quaiff’s family home, equipped with a red-clay tennis court, was located on 4 acres where McDonald’s is located on Hopkins Road. They raised a cow, pigs and chickens, and they always had a big garden including a blackberry patch and “a very big grape vine.”
Quaiff said the Krause family lived where Walgreens is today. She recalls that there was an apple orchard where the Meadowdale Shopping Center is today and farther south in an area Quaiff calls the triangle, at the corner of Beulah and Hopkins roads, was a grocery store and the one-room school house at which her mother taught.
Quaiff began her formal education in that one-room school house until it burned when she was in the first grade. Quaiff remembers how upset she was because she had lost her crayons. They took up classes at the former location of Beulah United Methodist Church, also located in the triangle then. The building was razed a couple of years ago. “For two years I went to school at Beulah church. I remember because we had to kneel on the floor and use the benches as our desks.” It was also during those years that she met Charlie Quaiff; they became sweethearts and were soul mates until his passing shortly after their 50th wedding anniversary. “Charlie and I were sweethearts in the first grade,” she said. “I still have his Valentine.”
When the new school was completed she remembers how grand it was. She remembers the auditorium, especially. “We had all kinds of plays and minstrel shows on that stage,” she said. “That was the entertainment, and May Day exercises, too. “I never got to be the May Day Queen, but I was a princess one year.”
The Winfree homestead was sold in the 1960s to a real estate firm. “Mama sold the property to a nice family with a lot of children. Later it sold to a real estate agent who used it as a storage place and later sold it to McDonald’s for half-a-million dollars.” After it became run down and she told her students that’s where she grew up, they would say, “In that ghost house?”
The Quaiffs raised four children while teaching at Beulah Elementary School and retired in 1982. After they were married, Charlie and Elizabeth lived in a cottage next to the Winfree home and then moved in 1960 to a new home on Drewry’s Bluff [Beulah] Road within eye sight of Beulah Elementary. Within the first year, the county had changed the name of Drewry’s Bluff Road to Beulah and Beulah Road was changed to Hopkins Road. When the old Beulah was torn down back then, her School Board member remembered Mrs. Quaiff. “He gave me a bench made from the old rafters from the old school.”
As the longest living member of Beulah United Methodist Church, 77 years, she continues her strong commitment to community, now just a couple more miles down the hill. What was a full-life of learning and sharing with her late husband and four children continues with eight grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and a new community at Lucy Corr’s Springdale independent living community. She lives in the Winfree Cottage model.