Stillwater News Press

Our World

August 26, 2013

Horse-obsessed town in Virginia bristles as an outsider buys magazine

(Continued)

MIDDLEBURG,Va. — The Ohrstroms, who amassed a fortune through ventures as varied as fruit-pitting machines and aluminum horseshoes, are sentimental figures in Virginia's hunt country, admired for their philanthropy, money and, in keeping with local values, being low-key about their money.

"We're running these disparate businesses and recognizing that with the evolution of the media industry that the Chronicle might be better off under someone else's ownership, particularly someone who has other businesses related to the horse show industry," Ohrstrom said.

His grandfather, George L. Ohrstrom Sr., purchased the Chronicle from two local horse enthusiasts in 1952. (The New York investor also founded what is now called the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg in 1954.)

George L. Ohrstrom Jr. became chief executive of his father's investment house. A classmate of George H.W. Bush's while growing up in Connecticut, Ohrstrom Jr. later invested in George W. Bush's Texas oil business.

He nearly made his family a household Washington name in the 1960s when he tried and failed to buy the Washington Redskins. In the 1970s, he helped found the Piedmont Environmental Council, the nonprofit well-known for its battle in the 1990s to stop Walt Disney Co. from building a theme park in Prince William County, Va.

His son, Clarke Ohrstrom, inherited the Chronicle's reins and runs his family business out of their 1,700-acre Fauquier County, Va., farm, which shares a driveway with his neighbor, actor Robert Duvall. There, the Ohrstroms raise beef that winds up at Whole Foods and train steeplechase horses.

Clarke Ohrstrom began looking to offload the magazine last year. Neither he nor Bellissimo would disclose the purchase price. The deal closed on July 12, prompting the magazine to publish not one, but two essays by editors reassuring readers that there would be no drop in journalistic standards.

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