He leads me beside still waters ~ He restores my soul
About & History
Welcome to the Shumaker's Home
We're a joyful bunch and we love lakeside living! We are Doug and Brenda Shumaker and Shepherd's Gate is our dream home.
Of course, we couldn't keep it to ourselves, so we are sharing all the glorious blessings God poured out on us here at Smith Mountain Lake with those who He sends to our door.
Though I was raised in Virginia, marrying Doug brought us to Pennsylvania when he took the reins of his family's business in the 1980s. We raised our two children, Brett and Heather, there, but I have always longed to return to my Virginia roots.
Shepherd's Gate is our third Smith Mountain Lake property. The first two were fixer-uppers that we purchased, remodeled and enjoyed, but when we put the last one up for sale, we had already found the perfect location for our dream home.
When we first walked on the property, we were sure we couldn't afford it. With 800 feet of waterfront and the privacy of a peninsula, it seemed like an unreachable dream. Still, we made an offer, and the Plymale Family accepted. How awesome to be trusted by God with this gorgeous property!
As an Interior Designer, I couldn't wait to begin designing our dream home. I had designed our Pennsylvania home and that was a lot of fun - but this property held so many more possibilities and I wanted it to have lots of pretty places to relax and soak up the Lord's goodness.
Blending all that we learned about lakeside living from our former lake houses, I drew out the design. I wanted every room to have a lakefront view and I wanted it to be large enough for guests without losing that welcoming feeling of home. Construction was underway by mid-2011 and we opened the door of Shepherd's Gate in December.
Why We Named it Shepherd's Gate
When Doug and I first drove onto the property, I saw an old gate tossed off the side of the drive and half-buried in leaves. Of course, I had to ask. We soon learned that the property belonged to the Plymale family who farmed the land and also raised sheep. I've included as much of the Plymale's story that I could gather in the right column of this page, but that old, abandoned gate at the front of the driveway is what inspired the Shepherd's Gate name.
However, the original shepherd's gate is only a part of the name. As a family, we have always shared the many blessings God has lavished on us with others. Through our open-door policy, we have been privileged to watch God use each of our homes to rejuvenate those who just need an extra dose of peace and joy.
As we strolled the property and envisioned how we would build our lakeside home, we knew its name should be Shepherd's Gate and prayed that many would meet our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, here beside its still waters.
How We Named Our Rooms
Everything should have a name, so here's how we chose the names for our rooms.
Heather's Room is named after our only daughter. Though Heather and her family live in another state, this spacious room with a private full bath is theirs when they visit.
Tia's Room is named after our sweet granddaughter, Tia, and is a cozy nook with a queen-sized bed and a twin bed tucked into the dormer window that peers out onto Smith Mountain Lake.
The Lighthouse Room is named for the lovely view of a lighthouse on Smith Mountain Lake from one of its two dormers. This spacious room sleeps four and has a kitchenette with a full refrigerator.
The Loft is named from the cozy area that connects Tia's Room to the shared full bath. It's perfect for watching TV, lounging or curling up with a good book.
The Barn Room is named for its rustic-designed spacious rooms that give it that cabin feel. It can sleep six and has its own living room, kitchenette and little girl's playhouse under the staircase!
The Shabby Chic Room is decorated just for the college ladies who sometimes visit us from a nearby university!
Can't Wait to Meet You!
There are no strangers at the Shumaker's! Come and share our table, splash in the lake, soak in the peace and be sure to tell your friends and family about Shepherd's Gate!
Brenda Gay Shumaker
This is one of two chimneys still standing from the Plymale's log cabin and all that is left of their home.
They raised eleven children on this homestead!
The Story of Shepherd's Gate
I remember walking down the country driveway and through the livestock gate to view the lakeside lot with the realtor. When I asked what the gate was for, she told me the original owners had used the pasture for grazing sheep. The name Shepherd's Gate popped into my mind. What a perfect name for a lakeside retreat, I thought. The verse from Psalm 23 flowed right in behind . . . He leads me beside the still waters, he restores my soul.
When I saw the two stone chimneys rising from the remains of the old homestead, I knew there must be a story here. After we brought the property for our new home, I called the original owners, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Plymale, to learn more about their family life on this beautiful property.
The Plymale's were both in their eighties and lived in a smaller home nearby, so I knocked on their door and introduced myself. It was so wonderful to hear them tell of the original Plymale family who emigrated from Germany to the U.S. and settled in the breathtaking Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains.
Mr. Plymale was born in that old homestead along with 10 brothers and sisters. He had many stories to tell of his father who farmed 300 acres of this lush land. In 1966, when the valley was filled, he only had 100 acres left above water.
Now, as I walk around the hills of this amazing lake with the mountain views, I can almost hear the echos of the 11 Plymale children who once laughed and played on this land. I see the daffodils waving in the breeze by the stone steps leading up to those lonely chimneys; flowers planted perhaps decades earlier by a busy young mother who wanted to enjoy the beauty of nature. I wonder if she knew that many years later those same yellow daffodils would brighten the green grass beside the sparkling waters of a relaxing retreat named Shepherd's Gate at Smith Mountain Lake.