Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Public invited to glimpse Ferry Farm’s future

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A staff member and a living historian greet weekend visitors arriving by trolley at the Ferry Farm Visitor Center in Stafford County last year. (CLINT SCHEMMER/THE FREE LANCE-STAR)


A cross-post from The News Desk. 



The George Washington Foundation appears close to realizing a long-held dream.

The shape of that dream will become clearer Wednesday during a free, informal open house at Ferry Farm, the boyhood home of George Washington.

The private, nonprofit foundation will outline its vision for tourism development of the 107-acre national historic landmark.

The Fredericksburg-based foundation wants to build a replica of the Washington family’s house, create a better entrance to its property from State Route 3 in southern Stafford County, and elevate people’s understanding of what life was like during the father of our country’s formative years.

“This is an important moment to gather feedback on the opportunities for Ferry Farm from all the different constituencies that have had a longstanding interest in this important place,” William E. Garner, the foundation’s president, said in an interview.

From noon until 6 p.m. Wednesday, staff members and consultants will outline several alternatives proposed by the foundation and light refreshments will be served.

Fredericksburg as seen from the Washington farm, across the Rapphannock River, during the American Civil War. (LIBRARY OF CONGRESS)

The foundation acquired the site after area residents waged a national campaign to save the site from development as a Walmart-anchored shopping center in 1996.

George Washington lived in his family’s plantation house there, on the Rappahannock River opposite Fredericksburg, from ages 6 to 20.

The home’s cellar and foundation were uncovered by foundation archaeologists in 2008. Thousands of artifacts from years of excavation are being analyzed in Ferry Farm’s on-site laboratory.

The foundation, steward of the Stafford site and Kenmore Plantation in Fredericksburg, estimates that new facilities and exhibits at Ferry Farm will increase visitation there sixfold.

About 16,000 people tour the farm’s visitor center, archaeology lab, hiking trails and ferry landing each year.

Garner said the foundation looks forward to sharing its vision with the community, and to the economic impact the project will bring to the Fredericksburg area and Stafford County.

To ease the way for making the site more of a national tourist destination, the Stafford Board of Supervisors rezoned the property last year to Historic Interpretation Zoning District, from Agricultural and Urban Commercial.

Ferry Farm, at 268 Kings Highway, is on the southwest side of Route 3 just west of Blue and Gray Parkway in Stafford’s George Washington District. Its visitor center number is 540/371-3363.


Clint Schemmer: 540/368-5029