Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A visit to Greenway Court

I had the opportunity yesterday to join in a continuing discussion on the preservation of outbuildings from Greenway Court. These are all that remains of the complex built by Lord Fairfax in the mid-18th century as the 'headquarters' of his vast landholdings in Virginia. Among his surveyors were both George Washignton and Thomas Marshall (father of John). The stone building pictured here is the original land office, where transactions took place and records were stored in managing the vast holdings. Clarke County has courageously stepped forward and purchased easements of the land office, a powder house with a wonderful conical roof that was most likely used for long periods of time as a meat house, and a carriage house. The main house is lost and an 1830s house dominates the site now. It is all privately owned, but the county has easements on the buildings. They also have a General Assembly grant for their care but have yet to raise the money to match the grant. The meeting yesterday was to continue to explore ways to raise the money and then the best preservation strategy for the buildings and finally the best programming for their use as educational tools. The Lord Fairfax story is not widely told and hence not wildly known, but he was the only British peer to make his permanent residence here in Virginia (according to one historical account I read). His erudition and especially his library are said to have greatly influenced a young John Marshall, whose boyhood home (The Hollow) is relatively nearby. As you can tell form the photo, there is much to be done to stabilize and preserve the buildings and this is a conversation we will continue to participate in with members of the Easement Authority, the County and DHR. As always, stay tuned!

1 comment:

Laura H said...

I took some distant cousins to the land office today since our ancestor was a tenant of Fairfax's and part of GW's early surveying crew.

I've been up to the building three times in the past three weeks (trying to get permission from the tenants who live in the main house) for our visit today. I felt uncomfortable coming on the property without the knowledge of someone in an ownership position, but have never found anyone at home, so we went ahead since I've been told before that the building is kept unlocked for visitors.

I'm glad to know that the county has plans to stabilize the structure. We were upset at the condition of the interior. It has deteriorated BADLY just in the past two or three years. Whoever is living in the brick manse (or whoever owns the property) is not even doing basic lawn maintenance around the builiing and shrubs around it are overgrown. A pit bull mix is tethered to a tree by the walk (very friendly dog, pitifully happy to be petted). The old door to the building is getting weaker and weaker, a serious crack has appeared in the back wall of the front room, there seems to be a developing mold problem, there's a broken window, and the door to the adjoining room has somehow become locked from the inside.

I would be interested in participating in the restoration of the building if volunteers are needed.