Monthly Archives: January 2015

A Historic Moment for the National Park Service



On April 9, 1933, newly inaugurated President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to take a day trip to Shenandoah National Park to inspect a fishing lodge on the Rapidan River that had been donated to the park by his predecessor, President Herbert Hoover, to see if he wanted to use the building as his retreat.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

FDR invited Horace Albright, the director of the National Park Service, to ride along, and on the return trip, Albright took the opportunity to describe the Civil War battles at Manassas on the land where the fighting had taken place.  The land was in private ownership at the time, and as the story went, they stopped at Stone House, located at the intersection of Routes 211 and 234.  Albright made the pitch to have battlefields administered by the War Department, as well as a number of other historic sites administered by the Department of Agriculture and other agencies, transferred to the National Park Service.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

When they returned to Washington, FDR asked Albright to put his money where his mouth was and to prepare a proposal along the lines of what he had suggested at Stone House.  Albright made his proposal, and within days, the president issued two executive orders transferring more than 20 military parks, historic battlefields, and monuments to the Park Service, as well as more than a dozen non-military historic sites. Among them were the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore and of the District of Columbia’s most hallowed places, including the Lincoln Memorial, the other monuments on the National Mall, and Rock Creek Park.  In all, over 50 parks, monuments, and historic sites came under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Today, many of the centerpieces in the “Journey Through Hallowed Ground,” administered by the National Park Service, as a result of these executive orders, have created a wonderful partnership that has and will continue to benefit all Americans.

Wine Tourism Conference Comes to Loudoun



Virginia’s wine history began more than four centuries ago and now, wine industry leaders get to share their storied past and current success with wine tourism professionals from around the world.

Located in the heart of The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Loudoun County will welcome hundreds of wine tourism officials from across the world in November as it hosts the 2015 Wine Tourism Conference.

Boxwood Winery 3 Secured by Visit Loudoun, the conference will make its East Coast debut at Lansdowne Resort in DC’s Wine Country Nov. 18-20. Previous conferences have been held on the West Coast in premier wine destinations like Napa, Sonoma, CA and Portland, OR.

The Wine Tourism Conference is organized by Zephyr Adventures and is expected to attract wine tourism professionals from across the world. Open to winery owners, journalists, wine associations, wine destination marketing organizations and tour operators, the conference serves as a networking forum and provides extensive educational opportunities for this growing industry.

Visit Loudoun worked closely with Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Wine Marketing Office to bring this to the Commonwealth and this conference is just another milestone as the Virginia wine industry continues to thrive. Hosting the conference helps position Virginia as a must-visit wine destination and gives our winemakers a chance to showcase their award-winning wines to leaders in the wine industry.

Virginia’s wine history began more than four centuries ago when the Jamestown settlers signed a law that required every male settler to plant and tend at least 10 grape vines. The settlers hoped that Virginia would become a major source of wine for the British Empire. Later, Thomas Jefferson cultivated European grapes for more than 30 years, but his Monticello vineyards never produced a single bottle of wine.

In the 1820s, however, the wine industry began to thrive and in 1873 a Virginia Norton was named one of the best red wines in the nation at the Vienna World’s Fair. Unfortunately, the wine industry’s success was short lived as prohibition put a halt on production.

Sunset Hills 1-credit Sunset HillsWhile the industry took some time to bounce back following prohibition, today it is thriving. With 250 wineries across Virginia, the wine industry is not only driving tourism in the state, but providing jobs and preserving thousands of acres of farmland.

In Loudoun, the wine industry began in 1984 when Lew Parker of Willowcroft Farm Vineyards established the county’s first winery. Parker planted his first grapes in 1981 on the slopes of his farm, which, in the 1800s, was successfully planted with orchards. The soil and temperate climate in the area, which is just about 25 miles from the nation’s capital, proved fruitful for winemaking and soon others were transforming the farmland into rows of lush vineyards.

With more than 40 wineries, Loudoun is one of the premier wine regions along the East Coast and leading the way in Virginia. Loudoun’s vineyards are nestled between winding roads, rolling countryside, horse farms and historic estates. Our boutique wineries house tasting rooms in everything from rustic barns and winemaker’s homes to intimate cellars & architecturally stunning facilities.

Loudoun’s wine industry will continue to grow and visitors can constantly find new experiences and opportunities that range from tastings and tours to hands-on winemaking classes and seminars with winemakers.

BluemontviewWe invite you to explore our wine region while traveling through the Journey Through Hallowed Ground; take a moment to relax, sip and enjoy the stunning views in this national scenic byway.

For more information on Loudoun, visit www.visitloudoun.org

 

Preserving Battlefields within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground



While the Journey Through Hallowed Ground covers four centuries of American history, few eras are more densely represented within its boundaries than the Civil War. In fact, many of the conflict’s most iconic engagements occurred along the Journey, making the Civil War Trust an enthusiastic supporter of the partnership’s mission.

Tracing its origins to 1987, when a group of concerned historians met in Fredericksburg, VA, to discuss the loss of Northern Virginia battlefields to the expanding suburbs of Washington, D.C.,the Trust has grown to become the nation’s premier heritage land preservation organization. In total, the organization has permanently protected, either through outright purchase or strategic conservation easement, more than 40,000 acres of battlefield land at 122 sites in 20 states.

Chancellorsville (Shenk) 1499Examining the concentration of those achievements along the Journey corridor emphasizes the historic significance of this region in tangible terms. To date, the Trust has preserved land at 22 individual battlefields within the Journey, accounting for nearly one-third of all the land the organization has protected — 13,395 acres through December 15, 2014!

At the northern terminus of the Journey, 943 of those acres are at Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. In Maryland and West Virginia, we have saved 1,412 acres associated with the Antietam Campaign, which spurred Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

And in the rolling Virginia piedmont, we’ve saved a tremendous 1,901 acres associated with the largest cavalry battle ever fought in the western hemisphere, Brandy Station — including, with the Journey’s support, the crest of storied Fleetwood Hill. A full list of the Journey battlefields where the Civil War Trust has protected land is included below; the full tally is available at: www.civilwar.org/land-preservation/land-saved/

CWT2Even as we pause to contemplate the breadth of that involvement and accomplishment, it is important to remember what, even more than geography, ties these places together: the sacrifices and bravery of our ancestors. True to the Journey’s name, these battlefields are, indeed, hallowed ground, blood-soaked and perpetual.

A protected battlefield is not just an artifact of the past; it can be many things of value in our modern society, all of which play a role in the Journey’s larger mission. An outdoor classroom where students of all ages can touch an artifact, the landscape itself, that played a role it historic events — and provide a fantastic backdrop for “Of the Student, By the Student, For the Student” productions. An environmental resource, maintaining green space and providing habitats for native plants and animals. A powerful economic engine — ask any Certified Tourism Ambassador! — through the proven formula of heritage tourism.

But, perhaps, most importantly, these battlefields are living monument to the memory of America’s brave soldiers, past, present and future. Through their longevity, they are simultaneously a tangible link to the past and a bridge to future generations. In this same spirit, the Civil War Trust is an enthusiastic supporter of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground’s Living Legacy Project, a demonstrable showcase of the true toll the Civil War exacted on our nation, the more than 620,000 Americans who perished.

In 2015, we will mark the end of the Civil War sesquicentennial commemoration period, but the Trust’s commitment to preservation, and our partnership with the Journey Through Hallowed Ground will continue. In fact, we look forward to deepening our involvement in the region through the recently launched Campaign 1776, which will engage in parallel work — protecting battlefield land and educating the public about American history — related to the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

CWT1Battlefields in the Journey Through Hallowed Ground where the Civil War Trust has preserved acreage include:

Maryland Sites — 897.44 Acres

Antietam
Monocacy
South Mountain

Pennsylvania Sites — 943 Acres

Gettysburg

Virginia Sites — 10,458.17 Acres

Aldie
Ball’s Bluff
Brandy Station
Bristoe Station
Buckland
Cedar Mountain
Chancellorsville
Cool Spring
Fredericksburg
Kelly’s Ford
Manassas
Middleburg
Mine Run
Rappahannock Station
Spotsylvania Court House
Thoroughfare Gap
Trevilian Station
Upperville
Wilderness

West Virginia Sites — 658.8 Acres

Harpers Ferry
Shepherdstown

Making a Movie at Morven Park



In the new movie Foxcatcher, which began a slow nationwide rollout just before Thanksgiving, there is a scene in which a helicopter sits – propellers whirling – in front of what the movie’s characters call “the big house.”

helicopter on lawnBut in that scene, what’s hidden from the moviegoer are the employees at this very real “big house” – the Davis Mansion at Morven Park in Leesburg, Va. – huddled behind the front windows, hearts pounding, as the helicopter landed and took off, over and over and over again before the director finally deemed the shot “just right.”

As I tried to stay out of camera range, the sound of the helicopter blades roared in my ears and I struggled to dispel the mental image of the Mansion portico’s four massive white columns shattered into bits by an out-of-control helicopter. But my fears proved to be unjustified. The pilot and the film crew were amazingly skilled professionals.

Director Bennett Miller with Steve Carell

Director Bennett Miller with Steve Carell

Serving as the location for this highly anticipated and critically acclaimed film turned out to be an unimaginable opportunity for the 1,000-acre hidden treasure that is Morven Park. The home of Westmoreland Davis, who served as governor of Virginia 1918-1922, Morven Park is operated by a private foundation, which has preserved the property and presented educational and recreational programming for the public since 1967. Building widespread name recognition for a historic site like Morven Park is not an easy task, especially given the competition in a region that is filled with historic presidential homes.

We first heard about the film in the summer of 2012. As the associate director of development and communications, I took the call from a location scout who was searching for an estate to represent the exterior of Foxcatcher Farm, the family home of John E. du Pont. It was my job to negotiate the contract and to strike the balance between keeping the film crew happy and ensuring the protection of our historic building (parts of which date back to 1780) and the several thousand priceless items within its collection.

While the helicopter scenes certainly were the most anxiety-producing, the first moments of the crew’s arrival (in October 2012) ran a close second. As I stood in the main entry of the Mansion, a swarm of what seemed to be hundreds of workers suddenly approached from the home’s many doors, covering the floors with massive sheets of cardboard, running miles of thick black cable, and piecing everything together with rolls and rolls of duct tape.

equipment in entry hall

After a full day of prep work, the actors arrived and two long days of shooting began. Steve Carell and fellow actors Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo created quite a stir as news leaked out that they were on site. We interacted freely with the actors between takes, and Carell, especially, was gracious and appreciative of our opening up the home for filming. Once in his makeup, though, he was virtually unrecognizable, and I was not the only staff member who gave him a perfunctory glance and hello, thinking this guy must be Carell’s stand-in, completely unaware that I was snubbing the real Steve Carell.

And when a group of Morven Park employees went to see “Foxcatcher” recently, we were dazzled by just how beautiful our historic house appeared. (Admittedly, a few of the employees were equally dazzled by the beauty of actor Channing Tatum, but that’s another story.) See it for yourself, then visit Morven Park to see “the big house” up close!