Monday, December 21, 2015

Destroying History

The county Board of Supervisors have wasted no time in beginning the destruction of two historic buildings to make way for the "progress" of a shell building which, as far as the public knows, has no company interested in occupying it.

Well, supposedly they are moving them intact to another place, a historic preservation area, on Greenfield. I and many others expect the structures to fall apart when the real effort to remove them is underway. Hopefully we will be wrong and the supervisors will be right.

The structures as viewed from the industrial drive into Greenfield.

These old buildings have been on this high knoll for at least 150 years. The buildings have never been open for public view. The idea is to move them to a historic zone within the industrial park, where a display of some sort might eventually come to fruition.

This has been the plan for 20 years, so I am not holding my breath on the construction of this historic preservation area. During this time, the county did little to protect and preserve these structures, instead leaving most of the buildings exposed to the weather.

I am unable to climb the hill to reach the buildings due to a health issues, so I used a zoom to take these shots.

Greenfield was once the home of Colonel William Preston, a Botetourt County statesman and a Revolutionary War hero. These structures that the supervisors are tearing down are pre-Civil War and include a slave dwelling and kitchen.
The Botetourt Center at Greenfield is a 922 acre site the county purchased for $4.5 million in 1995.  The land was divided into an industrial area, a parks and recreation area, and a school area.  The county built Greenfield Elementary School and the Greenfield Education and Training Center in 2000.  The county completed a couple of ball fields and built a $3 million sports complex at the Recreation Center at Greenfield.  Two industries located in the industrial area; one left, so there is one building there for sale. There is also a "pad-ready" site that a business could build a structure upon. It's been available for several years with no takers.

A view from the road. Note the construction vehicles already in place to remove the structures.

When the property was purchased, county officials heard citizens’ concerns about the historic nature of the property and said the historic areas would be protected. A document provided by the county shows that there were several 20th century structures, including a couple of barns, which no longer exist.

The farm was called Greenfield Plantation, named so in 1761. William Preston moved from Greenfield to Drapers Meadows in 1774. He represented Botetourt County in Virginia’s House of Burgess in the 1760s, before there was a United States.  He was a pioneer and a soldier who defended the Virginia frontier during the Revolutionary War.
Preston's son, John, also a Revolutionary War soldier and a Botetourt County statesman, became owner of the Greenfield farm after William Preston and his wife died. The Preston family owned Greenfield through seven generations and sold the land in the late 20th century.

The Greenfield mansion burned in 1959, and it is thought that part of the original log structure existed until that time.

The kitchen that is being torn down measures 16’ by 18’ and faces the southwest wall of the original mansion, which no longer stands.  The slave dwelling is log saddlebag double slave house located west of the house site. It has two log pens which are joined by a stone chimney.  The log walls are exposed on the exterior and chinked with whitewashed red clay.

Part of the structure is protected by an early 20th century porch.


The house foundation is the remains of a structure built in the antebellum era.  Historic photographs indicate the structure was a two-story brick dwelling before it burned.  There is also an outbuilding dating back to approximately 1834.

One of the two known cemeteries on the property contains a number of Preston deceased.   Another cemetery has been portioned off with white fence and is said to be the burial grounds for the black servants to the Prestons.

Even though the county has not yet created the Greenfield historic area, the structures being demolished were often visited by folks who venture to Greenfield to walk the fields or the Cherry Blossom Trail.



  2. They know that the public is against this and that they are completely in the wrong for destroying this beautiful piece of history. THAT is why they are hurrying to get it done. Guilt does strange things to people and I hope that one day their own guilt for moving and most likely destroying this historical site and buildings will get the best of them. Their names will go down in our county's history, but not in a good way. RIP Greenfield.

  3. It breaks my heart. Sadly this type of thing goes on every day. In my home town an historic home was torn down when the county approved... a Target/Home Depot complex. It didn't matter the public outcry. I'm reminded of the Joii Mitchell lyrucs, "They paved paradise and put up a parking don't know what you've got til it's gone..." Some things never change.

  4. It's not like there aren't empty building looking for a tenant. In Buchanan alone there are several places I could name off the top of my head!

  5. I hope they survive(d) the move. :-(


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