Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Preston Medal

Last week I attended an event about Greenfield, a former plantation in my county that is now an industrial park.

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, that building has now become a brewery. There is also a "pad-ready" site that a business could build a structure upon. It was available for several years with no takers. Supposedly a company from Italy is going to build there, but the last time I was by there - about six weeks ago - no construction was underway.

In late 2015 there was a big brouhaha over the supervisors decision to move historic structures on the property to a place they deemed more appropriate for a historic/visitors center area. One of the arguments they used to justify moving these structures was traffic. People shouldn't be moving through an industrial park, they said. Interestingly, the new brewery, which purchased an empty building not long after the historic structures were moved, is going to have 300-seat restaurant. So I guess that having people driving in and out of an industrial park really wasn't the reason.

When the supervisors' efforts to remove the historic structures became known, a group calling themselves the Friends of Greenfield/Preston Plantation sprang up. I was a part of that in a peripheral way. First I wrote letters to the editor of the local weekly to keep it in the public eye, and once people finally woke up and realized they needed to move, I set up a Facebook page and managed it for a short time. I also made monetary donations and took photos.

The slave quarters at Greenfield,
being prepped for moving. Photo taken December 30, 2015.

The slave quarters at Greenfield. Photo taken December 30, 2015.

Greenfield was once owned by Colonel William Preston, a Botetourt County statesman and a Revolutionary War hero. The structures that the supervisors moved despite public opposition were pre-Civil War and included a slave dwelling and kitchen.

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 Friends of Greenfield last week showed off some of the more than 13,000 artifacts that archeologists and volunteers dug up during a hurried three-week dig last year.

I'm not sure what these things are but the archeologists have been busy cataloging this stuff. The hope is that eventually there will be some kind of museum at Greenfield. I am not holding my breath.

Lisa Farmer was one of the group leaders.

Danny Kyle, who I later found out is my cousin, was
also one of the group leaders.

Rupert Cutler, a well-known Roanoker, is working on the
supervisor-appointed Greenfield Commission.

After remarks and discussion, some of which included financial concerns as there are still bills to pay for the archeology study, the group handed out medals they had made to folks who had played at role in attempting to preserve Greenfield's history.

They very kindly gave me one.

The fate of the historic area at Greenfield lies in the hands of the Greenfield Commission appointed by the supervisors, and the supervisors, of course. I do not know if the community has the will to push to have this historic preservation area funded and placed. We have lots of folks who are always yelling about taxes and what they consider to be unimportant expenditures, so I guess it will depend upon who screams the loudest.

1 comment:

  1. I hope this works out in the best way possible, and by that I mean to the benefit historic preservation. Nice to see you were recognized for your efforts.


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