Sat, Jan 21 2006 - Tour of Stratford Hall Plantation (View Original Event Details)|
|Participants:||Colin Babb, Amy Pickwick, Kimberly Engle, Ali Badii, Chuck Hildenbrand, Tom Pearson, KC Yi, Cynthia Hildenbrand, charles lewis, Jeffrey Staggs, Paula Moran, Ryan Michela, Sandra Gendleman|
Stratford Hall is the ancestral home of the Lee family—if you’ve ever read even just a little about the history of the state of Virginia, the Lees pop up over and over. Among them were two signers of the Declaration of Independence. Although he only lived in the house for several years after his birth there in 1807, the house is dedicated to telling the story of Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and Confederate hero. The advent of electricity must have done something to the family’s ambitions, since you don’t hear much about the Lees in the 20th century (perhaps because there were no more declarations to sign or civil wars to lead). The property is run by a private nonprofit trust, which takes care the main house plus a number of outbuildings around the farm.
We gathered in the visitors center while waiting for the last people to arrive, and got some free cider and cookies. Our tour began with what turned out to be a series of different guides in period costume who told us about the Lees, the house, and what life was like back in the early 19th century (such as the story about the roof-top terrace—now gone—where people used to dance on the roof during parties). There was a lot of arcane stuff about the Lees and who married whom and who did this and that—a little hard to follow even for the initiated. After checking out the house, some of us toured around the extensive gardens and grounds and explored the large barn, outside of which were a frisky goat and some chickens (who we were implored not to disturb). The re-creation of a slave cabin on another part of the property reminded us that the Lee’s opulence depended on the unpaid efforts of other people.
It was decided that people wanted to journey home rather than wait to see the free lecture about Robert E. Lee that was scheduled as part of the tour (apparently our decision not to go freed up space for what we were told was a standing-room-only lecture). Some of us got to taste some local flavor at a restaurant down the road upon the recommendation of Kim’s friend Frank, who owns property nearby and who happened to be in town that day. All in all we had an informative and interesting afternoon. Thanks to those who came and I hope everyone had a good time.
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