Several individuals representing the National Park Trust, Friends of Happy Retreat (a Jefferson County, West Virginia, non-profit organization), and others have recently developed a proposal for a federal study to determine the suitability and feasibility of establishing or adding to an existing national park to celebrate the Washington family legacy in Jefferson County.
Four of the twelve properties established by Washington family members in Jefferson County during the 18th and 19th centuries would be included in the study: a portion of General George Washington's original Bullskin Plantation, which he purchased in 1750; Happy Retreat, established by the General's youngest brother Charles Washington, founder of Charles Town, WV, in about 1780; and the Claymont Court and Blakeley estates, built by two of General Washington's grand-nephews in the early 1800's.
The owners of these four properties have signed letters supporting the proposed study and an additional thirteen town councils or boards of historical and preservation-minded organizations in Jefferson County have signed similar letters of support addressed to West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd and Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito. On January 24th, the Jefferson County Commissioners voted unanimously to prepare and submit to the Senator and the Congresswoman a formal request for legislation to authorize the National Park Service to conduct the study. Given the level of support from the property owners and the local community, and with the help of other state and national groups dedicated to historic preservation, it is hoped this legislation will be enacted soon to take advantage of a truly unique opportunity to take the first step in preserving four “national treasures” for the enjoyment of future generations and celebration of the Washington family's rich legacy in the Lower Shenandoah Valley.
For additional information or to submit letters of support, please contact either Kit McGinnis at Kit@parktrust.org or 304.728.3506; or Curt Mason at email@example.com or 304.724.7008.
To donate to Friends of Happy Retreat, which is raising funds for obtaining a purchase option on Charles Washington's original estate, please visit its web site for more information, www.happyretreat.org.