Thursday, October 20, 2016

Laureen's Visit Part 2: Fredericksburg, Virginia: Kenmore and Chatham Houses

Rob, Laureen and Tom
In Part 2 of our friend Laureen's visit, we'll take you to two historic places in  Fredericksburg,
Virginia:The  Kenmore and  Chatham House.

THE KENMORE HOUSE EXPERIENCE - Well, we never got the tour. After driving 90 minutes to get there, we were met with the choice of waiting over  45 minutes for the first 30 minute tour or nothing. We could not even walk the grounds. So, we left.

Kenmore House that we didn't get into
WHAT IS THE KENMORE HOUSE?  Kenmore, also known as Kenmore Plantation, is a plantation house at 1201 Washington Avenue in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Built by George Washington's sister, Betty Washington Lewis, and her husband, Fielding Lewis, this beautiful, Georgian-style, brick mansion reflects the pre-Revolutionary-War wealth and status of the Fredericksburg merchant.

VISITING THE COOL CHATHAM HOUSE -This was a really nice and much better experience. This house is managed by the National Park Service
and well-run. It had 2 NPS employees on hand to greet us and both were friendly, very knowledgeable and accommodating. There was also no fee to visit this property. This was a totally opposite experience from the Kenmore House (so go here instead).

About the Chatham
 WHAT IS THE CHATHAM HOUSE? -Chatham Manor is the Georgian-style home completed in 1771 by farmer and statesman William Fitzhugh, after about 3 years of construction, on the Rappahannock River in Stafford County, Virginia, opposite Fredericksburg.  Today Chatham is part of Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.
Front Entrance to Chatham

HISTORY - Built between the years 1768 and 1771 by William Fitzhugh. In addition to the main house were dozens of supporting structures: a dairy, ice house, barns, stables. Down on the river was a fish hatchery, while elsewhere on the 1,280 acre estate were an orchard, mill, and a race track!

FAMOUS VISITORS - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln and President-elect William Henry Harrison. 

Tom and Laureen in the Gardens (created in the 1920s)
SECOND OWNER-  After Fitzhugh, the Chatham was owned during the Civil War by James Horace Lacy, a former schoolteacher who had married Churchill Jones's niece. As a plantation owner and slaveholder, Lacy sympathized with the South, and at the age of 37 he left Chatham to serve the Confederacy as a staff officer. His slaves left after the war and his fortune went from $180,000 to $2,000. (Served him right for having slaves in the first place). 
More gardens

CIVIL WAR HEADQUARTERS - Northern officers initially utilized the building as a headquarters. In April 1862, General Irvin McDowell brought 30,000 men to Fredericksburg.

Exterior of the house shows where the portico was removed
A UNION HOSPITAL - Fredericksburg was a disastrous Union defeat. Burnside suffered 12,600 casualties in the battle, many of whom were brought back to Chatham. The place was really gutted inside by soldiers using the wood paneling for fire fuel, and writing graffiti all over the walls.

GHOSTLY ENERGY - In one room on the far north side of the house, we watched a 12 minute film of the history of the house and property. We both felt VERY uncomfortable in that room and learned that it was where the "Surgery" was located. We were told that the room was covered with blood and many died there, while others lost limbs. 

Nice view of Fredericksburg in the distance
FINAL OWNER, MANY RENOVATIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS - Chatham's last owner, industrialist John Lee Pratt. Mr. Pratt purchased Chatham from the Devores in 1931. He refinished it, added extensive gardens, the famous music note railing in the back of the house, and a gazebo with the god Pan in it.

WHO IS PAN? - Pan is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds and rustic music, and companion of the nymphs.
A musical railing in the backyard of the Chatham

In 1975 he willed it to the National Park Service.


Laureen and Tom looking at Fredericksburg
Gazebo with Pan the flute player

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

I'm a simple guy who enjoys the simple things in life, especially our dogs. I volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy exercising, blogging, politics, helping friends and neighbors, participating in ghost investigations, coffee, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country music,writing books on ghosts and spirits, cooking simply and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.