The Menokin Foundation is pleased to announce that it has received $70,000 in grant money from the NPS to initiate planning and design for two public access points on Cat Point Creek at Menokin.
“We are excited to be able to begin the process of making Cat Point Creek more accessible to the public,” says Sarah Pope, Executive Director at Menokin, “And hope that the research performed during this planning phase will also help us to better understand the intricate story of the Menokin landscape.”
The National Park Service (NPS) Chesapeake Bay Office announced on September 5, 2012 that the NPS is providing financial assistance to 21 partners and 24 projects with a combined financial commitment of $1,363,039. These projects with 21 partners in fiscal year 2012 address education, youth employment and stewardship programs, and public access and trail development in the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network and along the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Each project is leveraged through additional means such as matching funds, in-kind services, and volunteer hours.
In collaboration with many partners, the National Park Service works to expand public access to the Chesapeake Bay and tributary rivers, build visitor experiences along two national historic trails, develop teacher resources in line with state standards, and expand service and employment opportunities for youth. “Through partner engagement and participation, each of these projects has a positive impact in local communities,” said NPS Superintendent John Maounis. “Whether teaching the history of these places, introducing young people to possible career paths, or providing a new place to get to the water, these are investments in quality of life.”
The Chesapeake Bay Office of the National Park Service administers the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network of partner sites, and also manages two of the nation’s nineteen national historic trails. Both trails are comprised of land and water routes accessible through partner sites, are in active stages of development, and offer opportunities for educators and students that are both virtual and place-based. Educational programming, training in stewardship and outdoor recreation skills, and youth employment opportunities all contribute to trail development.
Trail development and youth engagement projects also advance public access goals set through the Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the federal response to President Obama’s Executive Order 13508. The strategy and subsequent draft public access plan call for the addition of 300 new sites where citizens can have a waterside experience, whether hiking, paddling, enjoying a picnic, or fishing.
You are invited to the unveiling of the original pen and ink drawing of Belle Mount by artist, Bill Martz. This event is hosted by Charles Belfield, a descendant of the Belle Mount Belfields.
The manor house at Belle Mount in Richmond County, Virginia was the home of John and Ruth Sydnor Belfield.
John, son of Thomas and Mary Meriweather Belfield, was one of the 115 patriots who signed the Leedstown Resolves (also known as the Westmoreland Resolves) in 1766 – one of the first deliberate acts of sedition against England.
John became a member of the Virginia Dragoons where he served in the rank of Major. He fought in many battles to help win our freedom from England, in order that we could become the United States of America.
His home at Belle Mount was destroyed in the War of 1812. No picture has ever been produced until now.
Bill Martz is a Northern Neck artist. You can find out more about him at billmartz.com.
Upon receiving the news of Mr. Boucher’s passing on September 2, 2012, I dug into the Menokin Photo archive this morning to look for the images that I knew he had taken here as part of his work with HABS (Historic American Building Survey). Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, to share these photographs with the world as a way of paying tribute to the wonderful career of Jack Boucher?
Joe Smith stopped by Menokin today with his customary warm handshake, eye-crinkling smile…..and a bag of tomatoes.
One definite advantage to working in the Northern Neck is the abundance of fresh produce. Here at Menokin, our local farming friends are quick to remember us when doling out the harvest of their labors.
Joe has farmed the Menokin property for more than 30 years. His connections to Menokin are many and his roots in the Northern Neck are deep. He was happy to explain that the yellow tomatoes are called “straws” which are on the verge of “breaking” into full ripeness. He also let us know that if we were unable to wait, the green tomatoes are delicious fried up in a pan with potatoes, a dish his mother prepared for him as a boy.
Tomatoes are a pretty big deal around here. Farm stands depend on the reliable reputation of a delicious ripe tomato warmed by the sun to lure passers-by to pull in for a purchase.
But many years ago, with the introduction of the steamboat era to this region, tomatoes and tomato canning became a huge industry. According to a 2008 article from the Southside Sentinel “at one time there were 40 tomato canning factories on the Northern Neck, and just about that many on the Middle Peninsula.” The vegetable canning business that grew out of the steamboat era provided jobs at a time when this area was still recovering from the Civil War and, later, the Great Depression.
Each cannery had its own label, the likes of which are considered artwork worth framing and collecting by many in these parts. These two labels were gifts of one such local collector.
Sure, we may do without many modern conveniences out here in the countryside – like reliable internet and shoe stores. But what we do have is really worth having. Yum.
Last week the Menokin Staff took a field trip into Washington, DC. The primary reason for our trip was to visit the National Building Museum. Our goal was to research their exhibits and come away with ideas for our Visitor’s Center and collection.
If you’ve never been to the National Building Museum, you might drive right past it. Looking suspiciously like a federal administration building, it was, in fact, constructed between 1882 and 1887, for the purpose of serving as a fireproof headquarters of the U.S. Pension Bureau’s headquarters. In 1997, the historic building was officially renamed the National Building Museum.
However, it is anything but ordinary.
The interior of the building is dominated by a grand central space, the Great Hall. Measuring 116 x 316 feet, the Great Hall features a central fountain and is divided into three courts by two screens of four colossal Corinthian columns—among the tallest classical columns in the world.
As hard as it was to drag ourselves away from the grandeur of the Great Hall, our first stop, the House & Home Exhibit, was well worth it. This “kaleidoscopic array of photographs, objects, models, and films that takes us on a tour of houses both familiar and surprising, through past and present, challenging our ideas about what it means to be at home in America.” We came away from the exhibit with brains churning with ideas of how to use and display our unique collection of construction artifacts here at Menokin.
After a quick lunch in Chinatown (just a few blocks away), we headed up to President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldier’s Home three miles north of downtown. Founded in 1851 as a home for retired and disabled veterans of American wars, the Soldiers’ Home stands on 276 acres atop the third highest area in the District of Columbia.
The tour focuses largely on the time that Lincoln spent at the Cottage during his presidency. The story is told by a tour guide in a friendly, conversational manor, with lots of questions directed at the audience. The house itself is very stark. Little or no furnishings occupy the large rooms. There is not a great sense of the people that lived there, but the use of recorded actors recounting stories, reading letters and holding conversations in each room does lend insight to the kind of life that the Lincolns had there.