Historic Kenmore hosts Centennial Block Party this Saturday | Entertainment

BY LINDLEY ESTES FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR

It’s a party that’s been brewing for 100 years. Historic Kenmore celebrates the centennial of its preservation with a block party, and everyone is invited.

The Kenmore Centennial Block Party is this Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in Fredericksburg. Guests will be invited to several educational stations across the Kenmore landscape. The entire space, which occupies the block between Washington Avenue and Winchester Street at Lewis and Fauquier streets, will be filled with activities and learning opportunities. It stands exactly a century after the April 1922 rescue of the house and its grounds from demolition.

Visitors can engage with archaeologists, curators, historians and other experts while learning about the history of Kenmore, the Lewis and Washington families and the slaves who lived there. There will also be lawn games, crafts, story time in the garden and picnic opportunities on the lawn.

Kenmore is a Georgian-style brick mansion built by George Washington’s sister, Betty Washington Lewis, and her husband, merchant Fielding Lewis. The ornate construction and artistic flourishes inside reflect their pre-Revolutionary War wealth and status, said Director of Education Amy Durbin. Construction began in the 1770s after the couple married, and the house offers insight into their lives and the development of American history around the property.

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“As a structure, it shows so much. The city grew around him,” Durbin said. “Completed on the eve of the Revolution, the house then went through the war of 1812, and was bruised by the civil war. He lives to tell the stories of Americans who have lived extraordinary lives in these lands.

Among these stories is that of the slave plasterer who created the delicate works of art that adorn the mansion. His name is unknown, but his reputation as one of the great craftsmen of early America persists. One of the block party’s jobs is to create a design like yours. Visitors will have to lie on their backs to draw it, as if carving the lines upside down on the ceilings of the house. Other trades will include making sachets and stamps in the Lewis design.

Guided tours of the mansion will also be offered, and guests are invited to explore a new exhibit in the property’s visitor center. The exhibit is titled “Here’s to the Ladies: A Century of Preservation at Historic Kenmore” and will run through the end of this year.

Curator Meghan Budinger says the exhibit explains how the women who saved Kenmore, “led by the indomitable Anne ‘Miss Annie’ Fleming Smith and her mother Emily White Fleming,” were part of a much larger preservation movement. history in this country at that time, led almost entirely by women and the civic organizations they created. “Today we call it the golden age of preservation,” she said.

Visitors to the exhibit can learn about their exploits in saving property, from partnering with a cake-baking company to an epic fundraising road trip across the western United States in 1949, and the involvement of the Queen of Belgium, Eleanor Roosevelt and Bess Truman.

Budinger said the block party was part of a series of events throughout 2022 commemorating the formation of the Kenmore Association on April 28, 1922, which saved the house from demolition. This organization laid the foundation for the George Washington Foundation, which now owns and operates Kenmore and Ferry Farm.

One century agoThe block party is based on a similar event held in the spring of 1925 to dedicate Kenmore as a landmark. The community was invited to spend the day on the grounds of Kenmore and enjoy activities for the whole family. It was not the only major event of the last century. By the time of World War II, Kenmore had become a community gathering place. It was used by the USO to entertain troops throughout the war years – over 60,000 of them.

A report from the time said, “They enjoyed ten gallons of tea and forty pounds of gingerbread served to them on the lawn. Some grateful boys said, “’It’s an inspiration to have been to this sacred place. We will never let America down. ”

In 1922 Kenmore was owned by a consortium of local investors, led by E. G. “Peck” Heflin, who intended to develop the property into flats, which would be called Kenmore Court.

“Heflin wasn’t the bad guy in this story, though,” Budinger said. “When the ladies of the Kenmore Association approached him, he agreed to sell it to them for $30,000, payable in instalments. He also made one of the first contributions to their fundraising campaign.

Their campaign allowed them, as their slogan said at the time, “to help restore what Washington helped create.”

In the run-up to its rescue, the historic home was also seen as a point of civic pride. That summer, then-Vice President Calvin Coolidge came to Fredericksburg to launch the preservation campaign and said, “It must be preserved for its own good. It must be preserved for patriotic America.

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“Kenmore initially put Fredericksburg on the map,” Budinger said. “It has become one of the city’s top tourist destinations for foreigners. In the years since, it has helped remind people of the city’s revolutionary heritage, which has often been lost in its Civil War history.

But more recently, Kenmore has become known for its contributions to the field of historic preservation. It was one of the first historic house museums in the nation and one of the first to apply forensic science to a restoration in the early 2000s. Additionally, many historic preservation students at UMW have received hands-on training in these methods at Kenmore.

And more recently, Kenmore has focused its efforts on improving historical accuracy both in the furnishings and interpretation of the home’s interiors, but also on telling a larger story of the site’s history, she said. declared.

“Our slave communities project has identified 116 people who also inhabited the site in the 18th century,” she said. “If Kenmore had been demolished in 1922, these 116 people would remain nameless and unknown.”

Beyond the event and the history of the course, the Kenmore course remains a gathering place due to its city park feel.

“A lot of kids who grew up near Kenmore remember playing on the lawn – it still happens,” she said. “Kenmore has continued the tradition of being a gathering place, whether it’s for Shakespeare on the Lawn, kids’ camps in the summer, or socially distanced lecture series during COVID.”

The park is open daily to sit, picnic, or simply reflect on the journey from 1770 to 1922 to 2022.

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