By Fredericksburg Area Tourism Department
The spirit of the past still lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia. George Washington's footsteps seem to echo on the paths and streets of his hometown. The voices of Thomas Jefferson and other colonial leaders seem to resound through the Rising Sun Tavern.
For over 200 years Chatham has stood on the high ridge above the Rappahannock River, a serene sentinel watching over the city of Fredericksburg. The house and its occupants have been involved in most of the critical events of Virginia’s history from the American Revolution through the War of 1812 and the Civil War. The design of the house bespeaks the elegance and dignity of the Virginia plantation era at its height. That dignity was sorely strained during the unwelcome Yankee intrusion of the Civil War; like the spirit of the war-ravaged Southerners, however, it emerged from the experience older, somewhat battered but none the less proud.
This interview airs beginning October 27.
On a beautiful morning in the gardens at Chatham, Tony Wrenn shares his love of gardens and the amazing architecture that surrounds us with Debby Klein on CRRL Presents, a Central Rappahannock Regional Library production.
According to an article that appeared in the Free Lance-Star on 10/10/2009, Stafford County is working with the National Park Service to place a museum on the whole of the county's history at Chatham, a National Park Service property.
By Stafford County Historical Society
1. AQUIA CRUCIFIX AND BRENT CEMETERY
The crucifix, erected in 1930, memorializes the first English settlers of Stafford County, the Brenta. Colonel Giles Brent of Maryland and his Piscataway Indian wife settled at the mouth of Aquia Creek in 1647. His sisters joined them, one of them being Margaret Brent, prominent landowner and attorney, a remarkable achievement for a woman of that time. The Brenta, who were Catholic, welcomed others of all religions to settle in the Aquia area.
By Betty Churchill Lacy
When I was five years old I was taken by my parents in their four horse coach to visit Dr. Peyton Grymes near Orange Court House. From there we drove to Montpelier to visit ex-President Madison. I distinctly recall Madison as a worn, feeble old man in dressing gown, and a black silk cap lying on a couch. It was not long before his death. Mrs. Dolly Madison in her turban also made an impression on me, for she was very kind, and took me all round the rooms to see the many beautiful things with which they were filled. I remember with special delight a music box that was wound up for my amusement.
By The Daily Star—10 August 1921
In an advertisement on the second page of this issue it will be noted that all trespassers on the grounds of Chatham Manor between the hours of sunset and sunrise will be there at their own risk. Watchmen employed by the architect and contractor declare that ghosts invade the domain during the midnight hours and five individual watchmen have tendered their resignations after staying at the historic mansion one night. The watchman on duty Tuesday night declares that a stumpy black figure, accompanied by a grotesque shape in white passed within a few feet of him at midnight. He fired a double-barreled shot gun at them point blank and was greeted by a hollow guttural laugh as they continued their rounds about the manor. This was too much for the guard to stand and he left the premises for good. Another watchman relates that he saw three women in white roaming around the estate exactly at 3 a.m. a few mornings ago, while others tell of strange noises and strangling sounds.
This sizzling summer seems a fitting season to recall the almost forgotten story of John Lee Pratt and the Frigidaire, one of the first "mechanical" refrigerators.
In 1919 Mr. Pratt, a King George County boy who would become a multi-millionaire and owner of Chatham Manor, was a General Motors engineer.
That same year GM had produced the Frigidaire, one of the first mechanical refrigerators for home use. They were called "mechanical" because some were powered by electricity, others by gas.