Letters to New Kent County – Installment 13

Friends,

I’m pleased to announce that we are largely caught up in describing the Tidewater and Big Bend Foundation’s work in New Kent.  I hope the picture we’ve painted is agreeable to you.  I am equally hopeful that you can more clearly see the value and significance of the county’s historical resources and the imperative to protect its rural charm.  Our foundation has long-term plans in New Kent and we are committed to doing our small part.  

As a final example of our continued investment, I’d like to conclude this series for now by telling you about our most recent acquisition.  Historic Iden is located in the County’s high-growth zone on the west side of the Vineyards Parkway, just south of New Kent Highway.  As a new acquisition we have not yet completed our customary historical research, architectural analysis and preliminary archeology.  However, what I can tell you is that the main structure was constructed around 1840 and has been augmented over the years with several additions.  JEB Stuart is said to have rested on the site during his famous ride around McClellan’s army–like many places!

One of the features that attracted us to the property is its generous number of intact dependencies.  Still standing on the site is a double cabin once occupied by enslaved persons, a grain storage structure and an early 20th Century barn.  It is rare for these outbuildings to survive so long and they will require significant rehabilitation to last another hundred years. In fact, the enslaved dwelling probably won’t last another year without intervention.  The structure is currently listing severely and in need of a structurally engineered solution.

Iden is accessed from Vineyards Parkway via a curving gravel drive.  After dropping into a ravine, visiting vehicles climb up and turn sharply north to Iden’s perch on the property’s highest point.  The site is 28 acres of rolling green terrain speckled with mature trees.  Foundation staff use the site as a staging point for their work across the county and as offices.  Eventually, it will be open to the public for tours, vacation rentals and public events.

Our activity in the county continues to grow and our team is growing as well.  We are currently recruiting for roles from interior decorator to landscaper and equipment operator.  As we build up our operations and advance our restorations we hope to acquire and share additional historical properties in the near future.  We welcome your engagement!

John Poindexter

New Kent County

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