Letters to New Kent County – Installment 8

Friends,

Recent installments of the Tidewater and Big Bend Foundation‘s (TBBF) Newsletter have concentrated upon the complex politics of the NK Board of Supervisors (BOS) and its yearend conflict with the Attorney General of Virginia. Let’s set aside that fraught topic for the time being and return to the day to day business of the Foundation, a more agreeable topic. We begin with the official vision promulgated by the BOS for the County’s future.

New Kent County will remain a diverse community that values its outstanding rural character, history, natural environment, and quiet community lifestyle. We will maintain these values through thoughtful planning and managed economic development, with continued responsive and accountable governance supportive of our residents.

As readers of this Newsletter will recall, the TBBF is dedicated to this vision for the cultural future of New Kent County. It realizes this objective through purchasing large tracts of land in our County (5500 acres to date) and restoring the antebellum homes situated upon those landholdings. The objectives of these restorations are educational, cultural and architectural, importantly including the revival of the associated fields and landscapes.

To this end, we expect to reproduce full plantations that realistically illustrate country life in eastern Virginia prior to the Civil War. The restored plantation houses will evoke favorable historical reactions from visitors while the evils of slavery depicted there will provoke strong emotions.

The eight plantations purchased by the Foundation and myself (for now) have differing restoration completion dates. Five of the restorations are available for viewing today through inexpensive tours arranged by Chloe Medlin at cmedlin@cumberlandestate.com. The other three are under construction although we offer occasional tours of them as well.

Only three of the houses are now furnished with the proper antiques as furniture and accessories acquisitions proceed for the others. Of special note, we have achieved a working relationship with Colonial Williamsburg (CW). As the world’s largest-living history museum with nearly a century of experience in historic preservation and restoration, Colonial Williamsburg is internationally renowned for its deep expertise in the field – and as it happens, it is also practically on our doorstep. CW is now advising us on furnishing and décor at a number of our properties, and we are busily attempting to learn all that we can from them.

Cumberland Plantation is the most developed of our properties and it is the prime example of what we intend for the County. It may be viewed easily by driving to 9007 Cumberland Road and looking over the grounds and structures across the white fences. Cumberland also is included in our portfolio of tours and joining one of the official visits would permit you to see the residential interiors and nearby grounds.

Meanwhile, here are a couple photos of the property for your amusement.

In subsequent issues we will exhibit more photos of Cumberland and the other properties held by the Foundation.

John Poindexter

New Kent County

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