The Echoes of History
Nestled in the heart of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Kenmore Plantation is a testament to a bygone era. Built in the 1770s, this Georgian-style brick mansion was the home of Fielding Lewis and his wife, Betty Washington Lewis, who was none other than the sister of George Washington.
The couple’s support for the American cause during the Revolutionary War was unwavering, and their home has since become a symbol of that patriotic spirit.
The mansion is a marvel of 18th-century architecture, with intricate woodwork and period-appropriate furnishings. Yet, it’s not just the physical structure that captivates visitors; it’s the stories that fill its rooms. Fielding Lewis was a prominent Fredericksburg merchant, and his financial sacrifices to fund a gun factory for the American Revolution were significant.
In 1922, a remarkable group of women took it upon themselves to save Kenmore from the ravages of time. Their efforts are commemorated in the Bissell Gallery inside the Crowninshield Building Visitor Center. This exhibit serves as a tribute to those who recognized the historical value of Kenmore and took steps to preserve it for future generations.
Today, the mansion is owned and operated by The George Washington Foundation. Their mission is to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the lives and legacies of historical figures like George Washington and Fielding Lewis and the people who lived and worked on the properties with them.
A Walk Through Architectural Grandeur
Stepping into Kenmore Plantation is like taking a journey back in time. The mansion’s Georgian-style architecture is a visual feast, featuring symmetrical layouts and ornate details reflecting its original owners’ gentry-level wealth. The guided tours focus on the Lewis family and their contributions to the American cause during the Revolutionary War.
The interior of the mansion is equally impressive, furnished with authentic 18th-century pieces that offer a glimpse into the lives of Fielding and Betty Washington Lewis. Every element, from the intricate woodwork to the period-appropriate accessories, has been carefully curated to provide an authentic experience.
Visitors can explore the grounds at their own pace before or after the guided house tour. The outdoor space complements the mansion’s grandeur, offering a serene environment to reflect the site’s historical significance.
The Crowninshield Building Visitor Center also houses the Bissell Gallery, which features an exhibit commemorating the centennial of Kenmore’s saving. This exhibit includes hands-on activities for children and showcases early 20th-century pieces from Kenmore’s collection, adding another layer to the visitor experience.
A Calendar of Living History
Kenmore Plantation isn’t just a static monument; it’s a vibrant venue that hosts various events throughout the year. One of the highlights is the “Twelfth Night at Kenmore,” a holiday theater production that imagines a Twelfth Night ball held by the Lewis family during the early stages of the Revolutionary War.
Other events like “Shakespeare on the Lawn” and “Women’s History Month Tours” offer unique ways to engage with history. These events are educational and entertaining, providing a multi-faceted experience for visitors.
The events calendar is regularly updated, and actors are often needed for various roles. This allows residents to be a part of living history by attending or participating in these events.
The media often covers these events, increasing the public’s awareness and appreciation of Kenmore, reaching a wider audience, and encouraging more people to engage with this historical treasure.
Know Before You Go
Kenmore Plantation is conveniently located at 1201 Washington Avenue in Fredericksburg for those planning a visit. The mansion is open for visitors from March through October from 10 am to 5 pm and from November to December from 10 am to 4 pm. It remains closed during January and February and on major holidays.
In 2023, admission prices are pretty reasonable, with adult tickets priced at $12 and student tickets at $6. Children below five years old are granted free admission. Combo tickets are also available, offering Kenmore House and Washington House admission.
Upon arrival, visitors are welcomed at the Crowninshield Building Visitor Center, where tickets can be purchased. The center also provides additional information and resources to enhance the visitor experience.
For those interested in educational programs, Kenmore offers a range of options for school groups and families. These programs are designed to be both informative and engaging, making history come alive for younger audiences.
Kenmore Plantation In the News
Kenmore Plantation has been a subject of interest for local media outlets. Recent articles have covered various events and activities at Kenmore, from “Shakespeare on the Lawn” to “Women’s History Month Tours.” These articles inform the community about upcoming events and add a layer of historical context that enriches the visitor experience.
The media releases from Kenmore’s official website also glimpse the plantation’s ongoing activities. From celebrating George Washington’s 291st Birthday to hosting a “Wee Christmas Exhibit,” these releases keep the public informed and engaged.
Local media coverage serves as an additional resource for residents and visitors alike. It offers a different perspective on the plantation’s significance, its role in the community, and its contributions to local culture and history.
The media’s portrayal of Kenmore is generally positive, focusing on its historical importance and the variety of events it hosts. This coverage educates the public and encourages them to participate in Kenmore’s diverse offerings, making it a focal point of community engagement.
Kenmore Plantation offers a variety of educational programs aimed at school groups, families, and anyone interested in diving deeper into American history. These programs are often hands-on, providing interactive experiences that make learning fun and engaging.
The educational offerings extend beyond the guided tours of the mansion and include activities and workshops that are both informative and entertaining. These programs enhance public understanding of American history, particularly the Revolutionary War period.
The Bissell Gallery inside the Crowninshield Building Visitor Center features hands-on activities for families with children. The educational programs at Kenmore are part of a broader effort to make history accessible and engaging for people of all ages.
They offer a more in-depth understanding of the lives and times of the people who lived and worked at Kenmore, enriching the visitor experience.
Kenmore Plantation: The Hidden Gem of Fredericksburg, VA
Kenmore Plantation is more than just a historical site; it’s a living, breathing entity that continues educating, fascinating, and inspiring. Kenmore offers something for everyone, from its rich history and stunning architecture to its vibrant calendar of events and educational programs.
Visiting Kenmore is not just a walk through history but an experience that resonates on many levels. It serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made for American independence and is a tribute to those who have worked to preserve this historical treasure.
For residents of Fredericksburg and visitors alike, Kenmore Plantation offers a unique opportunity to engage with history meaningfully. It’s not just a place to visit but to experience, learn, and appreciate.
So, the next time you find yourself in Fredericksburg, consider spending a day at Kenmore. It’s not just a trip to a historical site; it’s a journey through time.