BOTETOURT – Rumors that the two historic buildings at Greenfield would be moved this week apparently prompted Botetourt County officials to issue a press release this afternoon (Wednesday) to quell those rumors.
The news release does affirm the buildings will be moved, and that archaeological investigation concerning possible unmarked graves on the property is continuing.
The news releases says, “At its regular monthly meeting on January 26, the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors offered a reasoned and positive vision of the preservation of the historical resources at the Botetourt Center at Greenfield.
County officials and some citizens have been at odds over moving a former Greenfield Plantation slave quarters and summer kitchen that sit on the site destined to be used for a shell building as an economic development tool.
“After much deliberation, the Board affirmed its decision to relocate two historical structures to a 28-acre preservation area at Greenfield in order to both showcase those buildings along with other historical resources and to promote the economic development for which Greenfield was intended.
“Also, at that meeting, the Board directed staff to move forward with continued archaeological investigations regarding assertions of unmarked graves on the site.
“The Board takes the assertions of an unmarked cemetery seriously,” said Deputy County Administrator David Moorman in the news release. “Staff have been authorized to take the appropriate actions to investigate those assertions and, if validated, to handle the graves with the respect they deserve.”
The news release continues: “In accordance with that direction, on February 2, Botetourt County officials met with concerned citizens to receive information about potential grave sites. The citizens were asked to identify one or more sites that, according to oral histories relayed by Preston family descendants and the descendants of Preston family slaves could contain unidentified slave gravesites.
“Archaeologists with Rivanna Archaeological Services of Charlottesville also inspected the site to help identify possible burial sites.
“The County is working with community members and our archaeologists to ensure that no known grave sites will be disturbed during the move,” said Moorman. “We have used the delay afforded to us by the recent inclement weather to move forward on this process.”
“At this time, no specific sites are identified in the oral histories. County officials are currently awaiting a request from community members based on information from an outside archaeological firm regarding what areas they would like to see investigated,” the news release says.
“Moreover, this archaeological work is in addition to the work already completed by the County. When it purchased the Greenfield property in the mid-1990s, the County had a Phase I archaeological investigation made of the entire property. In recent weeks, archaeologists researched and recovered artifacts found around and beneath the structures intended to be moved.
“Today, archaeologists have begun further investigation of the larger site to confirm whether unmarked slave grave sites are present, as oral histories suggest. During this process, work by the contractors hired by the County to move the buildings will continue, as weather permits. No areas subject to investigation by the archaeologists will be disturbed by the moving contractors.
“No date has been set for moving the structures. The scheduling of such a move is dependent on a number of factors, including weather. Furthermore, the County intends to accommodate persons interested in watching the buildings’ move in a manner that is safe and that does not unlawfully obstruct.”