The Western Virginia Land Trust works with Botetourt County landowners who wish to preserve their land and keep it in a rural or agricultural condition, and the organization is holding a workshop at the Fincastle Library on Tuesday, March 30 at 7 p.m. for county residents who want to learn more about conservation easements.
Richard Jones is one such Botetourt landowner who has permanently protected his farm with a conservation easement.
Jones, a retired steel company draftsman in Roanoke, preserved the historic Wheatland Manor and the small farm around it in 2006 with a conservation easement co-held by the Western Virginia Land Trust and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.
Wheatland Manor, a brick landmark home on the old Stage Road from Fincastle to Buchanan (Wheatland Road) is marked by its two-story porches and a rock wall at the edge of the road.
The home was built in the early 1800s, according to an insurance policy from the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia. Wheatland Manor is listed on the state and national Landmarks Registers.
Jones bought the house and farm in 1972 and he’s been working on it ever since. He tried to give it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation but that didn’t work. “I hope to live in it someday,” he said. The farm is leased for beef cattle grazing and haymaking.
The first owner of what was then a 1,100-acre-plus estate was Col. Thomas Rowland. He built a wooden home at or near that site and also had a gunpowder mill, blacksmith shop, malt-house and whisky still.
His sons operated a gristmill, sawmill, meat house and a barn. The property has also been known as the Rowland-Pitzer House.
Legend holds that Rufus Pitzer, Botetourt County sheriff and owner of the house in the 1850s, became burdened with debt so he traveled to Maryland and sold the property to Jacob Cronise, who had not seen it. Cronise moved to Botetourt and lived at Wheatland Manor until his death in 1901.
The brick house was constructed in the Federal style but Pitzer added the Greek revival-style front porch and hand-carved columns in the 1850s. It has nine rooms—four downstairs and five on the second floor. A large living room has hand-carved mantels.
A L-wing is in the back. The house has 31 windows and its ceilings are 10 feet high.
For more information on conservation easements or about Tuesday’s workshop, call the Western Virginia Land Trust at 985-0000.
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