"Virginia is for lovers" is the tourism slogan of the Commonwealth, and today, history lovers have news to celebrate. Virginia's Road to Revolution Heritage Trail added 11 new sites Thursday, including one in Richmond.
The Wilton House is Richmond's oldest plantation home open to the public, where refined living meets revolution. The Georgian mansion is where Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution, camped and drilled his troops before the Battle of Yorktown. The Battle defeated the British, and troops within the walls of Wilton House helped to defend Richmond.
"It was a pivotal position during the war," said William Strollo, director of education and public relations for Wilton House Museum. "And it kept the British from raiding Richmond again in 1781."
The room where Lafayette stayed is open to all visitors, with furniture and paintings painstakingly preserved. But the Marquis wasn't the only hero to stay in Wilton House:
"You'll be walking in his footsteps and many others," Strollo said. "George Washington also stayed here in March of 1775, right after Patrick Henry gave his famous, ‘Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death' speech."
Wilton House is one of 20 Revolutionary War sites on the Trail. Having a spot on the map means tourists from Pittsburgh to Paris are more likely to visit, news encouraging to places off the beaten path, like Wilton.
Laurie Blakey, owner of nearby Pearl's Cupcake Shoppe, hopes more tourists will bring more business. Blakey also said in an interview Thursday Wilton's recognition is an honor for the neighborhood.
"I think the more we can celebrate the history of our area, the better it is for all of us, businesses as well as our community," Blakey said.
Tourism contributes $20 billion to the Commonwealth's economy. The Road to Revolution Trail was created in 2007, featuring only sites related to the life of Patrick Henry. Hanover Delegate Chris Peace founded the Trail, and worked to expand it to its present size.
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