A non-profit just bought a large, historic farm in eastern Henrico and says most of it will remain untouched.
The Malvern Hill Farm is almost 871 acres, off of Route 5, and is connected to a historic battlefield that dates back to the Revolutionary War.
For almost 155 years, historians say not much has changed at the Malvern Hill Farm. Acres of farmland and woods stayed in the Ferguson family for generations, but ownership was split among almost two dozen family members, so it was put up for sale. There was a fear of developers taking an interest.
"Five-hundred-plus homes on Route 5 coming in, certainly not anything anybody wanted to see happen," says Parker Agelasto, executive director for the Capital Region Land Conservancy. "It's such a beautiful piece of land."
So the CRLC took on the ambitious plan to buy the huge piece of land. With partners at the federal, state and local level, the non profit paid $6.6 million to become the new owners.
"For our organization, we're about preserving the land and maintaining working farms and timberland and public access to open space," says Agelasto.
A Ferguson descendant spoke to NBC12 on Monday. He didn't want to be identified but said he was driving around the property and reminiscing about growing up on the land. He said the sale is bittersweet because of the emotional ties to the farm, but the family is glad it will be preserved.
There is also the historical significance. Historians say the Malvern Hill Farm is the only documented place in the United States to see troop activity during three major wars: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Eventually, half of the land will go to the National Park Service, which already owns another part of the property that was the site of the "Seven Days Battles," which changed the course of the Civil War.
Another four hundred acres will be owned by Henrico County. Varina supervisor Tyrone Nelson says there is an idea of what will be done.
"Mostly soft recreation, some trails, maybe a park at some point," he said.
But that's still years in the making.
"It's part of our capital plans down the line, but right now it will continue to be green and beautiful."
Agelasto says the James River Association is also going to build a boat landing that people can enjoy. The property also has several homes with renters and a farmer who farms about 300 acres. The non-profit says they will all be allowed to stay.
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