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History recreated

Posted on Thursday, September 1, 2016 at 11:19 am

Charles Belfield showing drawings of the James Monroe  replica house to tavern guild members.

Charles Belfield showing drawings of the James Monroe replica house to tavern guild members.

The Northern Neck, particularly Westmoreland County, enjoys being the birthplace of presidents George Washington and James Monroe and General Robert E. Lee, but only Monroe was a true Northern Necker. The others left Westmoreland as babies. Monroe, the fifth president, lived on his family’s farm at Monroe Hall near Oak Grove until he was 16 years old and went to college.

The James Monroe Memorial Foundation means to gain more notice for the only true native son of the Northern Neck to be president and plans to do it, in large part, by building an exact replica of the house Monroe’s father, Spence, built at Monroe Hall.

Foundation board member Charles Belfield was handed the job of getting the house built in early July. He already had plans drafted by Colonial Williamsburg and decided, to the extent possible, he would have Northern Neck craftsmen build the house. Belfield is the president of the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution and another SAR member, George Beckett of Heathsville, suggested that Belfield ask the crafters guilds at Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern in Heathsville to help with the Monroe house. Last Tuesday, Belfield met with the guilds at the Tavern.

The Tavern’s blacksmiths, wood workers and spinners and weavers were represented at the meeting where Belfield provided the background on the Monroe Foundation and the house.

Belfield said that William and Mary researchers, who have been at work at Monroe Hall since 1976, had located the original house’s foundation, so they know where to build it. He also noted that the original 1440 square-foot house is well described in wills and documents relating to its sale in the 1800s. Indeed, there is even a drawing of the house made in the 1800s.

The Monroe Foundation owns 74 acres…

Read the full story in the August 31 edition of the Northern Neck News.