Notes from the Field: Protecting Historic Belle Grove Plantation

Posted on: May 7th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 283-acre property and 1797 manor house at Belle Grove Plantation is a National Historic Landmark and the heart of the 3,500-acre Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park.

Belle Grove manor house with quarry waste pile. (credit: National Park Service)Unfortunately, Carmeuse Lime & Stone, a Belgian mining conglomerate, is trying to rezone 639 rural acres immediately adjacent to Belle Grove and the National Historical Park in order to radically expand Carmeuse’s industrial quarry operation. The Frederick County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on April 28, 2008, and may vote on the rezoning application at the Board’s May 28 meeting.

The National Trust and Belle Grove, Inc., the nonprofit partner which operates Belle Grove Plantation, are gravely concerned that the rezoning and quarry expansion would severely harm Belle Grove and the National Historical Park. (Please see the National Trust’s April 22, 2008 letter to Frederick County.) Preservationists anticipate visual intrusions harming our world-famous scenic vistas, vibration damage to historic structures from quarry blasting, and threats to public safety from the parade of heavy quarry trucks that will travel along the Valley Turnpike (Route 11) through the National Historical Park and historic Middletown. The quarry expansion, as planned, also would destroy 500 acres of well-preserved Civil War battlefield just outside of the boundaries of the National Historical Park.

The National Trust and Belle Grove, Inc. have requested that Carmeuse systematically analyze and commit to avoid, reduce, or mitigate potential harm to scenic vistas, impacts from heavy truck traffic, and vibration damage from blasting. Carmeuse has not followed through or attempted to meet with the National Trust or Belle Grove. Nevertheless, we remain open to discussing with Carmeuse mutually satisfactory ways to expand the quarry without irrevocably harming Belle Grove, the National Historical Park, and the Civil War battlefield.

Carmeuse’s ill-considered quarry expansion, as currently proposed, is opposed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Belle Grove, Inc., Virginia Department of Historic Resources, National Park Service, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Civil War Preservation Trust, APVA – Preservation Virginia, National Parks Conservation Association, and Preserve Frederick.

-- Rob Nieweg

Rob Nieweg is the Director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Southern Field Office

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National Trust for Historic Preservation

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

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