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McWhirt farm meets its fate
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by Hugh Muir
It was once, more than a century ago, the heart of a 145-acre farm for corn, wheat, hay and cattle. A
Now that scene has disappeared. The two-story white farmhouse and the massive chestnut oaks, 5 feet in diameter, that flanked it are gone. The rusty-red outbuildings--two corn cribs and a henhouse--have been bulldozed. The land itself has been clear-cut, leveled and black-topped.
Today a Lowe's is rising on the site near U.S. 17, 1 miles west of Interstate 95. The store is expected to open by the end of the year.
"I'm not against recycling our land," said artist Shirley Whelan of Falls Run. "But they could at least have tried to save some of the old trees."
She first saw the scene in April last year and spent some 40 hours painting it, using acrylic on canvas. She first exhibited the painting in August. By October, demolition on the site was under way.
The McWhirt brothers also watched it go down. They were the third generation in their family to work the farm, known historically as the Wavery Farm, since their grandfather bought it more than 90 years ago. Half a century has passed since they left the farm, took up other careers, and finally retired. They still live in the area.
"I go by it every day," Everett McWhirt, 79, said recently. "I left in 1950 because I wasn't interested in it anymore." He worked 13 years for the county and then opened a store at Truslow and Enon roads. He retired when he closed the store in 1989, and now lives in a white house behind that building.
Sidney McWhirt, 18 months younger than his brother, left the farm in 1962 and now lives in Sheraton Hills off State Route 3 in Spotsylvania. "The taxes just jumped up," he said, because of the land's potential commercial value. A skilled cabinet-maker, he then spent 18 years installing church pews in seven states--including those in Falmouth Baptist.