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Two Fredericksburg-area groups collaborate in historic preservation venture
BY CLINT SCHEMMER
Two longtime area groups keen on Virginia heritage will partner on a program to benefit education and historic preservation, they announced Wednesday.
Together, Historic Fredericksburg Foundation Inc. and the Rappahannock Valley Civil War Round Table will acquire and monitor a conservation easement on a Rapidan River tract in Orange County.
A state tax credit on that 66 acres is expected to yield $200,000 in donations to HFFI by 2019. The money will be split between the two groups.
The land is next to Somerset subdivision off State Route 3 near Orange's border with Culpeper County. A Walmart superstore will be built on Route 3 next to the subdivision.
The state easement will keep the land in agricultural use, preventing intense development.
"The partnership will permit the Round Table to fund scholarships and internships in perpetuity, and HFFI be able to accomplish more of its stated missions," Round Table Secretary Bob Jones said.
Under an agreement between their presidents, the Round Table and HFFI are sharing the easement proceeds--$25,000 per year. The Round Table will devote its portion to its high school scholarship program, a summer intern's post at Fredericksburg and National Military Park, and other educational activities.
HFFI will put its portion into its heritage stewardship fund, which helps owners of historic structures.
In time, if enough donations are received from various sources, the foundation hopes to provide small, short-term loans to property owners for repairs to their buildings--say, for a chimney.
The easement deal will plant "a small seed" in what HFFI wants to eventually build into a substantial revolving fund, HFFI President Scott Walker said in an interview Wednesday.
"We're very appreciative of every dollar we receive for this new program," he said.
Part of the idea behind the fund is to avoid the kind of "demolition by neglect" cases that have caused controversy in Fredericksburg in recent years, Walker said.
The fund's creation was announced last year during an HFFI open house at Fall Hill, a Colonial-era home on the Rappahannock River.
The easement deal has been in the works since mid-2010, when the landowners approached the Round Table's Bob Jones, then leading its scholarship committee, and asked his group to act as the easement holder.