In yet another sign that many people have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, Virginia’s Germanna historical foundation this week will hold its first public event since 2019.
Salubria, Culpeper County’s oldest brick mansion, will welcome visitors on Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Touring the grounds of the Colonial estate in Stevensburg is free, but 45-minute tours inside Salubria cost $10 per person (children age 6 and under are free) and are limited to 15 people per tour.
As of Tuesday evening, the timed-entry house tours were nearly booked. A few spots for the 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. tours remained. People can register via Eventbrite (search for Salubria) or the event calendar on the foundation’s website, germanna.org. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
The Public Access Day is a relatively new idea for the nonprofit foundation, based in Orange County, that preserves a nationally significant handful of historic sites in Virginia’s northern Piedmont.
Salubria, a handsome Georgian-style manse, was built about 1757 by the Rev. John Thompson, rector of Culpeper’s Little Fork Church from 1740 to 1772, for his wife, Butler Brayne Spotswood Thompson. She was the widow of Alexander Spotswood, the royal governor who had imported two shiploads of German craftsmen to develop his sprawling properties on Virginia’s western frontier.
The Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies in Virginia Inc. has owned Salubria since 2000.
Visitors will enjoy hands-on activities for children, opportunities to stroll the manor house’s grounds and speak to Pastor Thompson, and tour the house, which retains its original paneling and woodwork. You do not need a ticket to tour the grounds.
Salubria is at 19173 Salubria Lane, off State Route 3. If you are traveling west toward Culpeper, it is on your left. Visitors to the grounds can stop by anytime between 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The foundation recommends wearing a mask when inside Salubria. Hand sanitizer will be available at the activity stations. Questions? Call the foundation at 540-423-1700 or email Ashley Abruzzo at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the event of bad weather, a cancellation notice will be posted on the foundation’s website and Facebook page.
Established in 1956, the foundation tells the interwoven stories of Germanna, an early 18th-century, fortified settlement on the Virginia frontier, and its peoples. It conducts archaeological exploration and conservation, genealogical research and publishing, and historic preservation and interpretation.
The foundation’s sites and facilities include the Fort Germanna Visitor Center, Museum & Genealogy Library, Germanna Memorial Garden, Siegen Forest Hiking and Nature Trails, Fort Germanna and Enchanted Castle archaeology sites, and historic Salubria Manor in Culpeper County.
Fort Germanna, a palisaded village like the settlement at James Fort in Tidewater Virginia, was one of the first communities established in Orange County. It came a century later than Jamestown, and was built by German colonists imported by Spotswood, for whom Spotsylvania County is named.
In a few weeks, the foundation will host “The Peoples of Germanna,” its yearly conference and reunion for Germanna descendants. For the second year in a row, the five-day event will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Foundation officials began planning the July 13-17 event early this year, and didn’t know what to expect by July, so they erred on the side of caution and opted for online presentations, a spokesperson said Tuesday.
“While we will wait another year to meet and gather in-person, we have lined up exciting presentations all week that we hope you will enjoy,” the group told members recently.
2021 will be Germanna’s 64th year of holding the conference and reunion. This year’s event will focus on four cultures that intersect at Germanna: Native American, English, African American, and German.
There will be three free sessions at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday and Saturday will bring six live online presentations combining narration, photographs and videos. Participants will be invited to pose questions at the end of each session.
Conference presenters will discuss not only archaeology, genealogy, DNA and local historic sites, but also German foodways, the region’s indigenous peoples and African American history.
Speakers will include Kristie Kendall, Judy Russell, Karen Becker, Victoria Ferguson, Shannon Christmas, and Germanna Archaeology interns and archaeologists.
For speakers’ biographies, details and to register, visit germanna.org/conference-and-reunion or call the Fort Germanna Visitor Center at 540-423-1700.