Thursday, February 25, 2016

Meeting Today on Slave Buildings Removal

Greenfield Preston slave quarters.
It looks like the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors will proceed with the removal of old slave buildings on the Greenfield Preston Plantation--which is now an industrial park--despite protests from a number of people.

Those protesting say they cannot get a response to their questions about the removal from the board and they have held a couple of organized gatherings--including a gospel sing--recently. Another is scheduled today (Thursday) February 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the St. Mark’s Episcopal Youth Center Building in Fincastle to present an update on the status of the slave dwellings and the plantation grounds which have been altered by the Board of Supervisors’ decision.

The lack of response from the board of supervisors is most troubling to me, so I have e-mailed my old friend John Williamson, a member of the board, for a response. He promises to have one by early this evening and I will let you know what he says. John is neither a racist, nor a person insensitive to our culture and history. He is, however, a former county administrator who is acutely aware of tax bases and economic development.

A lot of us don't want to sell out off our heritage in order to keep our taxes low, but many would do that in a heartbeat. We'll see if that has any application here.

Meanwhile, you can make your voice heard at the meeting today or by calling a Botetourt County representative.



  1. The structures are already moved, Dan. The slave cabins were moved yesterday and they are moving the ancient kitchen building today (Thurs. 2/25/16). They were moving it when I drove by around 9:45 this morning.

  2. John has sold out our history for money. We had a good plan for both sides of this to be a win/win and proposed it to them on Tuesday. They didn't even have the decency to call us with their decision. The moved summer kitchen last night was their way of giving we, the people, the ginormous finger. It's thug politics out here in Botetourt.

  3. Mr. Williamson's arrogance is infuriating, but still, I'm glad to see his deluded defense. Good to know what we're dealing with, in Botetourt County. We'll try to fix that at election time. When Shirley Johnson Lewis stood up at Board of Supervisors' meetings (she is the nameless "older black lady" Mr. Williamson mentioned), she never had a prayer of giving "input." Supervisors doodled on paper, looked at their watches and cell phones, and rolled their eyes. They couldn't even get her name correct! It's one thing to hold a different view, but it's a whole other thing to treat constituents with contempt, the way Mr. Williamson and other Supervisors do (even as Mr. Williamson writes an email to you, for your blog post). In fact, this is really what kept many of us fired up during this frustrating time, when we wanted to be heard and acknowledged, because we respect that small, sacred patch of ground at Greenfield. We want commerce, too, but we believe the county can save just a little patch of history and home on that 900 acre-plus property. Good to know Mr. Williamson has done so very much for the Black community. I want to hear a lot more about that!