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On October 22, the Friends of Green Springs will present special programming in partnership with the Colonial National Historic Park of which Green Spring is a part, the James City County Historical Commission, and Freedom Park invite you to learn more about Green Spring and to follow the African-American journey from slavery in the 1600s to freedom in 1803 at Historic Green Spring and Freedom Park. FREE admission at these two sites. The event will be from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and will include events at Historic Jamestowne, Freedom Park and the Green Springs site.
The theme of this year's tour will be “The African-American Experience at Green Spring: Pathway to Freedom” and there will be two significant events interpreted.
The first is a gathering at Green Spring Plantation in 1776 of a group of slaves and free blacks who wanted to worship God in their own way. Their meeting led to the formation of the First Baptist Church of Williamsburg which endures to this day.
The second event occurred in 1802 upon the death of William Ludwell Lee, the owner of Green Spring. In his will, he freed his slaves and made provisions for their education and support. Between 1803 and 1818 more than thirty African Americans were freed and resettled on farmsteads in the “Hot Water Tract.” The descendants of these freed slaves created one of the first Free Black communities in the nation. The acreage was gradually broken up during the 19th century, and the remaining land forms the nucleus of today's Freedom Park which will be included in the tour.
Shuttle service from Historic Jamestowne and Freedom Park to the site. Events at Freedom Park are sponsored by James City County.
Additional Event Information courtesy of Friends of Green SpringThe story told at this year’s event begins in Africa, and continues through the early days in Virginia when Sir William Berkeley was governor, as slavery gradually became the law of the land. Throughout the following century, slaves provided the labor force upon which Virginia’s prosperity was built. Freedom came to Green Spring’s slaves in 1803 after William Ludwell Lee, the owner of Green Spring, died at the young age of 28. In his will, he freed his slaves and made provisions for their education and support. The will provided for land for the freed slaves on the “Hot Water Tract” portion of Green Spring, part of which today is preserved as James City County’s Freedom Park, with re-created buildings of the early settlement and an interpretive center with a small museum and many programs.
Family friendly, this event offers something for everyone. Experience the culture of Africa through the telling of the old stories, and the early days in Virginia through the musings of one of Governor Berkeley’s slaves at Green Spring as portrayed by a character interpreter. Walk the outline of Governor Berkeley’s magnificent manor house and banqueting lodge, larger than the Governor’s Palace built in Williamsburg 65 years later, and hear the story and see a video of Green Spring’s development and evolution. Visit the actual spring from which Green Spring got its name and still flows, cold and clear, to this day. Talk to a Park Service hydrologist about the spring.
View the site and hear the story of the “modest gentleman’s house,” built when Berkeley’s mansion was demolished. It was the home of several generations of the Ludwell family. In 1802, William Ludwell Lee owned Green Spring and freed the Green Spring slaves upon his death.
Interact with interpreters throughout both sites, including reenactors portraying Governor and Lady Frances Berkeley, and an archaeologist who explored Green Spring. At Freedom Park, hear the story of the freed Green Spring slaves from a descendant who traces his lineage back to that time. Interpreters will also discuss the reconstructed houses at Freedom Park built for the newly freed slaves and the subsequent larger settlement called Centerville.
HistoryGreen Spring, the site of Governor William Berkeley's mansion and estate, has been protected by the National Park Service (NPS) since 1966. The more than 200 acre site has a story to tell with only a few trees and brick ruins remaining.
For a historical summary on Historic Green Spring, please visit the Friends of Green Spring website.
More information is also available on the NPS website.
In 1966, the National Park Service purchased the site of Green Spring mansion, placing it under the administration of Colonial National Historical Park. The Friends of the National Park Service for Green Spring, Inc., is committed to researching, preserving, and presenting Historic Green Spring and its history for public education and enjoyment.