Proposed NPS Approval, Archeological Investigation, 2022, George Washington's Boyhood Home NHL

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park » Proposed NPS Approval, Archeological Investigation, 2022, George Washington's Boyhood Home NHL » Document List

The National Park Service (NPS) invites review of and comment on its proposal for a determination of No Historic Properties Adversely Affected for (and thus its proposed approval of) an undertaking planned by the George Washington Foundation, owner of the 75-acre George Washington's Boyhood Home/Ferry Farm National Historic Landmark ("GWBH" in the accompanying review documents) in Stafford County, Virginia: an archeological investigation by the Foundation's Department of Archeology and overseen by an archeologist certified by the NPS Regional Archeologist as meeting the Secretary of Interior's Professional Qualifications for Archeologists, of

-a 10 ft. x 10 ft. area (four, adjoining 5 ft. x 5 ft. excavation units) within the site of the Washington-era farm workyard. Artifact-distribution maps and a feature uncovered during a 2020 excavation suggest that an historic activity zone and/or structure was located in this area. During the 2021 field season (and per prior NPS approval of the undertaking following agency- , consulting-party, and public Section-106 review), the Foundation's Dept. of Archeology had excavated an area 30 ft. by 15 ft. on the northern side of the "FF-36" block and uncovered a line of 4 postholes with postmolds, spaced 10 ft. apart. Portions of significant, sealed context of all pre-20th century architectural remains found would be left unexcavated. For sealed context, between one quarter and one half of the fill would be left intact depending on the Foundation's archeologists' understanding of the feature. For complex features, they would excavate three quarters of the fill. For features that are easy to interpret, half of the fill would be left unexcavated.

-at a nearby area of the Washington-era farm workyard site, seek to identify any postholes to the west by reopening and reexamining in 2022, to a maximum distance of 10 ft. from the west edge of the "FF-36" block shown on one of the maps (in the accompanying illustrations-packet), selected 5 ft. by 5 ft. units previously excavated following NPS Section 106 review and approval during previous years. This reexamination will not excavate or otherwise disturb any previously unexcavated unit, including any unit that was set-aside for preservation previously.

The NPS reviews the Foundation's request for approval of the archeological investigation described above under the terms of the conservation easement that NPS holds for Ferry Farm. The easement allows the Foundation to propose such investigations to NPS, work that would occur under the direction of a qualified, NPS-approved archaeologist on the Foundation's staff. The easement stipulates Ferry Farm's use as historic site and education center; the Foundation manages interpretive historical structures and facilities there. The easement's provisions include pp. 44734-44737, Archeology and Historic Preservation; Secretary of Interior's Standards (1983), stipulating that archeological documentation, including "observation, directly, through excavation," may be "undertaken as an aid to various treatment activities, including research, interpretation, reconstruction." As per the research design described in the Scope of Work, and also the Preferred Alternative (Alternative "D") for treatment of the overall property, selected through an NPS National Environmental Policy Act/Environment Assessment public/agency review in 2013-2014, which includes research on and creation of an interpretive landscape with missing Washington-era landscape features and structures, the 2022 investigation would emphasize seeking evidence of the Washington-era structures and work yard. Approved investigations, the easement continues, "shall be documented and reported." The easement also describes the right of the NPS to protect in perpetuity the natural, cultural, archeological, ecological, open space and aesthetic features of Ferry Farm, and describes the restrictions of the easement as intended to prevent uses, which if allowed to occur, would have an individual or cumulative adverse effect.

For a detailed description by the George Washington Foundation of the proposed archeological investigation, including goals and Research Design; site plan; site photos; location-map; map of Area of Potential Effect; curation/cataloging; reporting; and protocols for avoiding burials, and in the event of discovery of those or funerary objects, see the accompanying information-packet, "GWBH Scope of Work 2022," in "Document List" link at upper left of this webpage.

As the archaeological investigation is planned by the George Washington Foundation, and would be implemented by them, not the NPS, the federal undertaking under review is the NPS's consideration and proposing of a No Historic Properties Adversely Affected finding, and thus its proposed approval of the investigation.

Since the conservation easement requires NPS response to the Foundation's plans and proposals within 60 days of receipt of those, this review combines the Section 106 steps of Initiation of Consultation, Identification of Historic Properties, and Assessment of Adverse Effects, as per 36 CFR 800.3(g).

Area of Potential Effect (APE), Identification of Historic Properties: The easement-covered Ferry Farm property is a National Historic Landmark and a cultural landscape, adjoins the Rappahannock River on the east, and encompasses a grouping of archaeological sites—all resources documented extensively in the nomination materials for Ferry Farm receiving National Historic Landmark Status in 2000...and also documented in many subsequent reports on file with NPS and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. See map in "GWBH Scope of Work 2022" for location of APE.

Proposed NPS Determination of No Historic Properties Adversely Affected: The NPS proposes a determination of No Adverse Effects. That includes (1) to the Rappahannock River, which adjoins the property, and to visual resources of the property, due to the temporary/three-month duration of the proposed archaeological investigation; topography and distance that would hide the physical footprint of the investigation from both the Rappahannock River (570 feet west of the western edge of the investigation footprint) and Virginia Route Three; and distance and fencing that would screen the footprint from the nearby facilities that attract and host visitors: the Ferry Farm entrance-road, the Ferry Farm Visitor Center, and the Washington House interpretive structure; and (2) to archeological resources, given that disturbance of previously undisturbed ground would be limited to the excavation of four, adjoining 5 ft. x 5 ft. excavation units.

Contact Information

Noel Harrison,
Manager of Easements
540-424-0512 (c)