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Proposed NPS Approval, Archeological Investigation, 2021, George Washington's Boyhood Home NHL

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park » Proposed NPS Approval, Archeological Investigation, 2021, George Washington's Boyhood Home NHL » Document List

The National Park Service (NPS) invites review of and comment on its proposal for a finding of No Historic Properties Adversely Affected for 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 accompanying review documents) in Stafford County, Virginia: an archeological investigation by the Foundation of part of a 30' x 35' area in the southeast corner of the Washington-era farm workyard. Within it, an area of 75 sq. ft (three 5 ft. by 5 ft. excavation units) would be left unexcavated, nine 5 ft. by 5 ft. units, previously investigated in 2014, would be re-investigated following removal of archeological backfill, and 30 5 ft. by 5 ft. units would be excavated. 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.

The NPS reviews the Foundation's request for approval of the archeological investigation 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 2021 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 Foundation of the proposed archeological investigation, including goals and Research Design; site plan; site photos; location-map of areas to be excavated and to be left unexcavated; curation/cataloging; reporting; and protocols for avoiding burials, and in the event of discovery of those or funerary objects, see "GWBH Scope of Work 2021" in "Document List" link at upper left of this webpage.

For Area of Potential Effect, see "Document List" for NPS and Virginia Dept. of Historic Resources maps of Area of Potential Effect (APE).

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 the provision in 36 CFR 800.3(g) for requesting of the State Historic Preservation Office/Va. Dept. of Historic Resources permission for expedited consultation, and their granting such permission on April 14, 2021 for this review.

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- -locations and Virginia site-numbers shown on "GWBH Area Potential Effect VCRIS map" in "Document List" at upper left of this webpage.

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: the NPS Regional Archeologist has reviewed the attached Scope of Work and recommends that the George Washington Foundation "has proposed an excavation methodology in line with past years of previous excavation. They are proposing to leave intact, or mostly intact, features and have set aside a portion of the proposed study area to leave unexcavated for the benefit of future researchers. Ferry Farm should be allowed to continue their summer excavations, as allowed under the Easement with NPS, and in line with the conditions and stipulations outlined in the previous Programmatic Agreement, while a new Programmatic Agreement is being finalized."

Contact Information

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