History of Presqu’Isle
French for “almost an island”, Presqu’Isle was initially comprised of 16,000 acres at the confluence of the Hazel and Rappahannock Rivers. Having acquired this land from Robert Beverly of Blandfield, Daniel Grinnan—a prominent Fredericksburg magistrate—completed the resplendent brick manor house in 1815, along with a number of brick dependencies. At the time, brick houses were so rare that it was said people for miles around came to marvel at Presqu’Isle. Judge Grinnan never lived at Presqu’Isle, but instead appointed his brother-in-law as overseer of the plantation.
Upon Judge Grinnan’s death in 1845, the plantation was sold to the Major family, who safeguarded the property through the Civil War. Presqu’Isle served as headquarters for Union General Emory Upton during the winter encampment of 1863/64, and though the estate witnessed severe fighting very near its borders, it was not caught in the crosshairs.
Since passing from the Major family in 1909, Presqu’Isle has known six owners. Fortunately through those transitions, the manor house has retained much of its original detail and charm. While many of the plantation’s original ancillary structures have disappeared and the plat has been whittled down, the 35-acre historic core—with manor house, grounds, two slave quarters, blacksmith shop, spring house—remains much as it was in the 19th century, as one of the region’s finest estates.
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The Historic Presqu’Isle Foundation
Started in 2016, the Historic Presqu’Isle Foundation Inc. aims to preserve, interpret and sustain Presqu’Isle — a Piedmont estate of social, architectural and historical significance — so that its natural and cultural resources may be of charitable and educational benefit to the public. The Foundation is in the process of seeking 501(c)3 non-profit status.
In addition to managing, supervising and controlling the business, property and affairs of the Foundation, the Board of Directors oversee the following standing committees:
The focus of the Foundation’s Preservation Committee shall be to oversee property maintenance, historically-appropriate improvements to existing structures and historically-informed landscaping. The Committee shall also be responsible for interpreting and curating spaces open for public tours and exhibits
The focus of the Engagement Committee shall be to enable and encourage the public to experience Presqu’Isle’s important natural and historical resources, by planing and executing activities such as tours, exhibits, festivals, holiday events and outdoor recreation. Additionally the foundation will seek to partner with one or two Virginia universities to provide instructor-led educational opportunities for students.
With an aim to generate enough revenue to cover the organization’s regular operating expenses, including property maintenance, the Sustainability Committee will oversee the operations of Presqu’Isle as a historic park—offering public and private events on the property. Fundraising—focused primarily on securing capital for acquisitions of property, furnishings or artifacts, large-scale property improvements and an endowment fund—shall also be a key responsibility of the Committee.
Board of Directors
Aaron Mastin, Chairman of the Board, and Josh Millson-Martula, Secretary and acting Treasurer, are proud to be the current stewards of Presqu’Isle and to lend their experience in corporate marketing and period set and costume design, respectively, to the Historic Presqu’Isle Foundation. Since moving to the estate from New York City in May 2015, they have worked diligently to preserve and restore Presqu’Isle to its former glory—an ongoing labor of love. They gladly welcome you to experience for yourselves what makes Presqu’Isle so special.
Diane Logan, Director, has been a driving force in Culpeper’s resurgence as a historic and tourist destination. She has also served as director of a house museum and archives and genealogical library and produced a number of living history programs and a genealogical magazine. Additionally, she currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield.
Image courtesy of Amy Fewell Photography
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