Colonial National Historical Park News Release: Historic Green Spring Day, 2016

From Green Spring to Freedom Park, the African-American pathway to freedom

SATURDAY, October 22ND, 10:00-3:00

The Friends of Green Spring, the Colonial National Historical 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.

The 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 NPS interpretive Ranger Jerome Bridges. 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.

In addition, colonial games, music, dance and crafts for the children provided by students from the Rho Kappa History Club from Jamestown High School. Together, visitors will enjoy an in-depth look at Green Spring’s role in Virginia’s history.

Free Refreshments provided, and a sales area from Eastern National on-site.

There is no parking at the Historic Green Spring site. Parking and free shuttle bus service to Historic Green Spring and Freedom Park is available at two sites: the National Park Visitor Center on Jamestown Island and at Freedom Park on Centerville Rd.

The events at both sites begin at 10am and continue until 3pm. Shuttle bus service begins at 9:30 at both sites.

In case of inclement weather, please see this website for updates.


Historic Green Spring Day: The Friends of Green Spring Annual Tour of Historic Green Spring

October 22, 2016

FREE. In partnership with Colonial National Historical Park. From 10am to 3pm. The theme of this year’s Tour will be The African-American Experience at Green Spring: Pathway to Freedom. Two significant events will be 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.

Special Event: Saturday July 9, 2016: Retreat to Green Spring (Sunday cancelled)


Reenactment of American troops’ 1781 retreat and encampment at Green Spring Plantation after the Battle of Green Spring. Reenactors will march to Historic Green Spring and set up a field camp. Living history programming will include artillery and musket demonstrations, a field hospital, and soldiers’ camp life. Event is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. No parking on the site; shuttle buses leave from Jamestown High School and the Park Service Visitor Center on Jamestowne Island. Free.

Press Release – Upcoming Events 2015

JAMESTOWN, Va. – On Sunday, September 20, and Saturday, September 26, 2015,Historic Jamestowne and the Friends of Green Spring, a park partner, will host two special events.

On Sunday, September 20, at 2:00 p.m., park guests are invited to join members of the Friends of Green Spring conducting an interactive presentation inside the theater at the Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center, The High Life of the English Gentry at Historic Green Spring

The first, new, 3D, computer-generated images of the 17th-century Green Spring mansion will be displayed on theater screens allowing visitors to visualize the once imposing and elegant home of former Virginia colonial governor, Sir William Berkeley, and his wife, Lady Frances Berkeley. The Friends’ educational traveling trunk full of hands-on learning props, which has been presented to more than 900 local 6th graders, will also be featured. The program will run until 3:30. Free with park admission.

On Saturday, September 26, a fee-free day at all National Parks across the nation, the Green Spring plantation site will be open for the public to visit and enjoy from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For this Historic Green Spring Day 2015: Looking Ahead buses will run to the Green Spring site from the Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center as well as Jamestown High School, a 10-minute ride. There is no parking on site. Join Governor Sir William Berkeley and Lady Frances Berkeley for a stroll through the grounds of their 17th Century plantation, and learn about their fine house and plantation. Family activities presented by the Rho Kappa history fraternity from Jamestown High School provide fun for the younger members of the family. There will also be a preview of the 2016 event focusing on the 1781 Battle of Green Spring. Refreshments will be served. Sponsored by The Friends of Green Spring. In case of inclement weather, please see the Friends’ website for updates. Free.

About Green Spring Plantation and the 17th-century Mansion

1607: Jamestown secures an English foothold in the New World. 1699: Williamsburg becomes the growing new capital city. In those intervening years the Virginia colony metamorphosed from a deeply forested wilderness full of unknowns to a firmly established, prosperous English colony.

In the epicenter of it all was Governor Sir William Berkeley, knight and a former member of the King’s court in London. Dominating the political and social landscape during his long and turbulent tenures, 1641-1650, and 1661-1676, he was ruined by Bacon’s Rebellion, but not before he had significantly influenced the colony’s evolution in many ways.

Berkeley’s many years in office brought him immense wealth and influence, making his accomplishments on his vast plantation at Green Spring possible. His great brick house overlooking the green spring, built in stages from 1643-1674, was unique and innovative, a trendsetter for his time, hosting both official and social guests in grand style. His experimental farm, where he sought to produce sugar cane, rice, indigo, hemp and silk, among other things, as lucrative exports for himself and the colony was extensive. As he and his wife, Lady Francis, stood high on their grand stairway to welcome visitors to their home, they stood at the very pinnacle of elite landowners—the gentry—who, with the knowledge of their far-reaching power and prestige, proudly surveyed the new world they were creating.

2015: All this history and much more lies buried on the 300 acres remaining of Berkeley’s original landholdings at Historic Green Spring, now under the stewardship of Colonial National Historical Park. The Park and the Friends of Green Spring, a park partner organization, invite you to experience this unique and compelling part of Virginia’s history.

2014 Annual Green Spring Site Tour

“A Conversation with Lady Frances”

Susan Berquist portrays Lady Berkeley
Susan Berquist portrays Lady Berkeley

This family event is your opportunity to find out what it means to be invited to a social event at Green Spring, the grandest house in the colony of Virginia and home of Sir William Berkeley and his wife, Lady Frances.  And meet Susan Berquist Zickel, who brings Lady Frances to life.

ANNUAL TOUR at the Historic Green Spring site

Special attraction: the new Green Spring National Park Passport Stamp will be available at the site this day only!

Lady Frances joins her husband, Governor Sir William Berkeley to welcome you. Tour the site with interpreters and enjoy colonial activities with students from Jamestown High School.