Listed below are some of the future project items on our Red Hill "wish list." Each of these items is just waiting for a generous donor to provide the funding to make them happen. If you are interested in being that donor and one of these projects strikes a chord, feel free to call any time to discuss what your sponsorship can look like. (434) 376-2044.
The Eugene B. Casey Education and Events Center
This project, which is currently in the planning stages, will be a vital addition to our ability to host tours and events come rain or shine. The facilities we have available currently make it very difficult to host groups of students in inclement weather, forcing us to cancel and postpone school days in the unfortunate event of rain. With this pavilion, among other uses and benefits, we will have a sheltered area in which to forge ahead even when the skies are not cooperating!
The reality of slavery at Red Hill is one that we hope to explore further in years to come. One aspect of expanding our recognition of the people who lived and worked at Red Hill, but who have often been left out of its history, is to restore the African American slave cemetery. The cemetery is located in a quiet corner of the Quarter Place Trail, and needs attention. This is a project that will need funding to undertake. It will require historical advising and research, as well as the delicate physical endeavor of restoring the grave sites and area.
A future project that could yield huge benefits to our historical knowledge of Red Hill is to perform systematic shovel pits, something that has not been done yet on the grounds. Exploratory archaeology has the potential to turn up all sorts of unexpected information, and could result in a huge gain in our understanding of the site. Depending on funding we could attain, this project might be undertaken in stages or as a whole attempt. It will require manpower and careful cataloguing, making it an ambitious but very worthy goal.
Trail Expansion and River Access
One of the most delightful aspects of a visit to Red Hill is the ability to experience the terrain as Henry did. The grounds surrounding the house, which are beautiful themselves, only represent a small portion of the lands Henry owned. Trails into the woods and along the river provide guests with access to the natural beauty of the area, and we are always seeking to expand them.
By the 1790's, whiskey production in the U.S. had soared. An 1810 census recorded more than 3,600 distilleries operating in Virginia alone. A year before George Washington began distilling whiskey at Mount Vernon, Patrick Henry obtained a license to operate three stills at Red Hill, which his wife continued to run after his death. Producing around 2,000 gallons a year, Henry sold his rye whiskey to taverns and stores, as well as to nearby farms and plantations. In distilling whiskey at Red Hill, Henry, who rarely drank anything harder than water, was diversifying his means of income and not relying solely on tobacco. Rebuilding the 30-gallon still that was listed in Patrick Henry's 1799 inventory will give visitors a better understanding of Red Hill as a working, self-sustaining plantation, and the skills required of his slaves and hired workers to produce the whiskey. Once the still is built, Red Hill hope to be part of the American Whiskey Trail, and could serve as a half-way point between guests visiting distilleries from Kentucky to Mount Vernon. It is an interesting historical challenge to reconstruct, and would be a memorable addition to the grounds for visitors. All we need is a patriotic lover of home brew to take an interest in the project and offer the funding to get started!