Foundation's Heritage Days Event Is Great Success
As its contribution to Hampshire Heritage Days 2000 The Fort Edwards Foundation set the date for the dedication of the new Visitor Center for Saturday, September 9th.
About one hundred people gathered under a clearing sky
in Capon Bridge, West Virginia, Saturday morning for the long awaited dedication
of the Fort Edwards Visitor Center. Since its founding in
November, 1995, the members of the Foundation have looked forward to the
day when they could open a facility to serve as an interpretative center
for the important French and Indian War site on Joseph Edwards's land grant
along the banks of the Cacapon River. The new building, although
it will not be available for regular tours until next year, was opened
to the public for the first time and remained open for the entire day.
During the dedication ceremony, the Foundation gave honorary lifetime
memberships to the four members of the Whitacre family of Capon Bridge
who made it possible for the Foundation to purchase the land that the Center
stands on. The Foundation was most concerned that the original site
of the fort be preserved for future archaeological investigation. Placing
the Visitor Center on the adjacent lot would protect the integrity of the
historic site and allow space for interpretative and reenactment activities.
Also honored was the Archaeology Conservancy of Albuquerque,
which had assisted the project to preserve the fort site by purchasing
the property on the open market and holding title to it until The Fort
Edwards Foundation could be formed and could raise the money to take title
to the land. The Conservancy is a national organization headquartered
in Albuquerque, NM that secures and preserves important archaeological
sites. A plaque has been installed in the Center as a permanent reminder
of the Conservancy's role in this preservation project. Mr. Paul
Gardner, the regional director of the Conservancy for our area was on hand
to unviel the plaque.
As a special honor for the two individuals who were instrumental in initiating and securing funding for the project, the Foundation commissioned Delegate Jerry Mezzatesta and Dave Pancake as a "Colonel of the Virginia Regiment". This mark of distinction is a very extraordinary honor with strict criteria for individuals who make a significant and unique contribution to the work of the Foundation.
A highlight of the ceremony was the music performed by
two very different groups. The
visitors were charmed by a rendition of The Ballad of the Battle of
Great Cacapehon sung by students from Capon Bridge School under the
direction of music teacher, Mary O'Malley. The ballad tells the story
of the death of Capt. John Fenton Mercer and sixteen men during an ambush
not far from Fort Edwards. The other music group was the reenactment
group, the Andrew Lewis Volunteer Fife and Drum Corps. Four members
of this unit made the effort to arrive early before their scheduled afternoon
concert in order to supply period music for the dedication. Everyone
who attended the event was delighted with the way their presentation of
eighteenth century military music added to the dignity of the day's event.
Later in the day the crowd in Romney was delighted by their concert.
They were also a great hit when they marched in the evening parade.
We hope that the Corps members enjoyed the events as much as we enjoyed
their contribution. We note that they have the distinction to be
the first reenactment unit to participate in a Visitor Center event.
Do you remember a year ago - September 15, 1999 ?