I’ve been working with fellow staff members for over a year to prepare eight new waysides (or signs) to be installed at Stratford Hall. Seven of these waysides were funded, in part, by a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network. Finally, as of last Thursday, all of our hard work has been realized. We spent 10 hours lugging concrete, digging post holes, and carrying tools on a variety of hiking trails to put these new signs in place. It was a long, hot task, but we’re done–and now you can visit these eight new signs when you next visit Stratford Hall!
All of the signs funded with the help of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network focus on the 17th-century, before the Lee family lived at Stratford. Two new waysides are located at the Clifts Plantation site, where the Pope family lived when they owned this property in the 1600s. Another one of the signs is on the northeast side of the house, near the Octagon building, and it interprets American Indians who would have lived on these lands. The rest of the signs are located on various hiking trails: Early forests are discussed in the sign on the Little Meadow Trail; the differences between the Chesapeake Bay then and now are interpreted on the Mill Overlook Trail; Stratford’s Miocene-era cliffs are featured on the Silver Beech trail; and the history of the Mill Pond area is interpreted on the sign placed near the Mill Pond trail.
In addition to these seven signs, we also placed one that was not part of the grant. This one focuses on the slave cemetery located next to the Council House. There is a small marker in the cemetery from the 1950s, and this new sign explains the meaning behind that marker. In the slave cemetery, we chose to explain the 1950s marker and name some of the slaves who we know are buried in that area.
I hope that the next time you come to Stratford Hall, you look for and read these new waysides. If you have additional questions or comments about them, please let us know!