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Virginia was early love for birthplace's new leader page 2
Fateful trip to Colonial Williamsburg started journey for new park superintendent

 This file photo shows a costumed interpreter greeting a horse at the birthplace site.
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Date published: 4/28/2009

By Rob Hedelt


Lawliss, who's teaching a historic landscape course at the University of Mary Washington, said the approach uses study of a site's whole landscape to better understand its history and the way land use has changed through the years.

At the Washington Birthplace park, the focus starts with the fact that Washington was born on what was then Pope's Creek Plantation.

Telling the story of the Washington family in general, and the way the small farm and plantation evolved through the years, is a constant challenge.

At the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front Park, she was proud of strides made to reach into the black community to find a rich resource: women who had actually worked at the park.

"One of the stories told at the park is the way the shipyard needed a work force, and got it by bringing tens of thousands of black workers to that plant, bringing Jim Crow along with them," she said.

Lawliss said she'd like to get oral histories from Westmoreland and other Northern Neck families who have a history with the site.

Though she's still learning about Washington and the park, she strongly believes in bringing history alive there with costumed interpreters and working spots that range from a Colonial kitchen to a blacksmith shop.

"Budget considerations may dictate that we use creative ways to get this done, as we are now with our heritage 4-H club, but it's critical to make history real to visitors, especially our younger ones."

The landscape architect in her also wants to find additional ways to let people enjoy the park's natural resources.

"We're looking at something as simple as having the park open certain evenings, but closing off some of the roads for a time," she said. "This would let families explore without worrying about cars or traffic."


Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415
Email: rhedelt@freelancestar.com

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