Battersea Foundation Raising Funds
Battersea, the home of Petersburg’s first mayor, Colonial patriot John Banister, stands on the banks of the Appomattox River. An effort is underway to fund its restoration and preservation.
The Battersea Foundation’s goal is to raise a million dollars.
Barbru: Our Foundation has a signed contract with the City Council to purchase Battersea by the end of the year, and that figure is $200,000.
Tempy Barbru is Executive Director of the Foundation.
Barbru: Once we meet that, then our efforts with the house, the restoration and the whole campus will not change, but the ownership will change. And so beyond that our campaign is also going to satisfy a couple of matching grants that we are involved in and then it will also shore up a lot of operational support for the next, three to five years anyway, as this Foundation plans to invest close to $5.2 million over the next five years in the property.
Local businessman J. Tolleison Morris, she explained, is Chairman of the capital campaign. Public response has been immediate.
Barbru: Fantastic! We just really started it with our kind of a silent quiet gift effort and in one month we have already raised a little over $50,000.
Barbru said everyone involved is confident of success even though, financially, times are tight.
Barbru: People are very selective with where they put their funds these days, as they should be, but we have had such overwhelming support already, and while we know that there will be days that will be better than others, we’re very confident that people understand why it’s so important to save this treasure and why it’s so important to restore it so that the community can then really use it for a resource, which is what Colonel John Banister intended from the very beginning.
Battersea is one of the finest surviving examples of what is called a five-part, Anglo-Palladian style villa in the United States. A lot of work has already been done to stabilize the structure.
Barbru: In our phase one restoration there were a couple of really key things that we had address, and they were focused primarily on water and moisture issues. For instance, jack arches were turning inward on the back and water was seeping through between the stucco and the walls it was adhered to. And all the things you would expect from a home that was occupied and built in 1768 until day. So we have addressed all of those water issues.
Work on phase two begins this summer, focusing on three objectives.
Barbru: The first being the replacement of stucco in key areas on the exterior of the house, and the funding of a drainage study to address the issues of the foundation itself, because, as you know, most older and historic homes, a lot of the effort when they built them, they drained toward the home rather than away from the home, which is a large issue for a foundation’s structure and stability. And then we will also be continuing our paint and wall analysis in the interior.
Battersea is open to the public and tours can be arranged. This summer a Petersburg Theater company is going to lend a hand.
Barbru: In tandem with our partner Sycamore Rouge, we will produce Midsummer Night’s Dream and those production dates are July 16 through August 7. So people will be able to come onto the grounds, which open at 6:30 and they can have a picnic, enjoy their dinner, and then enjoy the show, all outside under the wonderful stars and the canopy of the nature that is there at Battersea.
Stargazing and concerts are scheduled for August and an Antiques Jamboree and Appraisal Fair in September. There’ll be lectures and workshops to help celebrate Archaeology Month in October.
John Ogle, WCVE News.