Ferry Farm, George Washington's boyhood home, received another boost last week when Vernon Edenfield, executive director of the foundation that operates the attraction, was named to the board of directors of the Virginia Tourism Corp.
The appointment will increase Edenfield's opportunities to promote and preserve Ferry Farm and achieve the goals that George Washington's Fredericksburg Foundation laid out when it purchased the property four years ago.
One of the ways Edenfield would do this is to cross-market Ferry Farm with other Washington area attractions, including Mount Vernon and the first president's birthplace at Popes Creek in Westmoreland County, he said.
"In theory, if things work out, you might, at Mount Vernon, be able to buy a ticket or package at a discount to all the other sites," Edenfield said.
The tourism corporation is a publicly funded group charged with promoting tourism in Virginia. Edenfield was one of 10 appointees, and he said he was especially excited to gain the post as Virginia approaches the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Jamestown.
"The founding of Jamestown is on a larger scale the founding of Virginia, which is the founding of America," Edenfield said.
Despite a year-long argument with Stafford County about the repayment of an $800,000 debt--which was settled last month with an initial $200,000 payment--these are heady days for Ferry Farm.
The National Park Service is in the final stages of declaring the site a National Historic Landmark, which would bring the property a greater level of protection and prestige.
Last month, the Land Conservation Foundation Fund, a state organization that seeks to preserve cultural and historical landmarks, awarded Edenfield's group a $225,000 matching grant to preserve and expand Ferry Farm.
And last year, the National Park Service donated $2 million to buy a conservation easement on the property.
"I believe in the importance of [the business of] tourism working hand in hand with preservation," Edenfield said.
No house exists on Ferry Farm, but there is an administrative building on the site and an archaeological dig. About 25,000 people visited the attraction last year, officials said.
In addition to Ferry Farm, the foundation also owns and operates Fredericksburg's Kenmore mansion, which was the home of George Washington's sister, Betty.