Noted historian pens biography of Ferry Farm--George
Washington's boyhood home--and its three centuries of American
In 2002, Philip Levy arrived on the banks of Rappahannock River
in Virginia to begin an archeological excavation of Ferry Farm, the
eight hundred acre plot of land that George Washington called home
from age six until early adulthood. Six years later, Levy and his
team announced their remarkable findings to the world: They had
found more than Washington family objects like wig curlers, wine
bottles and a tea set. They found objects that told deeper stories
about family life: a pipe with Masonic markings, a carefully placed
set of oyster shells suggesting that someone in the household was
practicing folk magic. More importantly, they had identified
Washington's home itself--a modest structure in line with lower
gentry taste that was neither as grand as some had believed nor as
rustic as nineteenth century art depicted it.
Levy now tells the farm's story in "Where the Cherry Tree Grew."
The land, a farmstead before Washington lived there, gave him an
education in the fragility of life as death came to Ferry Farm
repeatedly. Levy then chronicles the farm's role as a Civil War
battleground, the heated later battles over its preservation and,
finally, an unsuccessful attempt by Wal-Mart to transform the last
vestiges Ferry Farm into a vast shopping plaza.
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