Preserve America Community:
Chesterfield County, Virginia
Chesterfield County (population 311,000) was established on May 25, 1749 by the Virginia House of Burgesses. It was settled in 1611 at the “Citie of Henricus” by residents of Jamestown, who moved upstream to a “convenient, strong, healthie and sweete seate” for a new town. The first town to be incorporated in America, Bermuda Creek, was established in what is now Chesterfield County in 1614. Other county firsts include the first iron furnace in the New World (1614), the first American hospital (1622), the first commercially mined coal in America (1709), and the first paved road in Virginia (1803).
Chesterfield was involved in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars due to its strategic location near Richmond. Chesterfield’s economy once focused on agricultural products, but today is based on thriving commercial, office, and industrial establishments, providing employment for more than 120,000 people.
The Chesterfield Heritage Alliance is a public-private partnership between Chesterfield County and various local historical organizations including the Chesterfield Historical Society and several local historic sites. Its mission is to facilitate the cooperative development of sites, facilities, and programs among the historical organizations in the county and to promote tourism efforts. The Alliance’s Web site contains driving directions to many county historical sites and parks as well as a map of those sites. The group is currently working on a Civil War driving tour of the county to highlight the many Civil War parks and features within Chesterfield County.
One highly successful event created by the Chesterfield Heritage Alliance was the 2007 Godspeed Sail Rock the Boat. The Godspeed is a replica of one of the three ships that arrived at Jamestown in 1607. The event brought the Godspeed to Henricus Historic Park in Chesterfield County for four days, drawing more than 20,000 people. Visitors received free tours of the Godspeed, as well as special performances by Virginia Native Americans, African American storytellers, and other historic re-enactors. The event featured a special Sunday multi-cultural service of remembrance, recognition, and reconciliation, planned and conducted by the Virginia Native Americans.
Chesterfield County’s Museum Complex, in partnership with Chesterfield County Public Schools, allows students to experience what life was like in Chesterfield in the past. The Chesterfield County Museum and Old Jail interpret 400 years of county history, while the Magnolia Grange Plantation interprets antebellum farm life. Educational tours are tailored for students in grades K-4 and meet Virginia Standards of Learning.
For more information
Chesterfield County, Virginia: www.chesterfield.gov
Chesterfield Heritage Alliance: www.chesterfieldtourism.com
Chesterfield County Historical Society: www.chesterfieldhistory.com
Posted March 19, 2009