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Belmead in Peril: Help Save A National Treasure

This petition had 2,914 supporters


Historic Belmead in Powhatan County, Virginia, needs help from the public.  The 2200 acre property is currently owned by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (SBS) who announced impending sale.  FrancisEmma, Inc manages and has developed a new and vibrant site:  a place for natural and historic preservation for education and peace.  

 

Belmead has a rich history and has been preparing for a dynamic future.  Belmead Mansion on the James is an historic national treasure.  Built as the manor house by Philip St. George Cocke in the 1840’s and designed by architect, A. J. Davis, it was constructed by the labor of enslaved persons.

In the 1890’s Belmead became home to two African-American high schools, St. Emma Military Academy and St. Francis de Sales Girls School.  These unique schools educated 15,000 African American students, and stand as a testimony to the power of a vision, commitment and community dedication.   

 

The past ten years has brought a resurgence of interest and mission to the property.  A vibrant ministry through FrancisEmma, Inc. has preserved the history of the Enslavement Era (1838-1865) and the visionary Empowerment Era of the schools (1895 -1972).  This awesome and beautiful place stands as a model of justice and eco-social justice, in sync with Pope Francis’ global call to understand that racism and poverty are rooted in a disconnect with the Earth, our common home.  The FrancisEmma Era of the Environment stands as a sacred testimonial to global social justice and peace on this Earth. 

 

Where else in America is there such a place? Where else is the rich biodiversity of the land, its history and its endangered species protected through conservation easements and education “unto the 7th Generation.”   An active community has developed among environmentalists, alumni, local community to include the Powhatan government, historic African-American churches, a preschool, a band of teenage trained docents and historic preservationists enriching people of all ages.  More than 6,000 people every year both enjoy and are involved with Belmead. Community sponsored revitalization has grown new and deep roots as testimony of both financial and spiritual growth.

We need your help in getting our message to the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.  We ask that they reconsider their decision to allow us time to assess our options and work to purchase the property.  If the property is sold, the history of St. Francis and St. Emma schools, as well as the rich biodiversity, may be lost forever.  



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