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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Fall 2004 arrow Virginia: Development of the Grounds of Rippon Lodge, Prince William County
Virginia: Development of the Grounds of Rippon Lodge, Prince William County

Agency: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

As the oldest house in Prince William County, Virginia, Rippon Lodge has an impressive past. The second generation to live in the 259-year-old house was Colonel Thomas Blackburn, who was an aide to Colonel George Washington during the Revolutionary War. A later owner, Admiral Richard Blackburn Black, explored the Antarctic with Admiral Richard Byrd.

The Norfolk District of the Corps of Engineers proposes to issue permits that will enable a developer to construct approximately 800 townhouses within sight of the historic house.

In a fortunate turn of events, the developer and the county were able to find a mutually agreeable solution that saves much of the historic nature of the property.

In August 2004, the ACHP informed the Secretary of the Army that the ACHP will participate in the Section 106 consultation process to address the effects of proposed development on a Revolutionary War-era house and surroundings in Prince William County, Virginia.

Rippon Lodge, Prince William County, Virginia (historic photo: Library of Congress)


Rippon Lodge, Prince William County, Virginia (historic photo: Library of Congress)



Built in 1745, Rippon Lodge is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and sits on 40 acres of what was once a 21,000-acre tobacco and cotton plantation.

Nearby is one of the last intact portions of the historic King’s Highway, the route on which Washington and Rochambeau marched their U.S. and French troops to victory at the 1781 Battle of Yorktown.

In 2000, the county purchased Rippon Lodge to convert the house and its remaining acres of grounds into a museum and a park. The Virginia SHPO holds a conservation easement on the land that borders the proposed development site, which lies within the boundaries of the Rippon Lodge historic property.

When the Army Corps of Engineers originally reviewed the permit application under its own Appendix C regulations, it did not view the entire housing site as within its purview. Thus, only very small areas were evaluated for visual effects to Rippon Lodge, and the Corps found the permitted areas to have no effect on historic properties.

The Virginia SHPO and the county argued that the Corps should use the ACHP’s regulations, which would require the Corps to consider the effects of the entire proposed housing development on Rippon Lodge. In August 2004, the Corps convened an onsite inspection and meeting for the consulting parties to consider the full range of properties in the case.

Parties who are consulting on the project under the Section 106 review process are the ACHP, the Corps, representatives of the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, the Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), and Prince William County.

The group is collaborating on a Memorandum of Agreement that addresses concerns about visual effects to Rippon Lodge. The developer has agreed to reorient townhouses that will be closest to Rippon Lodge to lessen their impact, and it will dedicate a 100-foot-wide conservation easement at the development’s boundary with the lodge. It will also initiate data recovery on four known archeological sites on the property that will be adversely affected by the project.

Finally, portions of the adjacent King’s Highway will be saved from alteration. The developer will convey portions of the historic thoroughfare to the county, with the Virginia SHPO continuing to hold the historic property’s conservation easement.

Staff contact: Tom McCulloch

Posted December 17, 2004

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