Department of Historic Resources
For Immediate Release
June 28, 2016

Contact: Randy Jones
Department of Historic Resources
(540) 578-3031 /


-First easement donation in Virginia was on ca.-1741 Old Mansion in Bowling Green-

-Easement 50th anniversary ceremony part day's event "Bowling on the Green and Virginia Wine Festival"-

RICHMOND - This year marks the 50th anniversary of Virginia's historic preservation easement program, which is managed today by the Department of Historic Resources. The legislation that created the program was enacted in 1966 by the General Assembly and enabled private landowners of historic properties to donate an easement on their property to the Virginia Board of Historic Resources to preserve land against future development.

To celebrate the program's 50th anniversary, DHR director Julie V. Langan will offer keynote remarks during a ceremony this Saturday, July 2, beginning at 3 p.m., at Old Mansion in Bowling Green. The privately-owned circa-1741 Old Mansion and its 128 acres was the first historic property to receive perpetual protection under the authority of the General Assembly's Open-Space Land Act of 1966.

The ceremony will honor the easement and the program's legislative architect, George C. Freeman, who persuaded key General Assembly members in the 1960s that the Commonwealth needed to encourage preservation of privately owned historic landmarks.

Easement donations protect a property by placing restrictions on the deed that limit what owners can do with their property, including the right to demolish or make architectural alterations to a property, and develop or subdivide it without the approval of the commonwealth, represented by the Virginia Board of Historic Resources. All easements transfer with the deed to a property.

After the legislation was enacted in 1966 establishing the easement program, it took three years to get it up and running. Old Mansion became the first preservation easement in 1969 when it was donated to the commonwealth by four siblings of the Cecil family, collateral descendants of the original late 18th century owner of the property, George Hoomes.

Today more than 600 historic properties and 39,000 associated acres are protected by preservation easements held or co-held by the Board of Historic Resources and administered by DHR.

Saturday's50th anniversary easement ceremony will be part of an afternoon of activities in Bowling Green, which is hosting its first Bowling on the Green Virginia Wine Festival, beginning at 1 p.m.

Lawn bowling as a sport traces back to 12th-century England. One of the earliest bowling greens created in North America is the front lawn of Old Mansion, which gave rise to the name of today's town. On Saturday members of the Williamsburg Lawn Bowling Club will demonstrate and promote awareness of the sport.

Saturday's events in Bowling Green run until 6 p.m., and will feature a variety of Virginia wines, live music, food vendors and activities, in addition to the ceremony to mark the easement program's 50th anniversary. There is a fee for admission to the events.