A House without a Home?

A House without a Home?

Local group wants to place the historic Moorefield House at Nottoway Park.

For Vienna resident Jerry Duane, Jeremiah Moore was a key figure in Revolutionary War-era history. Moore, a Baptist preacher, who owned land in Vienna including the area where Nottoway Park is situated, had progressive views for his day. Not only was Moore an abolitionist, he favored voting rights for all men, not just property owners.

If Duane and others had their way, Moore's house, which once stood abandoned in the Townes of Moorefield townhouse subdivision in Vienna, would be reconstructed and restored at nearby Nottoway Park, so that future generations could appreciate Moore's contributions.

"Just as we honor more well-known men of that period, we need to honor Mr. Moore and his peers for their contribution to our early history. For without them, it would not have been possible for men like Washington and Jefferson to accomplish what they did," said Duane in prepared remarks for the June 22 public hearing for Nottoway's master plan.

Although ball fields dominated the June 22 public hearing on the proposed master plan revision for Nottoway Park, and the maintenance facility dominated the Feb. 5 public hearing before that, Duane is hopeful that the Fairfax County Park Authority will consider allowing Moore's home, known as the Moorefield House, to be reconstructed somewhere within the park. As a member of the Jeremiah Moore Historical and Educational Association, Duane spoke at the June public hearing, hoping that the Moorefield House could be included in the master plan revision; currently it is not.

Duane said his group had identified a clearing near the Townes of Moorefield subdivision where the home, which was dismantled last summer and still remains in storage, could be situated.

"Nearly all of Nottoway Park is located on the former Moorefield estate. The site we have tentatively selected would be close both to the former location of the house and close to the Moore family gravesite. It would be both appropriate and historically accurate to keep the home on the former estate," Duane said.

If the house is restored, it could be used as a historic exhibit, describing Moore's contributions to the separation of church and state. It could also depict middle-class life in the late 1700s.

"It's a unique property we don't see in Fairfax County anymore," said Betty Holman, a Vienna resident and Association member who attended the Nottoway public hearing. "I think it'd just be a really great complement to the Hunter House and the area."

WITHOUT FINDING A HOME for Moorefield through the Park Authority, the group faces a Catch-22: In order to reconstruct the home and turn it into a historical exhibit, the group needs two things, money and land. In order for the group to fund-raise successfully and attract foundations, it needs a definite location for the house, Duane explained. But in order to have a location for the house, the group needs either money to buy property, or county-owned land where the house could be rebuilt at a minimum cost.

One card in Moorefield's favor is that the home is the only planter's home from that era left in Northern Virginia, the group was informed. Planter's homes were of the middle class, unlike the plantation homes from the same era that still exist today, such as Mount Vernon.

"It would be an interesting home to show to people," Duane said, explaining that the house could be an example of how the middle class lived.

Judy Pedersen, public information officer for the Fairfax County Park Authority, said the Park Authority Board will consider the possibility of putting the Moorefield House at Nottoway when the Board decides on the master plan revision for the park later this fall. Pedersen added that she has received several e-mails on the subject, and that the public can comment on the master plan on July 23.

THE LAND where the Moorefield House was last situated has not been forgotten, either. The Town of Vienna, which still owns the property, plans to place a marker or a memorial near where the house once stood. That marker would be in place well before 2007, when Vienna and the rest of the state celebrate the 400th anniversary of the state's founding, said Cathy Salgado, the town's Parks and Recreation director.

The town, too, had tried to preserve the house for more than 20 years, but throughout that time, the Vienna Town Council was informed that the house was in irrevocable disrepair. The Council voted to demolish the property during the winter of 2003. However, Duane and other interested area citizens intervened and found alternative experts who suggested that the house could be dismantled and kept in storage.