Just adjacent to the 21st-century technology of the CIA stands a window into the 18th century before the American Revolution, the Claude Moore Colonial Farm at Turkey Run. The Farm, which was founded in 1973, allows visitors to see how the poor lived in Northern Virginia in 1771.
Once funded by the National Park Service and known as Turkey Run Farm, the Farm is now privately funded due to federal budget cutbacks in 1980. With a $250,000 endowment from Dr. Claude Moore and a matched contribution from The Friends of Turkey Run Farm Inc., the Farm was renamed as the Claude Moore Colonial Farm at Turkey Run. Thanks to a $225,000 construction grant from Congress through the National Park Service in 1990 and continuous contributions from the community, the Farm sits as it is today: a piece of living history dedicated to enriching the community about life in the 18th century.
On a small section of the Farm's 75 acres sits the Farm House. It is a small, one-room house with a hearth, dirt floor and sleeping quarters located above the room in a loft. Pitch, pine tree wood resin mixed with turpentine, is smeared on the outside wood of the house.
When she is not working behind the scenes in the office, family farm member Katie Jackson acts as the wife of the house. She dresses in period clothing — which includes a whalebone corset — and talks and acts as if she is in the 18th century. Additionally, Jackson cooks “dinner, the meal that we now call lunch," which can include slapjacks, ham, eggs or whatever vegetables are available in the season.
THREE TIMES A YEAR, in the spring, summer and fall, the Farm holds a Market Fair. The Market Fair is a two-day event that includes a doctor "from" the 18th century, singing, dancing, live music, period food and merchandise for sale, among other things. While the merchandise is priced for the current century, everything else is as authentic as possible. "We try to be very careful to keep it period," said Anna C. Eberly, the manager and director of the Farm.
Besides the Market Fair, numerous other events are held at the Farm throughout the year. These events include a pickling produce day, a fall garage sale, a salting fish day, a dairy day, garden parties and a wheat harvest day.
Last year, the Farm started a program called Farm Skills. “Children are not content with just watching,” said Eberly. This new program allows people to become physically involved with the Farm to truly get a taste of the 18th century.
Victoria Baker, spokesperson for the Farm, is fascinated by how people lived only 200 years ago. Even though she has been a resident of Virginia for over 20 years, Baker did not find out about the Farm until only a few years ago. “It is a hidden cultural and historical jewel that more people should be made aware of,” said Baker.
The Farm is located at 6310 Georgetown Pike in McLean and is open to the public Wednesday-Sunday, April through mid-December, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The Autumn 18th-Century Market Fair will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 16 and 17, from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Regular admission is $3 for adults and $2 for senior citizens and children 3-12. The admission for the Market Fair is $5 for adults and $2.50 for senior citizens and children 3-12. Yearly memberships are available. For more information, call 703-442-7557, or visit www.1771.org.