|County||Albemarle and OrangeGreene County, Virginia|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||1492511|
Barboursville is an unincorporated community in Albemarle and Orange counties in the U.S. state of Virginia. Barboursville is famous for being the birthplace of renowned American military commander and President Zachary Taylor. It is also famous for the location of Barboursville, the home of James Barbour, the 19th Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, after which the community is named. The ruins of his home are now on land owned by one of the Piedmont region's wineries, Barboursville Vineyards.
In 1884 on Christmas Day sixty two years after it was built the Barboursville mansion became known as the Barboursville Ruins after a fire consumed the building. This building was known as the only building in Orange County, VA to be designed by Thomas Jefferson himself. James Barbour was close friends with Jefferson and owned the building. Jefferson designed the building for Barbour with the former’s own home in mind. The house originally had a race track in front of it, but now it is home to one of Virginia’s first significant wineries. The ruins are now a tourist destination and a backdrop for Four County Players productions of "Shakespeare at the Ruins" in August.
The Barbour family used the landscape where Barboursville Vineyards is located for pastoral farmland from the mid-18th Century and through the mid-20th Century. The land was preserved by James Barbour most efficiently by rotating crops and having sheep graze the fields. The winery sees their practice as a way to preserve traditional values even through the new Age of Agriculture in Virginia.
Government officials, bankers, and land owners made a huge push to plant tobacco at the location of the Barboursville Vineyards. Despite their advice Gianni Zonin, who had been an heir to his family’s wine business in the Veneto, became the owner to the Barbour Plantation in 1976. He dreamed of creating a vineyard on this land despite the fact that Thomas Jefferson attempted the same goal at Monticello and failed for many years.
The winery celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2006. In 2007 the vineyard was labeled as one of the best new wine destinations. The region has over 200 wineries and much of their success can be paid to Zonin for starting the business.
Four County Players
The Four County Players is a community theater that has been the longest continuous operating theater in Central Virginia. Because the Four County Players are a nonprofit organization, they rely mostly on volunteers to work with them to achieve their production goals. Lillian Morse and Bill Thomas decided that the arts was needed in rural communities. The group originally started as ten people met in Morse’s home in January 1973, with all of their money together they had $70 to start their theatre project. Their first act as a group was with the Gordonsville Recreational Center. By working with the children there, they put on two productions: Switched at the Crossroad and Noah’s Flood.
In 1979 the Four County Players started something they called the Theatre Related Employment Experience Program (TREE program). This program was put in place to help hire youth who were disadvantaged and teach them job skills especially related to theatre. It was funded by the Governor’s Manpower Services Council.
Ralph and Marcelia Hall were patrons for the Four County Players and decided that they wanted to provide a scholarship for the actors working with the company. In 1980 they started a scholarship program by selling food and drinks at the Bistro. They used the proceeds to fund the scholarship.
Barboursville Vineyards agreed to let Four County Players use the Barboursville Ruins as a performance space for Shakespeare in the Ruins as proposed by Sara Smith Bossong. The tradition was started in 1990 but ended sixteen years later in 2006 because the ruins were deteriorating quickly and needed restoration. Despite Shakespeare in the Ruins ending, in 2007 the company moved indoors and put on a production of Twelfth Night.
Mining in Barboursville
The Barboursville area wine businesses were severely threatened in 2002 due to a mining operation proposed by General Shale Product Corp. The brick making company wanted to mine 89 acres of a 139-acre plot in Barboursville, Va. This move was crucial to the company’s business due to the fact their site in Somerset would run out of shale at the end of the year.
When learning this news the town was very quick to act by creating an organization called "Friends of Barboursville". The group banded together to speak against the mining at two separate Planning Commission public hearings.
The Friends of Barboursville fought for 18 months with the brick making company and with the county about how shale mining would be detrimental to the community’s progress. A judge dismissed the case in 2003.
Zachary Taylor was born near Barboursville, Va in 1784. He was a distinguished officer in multiple battles and was eventually elected as president of the United States in 1848. Taylor died in the White House two years later.
James Barbour was born in Orange County, Va in 1775. He studied law and was elected to the House of Delegates in 1798 and served until 1804. He was elected to the House of Delegates again from 1807 until 1812. Barbour also became Speaker of the House from 1809 until January 1812. He succeeded George William Smith for governor of Virginia in 1812.
Thomas Jefferson came into the world in Albermarle County, Va which Barboursville is also a part of. He was the main author of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and a proud supporter of Democracy. Jefferson became the third president of the United States in 1801 and stayed in office until 1809. The Barboursville Mansion was the only building that was designed by Thomas Jefferson in Orange County.
James Madison was originally born in Port Conway, Va. He worked with Thomas Jefferson to create Democrat-Republican Party and became president in 1808. Madison had an estate in Orange County, Va near Barboursville and eventually died there in 1836.
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