Sotterley Plantation, a National Historic Landmark, is closed to the public until further notice due to extensive damage caused by Hurricane Irene. Much devastation was caused at this over 300 year old site, due to heavy downpours a few days prior to, and torrential rains and high winds during the storm.
To varying degrees, several historic and non-historic structures were affected, including the 19th century Smoke House, the Plantation House kitchen porch, the original 1830’s Slave Cabin, the Spinning Cottage, the Historic Barn, the Gardener’s Cottage, the Grape Arbor, and white picket fences. Rolling Road is impassable. As the site is at present, it is unsafe for visitors.
“Although this is devastating, we were so incredibly fortunate,” stated Nancy Easterling, Executive Director. “The 1703 Plantation House is in good shape, despite near misses by several enormous trees. Our newly restored Slave Cabin, while affected, is still intact. Our magnificent gardens are still glorious.”
Although trees lay atop the roofs of the Slave Cabin, the Historic Barn, and the Spinning Cottage, none of these buildings appear to have suffered serious damage. The Smoke House roof is shattered but the brick walls remain standing, though it has yet to be determined whether or not the walls have been structurally compromised. The Plantation House porch and sections of the kitchen roof will require complete rebuilding. The Grape Arbor is now non-existent. Some of the trees were iconic, well over 100 years old, and a tremendous loss in and of themselves.
The biggest problem Sotterley faces right now is the removal of the downed trees. Anticipating that much of the structural repairs will be covered by insurance, there is uncertainty about the total cost of tree and debris removal. Well over 30 trees are down and the nature trails have yet to be assessed.
“Donations to help with the massive clean-up effort are vital and will be tremendously appreciated,” said Easterling. “There are so many who love and understand the importance of this site, and we know with the support of this amazing community, we can restore Sotterley and preserve it for future generations.”
Please check our website: www.sotterley.org to make your donation and the Historic Sotterley Facebook page for continuing updates.