Written by Germanna Foundation President J. Marc Wheat:
It is a moving experience in an American’s life to travel to a special place and say with pride and gratitude, “this is where our family became American.”
For over half a century, descendants of the explorers and colonists who became American at Germanna have found their way home through pathways marked out by the scholarship of the Germanna Foundation, and have discovered for themselves new meaning in understanding the perseverance of those colonial families nearly three centuries ago on the frontier of civilization.
In all those years of reunions and conferences, there has been a missing piece: Germanna itself; the site of the Fort, the site of Governor Spotswood’s Enchanted Castle, the great object of all our homecomings.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees of The Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies, Inc., chartered on March 14, 1956 in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is my great honor to announce to you that the great object itself, Germanna, is coming home!
Today, after three years of quiet and sensitive negotiations, we want you to celebrate in the knowledge that the Board of Visitors of the University of Mary Washington has voted to transfer ownership of the Fort Germanna/Enchanted Castle site it has held since 1990 to the Germanna Foundation.
We are so grateful for the opportunity to learn and refine our plans and organization from the many people involved in the negotiations over the last three years.
There will be opportunities to publicly thank them in the coming days, but suffice it to say that they included the staff of Governor McDonnell, the Secretary of Natural Resources, the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia, the Department of Historic Resources, the Department of General Services, and the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
All along the way, we benefited from the advice of many Germanna Foundation members and especially from our Council of Advisors.
We are thankful for this very special homecoming on the cusp of the 300th Jubilee of Germanna. There will be great challenges ahead as we raise the necessary funds to hire the right Chief Operating Officer and conduct sensitive archaeological work on a complex site.
But these struggles are nothing compared to the struggles of the first colonists at Germanna.
At our homecoming the Germanna Foundation holds the third weekend of July every year, we remind each other of our mission as interrelated families in the words of one of America’s greatest poets, T.S. Eliot. These have been the words that have inspired your Board of Trustees for these last three years in the quest to recover the site of Fort Germanna and the Enchanted Castle, and and I would like to share these words with you on this important day:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.