Locust Grove, VA – October 18, 2023 – Historic Germanna, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and sharing Virginia’s rich history, is embarking on an exciting journey to preserve a symbol of the past that has graced our visitor center for decades. On October 19th, 2023, the iconic copper ship weathervane adorning the Brawdus Martin Historic Germanna Visitor Center, was carefully removed from its post where it was set in 2000.
The decision to remove this cherished weathervane stems from the recognition of a pressing issue: a persistent leak in the roof caused by the continuous turning of the weathervane. The Visitor Center’s architect, Doug Harnsberger, a Germanna descendant who generously donated the weathervane in 2000, made the insightful recommendation to safeguard the roof from further water infiltration by removing the cause. Harnsberger oversaw the copper ship’s removal and the temporary capping of the roof to prevent further water infiltration. W.A. Lynch Roofing removed the ship. The Charlotteville-based company has previously worked on Monticello, Highland, UVA’s Rotunda, and the Virginia Capitol.
Additionally, Mr. Harnsberger emphasized that “the fragile nature of the weathervane itself, needs delicate conservation work to ensure its preservation for future generations.” The weathervane was meticulously crafted after a 17th-century barque, a three-masted vessel that may have been similar to the ship that brought the 1714 and 1717 German colonists to Virginia. Harnsberger further stated, “This intricate metal object has become a treasured emblem of the historic journey of the German colonists to Virginia.”
Historic Germanna is taking this opportunity to develop a comprehensive conservation plan for the weathervane and explore options for its future display inside of the Visitor Center. Historic Germanna is committed to preserving the essence of this historic symbol by identifying an appropriate new location for it to be displayed to the public and the generations of Germanna descendants that cherish this icon of their family’s journey from Germany to Virginia. Careful consideration is being given to ensure that the weathervane continues to tell the story of Germanna’s rich history.
With the leak in the roof now effectively sealed, Historic Germanna is actively exploring alternatives to top the Visitor Center with something that is both symbolic of the organization’s mission and representative of the region’s heritage. The weathervane’s removal marks a significant step towards ensuring that Germanna’s history remains accessible and intact for generations to come.
The public is invited to stay tuned for updates on this exciting preservation project.