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Bricks, Bees and Blazes: New Life Comes to the Contee Farm

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Photo of the ruins of two brick chimneys being supported by huge braces.

The Contee Mansion ruins, 2010. Photo: Tina Tennessen

The Contee Farm has attracted a motley crew in recent months. Architects, archaeologists, beekeepers, construction crews and trailblazers have all descended upon the grounds. Their interest in the property varies, but they share a common purpose: to prepare the farm for visitors. In the coming years the public will be able to use the site to explore the various ways humans impact the environment.

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center acquired the 575-acre Contee Farm in 2008. The mansion dates back to 1747 and for many decades served as a hub for the surrounding tobacco plantation. In 1890 lightening struck the house and caused it to burn. Since then, it has been vacant and left to disintegrate brick-by-brick.
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