Green Spring Plantation and the Hot Water Tract

Historical Significance

Green Spring Plantation was the home of Virginia Governor William Berkeley and ancestral home of the Ludwells and Lees. This historic plantation houses exhibits depicting the lives of the Africans and African American men, women, and children whose labor enabled the farm to prosper. Enslaved African Americans on this plantation took part in Bacon's Rebellion and the American Revolutionary War. Some scholars believe that in the 1770's, the plantation's outskirts served as the site of clandestine religious services conducted by the founders of the first Black-led Baptist Church organized in Virginia.

In 1802, William Ludwell Lee died at age 27 and freed his slaves in his will, making provisions for their education and support. Between 1803 and 1818 more than thirty African American were freed and resettled. Many of these individuals received farmsteads in what was then known as the "Hot Water Tract," a subsidiary farm of more than 8,000 acres located in the northern section of the Green Spring plantation.

During the antebellum period, the descendants of these freed slaves created one of the first Free Black communities in the nation. The Free Black community at Centerville was still in existence when the Civil War began. The acreage was gradually broken up during the 19th century, and the remaining land forms the nucleus of Freedom Park. 

Physical Description

This 200-acre plantation is located on Route 5/ Centerville Road in James City County. Freedom Park, covering nearly 700 acres, is located five miles north of Historic Green Spring and is open to the public. The plantation property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 29, 1978.

Geographical and Contact Information

3301 Ash View
Williamsburg, Virginia
23185
Phone: 757-253-7867

Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Green Spring Plantation and the Hot Water Tract,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed October 23, 2017, http://aahistoricsitesva.org/items/show/182.

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