Huntley Headlines


First Summer at Huntley

by Geoffrey Cohrs, Site Coordinator, Huntley Meadows Park

To say that this first summer at Historic Huntley has been interesting would be an understatement. In fact, it might be better to describe it as an (historic?) adventure. When I first laid eyes on the house back at the open house I had no conception of what these past few months would bring. My head was spinning after meeting and talking to all the people attending on that May afternoon, but it was great to know there was so much excitement and interest in such an old-house-on-a-hill.

While I did not know what the Fates had in store for me this summer, I should have known that it was not going to be simple or easy. With only three weeks to develop my tour that first Saturday, I was riddled with anxiety. After the day ended, however, it seemed as though the first patrons were very pleased with their tours. As the summer has progressed more and more guests have visited Historic Huntley. They have only great things to say about the house!

However, I did not have time to rest on my laurels. Once the initial tour was developed, I began developing scout, homeschool, pre-school, and special programs for the fall. I also began cultivating a volunteer and docent corps. Meanwhile Celeste Sharpe, the FOHH summer intern, was developing some great school programs as well as helping with tours every Saturday.

Of course, no proper adventure is complete with its share of hardships and trials. At first, the trials were only weather related. The extreme heat early in the summer forced us to close Historic Huntley early on Saturdays. Then there was that severe thunderstorm that knocked out power and downed countless trees across the region. Fortunately, Huntley was saved from any major damage. The house only lost power for a few hours and only a few branches (albeit rather large branches) fell to the ground. All of them were far from the house.

The storm was only a harbinger of the trials to come. It appears that the power outage messed with our alarm systems, so for several weeks Kevin Munroe and Brian Moore received emergency calls (false alarms) in the middle of the night. After several weeks of little sleep, we were able to resolve the issues with the alarms.

Misfortune struck one more time, however. Early one Friday afternoon vandals broke into Huntley, destroying one window and the two museum cases. They stole several artifacts, but otherwise left the property unharmed. Park staff and the Fairfax County Police Department responded quickly. Hopefully we will be able to recover the items lost.

Despite these hardships, we have had far more successes this season. With all the enthusiasm and support from our friends, community, and volunteers, we will continue to grow. I am excited and pleased to be the historian for Historic Huntley as well as the newest member of the Huntley Meadows Park staff.