December 4, 2020

Melchers Museum Staff Receive Preservation Award

Three members of the staff at the Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont have been honored by the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation for their work in preserving the Fannie Roots House.   Fannie Roots House Director David Berreth, Preservation Manager Beate Jensen and Building and Grounds Assistant David Ludeker received the foundation’s E. Boyd Graves Award for Preservation Excellence. The announcement was made at a recent foundation award ceremony. The historic Fannie Roots House, adjacent to the Gari Melchers museum, belonged to Fannie Roots, an African American civil rights activist and Stafford County citizen. The home was purchased by her family in 1912. The family, including Fannie as a teenager, did occasional work for the Melchers family. Fannie lived in the home until her death in 2004. The restoration project was started in 2009 by UMW students and members of the community and included stabilization and weather proofing. More extensive work including roof replacement and chimney restoration was completed in 2013 with grants from the Duff McDuff Green Jr. Fund of the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock Region, The Marietta M. and Samuel T. Morgan Jr. Foundation, the Dr. H. Stewart Jones Trust and the Fredericksburg Savings Charitable Foundation. The next phase of the restoration will focus on renovating the house’s interior to allow more in-depth historical interpretation for the public. For more information on the Fannie Roots house and restoration project, contact Beate Jensen at (540) 654-1839.

Belmont to Open Historic House

Gari Melcher’s Home and Studio at Belmont will open the historic Fannie Roots House to the public for the first time on Sunday, November 9.   Fannie Roots House Dating back to the 1880s, the house is a rare example of a post-civil war workman’s cottage. A presentation on the history of the house and restoration work will begin in the Studio Pavilion at 2 p.m. before tours of the house. The event is free and open to the public. In 1912, the building was purchased by Willie Roots, an African-American laborer who did occasional work for Gari Melchers.  Roots’ daughter Fannie, a well-known citizen of Stafford County and a civil rights activist, was born in the house and lived there her entire life. The building did not have running water, so Fannie relied on an outhouse and well. There was electricity for phone and lights, but she used a wood stove for heating and an oil stove for cooking. Restoration on the house began in 2008 when Belmont became the steward of the property. With support from private citizens, businesses and volunteers, the house is receiving a new roof and a rebuilt kitchen chimney, among other restorations. Work was made possible with grants from the Fredericksburg Savings Charitable Foundation, the Duff McDuff Green Jr.  Fund of the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region and the Marietta M. and Samuel T. Morgan, Jr. Foundation. The house still requires pest control, landscaping and other projects. For more information on the restoration project, contact Beate Ankjær-Jensen, Site Preservation Manager, at (540) 654-1839.