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Stories from The Belmead on the James: A Historical Tour (1838-1974)

January 29 @ 11:30 am - 6:00 pm

- $10 – $55

This program is brought to you by John Plashal Photo and Fred Schneider Photography. The beautiful Belmead on the James occupies approximately 2300 acres of land that is extremely rich in history and powerful in visuals. The abandoned mansion on the property that was originally designed in 1845 for an eventual Civil War Brigadier General will be the central hub for our afternoon of stories and tours. This gothic revival architectural masterpiece that later served as the centerpiece for the education of over 10,000 African Americans will be the beginning and ending point of our tour, which will also include visits to an 1841 granary, St. Edward’s Cemetery, Memorial Circle, a piggery and the Historical Cemetery (which is the final resting place of over 100 enslaved individuals ).

Come join us on October 2nd to fully experience the magical history of the Belmead on the James – from the early days of it’s occupation by the Cocke family into it’s tenure as the only African American Military Academy in the history of the U.S. To make your experience extra unique, you will have a chance to meet some actual graduates of the historic St. Emma Military Academy, both of which will be sharing their amazing stories during their days as SEMA Cadets in the the 1960’s and narrating a walking tour of the now demolished campus while reminisicing and sharing vintage images. Their stories and images from their years as students at St. Emma are sure to captivate you, deepen your appreciation for the history of the property and hopefully lend to the widespread recognition that the Belmead on the James deserves. 

Link to Greg McQuade’s “I Have a Story” about saving St. Emma Military Academy

For those of you that are interested, an additional historical tour of the St. Francis de Sales School has been made available. SFDS School was founded in 1899 by Katharine Drexel, who not only dedicated her immense inheritance towards the education of African American students but also was posthumously canonized as a Saint forty-five years after her passing. This tour is separate from the Belmead Historical Tour, requires a separate ticket and begins once the Belmead Tour concludes. It involves a guided and narrated tour of the perimeter of the school and the chance to take a peek inside its beautifully derelict attached Catholic chapel. You will also get a chance to visit a separate long abandoned art classroom in addition to an old stone humpback bridge buried in the woods, the Nun Cemetery and the Children’s Cemetery. There will be no SFDS alumnus present for this tour.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the tour 6.5 hours in duration? No it is not. The Belmead/ St. Emma Tour will occur between the hours of 11:30AM-4PM. All guests will be issued an itinerary of what will be occurring within those 4.5 hours and it will be up to you as to what you elect to participate in. Options will include a full tour of the mansion, the granary and the cemeteries. There will also be a Cadet storytelling and Q&A session at the Belmead Pavilion and a guided and narrated storytelling tour of the former parade grounds by an alumnus from the SEMA Class of “65. For those that register for the St. Francis de Sales Tour, that will occur from 4PM-6PM.

Will this event include an interior tour of the Belmead Mansion? Yes it will. And it is amazing.

How much walking is involved with this tour? While part of the tour includes a historical presentation with little or no walking, to maximize your experience and to fully appreciate the property’s history, stretches of walking of up to 10 minutes at a time will be required. Transportation for those with disabilities can be prearranged by contacting “john@johnplashalphoto.com“. Comfortable walking shoes are therefore recommended.

Will this event include a tour of the St. Francis de Sales Girls School property? A separate tour of St. Francis has been made available for those that are interested in participating. It requires a separate ticket and begins at the conclusion of the Belmead Tour. A decription of that tour is given above.

Will I be allowed to enter the St. Francis de Sales School? The St. Francis School is condemned so indoor access is not permitted. We will be taking a tour of the immediate perimeter of the school. You will, however, be able to get a glimpse inside the beautiful, abandoned attached chapel.

I am an alumnus from St Emma Military Academy/St. Francis de Sales. May I join you? ABSOLUTELY. And your tickets will be complimentary. We would be honored to have you join us. Please contact John Plashal @ “john@johnplashalphoto.com” to make arrangements.

Am I allowed to take pictures or video on the tour? Handheld photography is permitted. TRIPODS ARE NOT.  Drones are also NOT PERMITTED on this tour. If your interests are strictly photographic, there will be another Photography Tour scheduled in November that is designed specifically for photogs.

Are there bathrooms on site?  There are 2 bathrooms on the Belmead/St. Emma side of the property. There are no bathrooms on the St. Francis side of the property. * The St Francis tour is shorter than the Belmead Tour and you are always welcome to drive the 5 minutes back to the Belmead to use the restroom if necessary.

What’s the refund policy? Refund requests will be honored up to 7 days prior to the event, minus the Eventbrite ticket fee. Since this is an outdoor event, it runs the risk of cancellation due to inclement weather. The event will proceed in the presence of intermittent showers but will be cancelled due to forecasted persistent precipitation. Should the event be cancelled due to weather, full refunds will be issued.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event? Printed or electronic ticket would be fine.

May I bring my dog? As much as we love canines, they are not permitted on this tour.

Do you have recommendations on eateries nearby should I be interested in a meal before I arrive? The Belmead is pretty rural so there are not alot of immediate options. My favorite nearby restaurant is the Cafe at Maidens, which is about 10 minutes to the east of Belmead. The cafe is small but has a very tasty menu. They close at 2:30 PM. Here is the link: https://www.thecafeatmaidens.com

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?  Yes. Please contact John Plashal at “john@johnplashalphoto.com” with any questions.

Organizer

John Plashal Photos
Email:
john@johnplashalphoto.com
View Organizer Website

Venue

Belmead Equestrian Club
5002 Cartersville Road
Powhatan, VA 23139 United States
+ Google Map
Phone:
(804) 543-4173
View Venue Website

Organizer

John Plashal Photos
Email:
john@johnplashalphoto.com
View Organizer Website

Venue

Belmead Equestrian Club
5002 Cartersville Road
Powhatan, VA 23139 United States
+ Google Map
Phone:
(804) 543-4173
View Venue Website