Secretariat’s Virginia Home Is Threatened And Moved To Preservation List

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Credit: MARK ABRAHAM/AFP/GettyImages

Credit: MARK ABRAHAM/AFP/GettyImages

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A preservation group has included Secretariat’s birthplace among the most endangered historic sites in Virginia, prompting a plea by the thoroughbred’s owner to keep alive the legacy of the 1973 Triple Crown winner.

Meadow Farm in Doswell is one of 11 places and properties contained in Preservation Virginia’s annual list of endangered sites, which was released Monday. Among the other entries are an historic overlook of the James River in Richmond, a train depot in Franklin County and the rural landscape of Pittsylvania County. The latter is threatened by the possibility of uranium mining and milling, the preservation group said.

For many Virginians and fans of horse racing, however, the story of Secretariat and the woman who challenged the male-dominated world of the sport still resonates nearly 40 years after the chestnut stallion’s stirring, record-shattering run for the Triple Crown.

Owner Penny Chenery was the pioneering woman behind Secretariat, who remains the greatest racehorse of all time, in the view of many.

But now Meadow Farm’s future is uncertain, with its scheduled auction on May 22. The State Fair of Virginia Inc. bought the property in 2003, moving the annual attraction from Richmond to 350 acres in Caroline county. Beset by heavy losses since the costly move, the nonprofit that put on the fair filed for bankruptcy and has liquidated its assets, with the horse farm next to go.

The foaling shed where Secretariat was born on March 30, 1970, remains on the property, as does his stall in the yearling shed and the training barn.

Chenery, in a statement released by Preservation Virginia, said she is hopeful the new owner is mindful of Meadow Farm’s history.

“We very much hope that any future owner will see the inherent value of returning The Meadow to its best use not only as the site of the State Fair of Virginia, but as a historic equine destination that no other state can claim,” Chenery said.

Besides his stunning 31-length win in the Belmont Stakes, “Big Red” set records there and the Kentucky Derby that still stand to this day.

Secretariat wasn’t Meadow Farm’s only star. In 1972, Riva Ridge won the 1972 Kentucky Derby and the Belmont — two jewels of the crown.

Secretariat died Oct. 4, 1989, at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.

Preservation Virginia releases its list of endangered places annually to highlight places, buildings and archaeological sites “that face imminent threats to their integrity or in some cases their very survival.”

The list was to be formally released on Richmond’s Libby Hill overlook. The majestic view of the James River is threatened by a proposed high-rise condominium project, Preservation Virginia said.

The other listings, with descriptions provided by Preservation Virginia, are:

— New Market Road corridor, Henrico County, which crosses some of the most historic lands in the state leading to Richmond. A proposed four-lane highway and bridge threaten these lands.

— Ashland Theater, vacant and little used for 17 years, it is the victim of neglect and disrepair.

— Gwaltney Store, Suffolk, condemned and vacant for many years, the 19th century structure was once a dominant feature in the Chuckatuck community.

— Talbot Hall, Norfolk, one of the last two remaining antebellum plantation homes in the city, and once the residence of Episcopal bishops. Church leaders are putting on the property on the banks of the Lafayette River on the market.

— Slate Seed Company, South Boston, a 19th century Greek Revival frame building that dates to tobacco’s heyday. Now vacant, it is in danger of demolition.

— Boones Hill Depot, Franklin County, is owned by Norfolk Southern, which has offered to donate the building so it can be moved and saved. Residents are working to raise funds.

— Virginia Tech, Lane, Brodie and Rasche Hall, Blacksburg. The commandant of the Corps of Cadets is proposing to raze the halls, each dating back more than a century, for the construction of a new dormitory for cadets.

— Whitehorn-Banister rural historic landscape, Pittsylvania County, a rural landscape that played an essential role in the mid-18th century founding of the Southside Virginia county. The land is threatened by the possible operation of a uranium mine at Coles Hill. A 30-year ban on uranium mining would first have to be lifted.

— Morgans Ford low water bridge, Warren County, is a historic crossing of the Shenandoah River, approaching from winding roads through historic and scenic farmland. The state is proposing to replace that single-lane, 321-foot bridge constructed in 1925.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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