Foxhaven could be a nature haven

It was reported in your coverage of the sale of Foxhaven Farm to the UVA Foundation [November 8 cover story: "Cavalier developments? UVA buys 199-acre near-town farm"] that upon writing the Foundation to encourage fulfillment of the late Jane Heyward's wishes for a botanical garden or arboretum with walking trails, Heyward's friend Elena Day was informed that an "appropriate endowment" had not been provided to enable them to establish this wish. That response begs the truth.

A Bellair resident myself, I have had the privilege of recreating on Foxhaven Farm at least weekly for over a dozen years, interacting with Mrs. Heyward regularly, and doing tree work for her. On the occasion about seven years ago when I was pruning tulips in her yard, she shared her despair that her beloved botanical projects were going to go fallow when she passed because the Foundation had repeatedly rejected her pleas to maintain and further develop them as part of the bargain.

Thus no funds were allocated because the Foundation was unwilling to put the labor into the project.  Upon being informed of this, I queried Foundation CEO Tim Rose and suggested that our community was full of qualified people who would surely volunteer time to work with them in order to not only preserve Jane's botanical wishes, but furthermore the many vintage structures on the estate including the barns, rental cottages, foreman's office, and corrals. I further suggested that these structures and other aspects of the estate had rich potential to be utilized for community arts. Rose expressed no interest.

This came as no surprise, as he had recently abruptly booted me off of their Faulconer estate after having allowed access for six years in order to do my artwork in a magnificent old cabin there (which I had done carpentry and masonry on to preserve). Alas, for good measure the Foundation also plowed under the cabin, the last of its kind in inner Albemarle County.

You quote Rose as stating there are "no short or long-term plans" for Foxhaven other than "to be good stewards."  Indeed, good stewardship entails maintaining the quality of a property and its traditions. Mrs. Heyward was first and foremost devoted to sharing the gift of her estate with the community, from hippy hikers to redneck deer hunters.  All have had access.

If the UVA Foundation is in fact going to be a good steward of Foxhaven, then it's their responsibility to start making some plans and involve those of us in the community who have long preceded them on that hallowed ground. With a budget surplus of nearly $100 million, a fine starting point would be to allocate funds from their own coffer on behalf of Foxhaven's botanical preservation and the public good.

The UVA Foundation is far and away the largest landowner in the region on account of the great gifts they have been given, and they are way overdue to begin assuming the attitude that they are indebted to give something back.

Matthew Bowen


Matthew, this is an excellent letter. You are right. When UVa is given these gifts of land it is incumbent upon them to use that land, not only for their own purposes, but for the public as well.

Many in this community are aware of Jane's love of nature and I am sure would be willing to work on a beautiful natural memorial to Mrs Heyward at this site.

Uva spends many dollars on PR efforts in the community that amount to little, this would be a lasting reminder of their commitment to the public good that would have a real impact.

She sold it. It's theirs. If you want a botanical garden, you can create one or help pay for it.

Frankly, its out of the way for most people, making it into a garden jsut serves the Bellair and other local hoity-toity subdivisions. If UVa manages a garden, it should be somewhere convenient for everyone.

I respectfully disagree. This site is very close to town and easily accessible to many people.

I agree with you Nancy but I think too much of the corporate greed has invaded the University, sad to write that but it is true.

@jmcnamera - but under what conditions was it sold? Even if it was verbal what motivated her to sell it? If there were indeed promises made and not kept - even if verbal, that is just unethical. What ever happened to being a person of your word?

It is hard, if not impossible to commitments that will continue in perpetuity without a significant endowment. There might be volunteers today, but what about in 5 years, or 10 years? Would UVA then need to pay to maintain the gardens?

Hopefully UVA does something with the property that benefits both the school and the community. More often than not those things are one and the same, so it would surprise me if that were not also the case here.

Redneck deer hunters?

I made some fuel deliveries to Foxhaven between 1996 and 2003.It was a run-down,neglected ,overgrown property.One could tell it had once been a thriving horse farm,but all equine facilities were too deteriorated to be re-used.Not exactly a manicured ,well-kept Garth Road-type property.

Big Boy:

Tongue-in-cheek on "redneck" deer hunters, similarly with "hippy hikers". Just catching attention to make my point. I for one gorge annually on the venison my deer hunter bow hunts out of Foxhaven (and I was the one that secured them access to the property, which is a major deer thoroughfare up to the bypass and so hunting them helps suppress that public danger by driving them back toward Birdwood...sorry greenskeeper!)


You are incorrect. Very much against Mrs. Heyward's wishes, the estate was willed to the Foundation by her husband decades ago. She fought it as best she could after he died to no avail, given the impenetrable nature of such wills and the deep pocket of the opposition. She greatly objected to the terms of the agreement. And it doesn't take a real estate whiz to recognize that the amount of the transaction was hardly market value. Mrs. Heyward had no choice but to resign to the "sale" upon her death as it was part of the terms of the gift her husband drew up with the Foundation.


You way overstate your observation. Up until last year horses were still there and the main barn kept up quite nicely. When I started going there back in '99, there was still a thriving goat herd. Indeed, in the recent years of this century, the estate was losing ground, but what widow over 90 with diminishing funds and an infirm foreman is going to be able to keep a vast estate up to par? It's hard enough for most folks half her age or younger to keep up one house and one acre. Right? Come on now! The point is, the Foundation DOES have the funds and workforce to rehabilitate and maintain the estate, and for the reasons already elucidated, they should.