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Chatham Chatter, 3rd Quarter, July - August 2023

Upcoming Events

Cocktail & Tapas Member Mingle

Saturday, July 15th4-7pm at Tapa Rio, 1101 Sophia Street


President's Message

~ As Shared at the Annual Meeting ~

Change is a constant at Chatham Manor, but the gardens continue to be a source of much joy for so many of us.

Thank you to Carol Hyland, Scott Blake and all of the garden volunteers including but not limited to long time and faithful volunteers Susan Collins, Steve Thomas, Manon Dixon, Margie Huie, Arlene Wilkinson, Mike DiSalvo and Mary Ann Ante-Amburgey. Three welcome recent additions to garden crew are Gale Graham, AJoy Muralidhar and Neil Bute. Thank you for coming to Chatham almost every Wednesday morning and for all of your hard work!

Thank you to the National Park Service, including but not limited to Superintendent Lewis Rogers, Beth Parnicza, Becca Toy, John Storke, Seth Macey, Alex Cohen, Scott Shea, Eric Mink, Pete Maugle, Jenny Griffith, Ray Brown, and Deane Collie of Eastern National. This year, Ira Luck, Supervisor for Maintenance, retired and Hilary Grabowska and Luisa Dispenzirie transferred to parks in other states. We are grateful for everyone who makes things happen at Chatham and throughout the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.

John Storke, Facilities Manager for the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, addressing the annual member meeting. 

Their cooperation and joint effort this past year with the garden maintenance efforts, The Community Day of Remembrance and Reflection this past Fall, the Photographer Meet & Greet, and working to build our collaboration are all much appreciated!

We are so grateful for all our members and donors, those who were able to attend the Annual Meeting and those who could not attend. 

Without your membership, your generous donations, generous donation of volunteer hours, and your smiling faces, the Friends of Chatham would not be able to work toward our mission of supporting the preservation of the complicated layers of history that Chatham Manor reflects.

So where does your membership donation go?

$25 of every level of membership goes to our Operating Fund which is allocated to cover our day-to-day costs of running Friends of Chatham. We are a lean, fully volunteer organization, but we do have fees to pay for our website, to prepare our tax returns to the state and federal government, to pay for our insurance, to pay for our post office box, and to pay for our clerical supplies and postage, as examples of our on-going expenses.

All membership donations and non-dedicated donations in excess of the $25 base individual membership go to the Preservation Fund which is used to fund any on-going projects, i.e. the constant project of paying the part-time gardener, and other projects, events, etc., that are part of our fiscal year activities.

Donations can also be dedicated solely to the Liz Thompson Memorial Fund for the Chatham Gardens and Grounds, created in memory of Liz Thompson, a longtime member of the Rappahannock Valley Garden Club. The funds from that fund are used to pay Scott Blake, the part-time gardener at Chatham, who is contracted on a yearly basis with Friends of Chatham with the blessing of the National Park Service. As Carol Hyland, our VP and Garden Volunteer Coordianator mentioned in her report, our current contract with Scott allows for a maximum payment of $27,040 on a calendar year basis. The National Park Service provides the plant materials, use of the greenhouses and the supplies needed, plus routine lawn maintenance and hardscape maintenance. Friends of Chatham, Scott, and the master gardeners provide the bulk of the manpower needed to enhance and maintain the formal gardens and grow the plants in the greenhouses.

We’re a lean machine at Friends of Chatham and we pride ourselves on having a working board to help keep our overhead low.  Your financial support is critical to the success of Friends of Chatham. The Board of Directors is grateful for your generosity and for your support!

Thank you!

Nancy Fahy, President


Annual Member Meeting

On June 6th, over 40 members gathered in the Theater Room at the Fredericksburg Branch of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library for the FOC Annual Meeting. After refreshments and the opportunity to socialize, the business meeting got under way. Attendees heard from National Park Service representatives Beth Parnicza, Branch Manager, Interpretation and Education (Detail) and Facility Manager John Storke. Both spoke of upcoming NPS projects at Chatham, including the installation of a fire suppression system in the mansion. Additionally, the NPS leadership team will embark upon a holistic planning process that may include an archeological investigation or other parking solutions to address the current parking shortage at Chatham. Beth Parnicza shared that the team hopes to start that formal planning process this fall. John Storke also talked about temporary summer employees including Youth Conservation Corps members and participants in an internship designed to teach young people traditional trades and interest them in historic preservation.

To facilitate a streamlined meeting, President Nancy Fahy had circulated the Board members’ written reports in advance via email so that only brief summaries were presented at the meeting. This provided an ample opportunity for attendees to have their questions addressed while keeping the meeting reasonably brief.The Annual Meeting is always held in the last month of our fiscal year which ends on June 30th.  This means it is time to renew memberships.  You can go to for additional information on membership renewal.


Photographer's Meet & Greet

On Sunday, 23 April from 5-7 PM, Friends of Chatham hosted a fun-filled Meet & Greet for local photography enthusiasts at Chatham Manor.  Twenty local photographers attended the event, many of whom are well-respected in the community for the quality of their work.  After a preliminary gathering with introductions and friendly banter/bonding over pizza and soft drinks, the photographers set out individually to capture their most creative photo of the day.  At the conclusion of the event, photographers submitted their best creative photo entry, and the Friends of Chatham Board of Directors reviewed the entries and voted for the winning photo. 

Judy LaFratta, the President of the Fredericksburg Photography Club, was the overwhelming most creative photo winner for her highly-artistic lily pad pond photo. 

Judy received a $100 Downtown Gift card as a reward for her winning entry.  Overall, this first time event was a resounding success, with positive feedback from the group, and we were very pleased to welcome several new Friends of Chatham members. 

We plan to hold this event annually, and look forward to strengthening the strong bond between the mutually-beneficial Friends of Chatham and local photography community.  A hearty thank you and well done to all involved.


From the Garden

It has been a productive and beautiful Spring in the greenhouses and gardens at Chatham. In March, Gardener Scott Blake and the volunteers, most of whom are Master Gardeners, started all of the summer annuals in the greenhouses. Some of the plants were started from plugs and many more were started from seeds. From the greenhouse efforts, we are now putting a variety of plants into the garden, including petunias, impatiens, lantana, ageratum, zinnias, and salvia. These will occupy the parterre beds approaching the house and will provide a vibrant, symmetrical color scheme.

As the greenhouse grown annuals were developing, Mother Nature began working her magic with the variety of perennials throughout the garden. It was a great year for daffodils and the cooler spring weather allowed their blooms to last longer than usual. Beautiful iris followed the daffodils, as did lush peonies. Thanks to the hard work of the volunteers and the help of two Youth Conservation Corps members, the bulk of the summer annuals are now installed in their beds and are beginning to fill out and show their beautiful colors. We have also added some white and pink Sweet Williams (Dianthus barbatus) to the Demonstration beds, placing them in accordance with the plans for that area developed in 2018. Like the other plants in the Demonstration beds, these are a variety that was included in Ellen Biddle Shipman’s original plans for the Chatham garden.

Like past years, the garden is attracting many visitors again this spring and is providing lots of beautiful photo opportunities. This is truly a lovely time of year to visit Chatham.


A Visit from the Fredericksburg Walking Club

On Saturday, June 17, 2023, 28 walkers with the Fredericksburg Walking Club walked across the Chatham Bridge, followed the path through Pratt Park, and then spent some time at Chatham where they admired the beautiful garden! Several of them had not been to Chatham before and they plan to bring their friends and family back to spend more time there!

We popped inside to ask if a ranger could take a group photo for us and NPS intern Caitlynn Sublette graciously agreed to do it. Not everyone was in the photo, as it is similar to trying to herd cats keeping this group in one spot, but most of us managed to be in the photo!

Friends of Chatham members Alan Zirkle and Beth Stenstrom spent a little time giving everyone a brief history of Chatham, before the group wandered back down to the walking trail and back across the Chatham bridge for lunch at Eileen’s!

The Fredericksburg Walking Club is part of the American Volkssport Association and you can find some information on their website

and on their Facebook page


For Sale:  $35 each*

FoC is selling signed and numbered limited edition prints of Chatham Manor by Joseph M. Serino, 18 1/2 in. x 23 3/4 in.   If you are interested in buying a print you can email us at  Prints can also be purchased online from our homepage at

Did you know you can support FoC when you buy bulbs for your garden from Brent and Becky's Bulbs?  Go to  Select Friends of Chatham in the drop down menu, follow the prompts, and start shopping. Twenty-five percent of your purchase will go directly to Friends of  Chatham.


Chatham Chatter 3rd Quarter July - August 2023
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