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The 500 acre Bracketts Farm is the only property within the 14,000 acre Green Springs National Historic Landmark District that is open for public visitation as all other properties are viewable only from public roadways. As a whole, the district is comprised mostly of large family farms, their fields and intermittent woodlots and ponds. These diverse habitats support a wonderful array of wildlife and can provide days of entertainment for the adventurous observer.
Many different species of birds breed at or migrate through Bracketts and the other surrounding properties which make up the district. Species to search for include northern bobwhite, especially in spring when the distinct and upward sweeping whistle of ‘bob-WHITE’ can be heard along forested field edges. In summer, the area is alive with yellow-billed cuckoos, great-crested flycatchers, and nesting summer tanagers. The various ponds in the area attract waterfowl ranging from snow geese to hooded mergansers. Check any flooded fields for common snipe and potentially, rusty blackbirds in winter. The recently plowed fields are a favorite spot of horned larks and even migrant shorebirds while areas with taller grass may host roosting short-eared owls and northern harriers in winter.
The Green Springs area lies in a volcanic depression that, due to its extremely fertile soil, has supported farmers for over 250 years. The Green Springs National Historic Landmark District is made up of numerous properties which have been preserved by private owners to exhibit the outstanding historic rural architecture and sustainable farming methods used by families who have worked the land for generations. These efforts were made possible largely by these private owners obtaining National Historic Landmark status and conveying conservation easements to the National Park Service as well as the Historic Green Springs, Inc.
One of the persons who spearheaded the National Historic Landmark status was Elisabeth Aiken Nolting, a leading figure in conservation causes such as the protection of open space and agricultural lands. Ms. Nolting purchased Bracketts Farm from the estate of her uncle Carl H. Nolting, who served as a commissioner for the Virginia Commision of Game and Inland Fisheries (now the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources) and as chairman from 1933-1942. Elisabeth retained ownership of the Bracketts property until her death in 2000, after which ownership of the farm passed to a private foundation that she created and endowed, the Elisabeth Aiken Nolting Charitable Foundation. Its goal is to encourage sustainable and responsible stewardship of land in a deep historical tradition. Today, Bracketts Farm serves as both gateway and focal point for the Green Springs National Historic Landmark District and is a great place to begin explorations of the area.
Physical Address: 1117 Bracketts Farm Rd, Louisa VA 23093
From Charlottesville, take I-64 East to Exit 136 at Zion Crossroads onto Rte. 15 North. Go North on Rte 15 for 6.7 miles to Boswell’s Tavern and turn right onto Rte. 22. Go approx. 1 mile on Rte. 22 and then turn right onto Rte. 638 Nolting Rd. Go 1.6 miles on Nolting Rd to Bracketts Farm entrance, which will be on the right.