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Laurel Hill - Detailed Tourism Facts and Media Information
 

Laurel Hill -  Birthplace of Civil War General, Major General J. E. B. Stuart, CSA
By Thomas Bishop, Media and Public Relations - JEB Stuart Trust

Date: January 31, 2015

Quick Facts
  • After archaeological digs by the College of William and Mary in 1993 and 1997, Laurel Hill was placed on both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places (1998).
  • Laurel Hill is on the Civil War Trails map for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • The oldest known marked grave in Patrick County is at Laurel Hill and is the grave of William Letcher, great-grandfather of Maj. Gen. Stuart.  He was killed in his own home by a British sympathizer in 1780.  (Note:  Radford University conducted an archeological dig at this site in 2004)
  • Laurel Hill is promoted by our Patrick County Tourism Authority, on its web site, http://www.visitpatrickcounty.org/ (official tourism web site).
  • Laurel Hill is promoted by Virginia Tourism Authority on its website, www.virginia.org, which one of the most popular tourism agencies in America.  This agency also publishes the Virginia Travel Guide, which shows Laurel Hill as a Tourism Attraction and Historical Site.
  • Laurel Hill is a significant tourism attraction not only in Patrick County, VA but all of Southwest Virginia and neighboring North Carolina.
  • It is the site of a major Civil War Reenactment and Living History annual event, the first weekend in October.
  • It is conveniently located 7 miles from the popular Tourism Attraction, “Mayberry”, officially named Mt. Airy, NC, and home of famous movie and TV star Andy Griffith.
  • It is conveniently located in close proximity of the Mt. Airy Granite Quarry, the largest open face granite quarry in the world (which is a major Tourism Attraction.)
  • The JEB Stuart Trust is a member of the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce and the Mt. Airy Chamber of Commerce.  Both Chambers heavily promote tourism for the area and bring many visitors to Laurel Hill.
  • It is conveniently located within 10 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the most visited National Park in the U. S.  This brings many tourists to the site.
  • It is located within 10 miles of a highly proclaimed resort, Primland, which is a 12000 acre Tourism Attraction, offering lodging, restaurant, golf course, health spa, observatory, hunting, fishing and other recreational opportunities.
Tourism Activity
  1. Laurel Hill brings 3000-4000 visitors to the annual Civil War Reenactment and Living History each October for 2 full days of activities, including live music, battle scenes, 1800 era ladies fashion show, Civil War period sutlers, Civil War encampment and much more.  Generally, this includes 300-400 uniformed soldiers, both Federal and Confederate.  Our guests include people from all over the U. S. and many foreign countries.  Many times our guests include modern day members of the Stuart family. 

    Also 2000-3000 advertisement flyers are printed and distributed to promote the event.  This event is promoted on the event calendars and news stories of the following publications:
    • The Camp Chase Gazette
    • The Civil War News
    • Mt. Airy News
    • The Enterprise (Stuart)
    • Martinsville Bulletin
  2. Other events that are held at the site in the past have included, Highland Games, Masonic Convention, Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours, Laurel Hill Day and park clean up days.  All of these events bring visitors to our site, to receive tours and gather historical information and learn more about General Stuart and his family.
  3. The site is open daily for self-guided tours and receives many visitors on a drop-in basis.  Interpretative signage is provided to help the general public learn more about Maj. Stuart and Laurel Hill.  Special features include, Stuart family cemetery, slave cemetery, Visitor Center , original Stuart home site, Letcher Home site, Stuart Pavilion, Activity Pavilion, picnic tables, running water, electrical hookups, flag poles, gardens, walking trails, and viewing platform overlooking the Ararat River.
    We estimate that 5000 visitors frequent Laurel Hill throughout the year and represent National and International tourists.
  4. We maintain an important Internet presence with:
    • Our official web site:  www.jebstuart.org, which has much general information about the site with maps, history, directions, photos, events calendar, news stories, etc.  (31,000 visits per year)
    • Facebook page, Jeb Stuart Preservation Inc., where photos and stories are routinely posted and announcements of our events.
      This is an important outreach to visitors.
  5. We conduct tours as requested with various groups, including historical associations, school groups, senior tour groups, young professionals and many others.
  6. The organization, JEB Stuart Preservation Trust, a non-profit agency, conducts volunteer activities routinely and throughout the year, to maintain and upgrade the property and keep it attractive.  Recent improvements include a new Activity Pavilion at the Main Entrance, planting of native apple trees, and landscaping/grading improvements.  There are no paid employees.
  7. The organization publishes a colorful bi-annual newsletter, printing and distributing over 600 copies per year, thus extending the reach of the birthplace.
  8. The Directors conduct monthly radio programs on WHEO-1270 AM in Stuart to promote events and activities throughout the year.
  9. The organization purchases a commercial advertisement space at the annual Patrick County Fair in September, for the purpose of outreach and awareness of Laurel Hill.  We estimate this puts us in touch with 1000-1500 people each year.  Many of these individuals are tourists to Patrick County.
  10. Periodically, our Directors conduct one-day Tourism events at the I-77 Welcome Center at Lambsburg, VA.  This puts in touch with many tourists traveling North on one of the busiest corridors in the Eastern United States.
  11. Our colorful rack card advertisement is distributed to Visitor Centers, local businesses, and to many events throughout the year.  We estimate approximately 2000 copies are given out per year.
  12. Currently we have a merchandise rack in the Mill Creek General Store in Mt. Airy, NC, allowing us exposure for rack cards, brochures, books, prints, t-shirts, children literature, etc. that help fund and promote the JEB Stuart Birthplace.  This is a new tourism outreach in a highly trafficked store.
For the last 7 years we had a similar display in the Stuart Antique Mall, until it closed last year.

Background

The tranquil and beautiful place known as Laurel Hill, is nestled beneath the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Western Virginia in Patrick County. In the words of General Stuart in a letter to his brother William Alexander in 1863, "I would give anything to make a pilgrimage to the old place, and when the war is over quietly spend the rest of my days there." Tragically, on May 12th, 1864 his dream of returning to Laurel Hill ended with his death as a result of the wound he received during the engagement at Yellow Tavern the previous day.

Laurel Hill is located seven miles north of the city of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, less than a mile beyond the Virginia-North Carolina border in Ararat, Virginia. Laurel Hill is owned and maintained by the J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust Inc., and welcomes visitors during daylight hours, each day of the week.  Information for a self-guided walking tour is provided near the entrance to the property.

Seven of the eleven children born to Archibald and Elizabeth Stuart were born here at Laurel Hill including James Ewell Brown Stuart who would, in later life, become one of the most celebrated heroes in the cause of Southern Independence. A fire in the winter of 1847-48 destroyed the family home and it was never rebuilt. With the death of Archibald Stuart in 1855, Mrs. Stuart retained the property until 1859 when she sold it to two Mt. Airy, North Carolina men. Subsequently, the once vast fifteen hundred acre parcel was sold and sub-divided down through the years. In the early 1990's a non-profit trust was founded that was able to purchase seventy-five acres that was contained in the original Stuart farm.


 
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Visitor Hours
Laurel Hill is open dawn to dusk for self guided tours of the property.  Office open by appointment.
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Latest News
JEB Stuart Birthplace Raffle - Feb 3, 2018
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Upcoming Events
Oct 7 - Oct 8, 2018
2018 27th Annual Civil War Reenactment and Living History
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Feb 3, 2018
JEB Stuart Annual Birthday Celebration - Mt. Airy
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Mission Statement
Mission Statement of J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Trust, Inc.
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J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace, Inc.    ~     P. O. Box 1210    ~     Stuart, VA 24171-1210    ~     laurelhill@jebstuart.org
 
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