More than 500 acres of Enniscorthy, a historic property in southern Albemarle County, have been placed in a conservation easement, the Piedmont Environmental Council announced Monday.
The Charlottesville-based conservation group accepted the 520-acre section of property Nov. 22. It features rolling farmland and includes about two miles of stream frontage on tributaries of the Hardware River.
Enniscorthy is significant in both natural beauty and history, said Rex Linville, the environmental council’s land conservation officer for Albemarle and Greene counties.
“This is one of the early places of settlement in Albemarle County,” Linville said. “When you drive down there … it really is one of the special places in Albemarle County with large intact farms around it. The views to the west where the house sits are spectacular.”
Built in the 1740s by the Coles family, Enniscorthy served as a brief refuge for Thomas Jefferson when he fled Monticello during the Revolutionary War era, according to a research document on Monticello’s website.
When Jefferson later became president, Isaac Coles served as his private secretary. Coles’ younger brother, Edward, served in the same role for President James Madison and later became governor of Illinois.
Peter and Joyce Bertone purchased the property in April, according to public records. Peter Bertone, who grew up in Albemarle, said he appreciates the natural beauty of the region.
“I enjoyed the outdoors while growing up in this area and that experience has strengthened my belief that rural properties need to be protected. Once those properties are subdivided and developed, you can’t go back,” Bertone said in the announcement.
Linville and Bertone, who could not be reached for further comment Monday, acknowledged the financial benefits of conservation easements.
In Virginia, properties placed under easement are eligible for both federal income tax deductions and state income tax credits, Linville said. In most cases, including this one, easements are driven by appreciation and respect for open spaces rather than just financial benefit, Linville said.
“The reality is that the financial incentives are good, but if the landowner doesn’t have some conservation interest to begin with, the financial incentives are not going to be enough,” Linville said.