The Claude Moore Colonial Farm, in McLean, Virginia, presents a slice of 1771 to the thousands of visitors who visit it every year. But until further notice, its website is warning visitors away.
The living history farm is dead, at least for now.
“It’s a perfect fall day, and yet we can’t do anything,” Managing Director Anna Eberly told me in a phone interview. Eberly has managed the Claude Moore Colonial Farm for 32 years. Before managing the farm, she worked for the National Park Service.
Visitors unaware of how the farm is run are apt to conclude that the government shutdown, now two days old, is directly responsible for the farm’s closing. But Eberly sent a note Wednesday morning to the park’s email list. In the email, Eberly says, “For the first time in 40 years, the National Park Service (NPS) has finally succeeded in closing the Farm down to the public. In previous budget dramas, the Farm has always been exempted since the NPS provides no staff or resources to operate the Farm.”
The Claude Moore Colonial Farm, Eberly says, has thrived even as the federal government has treated it with “benign neglect” for decades. That benign neglect would serve it better than the barricades now surrounding it.
Eberly writes that the NPS has already gone out of its way to disrupt an event at the farm: “The first casualty of this arbitrary action was the McLean Chamber of Commerce who were having a large annual event at the Pavilion on Tuesday evening. The NPS sent the Park Police over to remove the Pavilion’s staff and Chamber volunteers from the property while they were trying to set up for their event. Fortunately, the Chamber has friends and they were able to move to another location and salvage what was left of their party. You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don’t have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money.”