This isn’t technically Central Virginia related, but it’s big news that I think many in our area will be interested in. The Roanoke Times reported late yesterday that Virginia’s famed Natural Bridge, once owned by Thomas Jefferson, will soon become a state park. By 2015, the 215-foot limestone arch and the surrounding 1,500 acres will be transferred to a newly-formed conservancy to eventually become Virginia’s 37th state park.
Wrote Luanne Rife of the Roanoke Times: The complicated real estate transaction, recorded Thursday in Rockbridge County, fulfills its longtime owner’s desire to preserve the national treasure once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Angelo Puglisi donated the 215-foot limestone arch, valued at $21 million, to the newly formed Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund and received conservation tax credits estimated to be worth about $7 million along with $8.6 million in cash for the balance of his Natural Bridge holdings that encompass more than 1,500 mostly forested acres.
The sale ends 240 years of private ownership of the property, going all the way back to Jefferson, who purchased it from King George III. The rock formation south of Lexington draws 200,000 visitors a year. Puglisi has owned the Natural Bridge, an nearby hotel and accompanying attractions since 1988.