Grafton Farm, the site of the Upperville Colt & Horse Show, has been named to the National Register of Historic Places. The acceptance of Grafton Farm to the nationwide program completes a two-year process led by conservationist and equestrian Betsee Parker and historical preservationist Maral Kalbian.
Grafton Farm was added to the Virginia Department of Historical Resources Virginia Landmarks Register in December 2021.
“This is a tremendous day for Upperville,” said Parker. “For 169 years, Grafton Farm’s historic and environmental integrity has been maintained. While necessary modern improvements have been implemented, the stewards of Grafton Farm have done so with sensitivity to the importance of the grounds’ historic and environmental significance.”
Established in 1853 by Colonel Richard Henry Dulany to encourage better treatment of horses and improve the local breeding stock, the Upperville Colt & Horse Show is the oldest horse show in the U.S. The show has been held annually at the original site at Grafton Farm on the south side of Route 50 in Upperville, Virginia. It has grown from a one-day show to a week-long event that draws thousands of spectators in addition to horses and riders competing from across the country and around the world.
Grafton Farm escaped the intrusions of development that have impacted numerous horse show sites across the country, making it one of the most historically intact horse show grounds in the nation. Some of the oak tree canopy dates to the Revolutionary War era, and the grounds were witness to action during the Civil War. The grounds’ structures date from the late 19th to mid 20th centuries. Renovations to the famous circa 1895 grandstand and the construction of judges’ stands and officials’ towers have maintained cohesion with the bucolic setting.
The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultured resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.