donates historic estate to the University
businessman and philanthropist John W. Kluge received a standing
ovation in the Rotunda Dome Room May 25 after
announcing that he was giving the University of Virginia Foundation
his 7,378-acre Albemarle County estate. This includes historic
Morven Farm, 10 working farms and more than two dozen houses and
modernized farm buildings.
Valued in excess of $45 million, it is the second largest single
gift in the University's history, and more than doubles the land
holdings of U.Va. and its related foundations in Central Virginia.
Kluge, a longtime University benefactor, wants U.Va. to develop
the core of the property for educational purposes and to sell
its surrounding land to fund an endowment to support that core
as well as future University programs. U.Va. President John T.
Casteen III and Kluge have held a series of discussions on the
gift over four years.
called the Kluge property "an invaluable treasure that will
advance the University's academic mission as well as the public
interest for generations to come. It offers unprecedented opportunities
to help the University realize the goals of Virginia 2020, our
long-term planning process."
Casteen said the gift has the power to transform many sectors
of the University.
Kluge's magnificent gift, and its far-reaching intent, matches
the University's mission and philosophy about learning,"
he said. "The uses may include residential facilities for
advanced practitioners in the fine and performing arts, evolving
over time to include performance and exhibition venues. There
will be research spaces for architecture, landscape architecture,
architectural history and environmental sciences, with some reserved
open space dedicated to sustaining examples of the region's ecology.
And, for the future, our hope is to create spaces for conferences,
seminars and other small gatherings related to the University's
Casteen will ask a planning group of faculty, students and administrators
to explore the opportunities for the Kluge gift and to work within
the University community to recommend and design programs that
reflect both the goals of the donor and the University.
The main house at Morven Farm, a Virginia Historic Landmark,
is a 6,412-square-foot historic brick building built in 1821
and enlarged over the years. According to architectural historian
Edward Lay's book Architecture of Jefferson Country, Morven
received its first renovation at the turn of the 20th-century
under the care of Baltimore architect Howard Sill. In 1930,
a subsequent owner began her own painstaking restoration of
Morven's formal gardens. The grounds were again rejuvenated
under the direction of Kluge, who greatly expanded them as
Next to the main house are a number of outbuildings, including
an historic kitchen. A short walk down the entry driveway
is a 5,000-square-foot recreation barn with meeting rooms,
dining space and a small movie theater. Also on the Morven
property are extensive flower gardens, eight farmhouses, a
half-dozen barns, a guesthouse and the exquisite Japanese
Tea Pavilion and gardens built by Japanese craftsmen in 1995.
These gardens, including a walking trail and waterfalls, cover
A second historic house, which Kluge will retain for three
years, is on nearby Ellerslie Farm. Built in 1842 and remodeled
in 1985, this 4,000-square-foot manor house has been the center
of the farm operations for the entire estate. A nearby renovated
barn has become a 7,000-square-foot administration building.
Adjacent to it is a 5,500-square-foot livestock show pavilion,
overlooking a lake, that includes meeting and dining space
is general partner, chair and president of Metromedia Company,
one of the nation's largest privately held companies. Born in
Chemnitz, Germany, in 1914, Kluge immigrated to the United States
in 1922. He moved to Albemarle County in 1981 and bought Morven
Farm seven years later.
"I have gotten to know the University, to respect its commitment
to excellence, and to see firsthand how it runs its business,"
Kluge said. "I love this property. And I must tell you I
will give it to the University knowing that
and others will implement my dream," he said, his voice choked
Terms of the gift state that the U.Va. Foundation, which provides
management of some of the University's real estate holdings, must
preserve in perpetuity approximately 749 acres of Morven Farm,
designated as the core property, for educational uses of the University.
Kluge will retain use of the core property, plus an adjacent 490
acres of farmland, throughout his lifetime.
The working farms not included in the core property Ernscliff,
Maxwell, Viewmont, Church Hill, Spring Hill, Seven Pines, Oakwood,
Maple Hill, Lone Oak, and part of Ellerslie are being leased.
Proceeds from the eventual sale of these properties will be used
to maintain and operate the remaining properties and to establish
ongoing educational programs.
Under terms of a 1986 agreement with Albemarle County and the
City of Charlottesville, property owned by the U.Va. Foundation
remains on local tax rolls until it is used for academic purposes.
This year, the foundation will pay $146,000 in real estate taxes
to the city and $797,000 to the county.
Over the years, Kluge has given more than $4.7 million to
the Universitys Health System, primarily for programs
to aid disabled and chronically ill children. His most recent
gift, made earlier this month, was $500,000 from the Kluge
Foundation to expand the Health Systems Mindfulness-Based
Stress Reduction Program. In 1988, the University dedicated
the Kluge Childrens Rehabilitation Center. In the 1990s,
he created a professorship in urology and provided generous
support for prostate cancer research in the School of Medicine.
Kluge also has funded scholarships for minority medical students
and has supported programs in family medicine. Three years
ago, Kluge gave the majority of his collection of 20th-century
Australian Aboriginal art to the University. The collection,
made up of more than 1,570 pieces, was valued in excess of