Philanthropist John Kluge Gives Virginia Estate, Valued in
Excess of $45 Million, to University of Virginia Foundations
May 25, 2001 --
Businessman and philanthropist John W. Kluge has given the University
of Virginia Foundation his 7,378-acre Albemarle County, Va., estate.
This includes historic Morven Farm, 10 working farms, and more than
two dozen houses and modernized farm buildings. The University formally
announced the gift today.
Valued in excess of $45 million, it is the second largest single
gift in the Universitys history, and more than doubles the
land holdings of U.Va. and its related foundations in Central Virginia.
Kluge, a longtime University benefactor, has expressed his desire
for U.Va. to develop the core of his property for educational purposes,
and to sell its surrounding properties to fund an endowment that
would support that core as well as future University programs. The
gift is the result of a series of discussions between Kluge and
University President John T. Casteen III that spanned four years.
Casteen called the Kluge property "an invaluable treasure that
will advance the Universitys 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. "John Kluges magnificent gift, and its
far-reaching intent, matches the Universitys 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 regions
ecology. And, for the future, our hope is to create spaces for conferences,
seminars and other small gatherings related to the Universitys
Kluge is general partner, chairman and president of Metromedia Company,
one of the nations largest privately held companies. 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 am entrusting the University with this property
because I know that John Casteen and the people who follow him will
be good stewards of this gift."
Terms of the gift agreement state that the U.Va. Foundation, which
provides management of some of the Universitys 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.
MORVEN FARM, VIRGINIA HISTORIC LANDMARK
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 Lays
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 Morvens formal gardens.
The grounds again were rejuvenated under the direction of Kluge,
who greatly expanded them as well.
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 for 100.
The largest, and perhaps most famous, structure on Ellerslie is
the carriage museum. Completed in 1995, the 44,000-square-foot building
once housed Kluges world-class collection of more than 75
19th-century horse-drawn carriages. (The carriages have since been
sold.) In addition to the museum space, there are several sitting
rooms, a restaurant-style kitchen and a rustic lounge with sweeping
views of the farm.
UNIVERSITY PLANS FOR EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
Over time, the University will develop a comprehensive plan to match
its needs and aspirations with the Kluge facilities, Casteen said.
Initial possibilities include using the buildings for meetings,
musical performances and art exhibitions, studios for visiting artists,
conference meeting and living space, and dining and catering facilities.
Future plans could include renovation of barns into dormitory-style
lodging for summer workshops, visiting fellows programs, and special
residential master-writers programs.
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.
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 $5 million.
Born in Chemnitz, Germany, in 1914, Kluge immigrated to the United
States in 1922. In 1959, he became president and chairman of Metropolitan
Broadcasting Company. Today, Metromedia has businesses in the restaurant,
food and hospitality industry, and in media, entertainment, telecommunications,
robotic painting, computer software, and medical technology.
PRINT NEWS MEDIA: For additional information, contact Carol Wood,
director of News Services, at (804) 924-6189. Three photographs
of Morven Farm are available via e-mail. Contact Wood if you would
like them sent.
TELEVISION NEWS MEDIA: For additional information, contact Sheri
Winston, director of Television News at (804) 924-7550. Satellite
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