In 1752, 22-year-old George Washington made his first land purchase of 1,459 acres along Bullskin Run, including the area that is the present day Cool Spring Preserve. Washington leased his land in 200-acre parcels. Each lease tenant was to build a 20’ dwelling with a good 40’ barn, plant and care for specific crops, install certain “creatures,” erect and maintain fences, plant an orchard and vineyard, and preserve the woodlots without overcutting.
In 1830, 146 acres, including most of Cool Spring Preserve, was sold to Thomas Griggs, Jr. The rest of Cool Spring Preserve was located on a neighboring property to the east, which was owned by the Haines’, a Quaker family. On February 5, 1869, siblings Edward, Alvinia, and Mary sold one acre of land to a freed slave, Susan B. Thornton, for $1. Mrs. Thornton’s cottage still stands on Cool Spring Preserve.
Between this time and 1998, the property was used as a dairy farm and named Cool Spring Farm. Later, it was sold to Jefferson Orchards, who used the land to grow peaches and nectarines. During this time, existing buildings fell into disrepair and the fruit crops eventually failed.
In 1998, Cool Spring Farm was purchased and underwent a three-year renovation to bring life back to the buildings and property. In 2008, the adjoining 12 acres including Mrs. Thornton’s cottage were purchased and CraftWorks at Cool Spring, a non-profit designed to connect art with nature, was established.
Cool Spring Preserve is named after Cool Spring Farm. It was donated to the Potomac Valley Audubon Society by CraftWorks in 2016.