River View Farm
The African American History of the Ivy Creek Natural Area
The land that is now known as the Ivy Creek Natural Area was previously known as River View Farm. River View Farm is a rare surviving example of the Union Ridge/Hydraulic Mills community of African American farmers, pastors, craftspeople, and businessmen that flourished in the region beginning in the final quarter of the nineteenth century. In recognition of the contributions made to the local community by the Carr/Greer family who owned it, River View Farm is recognized on both the Virginia Landmark Registry of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the National Register of Historic Places.
Hugh Carr, born into slavery, acquired the first 58 acres of what would become River View Farm shortly after emancipation. By 1890, the land accounted for more than 125 acres making Carr among the largest African American landowners in Albemarle County at that time. Carr and his wife, Texie Mae Hawkins, raised seven children at River View Farm. Having been himself deprived of any formal education, Carr placed an emphasis on education for his children, all of whom went to school. Five of his children earned college degrees, becoming teachers and community leaders wherever they settled.
Hugh and Texie Mae Carr's eldest daughter was Mary Louise Carr. She would marry Conly Greer, whom she met in 1913. She went on to become principal of Albemarle Training School and an influential educator in the local community. Later, she was honored for her commitment to education with the naming of Greer Elementary School for her. Conly Greer was the first African American extension agent for Albemarle County and the last family member to farm at River View Farm. After his death in 1957, Mary Carr Greer continued to live there but the land was rented to local farmers to farm.
In 1975, after the death of Mary Carr Greer, founding members of the Ivy Creek Foundation worked with The Nature Conservancy to preserve the area now known as Ivy Creek Natural Area. From the beginning, ICF recognized the significance of the human story of River View Farm, and worked to save and preserve documents that were found in the farmhouse. Many of these documents now reside at The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at UVA. ICF continues to strive to learn more about the local history and heritage within and beyond the borders of the natural area it manages at Ivy Creek. Much of what we have learned is shared through the links found on this page. We encourage you to continue to learn with us by visiting them and also by visiting River View Farm in person.
A free take-home brochure celebrating the story of the Carr/Greer family can be found at the kiosk at ICNA and is downloadable as a PDF.