by Jason Slanga

I just finished up my fifth Biduum Latinum Virginianum at the Claymont Mansion in Charles Town, WV. Many of you have heard me talk about (and yes, even, lovingly, laughed at me) my time spent at “the mansion.” It is, as much as any other place on this planet, where I feel at home, where I am most at ease and feel like I am doing what I am meant to do.

It is impossible to quantify the impact this place has had on my career, and on the careers of teachers I’ve had the good fortune to work with over the past ten years. The secluded, bucolic setting fosters an almost instant sense of community, a place where a few dozen teachers, students, and other Latinae fautores can come together for a weekend, a week, or weeks even, to enjoy amicitia et humanitas.

ClaymontThe Claymont porch holds a special place in my heart, and for SALVI, the organization with which I’ve worked for almost a decade. This is the place where, at the end of the day, after class sessions, reading groups, meals, and play practice, participants gather to drink wine and trade stories in Latin. Some work on the porch (ceiling fans to alleviate the summer heat) has already been made in memoriam Davidis Morgan, a man of singular humanity, whose loss, although I only knew him briefly, is a wound I still carry with me. David embodied the heart of SALVI, and of Claymont, and of the relationship between the two. He was someone who balanced deep knowledge and intellect with compassion, patience, and a love of people. The porch is the place where David stayed up late into the night, and would listen to you, no matter who you were. It is the place where, early in the morning, between the first pot of coffee and breakfast, people sit, in chairs or on the steps, in quiet contemplation as the sun comes up.

The Claymont Mansion, a Washington family (yes, that Washington family), is almost 200 years old – it was rebuilt in 1840 after a fire had destroyed most of the original building from 1820. Like anything that old, its beauty is balanced by its fair share of “personality.” Repairing and maintaining an historic place like this is no easy feat. It is not as simple doing repairs to your own home – any restorations must meet very strict standards, and often cost more than they would otherwise. Fees paid to the Claymont Society, the non-profit which maintains the property and hosts educational retreats like ours, go towards the day-to-day operations. The funds for repairs come in the form of donations and grants.

This summer SALVI will be hosting our 20th anniversary celebration at Claymont, 10 years since our first Rusticatio on the property. The porch is in need of repairs before the summer. The Claymont Society has secured a one-to-one match grant to complete these repairs, but they need donations help match the funds provided by the grant. Big donations are great, but even small donations are helpful. Please consider giving something via the link below.

Written by salvi

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