The SVF Foundation announced today that it has completed its 20-year mission to cryo-preserve the genetics of rare and endangered domestic livestock breeds and granted a conservation easement to Aquidneck Land Trust governing approximately 24 acres of land in conjunction with its sale of the property at 152 Harrison Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. In addition, SVF said that Ocean Hour Farm will operate the property.
Sources tell us that former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and wife Wendy Schmidt, the philanthropists behind 11th Hour Racing, the Schmidt Ocean Institute and others, purchased the land for $8,650,000 to preserve it.
The word on the street from highly qualified sources say the billionaire couple is in negotiations to purchase one of Newport’s most magnificent properties. More on that when we learn more but expect an update soon.
“The SVF Foundation’s goals have been attained,” said SVF Executive Director Peter Borden, “and it’s time to preserve the property and pass it on to a new steward.” Conservation easements are binding agreements between a landowner and a land trust that permanently restrict development to protect the land’s conservation values. The conservation easement is the primary tool that has been used by ALT to protect critical open space on Aquidneck Island. SVF will donate the proceeds of the property sale to the Hamilton Family Charitable Trust to be dedicated to charitable purposes on Aquidneck Island, thus continuing the Hamilton family’s commitment to the community.
Founded in 1999 by Mrs. Dorrance H. Hamilton, the SVF Foundation has been operating since 2002 on two historic properties. The first, considered the main campus, was most famously developed by Arthur Curtiss James in the early 1900s. In 1916, James added the Surprise Valley Farm, or what locals referred to as the “Swiss Village” because of its resemblance to the southern region of Switzerland. The second property, a nearby 11-acre site, was formerly part of Hammersmith Farm. The SVF’s 15 buildings on the site include animal facilities, a procedures laboratory, an infirmary, a cryo-room, offices, and residences.
“We are honored to build on the legacy of the SVF Foundation and serve as the next stewards of this unique and beautiful land. Our goals for the future include integrating regenerative agriculture practices, developing experiential education programs, and continuing a robust science program,” said Rob MacMillan, a representative of Ocean Hour Farm.
Borden noted that early in his tenure, a large commercial hospital building was removed, restoring five acres of impervious cover to pasture and open space. “Mrs. Hamilton wanted to restore the historic exteriors of the Swiss Village, which were severely dilapidated at the time, while rehabilitating the interiors for a multitude of modern uses,” he said, adding that a 3,500 square foot post-and-beam barn was constructed for the housing of critically endangered livestock as well as the processing of genetic material. In April of 2003, SVF was awarded the Preservation Project Award by Rhode Island’s Historic Preservation & Heritage Commission.
“The permanent conservation of this historic treasure is tremendous news for our community,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director of Aquidneck Land Trust. “We are grateful to the SVF leadership for their commitment to preservation, and we thank Ocean Hour Farm for becoming the next stewards of this superb property.”
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