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Ashland - Local Town Pages

Valentine Estate Descendent Advocates for Preservation

Valentine Estate’s Green Meadow Farm, acrylic on canvas by Cliff Wilson. (Photo/supplied)

By Cynthia Whitty
One of several prominent figures in Ashland history is Frances Valentine, who lived on land owned by past Valentine generations. Frances lived on the property at 133 W. Union St. (Rt. 135), until her death in 1959. Today the property consists of a large house with a 250-year-old barn on almost 8 acres. 
Frances Valentine, Ashland’s Daughter
In a recent issue of Local Town Pages (, Ashland Historical Society President Cliff Wilson’s piece, Frances (Fanny) Wadsworth Valentine, described an extraordinary woman, making significant contributions both nationally and globally.
Wilson wrote, Frances took a job in 1914 at the age of 33 traveling the country, “gathering information on minimum wages, wages paid to women, health issues, and workmen’s comp.” In March 1918, she drove “supply trucks for ravaged villages” and “ambulances for the French army.”
The French government honored her with a citation for helping with evacuation “of the sick, aged, and children under shell fire” and for “actual charge of the reconstruction and relief of 30 villages.”
After the war, Frances continued her work in this country, including studying the living conditions in coal mining towns and the use of hydro-electric power in providing electricity to rural communities.
Family Descendent, Kate Valentine
Kate Valentine, a performing artist and theatre director living in New York, is a family descendent of “her great, great aunt Frances Valentine, a beloved figure of my father and his sisters, who spen their summers with her [in Ashland].”
In 2020 Kate was speaking to cousins when someone mentioned the RFPs (request for proposals) on an Ashland website. “My ears really perked up. I didn’t realize the circumstances of the property. I was quickly in touch with Jen Ball [assistant town manager], Cliff Wilson, and others who were excited about the possibilities,” she said.
Kate visited the property last winter and spring, and hopes to come again this fall. She attended a number of virtual Valentine committee meetings and said she is especially interested in learning more about the CPA (Community Preservation Act) funds that are available to fix the barn and clear the land.
“I know I’m an outsider,” she said, “but I’m excited about what I read on the town website about possible performance space and other public space for the town and beyond. It could be a destination point. Something forward thinking could happen there.”
“I have nothing to gain [by saving the property]. It’s a symbolic attraction to me, seeing the space and its potential, what the space has meant to my family over many years.”
“There could be a partnership between the town and a nonprofit, where the nonprofit leased the space. An ongoing fundraising effort will be needed. The project could be a financial boom to the town. The property—as a farm, a theater, farm and garden space—could be a way to gain an income stream to help finance the project.”
Kate’s husband has experience as an architect creating public spaces with Attilio Stocci in Italy and working with the firm that reconfigured the South Street Seaport in Manhattan.
Her work has been as a performing artist, director, and producer of artistic events in theatre and film for over 20 years. “I would like to oversee the barn space becoming a live event space for theatre and arts festivals,” she said.
“As a performing artist I could do an outdoor fundraising event to energize the town, to help create this as a public space for the town of Ashland. I will continue to be helpful where I can.”