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Things to do in Fredericksburg

    Kenmore Plantation Kenmore Plantation Fredericksburg, Virginia
    Kenmore, also known as Kenmore Plantation, is located in Fredericksburg, Virginia and constructed for Fielding Lewis, the man married to Betty Washington Lewis, the sister of George Washington. The magnificent house was constructed in the 1770s on 1300 acres of land, and later bought by the Gordon family in 1819. These folks would name it "Kenmore" in honor of them home in Scotland, and this house is well known for its decorative plaster work on the ceilings of numerous rooms located on the first floor. In 1970, they would make it a National Historic Landmark, and is currently owned and managed by the George Washington Foundation and is open for tours every day. The foundation also owns the Ferry Farm that is located close by. Kenmore is a marvelous plantation house, and the only surviving building of that plantation. The house would be built for Betty Washington Lewis, in 1776, George's sister and her husband, Fielding Lewis. It would grow wheat, corn and tobacco, until the Civil War, when it would become a makeshift military hospital after the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864 and later become a part of the route that Union troops took on their way to Richmond. In 1969, it would be listed on the National Register of Historical Places and then made a national landmark. This Georgian style mansion is an excellent example of the wealth and status of the Lewis family during the American Revolution, although Lewis would lose his fortune because of his patriotic support of that war, with the house still standing. Lewis bought the first parcel of land in 1752, just a short time after he had married Betty, and George surveyed the property. Then, in 1754, he would inherit his father's adjacent lands that had fields of corn, tobacco and wheat, plus a store and shipyard on the Rappahannock River. As he continued his father's business and started shipping to and from England, Lewis became a prominent person in Spotsylvania country, until the war, when he then sacrificed his money to construct and operate an arms factory for the revolution. He passed on in mid-December, 1781, just a few weeks after Cornwallis surrendered to Washington. The only surviving buildings from that early plantation is the house and the store by the river. The other structures that had been located on the property included; farm buildings, slave quarters, store houses, meat house, kitchen and laundry. There were many people living off the land here, including the Lewises, four of their eight surviving children and 80 slaves. The house had been constructed using slaves, indentured servants and skilled tradesmen that had recently immigrated from England. Betty passed on in 1797, and the plantation sold off. The Gordon family would live there until just before the Civil War arrived, after adding a slate roof and stone portico that are still there today.  The house and plantation have a wonderful and exciting history that is well worth the read and should be done while visiting the house since so much research has been done to make it all just right. It tells of the battles that swirled around the plantation and region, and the owners of the house afterwards. There are also many antiquities located there and a few archaeological excavations that have uncovered some awesome artifacts.

    Ferry Farm
    Ferry Farm Fredericksburg, Virginia
    Ferry Farm is located in Stafford County, Virginia, just across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and was also known as the George Washington Boyhood Home Site or Ferry Farm Site. It is this farm that young George Washington would spend his boyhood days, and in July, 2008, archaeologists stated that they had discovered the remains of his old boyhood house that had been burned down by fire, that included many artifacts like parts of a tea set that may have been Mary Ball Washington's. The farm was named after the Washingtons had left, and was named after a free ferry that crossed the Rappahannock River on Washington land, although the family wasn't involved in it at all. No one knows for certain what the farm was called when George lived there, but sometime in the late 19th century it would become known as Pine Grove besides the Ferry Farm, and rose to national fame during the Washington birth bicentennial of 1932, which brought many writers forth that called it both names. The farm became the setting for many stories about our first president, with the majority of them coming to the public by Mason Locke Weems, best known as Parson Weems, in the early 19th century. One of the most famous and well known appeared in the 1806 edition of Weem's Life of Washington in which a six year old George barked one of his father, Augustine's favorite cherry trees with a new hatchet. After he had been confronted by his father, young George is said to have replied, "I can't tell a lie, Pa; you know I can't tell a lie, I did cut it with my hatchet." There is another version of the story that involved his horse, that he had barked the tree with his hoof and George took the blame. It is supposedly the same site that George had "threw a silver dollar across the Rappahannock River". It is a possible thing to skip the coin across the river, or flat rock, although the river was much wider than it is today, making that feat quite something. Every year during the celebration of Washington's birthday, the local citizenry are invited to try the difficult feat, but it wouldn't be until the summer of 2006 that Ferry Farm archaeology intern, Jim Trueman actually accomplished getting his coin to cross the river, from one bank to the opposite. Wanting to make sure that it hadn't been a fluke, he did again the next year in 2007. The site was also the place that had some skirmishing in the Civil War in 1862, and Union soldiers used the house as a headquarters and after being done with it, took it apart for firewood. It has been the subject of many failed attempts at preservation, since the 1920s, was initially started by land owner James Beverly Colbert, and that attempt was destroyed by the Great Depression. Ever since then, every decade, preservationists have tried to enshrine the farm, but it continued to fail. In the 1960s, the site would have a boys home for troubled teens constructed there, and this project left that farm's most visible feature, the big pseudo-Georgian structure that today contains a museum, archaeological lab and offices.

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    Mary Washington HouseMary Washington House Fredericksburg, Virginia
    The Mary Washington House in Fredericksburg, Virginia is the former home of George Washington's mother, Mary Ball Washington, where she would live the remainder of her life. George bought the house for her in 1772, and she lived here until her passing in 1789, after George's father, Augustine Washington had passed in Fredericksburg in 1743. The house is close to the college that would be named after her, the University of Mary Washington, and was acquired by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities in 1891 and had been scheduled by be taken apart piece by piece and shipped to the Chicago World's Fair for exhibit. The house was completely restored and opened to the public for guided tours and has since become a landmark in the city. The white frame house sits on the corner of Charles and Lewis Streets, and had been within walking distance of Kenmore, the home of her daughter and George's sister, Betty Fielding Lewis. Legend has it that General Lafayette discovered Mrs. Washington attending her garden, when George arrived to get her blessings before going to his inauguration in 1789. Mary's best dressing glass, a mirror, is still located in the house with many other possessions, as well as her sundial in the garden.

     Fredericksburg Amtrak Station
    Fredericksburg Amtrak Station Fredericksburg, Virginia
    The Fredericksburg Amtrak Station in Fredericksburg, Virginia was constructed in 1910, and continues to be the terminus of the Virginia Railway Express Fredericksburg Line, as well as being the Greater Richmond Transit Company's express bus service station that runs to downtown Richmond and Washington, DC. The Fredericksburg Regional Transit (FRED) has been added to the schedule to handle the extra riders that go to the capital for work. The station was a replacement for the old ground level building that had been put there by the previous rail lines, but this time was rebuilt by the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad and the Virginia Central Railroad.

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Local Restaurants in Fredericksburg

    Sammy T's
    Entrees; crab cakes is 2 crab cakes fried with cole slaw, choice of potato; Adventurer is black bean cakes, fresh mixed greens, onion & cheddar cheese wrapped in grilled tortilla with hot sauce; cheese tortellini is ricotta stuffed tortellini with housemade velvet cream sauce & fresh tomatoes; chicken wrap with grilled chicken breast, sautéed green peppers & onions with melted Swiss cheese wrapped in grilled tortilla; spinach foldover is chi chi dip (hummus), with sautéed spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms & red onion folded in grilled tortilla served with side of tahini; stir fry with broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, green peppers & onions in spicy peanut sauce over choice of rice or fettuccini; chicken parmesan is grilled chicken breast topped with melted mozzarella served over fettuccini with red Italian sauce, parmesan cheese & bread; vegetarian lasagna with ricotta cheese, chopped spinach, sautéed veggies & mozzarella cheese with garlic toast; Sammy T's stuffed potato is baked potato with mushrooms, tomatoes, walnuts, sunflower seeds & 3 cheeses topped with sour cream & served with cup of soup; quesadilla with mozzarella & cheddar cheese with onions, tomatoes, green peppers & chopped pepperoncini in grilled flour tortilla with hot sauce & sour cream; bean burrito is black beans seasoned with mushrooms, tomatoes, onions & peppers wrapped in tortilla with cheddar & mozzarella cheese with hot sauce & sour cream; camper's special is house famous bean & grain burger & chi chi dip topped with sautéed onion, green pepper, tomato & mushrooms & wrapped in tortilla topped with melted mozzarella & cheddar cheese with lemon tahini dressing.

    Capital Ale House
    Entrees; all items served with Ale House salad, today's veggie & starch selection unless otherwise noted; crab cake & filet is petit certified Angus beef filet mignon grilled your way, with 4oz. crab cake finished with German hefeweizen béarnaise sauce; NY strip steak is 12oz. grilled your way & topped with melted bleu cheese butter; sirloin steak is 10oz. filet sirloin cooked your way & finished with house Belgian Framboise steak sauce; braised pork shank is 20oz. braised pork shank finished with demi glaze & served with mashed sweet potatoes; BBQ ribs is full rack of St. Louis cut ribs, dry-rubbed, slow cooked & basted with malted barley beer-b-que sauce; brat & knack plate is knackwurst & bratwurst served with kraut, sweet-and-sour red cabbage & warm German potato salad; Polska platter is fresh kielbasa grilled & served with potato & onion pierogies in cheddar-sage béchamel sauce; Jagerschnitzel is breaded & fried pork loin cutlets topped with mushroom gravy & served with kraut, sweet-and-sour red cabbage & warm potato salad; jerk chicken is half chicken, jerk roasted & finished with coconut cashew sauce with mashed sweet potatoes; lemon caper chicken is herb-roasted free range chicken breast finished with lemon caper sauce; polenta & mozzarella is fried polenta cakes topped with melted herb-marinated fresh mozzarella cheese, olives & portabella mushrooms in roasted pepper marinara sauce; bacon wrapped scallops is big, pan seared scallops wrapped in thickly sliced Applewood smoked bacon & brushed with drawn butter; Atlantic salmon baked on aromatic cedar plank & glazed with German rauchbier reduction; shrimp & andouille ravioli is shrimp & andouille sausage filled ravioli served in lobster cream sauce; shrimp & clam pasta is jumbo gulf shrimp & baby clams in white clam sauce over linguine.

Chicken Parmesan Sammy T's Fredericksburg, Virginia

 

Vegetarian Lasagna Sammy T's Fredericksburg, Virginia

 

Chicken Wrap Sammy T's Fredericksburg, Virginia

NY Strip Steak Capital Ale House Fredericksburg, Virginia 

 

BBQ Ribs Capital Ale House Fredericksburg, Virginia

 

 

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    Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park Fredericksburg National Cemetary Fredericksburg, Virginia
    The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is located in Fredericksburg, Virginia and other areas in Spotsylvania County, that commemorates four major battles of the Civil War and include; the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battle of the Wilderness. The park continues to preserve four historical structures that were part of the battles; Ellwood, Salem Church, the house where Stonewall Jackson died and the Chatham Manor. One other site is included, although they are just ruins, and those are the Chancellor family mansion ruins that show where the old house sat and what is left after the battle. You will find two visitor centers in the park, one at the bottom of Marye's Heights in Fredericksburg and one at the Chancellorsville site, with a couple of exhibit shelters located at the Spotsylvania Court House and the Wilderness sites, but only during the summer season. The park was created in 1927, and transferred from the War Department to the park service in 1933, and then listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. It contains 8374 acres, although the government only owns 7369 acres, and it welcomes more than half a million visitors each year. The Fredericksburg National Cemetery was made by an act of Congress in 1865, once the states had been reunified, so that Union soldiers that had been killed in the local battles or other means, could be buried there. The cemetery ended up at Marye's Heights, which had been one of the strongholds of the south, and there are 15,243 soldiers buried there, although only 2,473 of those were able to be identified. The graves located there are those that were known and unknown, with the identified dead getting buried in a single grave with marker stone, containing the name and state of origin, while the unknown dead were buried in mass graves with marker stones containing two numbers, the first upper number tells the number of the plot and the second lower, tells how many were buried in the grave. There are about 100 soldiers and a few with their spouses buried there from the 20th century, since the cemetery had been allowing new inters until the 1940s, while another separate cemetery on Marye's Heights has buried those that died before the Civil War, and is called the Willis Cemetery.

    St. George's Church
    St. George's Church Fredericksburg, Virginia
    St. George's Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia was constructed in 1849, although it is the third church to be constructed here, with the original church being constructed in the 1730s, and the second, a sturdier brick building constructed in 1815. During the earliest period of the new church back in 1738, George Washington's family and many other notable and famous families moved into the region, and began attending services at this church. During the almost three centuries of existence, the church has always been involved in the community and its affairs, starting in the colonial days, when it was responsible for the welfare of the needy, sick, orphans and widows. During the latter years of the 18th century and up until 1802, the church started female and male charity schools, and before the beginning of the Civil War, it would have Sunday school for the black slave children. In the Civil War, it would become a hospital, as well as holding revival meetings, and it continues to be committed to the community, by assisting in the creation of the various organizations that help the citizens of the city and region; like the Homeless shelter, Hope House, Senior citizens, Rappahannock big brothers/big sisters, Hospice and the Interfaith Council. The present church is an excellent example of Romanesque revival that had been very popular during the mid-19th century, and was designed and constructed by H. R. Reynold and Robert Cary Long of Baltimore. The exterior features such outstanding qualities like round arched doors and windows, central tower and steeple, and the clock in the tower, which was set into place in 1851, but had to be repaired in 1854 after it suffered some fire damage. The side galleries were installed in 1854, and the plain glass windows that had been there for many years would be replaced with marvelous stained glass windows during the turn of the 20th century.

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    James Monroe Museum & Memorial LibraryJames Monroe Museum & Memorial Library Fredericksburg, Virginia
    The James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library can be found in Fredericksburg, Virginia that houses the Presidential library and museum that is dedicated to Monroe and contains many items that had been used by him during his Presidency at the White House. The museum isn't solely dedicated to James, but also to various members of his family, as well as dresses that were worn by his wife, First Lady Elizabeth Monroe. The exterior of the house contains a memorial garden to James that highlights a marvelous bust of him that was sculpted by Margaret French Cresson, the daughter of Daniel Chester French. James had been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, coming from a family rich in land, history and money, that would bring power and other favors that accompanied those born to wealth, as his father was a rich planter. His great-grandfather had fought along side Charles I of England during the English Civil Wars before he was taken prisoner and exiled to Virginia in 1649. From age 11 to 16, James would study at one of the best schools in Virginia, the Campbelton Academy and he was brilliant in math and Latin, as well as one of his school mate, John Marshall, that later became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Major Monroe would get a large tract of land that would eventually become Monrovia, or Monroe Hall on Monroe Creek, which was a tributary of the Potomac River, and that estate would grow into the huge plantation that would be the home of many generations of Monroes. The major passed on in 1668 and left six heirs, one of them being William, the father of Andrew, who married Christian Tyler and have seven children. One of these was Spence, the father of James, who had five children with Elizabeth Jones Monroe, and he would become a cabinet maker and farmer, owning about 500 acres during James' childhood. The plantation grew tobacco, cattle, barley, corn and other cash crops that made them moderately wealthy according to the standards of the day. James spent much of his youth exploring the marshes and forests around his family's estate and then going to Campbelton from 1769 to 1774. When James' father passed on in 1774, his life changed dramatically, as he and his brother, Andrew, would share the ownership of the farm, which was sold in 1783. Elizabeth Monroe's brother, Judge Joseph Jones, would step in and take charge of the orphaned children, and suggested James enter college at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, which he did and entered into the fall semester of 1774. He would study law under George Wythe, one of the most successful attorneys in the colonies at that time. He would have finished his studies on time, except for the rising turmoil that political events stirred up around and in the city. The great revolution was brewing, and the young men at the college were ready to become involved. Because of his family's history and involvement in the Stamp Act Resolution and various other events that made James leery of the crown, he would change his life's direction in the summer of 1776, as the military became his main objective. It is a wonderful story and outstanding history lesson, as James climbed the ladder of success and became the fifth President of the United States. James and Elizabeth bought a 1000 acres next to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and lived there from 1799 until 1823; and eventually ended up being owned by his old alma mater, the College of William and Mary.  James Monroe would be the last Founding Father of the Unites States, the last man from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican generation. His presidency would become an "era of good feelings" with hardly any problems in the nation, except for the Panic of 1819 and the admission of the Missouri Territory; but is best known for the Monroe Doctrine that said this country wouldn't tolerate anymore interventions in this country from European nations. 

    Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center
    Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center Fredericksburg, Virginia
    The Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia houses a significant collection of items that are important to the city and surrounding counties of Caroline, Spotsylvania, King George and Stafford. It showcases the lifestyles, history and culture of the region's people that have lived here in the past and the people that live here today. Their first donation to the collection came in 1986, and has continued to grow to more than 8000 objects and artifacts that include all facets of the area's history. Some of the items in the collection include; weapons, maps, silver, books, objects of historical use in agriculture and industry, glass, documents, photographs, furniture, stoneware, maps, textiles, and Native American relics. The biggest single gift and the donation that has been made the nucleus of the collection came from the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation in 1990. Some of the permanent collections include; George Washington and the Masonic Tradition, British Heritage, American Style: Decorative arts of the Rappahannock River Region, 1730-1860, Fredericksburg at War, Portal, Passage, Power: An American River Town, Railways and Roadways, Our Community, Not So Current Currency and numerous changing exhibits that are sure to enhance your knowledge and understanding of the region and its excellent history. This region put more men in the White House, and held greater power, than any other regional area in the United States.

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    Rising Sun TavernRising Sun Tavern Fredericksburg, Virginia
    The Rising Sun Tavern in Fredericksburg, Virginia is a very historic structure, that was constructed in 1760 by Charles Washington, the younger brother of George; that would become a tavern in 1792, after he sold it. The site was made a National Historic Landmark in 1964, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. The tavern doesn't serve drinks or food anymore, but does have the tavern wenches and male indentured slaves that will guide you around the old structure, giving you some excellent lessons on the life of an 18th century tavern and the people that visit. The old tap room highlights a rebuilt bar cage and outstanding collection of 18th and 19th century American and English pewter, as well as another room that can be used for meetings, gatherings and parties.  The tavern was known in those days as Weedon's, after the owner, William Weedon, a friend of George Washington, that would become a general in the continental army and wounded at Brandywine; and then led the charge of the Virginia troops at the Battle of Yorktown. It was around the large open fireplace that the movers of action and thought would talk about politics and the destiny of the colonies. There was an English traveler that once wrote, "I put up at the tavern of one Weedon who was ever zealous in fanning the flames of sedition". And, strangely enough, five of those men that met around the fireplace ended up as generals for the colonies in their revolution. They were, Weedon, Washington, William Woodford of Caroline, Gustavius B. Wallace of Stafford, Hugh Mercer and a young man named James Monroe that had become a captain. The place was a magnet for freedoms and the zest of the colonists that dreamed of someday enjoying it all, and it was here that religious freedom and the public school system was born. On January 13, 1777, a committee met there comprised of men like Thomas Jefferson, George Mason of Gunston Hall, Thomas Ludwell Lee, George Wythe and Edmund Pendleton to create bills of religious freedom and the public school system that would later be enacted by the Virginia General Assembly. Talk has it that Charles Washington and Weedon were partners in the tavern. 

    Hugh Mercer Apothecary
    Hugh Mercer Apothecary Fredericksburg, VirginiaThe Hugh Mercer Apothecary in Fredericksburg, Virginia was the pharmacy that Hugh Mercer started upon the advice of George Washington, who Mercer had met in Pennsylvania when the young Colonel was fighting in the French and Indian War. The structure that housed the apothecary was rejuvenated by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities so that it could exhibit the medicines and treatments of the 18th century. There is a small display that describes Mercer's life and contributions to the Revolutionary War. Mercer was a doctor from Scotland who had to flee for his life after the Battle of Culloden. Dr. Mercer would serve the residents of Fredericksburg for fifteen years with remedies that used such treatments as leeches, crab claws, lancets and snakeroot. Hugh left his practice to join the Revolutionary War and became a brigadier general who lost his life at the Battle of Princeton.

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    Battlefield FredericksburgBattlefield Fredericksburg, Virginia
    The Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia was fought on December 11 through the 15th, 1862, in and around the city of Fredericksburg, between General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac under Maj. General Ambrose E. Burnside. The Union army's continued and futile frontal attacks against a deeply entrenched Confederate army, on the heights behind the city, is remembered as one of the most one-sided battles of the Civil War; as the Union suffered twice the casualties as their counterparts. Burnside had planned on crossing the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg and race to the capital in Richmond before Lee's army could stop him. But because of the lack of communication and bureaucratic simplicity, the troops didn't get the necessary pontoon bridges in time and Lee was able to get his troops in place and block the advance. When the Union finally made it across, under fire, his troops encountered heavy urban fighting in the city during December 11 and 12; as their main army readied themselves to fight against the Confederate positions that had been set up south of the city and on a strongly fortified ridge west of the city called, Marye's Heights. The Grand Division of Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin would piece the defensive line of Lt. Gen. Stonewall Jackson on December 13, more to the south, until his men were repulsed by the strong defensive positions. Burnside ordered the divisions of Maj. Generals Edwin V. Sumner and Joseph Hooker to commit as many frontal attacks as needed against Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's very strong defensive position on the heights, which were all completely defeated amidst heavy losses. December 15 saw Burnside withdrawing his army, as they failed again in the Union campaign in the Eastern Theater. The background to this battle and how Burnside had been promoted to the position he held is a very interesting story, and shows how the army was run, and the various ambitions of the men that were leading it that may or may not have influenced any outcomes. It does seem strange that many of the battles were lost by men that were more interested in saving their own skins rather than showing consideration for their men, which almost always ended in a loss for those leaders.  The two armies that met at Fredericksburg were the largest group of soldiers that faced each other during the Civil War, with 114,000 troops under Burnside and 85,000 under Lee. The Union army had 12,653 casualties and the Confederacy had 5,377. 

    Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont
    Gari Melchers Home & Studio Belmont, Virginia
    The Gari Melchers Home and Studio in Belmont is a marvelous furnished country house and working studio that had been the home of American impressionist painter, Gari Melchers; as it was during the 1920s. The 27 acre estate has elegant formal gardens and outstanding wooded trails running through the artist's retreat. There are many special displays that showcase Melchers art and that of his contemporaries, along with an introductory film titled, "Gari Melchers: True and Clear". Gari had been one of the most decorated artists of his time, although today, he is barely remembered. His ambitions caused him to recreate the essential character of a place and the people became the key to his international success; until the end of his career and life, when he was considered "old-fashioned". Regardless, his success and legacy in the history of American painting scene is secure, because the museum continues to highlight his life and work, that had been a vibrant part of the early 20th century painting scene. Corinne Melchers, his widow, deeded the estate to the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1942 as a memorial to her late husband, and is managed by the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia and has become a National Historic Landmark. His house and studio are one of thirty of the nation's most important artists' spaces in the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Historic Artists' Homes and Studios consortium. The house and studio has become the official Stafford County Visitor Center and is open every day from 9 AM to 5 PM.

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May 12, 2011