On-line Book
Cover book to Battling for Manassas: The Fifty-Year Preservation Struggle at Manassas National Battlefield Park. [Image of cannon in the battlefield]
Battling for Manassas: The Fifty-Year Preservation Struggle at Manassas National Battlefield Park


Table of Contents




Chapter 1

Chapter 2

current topic Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11


Appendix I

Appendix II

Appendix III

Appendix IV

Appendix V (omitted from on-line edition)

Appendix VI

Appendix VII

Appendix VIII

Chapter 3
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Settling in

Stonewall Jackson Statue and the Administration-Museum Building

The National Park Service retained the basic administrative structure established under the New Deal's recreational demonstration area program when Manassas became a unit of the national park system in 1940. Branch Spalding continued to serve as coordinating superintendent from the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park, where he remained closely involved in making park decisions. Regional direction came from Region 1 headquarters in Richmond. For managing routine activities at Manassas, the Park Service appointed Raleigh C. Taylor as the first superintendent. Taylor supervised relief workers employed by the Bull Run project, who remained until June 1941 to complete various special improvements. [4]

In spite of a tenure shortened by his taking military furlough in early spring 1942, Taylor saw the long-awaited transformation of the battlefields from privately owned lands to a national park site with the appropriate visitor services. This change in ownership led to the development of the historically rich Henry Hill area, with the Park Service focused on educating Americans about the battlefields. Two early and significant projects proceeded with the nudging, or outright contributions, of outside organizations. First, in 1938 the state of Virginia appropriated $25,000 for the erection of an equestrian statue commemorating Stonewall Jackson's unassailable line on Henry Hill. Second, as a result of negotiations with the Sons of Confederate Veterans for the Henry Hill tract, the Park Service promised to build a museum at Manassas. These two landmarks, located on Henry Hill, focused attention on the First Battle of Manassas and proclaimed the existence of the national park. [5]

Initial thoughts for a Jackson statue emerged from the seventy-fifth anniversary reenactment of the first battle, held 21 July 1936. Sponsored by the National Park Service, a local community organization, and the Manassas-Prince William County Chamber of Commerce, the event brought 2,000 Army and Marine Corps troops onto the field that had witnessed the climax of operations in 1861. During these festivities, Coordinating Superintendent Spalding suggested erecting a "suitable monument" for Jackson to replace the poorly lettered sign that marked the historic site. No action was taken until 1938 when the Virginia legislature appropriated funds and the Sons of Confederate Veterans included a provision for its construction in its deed of conveyance with the federal government. [6]

Virginia state agencies selected the sculptor and design, and the Park Service advised on the placement of the statue. Originally, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, acting for the Virginia Conservation Commission, intended to cooperate with the National Fine Arts Commission in artistic review of the submissions, but controversy resulted concerning the ultimate jurisdiction and final authority of the two agencies. The state agency held its ground and chose Italian-born Joseph Pollia. Trained at the school associated with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Pollia had sculpted several monuments to American history, including a Spanish-American memorial on San Juan Hill in Cuba and a statue of Union General Philip Henry Sheridan. [7]

Pollia faced scrutiny as he translated his proposal into a finished model. A furor, dubbed the "third" battle of Manassas, arose when veterans and members of Confederate organizations criticized Pollia's rendition of Jackson, who looked more like Union General Ulysses S. Grant in their estimation, and Jackson's mount Sorrel, which appeared as a common plow horse instead of a prize mount. Pollia addressed the concerns and won praise from a local paper for "patience, for fortitude, for gallantry" displayed under such a barrage. [8]

As time for the dedication ceremonies approached, representatives from the Virginia agencies and the National Park Service met at Manassas to determine a location for the statue and for the museum-administration building. The delegation agreed to place the monument on the same commanding ridge where Jackson was then believed to have stood while directing his brigade's tactical maneuvers, with the statue facing toward the Union position near the Henry House. The Park Service and state agents selected the companion elevation for the site of the museum building, orienting the building so that visitors would have a clear view of the Jackson statue from the museum's observation terrace. [9]

Unveiling ceremonies on 31 August 1940 tied the bronze statue and the recently established national battlefield park to the events surrounding World War II. Mounted atop an eight-foot base of black granite etched with Brig. Gen. Barnard Bee's immortal phrase, "There Stands Jackson Like a Stone Wall," the stalwart Jackson in the saddle projected the same strength and determination that Americans needed in the current perilous affairs. Dr. Douglas Southall Freeman, a Richmond editor and authority on Confederate leaders, reminded the more than 1,500 attendees of Jackson's use of discipline and vigorous training, which would serve current military commanders well. [10]

statue of Thomas J. Jackson
Fig. 3. Towering over Henry Hill, the imposing figure of Thomas J. Jackson astride his mount Sorrel commemorates the point during the First Battle of Manassas when this Confederate commander stood "like a stone wall" against Union fighting and inspired his troops to victory. (National Park Service photo)

Whereas the Stonewall Jackson statue aided visitors in visualizing a key moment during the First Battle of Manassas, the administration-museum building represented the core of educational activities at the park. In preparing for its construction, the National Park Service decided that locating the building on a historic spot provided the greatest opportunity for educating visitors. This would also fulfill the requirements of the deed of conveyance. For late-twentieth-century viewers, the eventual placement of the building on Henry Hill may seem incongruous with the mandate to preserve the battlefield, but at the time, the amount of expected development on the battlefield seemed small in comparison to the benefits reaped in visitor contact and education. [11]

Size, design, and location served as the three important planning features of the museum-administration building. Carl P. Russell, who guided National Park Service interpretative efforts at Yosemite and other sites, used the combination of these three factors to lay out his vision of the building. During master planning for the Bull Run Recreational Demonstration Area project, he argued strenuously that adequate space be provided for administrative duties and for exhibits and lectures. Since the Park Service expected to launch tours from the museum, Russell wanted the building "strategically located in the historical area," such as on a site overlooking the battlefield, on a hilltop within the field, or in some "less conspicuous but easily reached" spot. [12]

Spalding, the coordinating superintendent, supported Russell's vision for the museum. Spalding agreed that selecting a site near the Henry House would be ideal, assuming that the building provided sufficient space to support both administrative and educational activities. When considering possible intrusions on the historic scene by the placement of visitor services, Spalding and other Park Service officials fought more over the number and location of picnic areas than the siting of the museum. Historical assistant Joseph Mills Hanson joined Spalding in this appraisal. Hanson wrote in the 1939 museum prospectus that the proposed alteration of the historic terrain for the museum was "necessary here," though mitigative steps in locating the building away from the center of Henry Hill would reduce the sense of encroachment. [13]

Discussions about the placement of the museum needed to incorporate the conditions placed on the Henry Hill tract in the 1938 deed of conveyance. In this document, the Manassas Battlefield Confederate Park, Inc., in accordance with the wishes of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, required that the Park Service erect a museum and suitable historical markers and monuments "upon the historical spots" of the conveyed land to the memory of both the Southern and Northern soldiers. Historic markers and monuments had to display the "strictest accuracy and fairness" and not detract from the "glory due the Confederate heroes." In addition, the Confederate organization required that a historic marker be erected "near the 'Henry House' or at or near the main entrance to this property" which recognized the donation of land made by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Underlying all of these requirements was the goal to make the battlefield park a real memorial to the soldiers, and these conditions defined the location and intent of the park museum. [14]

Architectural plans proceeded from the initial discussions of the space requirements and location for the visitor building. For the exterior, planners envisioned a fairly simple design evoking the antebellum period using stone instead of brick. Space allocation included first-floor visitor contact and exhibit areas, administrative offices, and a library; second-story storage and work rooms; and basement storage and heating plant facilities. Some discussion ensued concerning adding an observation platform on the second floor, which would allow visitors a "full panoramic view" of the First Manassas battlefield. While the Park Service believed a battlefield overlook was "a most vital part" of the interpretive program, the location of the museum building itself offered a more promising alternative than adding a balcony that would radically change the character of the proposed building. [15]

museum-administration building
Fig. 4. The museum-administration building has served as the principal contact station between National Park Service personnel and park visitors since its construction in 1942, providing exhibits describing key events of the two Manassas battles. (National Park Service photo)

Construction of the administration-museum building began in June 1941. Southeastern Construction Company of Charlotte, North Carolina, won the contract to build the two-story main building in native brownstone with a classically inspired portico. A single-story museum wing of cinder-block construction with stucco extended perpendicularly from the east side of the building. The Park Service paid $55,000 for construction of the building, while the New Deal's Emergency Relief Administration provided funds for the road to the museum. In accordance with the 1938 deed of conveyance for the Henry Hill tract, the Park Service placed a plaque inside the museum lobby that recognized the significance of the Sons of Confederate Veterans' land gift to the federal government. In February 1942 Superintendent Taylor and temporary exhibits moved into the new quarters. [16]

CONTINUED continued


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