Civil War Site Preservation Success Stories
The Third Battle of Manassas
On land adjacent to the Manassas Battlefield Park, where Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet launched the attack in August 1862 that almost destroyed the Union, a proposal to construct a 1.2 million square foot retail, housing and office complex met with a storm of local protest, led initially by veteran preservationist Annie Snyder and the Save the Battlefield Coalition. The battle quickly took on national significance and the National Trust for Historic Preservation joined with NPCA to organize a National Heritage Coalition of preservation, conservation and veterans' groups to lead a vigorous legislative and public relations campaign to save the hallowed ground.
After a nationwide advocacy campaign, we were successful in convincing Congress to appropriate funds to purchase the land and incorporate it into the National Park, thereby protecting it in perpetuity.
Halting Disney at Haymarket
In 1994, when Disney announced its ill-advised plans to build a $650 million theme park as well as an office and home development in the historic Haymarket area of Virginia's Piedmont region, we joined with local and national groups to fight to protect Civil War heritage sites. In the face of opposition from nationally significant historians, local organizations, residents, and National Trust members from across the nation, Disney bowed to pressure to back out of its plans to replace authentic American history with a pale imitation.
In 2000, we marshaled our effective list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places to raise awareness about a hidden Civil War treasure in the City of Washington, D.C. – President Lincoln's Cottage. Abraham Lincoln spent one quarter of his presidency at the Cottage, which served as his summer White House. His time at the Cottage impacted his presidency greatly, especially the night time walks where he would visit with the Union soldiers encamped around the grounds.
Over the years, the property had been transformed from a country cottage to a soldiers' home, to a heavily used office building serving the U.S. Armed Forces Retirement Home. While the Home was committed to stewardship of the site, by the year 2000 a shrinking financial base for upkeep dictated that only the most basic repairs be made to the cottage. Seeping water in the basement, rotting wood windows, and antiquated electrical and plumbing systems were among the most urgent needs. Leaking radiator pipes in the 100-year-old heating system were damaging floors and interior woodwork that date to Lincoln's time.
The National Trust negotiated a unique partnership with the U.S. Armed Forces Retirement Home and committed to a significant fundraising campaign to restore the cottage to its appearance when Lincoln and his family resided there. After a $15 million restoration, the President Lincoln's Cottage opened in February of 2008 as a National Trust Historic Site, and now the public can visit this most important Lincoln heritage site and experience in a very powerful way the impact the Civil War had on his presidency.
Considered the "Ellis Island of the West," Angel Island State Park, in California, is well known as home to the Angel Island Immigration Station, which was a major port of entry for thousands of immigrants, many from China and Japan but also from other nations as well, between 1910 and 1940. Less well known is the fact that Angel Island was also used as a military base by the U.S. Army during the Civil War.
In 1999, we placed Angel Island State Park on our America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list to highlight historic sites, wildlife, and trails that were threatened by neglect, deterioration, and natural forces. Through the Save America's Treasures program we helped to raise much needed funds to support a rehabilitation plan, completed in 2003 by the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. The first part of this three-phase plan, which is currently underway, is to preserve the detention barracks, establish an interpretive center, and create a multipurpose learning center housing archives and a research facility.
Missionary Ridge (Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, Bragg Reservation) Historic District in Tennessee
Missionary Ridge Historic District overlooks the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park as well as Bragg Reservation, which is the Nation's oldest and largest battlefield park, established in 1890.
In 2007, plans to install a cell communications tower threatened to disrupt the views of the historic district and Civil War site, and would result in an adverse effect on the Reservation and its setting. Our Legal Defense team has joined the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, and the Tennessee State Historic Preservation Office in providing legal intervention in order to halt construction of the tower, which would be located approximately 825 feet from the Bragg Reservation.
Western Civil War Sites
In 2005, as part of the Battlefield Preservation Fund project, the National Trust awarded a grant to the Montana Preservation Alliance in order to support the completion of a cultural resource management plan for Rosebud Battlefield State Park. The Park, comprised of 3,052 acres, is located on the site of the June 17, 1876 battle between the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians and General George Crook's cavalry and infantry, one of the largest Indian battles ever waged in the United States.
In 2005, we provided a Preservation Fund grant to undertake a campaign to purchase and preserve 112 acres of land representing the eastern flank of the battlefield for the 1864 Battle of Franklin in Tennessee. Preservation grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation are catalytic grants for projects, providing seed money and a national stamp of approval from the nation's premier historic preservation organization, often resulting in significant additional support from public and private funders.
In April 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation composed a letter to the Frederick County Administrator in Virginia expressing grave concerns and strong opposition to the rezoning of 639 acres of land immediately adjacent to the Belle Grove Plantation, which is owned by the National Trust. The rezoning and quarry expansion proposed by a Belgian mining conglomerate would cause visual intrusions.
In 1997, the National Trust listed the Vicksburg Campaign Trail on the America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. The fields, bayous, and county roads of Louisiana where the Vicksburg Campaign was fought—and the tide of the Civil War turned—had been threatened by the forces of time, change, and neglect. Since then, feasibility studies approved by the National Park Service have promoted the addition of acreage and resources to prevent the loss of the entire 200-mile path.
Our commitment to protecting Civil War historic places continues today. Through grant making, technical assistance to local groups and direct advocacy at the local, state and national level we're helping individuals and organizations protect, enhance and enjoy places that matter to all of us, including the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historic Park and Fort Monroe in Virginia, Harper's Ferry in West Virginia, St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, DC, and the 240 mile corridor of hallowed ground through southern Pennsylvania, West Virginia as well as cutting through the heart of Virginia threatened by proposed power transmission line construction.