The Blog Squad

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Let's move the White House! (No, the other one ...)

One of my favorite stories about my father-in-law involves the time that my husband and I, fairly new to Richmond at the time, took his parents around town doing some of the more touristy things. Among other things, we went to the Museum of the Confederacy. The letters from Confederate soldiers back home were terribly moving, the battle accounts riveting, the artifacts fascinating. When we came out of the museum I turned and asked my father-in-law what he thought. "It was very interesting," he said. "I'm not sure who won."

Regardless of your perspective on the Civil War, er ... War Between the States er ... War of Northern Aggression, the Museum and White House of the Confederacy offer fascinating insights into that period of our history. But in recent years, Civil War buffs and their lucrative tourist dollars have found it more difficult to get to the White House and museum because it's been systematically swallowed up by the growth of VCU/MCV.

A visitor to the museum in May posted a nice review on tripadvisor.com but also had this to say: "This is a very out-of-the-way museum, especially hard to find when every sidewalk around the [Capitol] area is closed for renovations."

The museum is suffering financially and now the executive director of the museum is saying enough is enough. It's time to move. He's suggesting a state-owned site behind the Science Museum, but because the White House is a historic landmark, a move has to jump the hurdles of the city's Commission of Architectural Review. The mayor and City Council have yet to weigh in on this. (Lord only knows what Mayor Wilder's reaction will be to this one ...)

To me it seems like a no-brainer. We've got the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar set to open its first exhibits next year and Civil War history dripping from every corner of the region. Every Civil War buff in the country should be coming to this little Mecca and bringing some money for a hotel room along with them. Let's make it a little easier for them to see where Jefferson Davis put his boots, huh?

8 Comments:

At Sat Oct 01, 07:59:00 PM EDT, Blogger SouthoftheJames.com said...

The suggestion made a few months back by Sen. Lambert (I think) to have the Museum of the Confederacy and the Black History Museum should be reconsidered. It would actually be a great deal for both in terms of generating traffic and starting a much needed honest dialogue about race in Virginia and the rest of the South. Otherwise, neither place will be of much value to Metro Richmonders, Virginia or the nation because they may both disappear.

 
At Mon Jan 09, 08:21:00 AM EST, Blogger G. Ashleigh Moody said...

THE WHITE HOUSE IS IN THE RIGHT PLACE TODAY

Federal, State, and Local expert preservationist are not "buying into" the "gloom and doom" justification for impairment of this National Historic Landmark on the Register of Historic Places in America. Other solutions have been recommended to the Museum of the Confederacy leadership, and I would like to provide that testimony to our interested community. Recent expert testimony provided to the State Legislative Committee by Lamb, Dotts, Kilpatrick, and from others across the country is documented at: http://www.petersburgexpress.com/sellmoc.html

Professionals from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the National Park Service, and local preservation groups have suggested alternative solutions to the MoC and others. These groups along with the Virginia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Executive Council representing thousands of members across Virginia have condemned any impairment of the White House Landmark by the MoC leadership.

It appears to many of us here in Virginia, and to others beyond, that the MoC Board and Executive Director must be living on another planet from the mainstream of professional expert preservationist. Preservation is their MoC mission, but it seems to mean something else to Mr. Rawls and other MoC leadership as represented by their testimony.

As John Ruskin wrote in the 19th Century: "Old buildings are not ours, they belong partly to those who built them, partly to the generations of man, and those who follow us. The dead still have their right to them; that which they labored for, we have no right to obliterate."

Hmmmmmm, who are these "dead?":

As you may already know, early in the last century a group of honorable Southern women saved the White House, the Southern President's home and office during the war. This story of the Confederate Memorial Literary Society's, aka The Museum of the Confederacy, history is at: http://www.moc.org/history/moc.htm Shared with all Americans today, the White House Landmark designation is a rare honor with a significant meaning and purpose. As has been stated, "There is no magic elsewhere" for this landmark.

These honorable women worked through hard times during WWI, the Depression, WWII, and through other hard times to save and present this historic landmark for you and me. Destruction of their work would be disgraceful. What kind of people would do that? Do we just have a bunch of frumpy old men who can't manage it properly today? If not, then why is there so much credible opposition to the moving it?

Mr. Rawls' quote below about the proposed site is very flawed:

“It’s probably the most important military site in Civil War Richmond,” said Rawls. “It’s clearly the birthplace of the Army of Northern Virginia, and it’s where we want to move.”

By such a statement would he suggest that Douglas Southall Freeman, our ancestors, all the other war veterans, historians, and preservationist from the past and present must have "missed the boat" over the period of 140 years? Mr. Rawls, and the MoC just can't "make up" a new White House"Landmark" as he seems to suggest. It would seem that Mr. Rawls' and the MoC board have "discovered America", and suggest that the expert preservationist are just dead wrong. By comparison to the current White House location on Clay Street, when we look at the proposed move site area, I venture to say that most folks would say -->> Whaaaaaaaat! Are they crazy!

During the four State Legislative Committee meetings, Mr. Rawls provided no worthwhile plan that I or anyone else could see.

In conclusion, my intent in sending this letter is to provide more facts to better inform the public of a more serious threat to this rare designated National Treasure.

We have a lot to lose! An inquiry to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources online or by mail can also provide public information specific to the National Landmark designation and more. Thank you for your review of this information.

Sincerely,

G. Ashleigh Moody
Petersburg, Virginia
brickhouserun@aol.com
Member of:
The Museum of the Confederacy,
http://www.petersburgexpress.com/sellmoc.html

 
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