View Full Version : MoC on the move?

01-24-2007, 08:28 AM
This might be the best option for the museum. It seems to be the unwanted red-haired stepchild in Richmond right now.

Mark Campbell
Piney Flats, TN

Civil War museum may leave capital
Richmond's Museum of Confederacy studies a move to Lexington
Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Museum of the Confederacy officials are considering moving the world's largest collection of Civil War artifacts to Lexington.

"I don't know if the conversations will go anywhere," said Waite Rawls, the museum's president and CEO, who visited Lexington this month. "But they have started."

Lexington, about 140 miles west of downtown Richmond in Rockbridge County, could be a good fit for the museum's collection of Confederate artifacts, manuscripts and photographs. Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are buried there, it is home to Washington and Lee University, and the town takes pride in its Civil War history.

"The mission of the museum is consistent with the historic attractions and educational institutions already in our community," said Lexington Mayor John Knapp in a joint statement with Harvey Hottinger, chairman of the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors.

The museum at 12th and East Clay streets has been struggling for survival beside Virginia Commonwealth University's sprawling medical campus for years. Annual visitation has dropped from 92,000 to about 51,500 since the early 1990s. Rawls announced in October that the museum will relocate its collection but that the adjacent White House of the Confederacy will remain where it has stood since 1818. A committee had looked at the feasibility of relocating the Civil War home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

"We have said all along that our preference is to be in Richmond," Rawls said. "But given Lexington's historical character . . . we said, 'Let's go up and take a look.' We are no further along than that."

During their visit, Rawls and three members of the museum's board toured a possible site, the historic Rockbridge County courthouse complex on Main Street. Lexington is set to break ground on a new courthouse in February. When the two-year project is completed, the 1897 building will be vacant.

The courthouse complex also includes the town's old jail, which dates to 1841, the First American Bank building and the "lawyer's row" building. All are vacant and would require renovation work.

"We want to keep the historical integrity of the buildings," Rawls said. "The question is, can you do that and meet the needs and demands of both sides?"

It would be a big blow to Richmond if the museum should leave town, said Jack Berry, president and chief executive officer of the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"It would be a very big loss," he said. "We'd be losing a huge asset. We hope it doesn't happen."

While talks with Lexington will continue, Rawls said, that doesn't mean the search is over.

"This is all very preliminary," he said.

Whether the collection stays in Richmond or moves outside the city, Rawls said he hopes the museum will be in its new home by 2011, the beginning of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

Contact staff writer Janet Caggiano at jcaggiano@timesdispatch.com or (804) 649-6157.

Jim Mayo
01-24-2007, 10:50 AM
It would be a big blow to Richmond if the museum should leave town, said Jack Berry, president and chief executive officer of the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"It would be a very big loss," he said. "We'd be losing a huge asset. We hope it doesn't happen."

Inaction, poor planning or what ever you want to call it by the city of Richmond for many years is responsible for the situation the museum is in now. The city government must not have been too concerned for that to happen.

If it must move I think Lexington would be a good site.

01-24-2007, 02:04 PM
Tough for Richmond but I had a hard time finding parking for the Museum the last time I was there in the late 90s.

01-25-2007, 03:49 AM
Having been to the museum and seen how it is dwarfed by the adjacent VCU medical facility, MOC's considering such a move does not surprise me. What does surprise me is that the city of Richmond does not have some other site that would be suitable logistically and historically.

01-26-2007, 02:43 PM
Methinks the City of Richmond has foisted this upon itself, though years of apathy or downright hostility to the museum by many of the "forward" thinking liberal types who now inhabit, and run, the city.

Having enjoyed many visits to Lexington, this would be a highly appropriate location for the museum and certainly more hospitable.

"On to Lexington!"


01-26-2007, 04:01 PM
I hate to say it, but it would probably would be the best to move. I went to both towns on my honeymoon last year. The contents of the museum were indcredible. The Confederate White House was one of the nicest old houses I've ever toured. It made you sick to look outside though. The hospital is like 3 feet from the museum. Parking was crazy. When we toured Lexington we did it dressed up. With all the PC nonsense I wouldn't of dare done that in Richmond. I toured a couple other places there and then get on out of town. I hate to think of what will happen to the Conf. White House once the museum is gone though.

Jim Mayo
01-26-2007, 05:48 PM
Richmond's loss is Lexington's gain. The more I think about it, the better I like moving the museum into a more friendly location.

I went to the MOC today for the first time since the new building got under way. What a mess. If planning was scat, the city would not have enough to smell.

01-28-2007, 10:32 PM
Lexington has a lot going for it. Washington & Lee University. VMI and its grounds and museum. Matthew, Mark, Luke & John await your visit. George C. Marshall Museum too. Lee Chapel with Lee's tomb, the tombs of his family, exhibits including paintings by C. W. Peale. Traveller's bones right outside. Jackson's House down the street and Jackson's grave too.

However, is there enough visits by Civil War buffs to justify a move over one to Petersburg or near Fredericksburg? Attendance figures for institutions in Lexington should be checked first and if they look bad, the MoC will be going from the frying pan to the fire. Petersburg has the battlefield, Blandford Church, Siege Museum and nearby Pamplin Park, Five Forks, City Point. Fredericksburg has four battlefields and is close to Alexandria, Quantico (Marine Corps Museum), etc. I hope they check the #s before they go.