For Immediate Release: 08/28/03
Preservationists and Community Leaders Save Historic Property at Manassas
(Manassas, Va.) - At a news conference held this morning on Henry House Hill, the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) announced the rescue of a key portion of Second Manassas Battlefield. The 136-acre property, known locally as the "Davis Tract," was the scene of bitter fighting 141 years ago this week.
"This preservation success was truly a team effort," remarked CWPT President James Lighthizer. "Without the support of local residents, the Davis Tract would very likely have been developed. They are the ones who discovered the property was up for sale and helped raise the money to buy it."
As with many preservation efforts, an informal coalition formed to make this acquisition possible. CWPT worked closely with the National Park Service (NPS), the Sudley Mountain and Stony Ridge Civic Association, the Conservation Fund, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation to raise the $600,000 necessary to purchase the property.
Lighthizer pointed out that the role of the civic association was unprecedented. They raised $100,000 of the total purchase price. According to Lighthizer, "some members of the association actually took out second mortgages in order to contribute the preservation effort."
Joining Lighthizer at the news conference were Robert Sutton, the superintendent of Manassas National Battlefield Park (MNBP), Jack Hermansen of the Sudley Mountain and Stony Ridge Civic Association, and Jim Burgess, an NPS historian. In his comments, Superintendent Sutton thanked the assembled preservationists, stating, "We are delighted that everyone pulled together to make this purchase possible."
After the news conference a plaque was unveiled recognizing the role of the civic association in this important preservation victory. The plaque will remain on display in the MNBP visitors center atrium.
The Davis Tract was once considered one of the most significant unprotected sites associated with the Second Manassas Battlefield. According to John Hennessy, author of Return to Bull Run, "You would be hard pressed to find a more significant tract. The Davis tract is at the top of the list of unprotected land at Manassas." The battle of Second Manassas was fought August 28 to August 30, 1862.
In Fall 2000, CWPT and the civic association began a nationwide fundraising campaign to save the Davis Tract. It was not until this year that the entire $600,000 fundraising campaign was completed.
With 45,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism. CWPT's website is located at www.civilwar.org.