Civil War Trust
For Immediate Release: 05/22/08
CWPT Honors Friends of Wilderness Battlefield as 2008 Preservation Organization of the Year
Recipient lauded as one of the nation’s most dedicated and successful battlefield stewardship groups
(Washington, D.C.) - The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) is pleased to announce that the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield has been selected as the recipient of the 2008 Brian Pohanka Preservation Organization of the Year, an honor bestowed annually on a local or regional group that has distinguished itself for outstanding dedication to the preservation, promotion and interpretation of Civil War History. The award was presented during a ceremony today at CWPT’s Washington, D.C. headquarters.
“I can think of no group more deserving, no volunteers more dedicated and no success more measurable,” said CWPT president James Lighthizer. “The Friends of Wilderness Battlefield is truly an exemplary organization and one that I am proud to call a partner in preservation.”
Friends of Wilderness Battlefield (FOWB) was founded in 1995 with 10 members; today the organization has grown to more than 240 members in 29 states. FOWB regularly conducts tours of the Wilderness Battlefield, as well as hosting living history programs. The group has also conducted a seminar for teachers and an educational program for children. Additional FOWB service projects include cleaning roads throughout the battlefield, maintaining park walking trails, earthworks, markers and monuments, and rebuilding bridges on the battlefield.
The group’s greatest undertaking, however, has been the stabilization and restoration of Ellwood, a historic home on the battlefield which served as a Confederate hospital after the nearby Battle of Chancellorsville and the headquarters of Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren during the Battle of the Wilderness. The family cemetery also became the burial place for the left arm of Confederate Maj. Gen. Stonewall Jackson, which was amputated prior to his death in May 1863.
To date, FOWB has raised $291,000 for the restoration and maintenance of Ellwood. Phase I of the long-term project, including the restoration and furnishing of the first-floor parlor, entry hall and north room, is complete; Phase II, including restoration of the first-floor stair hall, breezeway and west room, is slated for completion by May 2009.
Earlier this month, the restoration of Ellwood was announced as one of the National Park Service Centennial Challenge Projects to receive funding in 2008. The Department of the Interior will match FOWB’s $256,500 contribution with a $240,500 federal allocation to be used toward creating exhibits to interpret the site.
“We’re very honored to have received this prestigious award, and thank the Civil War Preservation Trust for the recognition. In the future will endeavor to maintain our work on behalf of historic preservation,” said FOWB president Dan Nickelson.
The Preservation Organization of the Year award is named for the late Civil War historian Brian C. Pohanka, who was one of the founders of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites, one of CWPT’s predecessor organizations. Pohanka passed away in 2005 at age 50, following a battle with cancer.
The award is one of nine presented annually to recognize extraordinary individual and organizational achievements in the cause of Civil War preservation. Other awards are presented for state and national legislative leadership, for historic site management, to inspirational educators and in recognition of outstanding roundtable and reenactment groups.
With 65,000 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. CWPT’s website is www.civilwar.org.