Heritage Alert - December 2000

Lee's Boyhood Home - Gettysburg - H L Hunley - Monitor 2000 - Lincoln & Soldiers' Home Monument - Kentucky Civil War Trails - Cross Keys - Kernstown.


by Anne Hughes


Lee's Boyhood Home. Alexandria, Virginia


Lee's Boyhood Home. Alexandria, Virginia The Friends of the Lee Boyhood Home are waiting to hear whether their bid to buy back the historic house from the new owners, the Kingtons, has been successful. An eminent advisory panel of historians, and representatives of such organisations as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Virginia Historical Society, Civil War Trust, etc., is considering bids received by the July deadline. If the Friends of the Lee Boyhood Home bid does succeed, they will have until the end of May 2001 to raise the necessary funds for the purchase and subsequent renovations and upkeep. The Friends' advisory board includes Senator John Warner, author Shelby Foote and National Park Service Historian Emeritus Ed Bearss.





As a Philadelphia newspaper worded it "amid the crack of cannon fire from battle reenactors and the cheers of thousands of onlookers, the controversial Gettysburg National Tower crashed to the ground in a massive implosion" on July 3rd. The demolition job, valued at $1 million, was undertaken for free, with 10 pounds of explosives, in exchange for the right to videotape the implosion for promotional purposes. Park officials said they plan to restore the site to its 1863 appearance, as part of an ongoing project to restore the battlefield. This project includes removing non-historic trees, replacing missing fences and orchards, and managing woodlands and thickets.


Submarine H L Hunley


On 8th August 2000, the Confederate submarine broke the surface for the first time since 17 February 1864 when she rammed a charge of black powder into the USS Housatonic off Charleston. The Hunley was successfully recovered from the seabed and now lies in a 55 foot-long tank submerged in a bath of water chilled to 500 F, whilst scientists work out the final details for excavating the submarine's interior. They expect to find a time capsule of artefacts, both naval and personal effects of the crew, in addition to the remains of the crew themselves. They are also hoping to solve the big question - why did the Hunley sink? More info:


The Monitor Expedition 2000


Despite high seas and difficult conditions, the Monitor Expedition 2000 has been a success, and took several major steps towards the preservation of the Monitor. The diving team videotaped many areas, including an excellent video of the engine, valve chest and condenser. It is hoped these tapes will help produce a complete map of the engine room and engine. Artefacts removed included the skeg (a support strut for the propeller and rudder) and shaft assemblies. These are now undergoing lengthy conservation processes at The Mariners' Museum. More info, including photos & movie clips:


President Lincoln & Soldiers' Home National Monument, Washington DC


President Lincoln's summer home, Anderson Cottage in NorthWest Washington, has been declared a National Monument by President Clinton, and is designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. It was at Anderson Cottage that the President completed the drafting of the Emancipation Proclamation, and he rode out from this house to view the battle at Fort Stevens in July 1864. The house is now part of the US Soldiers' and Airmen's Home.


Kentucky Heartland Civil War Trails


The Kentucky Heartland Civil War Trails Commission has been awarded a grant of $171,360 for the 'John Hunt Morgan in Kentucky Heritage Trails System'. This grant will go towards layout, design, manufacture and installation of interpretative, destination signs, research, design and printing of a brochure for this heritage tourism project.


Cross Keys Battlefield


The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) has secured the Widow Pence Farm, a crucial parcel of land located in the heart of the battlefield. CWPT President James Lighthizer remarked that the farm "is a Civil War enthusiasts dream. Few battlefields remain that so closely resemble conditions as they existed during the war". Under an agreement, the Widow Pence Farmhouse will become the home of the Hess family whose major contribution made the purchase possible. There will be public access and historic interpretation of the site and there will be an easement placed on the property, restricting future alterations and construction on the land. The farmhouse is believed to be the only structure at Cross Keys that existed at the time of the battle.


Kernstown, Virginia


The Kernstown Battlefield Association (KBA) has completed its purchase of the 315 acres of the Grim Farm on the battlefield site. The KBA is currently fund-raising to complete the purchase price, being $1 million short. More info: