Brown University sues Newport News over sword
A lawsuit filed just before the new year in U.S. District Court in eastern Virginia alleges that the historic Lee Hall Mansion in Newport News has on display an ornamental sword from the Civil War era that rightfully belongs to the Providence university.
The Tiffany Silver Presentation Sword once belonged to Col. Rush B. Hawkins, founder and commander of the famed 9th New York Volunteers, in May 1863, according to the lawsuit. The unit was highly decorated.
The sword and scabbard, made by Tiffany & Co., remained in Hawkins's personal collection until he donated them to the Annmary Brown Memorial, a nonprofit to honor his dead wife, the granddaughter of a founder of Brown. The memorial came under university control in the 1940s.
Is this Newport News tourist site harboring a purloined sword?
According to the complaint, the artifact was "taken unlawfully" from the university in the 1970s and only recently "surfaced" at the city-owned mansion, "on loan from an unnamed bailor."
The lawsuit seeks that Brown take "immediate possession of these invaluable historical artifacts," citing a risk that they might otherwise be returned to whomever lent them to the mansion or "otherwise disappear again."
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Daniel de Vise
| January 6, 2011; 2:08 PM ET
Categories: Administration, Litigation | Tags: Brown University lawsuit, Brown University sword, Brown stolen sword, Lee Hall Mansion sword
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