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Posted at 5:28 PM ET, 12/13/2010

New owner for Stonewall Jackson House

By Linda Wheeler

The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and the
Stonewall Jackson House Foundation are close to finalizing an agreement that would transfer the Lexington, Va., house museum where VMI professor Thomas Jackson lived for two years to the institute, according to officials involved in the transaction.

In May, the foundation approached VMI about acquiring the historic house as a way to protect the building and its collections, which the foundation purchased in 1994. Foundation executive director Michael Lynn said the Jackson House, as well as other small museums, are facing difficult times with the downturn in the economy and fewer visitors.

“This is the best possible solution for the long-term viability of the museum,” she said. “Surveys always show a high level of visitor satisfaction with the museum but there just are not enough of them coming.”

She said the museum had the highest attendance in 1991 when 37,000 visitors came to the house following Ken Burns’ landmark television series on the Civil War and when the building was owned by another preservation group. In contrast, she said, there were 23,000 visitors last year to the only house Jackson ever owned.

Under the plan, the house and its collections would be administered by the VMI Museum, which already has a substantial collection of Jackson artifacts, including the mounted body of General Jackson’s war horse, “Little Sorrel.”

VMI spokesman Col.Stewart MacInnis said the institute’s board of visitors approved the acquisition last week. The next step is the anticipated approval of the plan by several state agencies. If all goes well, the actual transfer would take place some time in the first half of 2011, he said.

By Linda Wheeler  | December 13, 2010; 5:28 PM ET
Categories:  Exhibits, News  | Tags:  stonewall jackson house; vmi  
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