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Museum eyes Va. grant
Fredericksburg slavery museum applies to state for grant to rebuild slave ship

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Date published: 3/13/2004


MWC joins in slave-ship plan

The U.S. National Slavery Museum and Mary Washington College have applied for a $686,400 state grant to rebuild a Spanish slave ship used in the early 1800s.

On Feb. 20, the museum applied to the Virginia Department of Transportation's enhancement program for the money.

If the grant is approved, the state will pay for 80 percent of the first phase of the project, which will cost $858,000. The eventual total cost of the replica is listed at $4.4 million.

It would be located in the museum at the Celebrate Virginia tourism complex along the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg.

But before that can happen, applicants need the endorsement or sponsorship from a local government or state-funded agency.

In most cases, it's the local government that works with applicants.

But in this case, it's Mary Washington College.

In a resolution adopted on Feb. 12, and signed by college President William Anderson, not only did the school endorse the request, it agreed to pay the 20 percent not covered by the state. The application lists that cost at $171,600.

Anderson was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Ron Singleton, MWC's senior vice president for college relations, said he was not aware of the resolution or the college's involvement in the project.

No museum officials could be reached for comment yesterday.

Though the Fredericksburg City Council is not involved in this project, council members Hashmel Turner and Joe Wilson sent letters of recommendation to the state on behalf of the museum's request.

Other members of the council, however, had not heard about the application or that fellow council members had endorsed it.

"I think there was ample opportunity for them to mention this was going on," City Councilman Scott Howson said. "I'm surprised it didn't come up in conversations. This is not something you would do as an independent city council member, it would be done through the city government."

Wilson said he saw no problem in writing a letter on behalf of the request.

"I did it as an individual member of council," he said. "We should do whatever we can to help this museum get off its feet and get up and running. Otherwise, it would be pretty damn dumb to give them a million dollars and then put banana peels in their pathway."

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