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Museum of the Confederacy's museum project focused on Appomattox leaves Fredericksburg-region leaders waiting in the wings
By DAN TELVOCK
Museum of the Confederacy executive director Waite Rawls has his hands full in Appomattox, where he wants to begin his system of museums.
The negotiations in Appomattox have left Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County leaders a bit out of the loop. They said they haven't heard from Rawls in months.
The private Richmond museum has the world's largest collection of Civil War artifacts and is looking to have a location here as well.
Fredericksburg City Councilman Matt Kelly said a meeting with museum officials had been set, but was canceled when the city manager resigned.
"Everything's been relatively quiet," said Kelly, who is one of several Fredericksburg officials who discussed with Rawls the possibly of a museum in the city's historic Princess Anne Street courthouse.
"I know they are kind of heavy-duty into the Appomattox situation right now," Kelly said. "I know they are still looking at all the sites here, too. It's not just us."
With a recent request for a closed-door meeting with Appomattox County supervisors shot down, Rawls is left trying to make his vision fit on 4 acres near the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, where about 150,000 people visit a year.
Elected leaders in the town of Appomattox, east of Lynchburg, want to make a deal, and have negotiated with a landowner to buy the 4 acres for $325,000.
However, Appomattox County Supervisor Thomas Conrad told The Lynchburg News & Advance that the county is not interested in buying 4 additional acres Rawls says the museum needs. Efforts to reach Conrad for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.
To complicate matters, what was first announced as an 8,000-square-foot, $4 million museum has now turned into a larger $8 million facility.
Rawls announced in late 2007 that he wanted to have a museum near the Chancellorsville battlefield off State Route 3 in Spotsylvania.
But that proposal faced behind-the-scenes opposition from preservations who fought hard to get the Mullins Farm preserved. They didn't want someone to build on the historic land.
That's when Rawls turned his attention to Fredericksburg.