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Civil War museum leaving Spotsylvania for the city
Civil War Life Museum will leave Spotsylvania County for a location in Fredericksburg

Date published: 11/4/2009


Spotsylvania County is about to lose its only Civil War museum.

Terry Thomann, director of the Civil War Life museum, said yesterday that he plans to close the attraction in the Southpoint I center and in two weeks open a store at 829 Caroline St., in Fredericksburg to sell Civil War-related books, souvenirs, T-shirts and gifts.

He plans to eventually open a full-scale museum for his Civil War artifacts and a research center in the city by 2011, to replace his facility in the Spotsylvania Visitors Center off U.S. 1 near Massaponax.

The Civil War Life Museum's move comes almost two years after Thomann created a nonprofit foundation in hopes of raising $12 million for a new museum at the W.J. Vakos Courthouse Village development. Thomann said the foundation will continue to raise money for the museum in the city.

"The support that we had anticipated and expected from the county for the new museum just really never materialized," Thomann said. "All we ever heard was 'Well, we don't have any money.' A project like this really requires some community involvement."

Vakos said yesterday that he is disappointed with Thomann's decision, but he hopes to partner with the county to lure another museum to his development at Spotsylvania Courthouse.

Thomann's decision could open the door for S. Waite Rawls III, the executive director of the Museum of the Confederacy, to rekindle talks with Spotsylvania officials.

This summer, the Richmond-based Museum of the Confederacy announced it was looking at space in Fredericksburg after plans to build near or on the Chancellorsville battlefield in Spotsylvania didn't gain much steam.

Rawls said this summer that he is focusing on a satellite museum at Appomattox, and then he will look at options in Fredericksburg and Fort Monroe. He said building a museum in Spotsylvania County was still an option.

Supervisor Hap Connors was surprised that Thomann had already made a decision. He said the county for eight years paid the rent for Thomann's museum at the Visitors Center, including $61,995 this fiscal year.

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