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Civil War museum on Spotsy wish list
Spotsylvania officials still hope Civil War museum will be open by 2011, the start of the Civil War's 150th anniversary

Date published: 11/30/2009


Spotsylvania County could end up celebrating the Civil War's 150th anniversary without a museum that tells the stories of the bloody battles.

The county has the Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania Court House and the Wilderness battlefields as top tourist attractions. But the Board of Supervisors and county officials have had a tough time with opening a first-class Civil War museum.

Terry Thomann, the Civil War Life Museum's director, closed his museum at Southpoint I last week. He simultaneously opened a Civil War-themed store on Caroline Street, where Fredericksburg Historical Prints was located. He is preparing to open by the end of the year a gallery for Civil War prints by artist Mort Künstler, a tintype photography studio with authentic 1865 lenses, and a 3-D theater in the 2,000-square-foot building.

Thomann said the Southpoint location was tucked away in a shopping complex, far from any battlefield. The county owns the building, and Thomann had showcased his Civil War artifacts rent-free since 2001.

"The [city] location is just a thousand times better," Thomann said Friday. "This store is going to be a big asset to the city."

Thomann said he is still interested in talking with the county about opening a new museum, but he also hinted several times that it will take monetary support to make it happen. He said the National Civil War Life Foundation, which was established about two years ago to raise $12 million for a new museum, meets later this month. The members could still decide to try to open a museum in Spotsylvania, Thomann said.

Originally, Thomann had planned to move to W.J. Vakos' Courthouse Village project off the State Route 208 Bypass. On Friday, Thomann said a location in that development does not make a lot of sense, either.

"As far as I am concerned, the ball is in their court," Thomann said about the county supervisors making a decision.

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