Confederate Museum on slate to open in 2012
STEPHANIE A. JAMES/Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
The Appomattox branch of the Museum of the Confederacy will be more than a museum centered around events leading to the end of the Civil War, according to museum officials.
There will be several sections that reveal details prior to the end and after the war.
"It can’t just start at 1865. How did the war progress? How did it start? What were the reactions from the North and South?" Museum President and CEO Waite Rawls said during a media tour of the museum, which is still under construction on Horseshoe Road.
The museum, which will be completed in December, is scheduled to open March 2012.
The facility is already visible from the State Route 24 and the surrounding areas as 15 flags will be aligned in front of the building.
As well as the events leading to the surrender of Appomattox, the museum will highlight African-American life.
The museum will include interactive capabilities as well as rotating and permanent exhibits. Among the permanent exhibits will be Gen. Robert E. Lee’s uniform and sword, which Rawls calls the "rock stars" of the exhibits.
Also, the pen Gen. Robert E. Lee used to sign the surrender document.
In addition, there will be on display various Confederate flags.
"People think they know the Confederate flag. There were 100 different designs of Confederate flags," Rawls said.
There will also be over 100 pictures of people and details of their story.
Another feature of the museum include areas with a lower ceiling that will feature motion-activated audio such as that of President Abraham Lincoln’s reaction to the surrender at Appomattox.
Following the surrender, Lincoln gave a speech and instructed a band to play "Dixie" announcing victory to all.
Also visitors will have the opportunity to hear Gen. Lee’s farewell address.
In addition, visitors will have computer access to be able to look up ancestors who have surrendered. The computer base will include 28,000 Confederates that surrendered.
Other notable attractions will include surrendered unit battle flags, parole list and other uniforms of other officers who were present at the McLean house- the location of where Gen. Lee and Gen. Ulysses Grant negotiated surrender terms.
Also information will be made available about other surrenders including the last surrender that took place on November 6, 1865.
Rawls noted that Appomattox has world-wide recognition.
"You could go anywhere in the world say the word ‘Appomattox’ and people know what follows. But people don’t spend the night here. They spend the night somewhere else, and that means they eat somewhere else. They shop somewhere else," Rawls said.
Rawls added that the museum would attract visitors that will stay longer than a typical day trip.
Economic Development Director Jeff Taylor recognized that once visitors go to the museum there needs to be hotels and other lodging so that people will stay longer in Appomattox.
Taylor noted that billions in revenue came in to the state in 2010.
"How much of that is Appomattox getting? I think that the folks in Appomattox need to build upon this tourism industry," Taylor said.
Taylor believes that the museum will give Appomattox an economic boost as additional tourists will be attracted to the area.
"I feel things will begin to happen," Taylor said of the opening of the new museum.
Site work for the 11,700 square foot building began in January.
The museum is a short distance from the boundary of Appomattox Court House National Historical Park or surrender grounds, where Gen. Lee and Gen. Grant worked negotiations for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.
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