Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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National Trust heralds Walmart’s change of mind

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Statement from the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

Washington, D.C. (January 26, 2011) – Wal-Mart today announced that it has withdrawn its proposal to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter at a location within the boundaries of Wilderness Battlefield — the site of one of the most important battles of the Civil War. The company instead plans to work with the local community in Orange County, Virginia, to identify an alternative site for development in the County.

The company’s development proposal at Wilderness — at a location described by historians as the “nerve center” of the Union Army during the 1864 battle — prompted the National Trust for Historic Preservation last year to list the battlefield as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Orange County’s approval of the development also became the subject of a legal challenge brought by local citizens and preservation organizations. The case was originally scheduled to go to trial this week in Orange County Circuit Court.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation applauds Wal-Mart’s decision, joining with our partners in the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, a group including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Trust, the Piedmont Environmental Council, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, the National Parks Conservation Association, Preservation Virginia, and a number of other conservation organizations.

Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said:

“The National Trust for Historic Preservation commends Wal-Mart for taking this important step. By withdrawing the current proposal, the company has created an opportunity for all parties to work together to find an appropriate solution — one that will allow Wal-Mart to pursue development elsewhere in Orange County, while ensuring that this important part of America’s Civil War heritage is protected.”

“We and other members of the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition are greatly encouraged that Wal-Mart is willing to find another location for development — one removed from the battlefield — that we can all support. We also look forward to working with Wal-Mart and others to ensure that the current site will never again become the subject of a development battle.”