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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See this show; enjoy tonight’s opening!

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MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

The Innis House along Sunken Road on the Fredericksburg battlefield. (LARRY STUART)

Top: The Bloody Angle on the Spotsylvania Court House battlefield. (LARRY STUART)

Have a few minutes free this evening?

Take a little time between 6 and 8 o’clock to visit southern Stafford County and its most remarkable historic home, Chatham Manor. You’ll have an enjoyable experience that no one’s had there in several lifetimes.

Tonight, you’re invited to an opening reception at the big house (circa 1790) for an exhibition of fine art, the unparallelled work of photographer Larry Stuart. The mansion’s dining room–with the portrait of J. Horace Lacy, one of Chatham’s owners, staring down from the wall–has been given over to this singular show.

I had the pleasure of seeing some of Mr. Stuart’s images this morning as he and others worked furiously to install the exhibit, and highly recommend making sure you get a good look at them. He has created beautiful, eery, moody, evocative photographs of landscapes within Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park that don’t look like anything else you’ll have ever seen. (Unless, possibly, you lived in the 19th century when wet-plate photography was in its early heyday.)

Mr. Stuart, from Anderson, Indiana,captured these scenes–selected from many hundreds that he shot–last fall as the national park’s first photographer-in-residence. His show is the first fine-art program that the park has hosted.

He’s a fine conversationalist–pleasant, smart and passionate about photography, art and American history.

As soon as I can make time, I’ll write a bit more in this space about the exhibition, how it came about, and what Mr. Stuart hopes that people may find in it.

For now, I can do no better than to borrow and republish a post written by historian Caity Stuart on the fine “Emerging Civil War” blog today:

It was built to house an 18th-century plantation family. It saw visitors such as Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and later, Abraham Lincoln. During the Civil War, it became a Union headquarters and subsequently a hospital. Walt Whitman wrote about his time here. Clara Barton spoke about it. Discussions were had here with Dwight D. Eisenhower about outfitting troops in the early 20th century.

Today, photographer Larry Stuart joins those ranks as he, too, will make history at this historic location. Tonight, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park in Fredericksburg, VA, will be hosting its first-ever fine art exhibit. The opening reception will take place this evening, February 17th, at the historic Chatham Manor from 6-8 p.m.

Can’t make it to the show but would still love to see it another time? The exhibit will remain at Chatham until March 16, 2012. More information about the art and how to contact the artist can be found at his website. We are really excited about what he has to offer to the Civil War and hope you are as captivated by his work as we are.