Park to raze postwar house atop Fredericksburg battlefield’s Willis Hill
In the coming days and weeks, a contractor for the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park will be mobilizing to remove the last buildings associated with Montfort Academy.
These structures, also known as the Richardson House and its detached garage, sit atop Willis Hill on the Marye’s Heights and Sunken Road portion of the Fredericksburg battlefield.
The Richardson House was built circa 1888 and served as a private residence until acquired by the Daughters of Wisdom in 1948. The Catholic order operated Montfort Academy on Willis Hill for 50 years.
Following the 1997 sale of the property by the Daughters of Wisdom, the National Park Service took possession of the property and buildings with the intent to rehabilitate the landscape and incorporate Willis Hill into its interpretation of Marye’s Heights and Sunken Road.
The NPS removed the other Montfort Academy school buildings in 1998.
An architectural assessment of the Richardson house and garage revealed that the house had been greatly altered over the years with additional construction and expansion of the structure.
In coordination with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the NPS determined that the compromised architectural integrity of the structures and their lack of association with the Civil War battles fought in and around Willis Hill allowed for their removal.
Adjacent archaeological resources, including the site of significant 19th-century structures, will be protected during the removal process. While contractors are removing the two buildings, pedestrian access to Willis Hill will be restricted.
Alerts and updates about the work will be posted on the park’s website, www.nps.gov/frsp.
–Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park