Festivities on tap for Pamplin Park’s 25th anniversary

By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Twitter: @DinwiddieMonitr
Posted: May 24, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.

VIRGINIA – Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier is set to celebrate its 25th anniversary. What began in 1991 as an effort to preserve a threatened Civil War battlefield that had been plundered, encroached upon, and somewhat-ignored in North Dinwiddie County has evolved into one of America’s finest history and heritage travel destinations. 

The park is celebrating their anniversary on Sunday and Monday, May 26 and 27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

“The Pamplin Historical Park that you see here today began as a preservation effort to save the Breakthrough Battlefield, and has become a 424-acre park,” said Anthony Romanick, Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier. Today’s park boasts three historic homes and a world-class 25,000 square foot museum.”

On Sunday, May 26th, the day will begin with the opening of an exciting new exhibit to Pamplin. This new exhibit features a history of the park, and never-before-seen artifacts, unearthed within Pamplin’s 424-acre grounds. Children and families will enjoy a baseball game, children’s book readings, games, a dance school, and a scavenger hunt, all with a twist. All of the various activities will be conducted and appear, just as they would have looked during the time of the Civil War. The Williamsburg Youth Choir and 26th North Carolina Regimental Brass Band will perform and entertain visitors. During a special ceremony, a time capsule filled with items from the Park staff will be deposited in a safe place, and will not be retrieved until another 25-years have passed—in the year 2044.

On Monday, May 27th, there will be a 25th Anniversary ceremony. The ceremony will be followed by a Memorial Day commemoration. Jake Wynn, of the Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office, will provide a presentation on the human costs of war. Afterward, an honor guard will present the colors, with a cannon salute, followed by the always-somber playing of Taps. Walking tours and living history demonstrations will continue throughout the day.

In 1991, a tract of land, including a nearly mile-long stretch of pristine earthworks became available for purchase in Dinwiddie. It was on this site that the April 2, 1865, Breakthrough Battle occurred, where General U.S. Grant’s forces broke through Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s defensive lines. This event led to the end of the 292-day siege of Petersburg, and the subsequent surrender at Appomattox Court House, only a week later. A Civil War preservation group alerted Dr. Robert B. Pamplin, Jr., a businessman, and philanthropist living in Portland, Oregon, that the land was for sale. Coincidentally, this land had belonged to Pamplin’s ancestors during the Civil War. Dr. Pamplin and his father, Robert B. Pamplin, Sr., saw the opportunity not only to preserve the battlefield and their ancestral land but also to educate people on what had occurred on these sacred grounds. Shortly thereafter, they acquired the land and constructed an interpretative center. This led to subsequent land acquisitions, to include a parcel with the Pamplin’s ancestral home, Tudor Hall. With these elements in place, the Park was opened in 1994.

“Dr. Pamplin had the vision to go beyond just preserving two-miles of earthworks,” Romanick said. “His vision was to create a premier educational Civil War site, inclusive of technology, that would also engage younger visitors.”

While the facility was outstanding, Dr. Pamplin envisioned an even more ambitious plan to rank the park among the nation’s elite historical attractions. He assembled a blue-ribbon team of professionals and historians, who set out to add a world-class museum, along with complete educational and interpretive programs. This vision became a reality in 1999, when The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier opened its doors, to 25,000-square feet of artifacts, within a state-of-the-art facility.

Since 1999, the Park has continued to build upon a foundation of excellence. The Field Quarters, opened in 2001, to interpret slave life in the mid-1700s.  The Banks House opened to the public in 2002. The Banks House was used by General U.S. Grant as his headquarters on April 2 and 3, 1865, and an original slave dwelling sits to the rear of the house. In 2003, an Education Pavilion opened to meet the needs of expanded programming. A 1.5-mile Headwaters Trail opened the next year, in 2004, which led to the then recently restored, Hart Farm. This same year, the Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and designated as a Virginia Historic Landmark. In 2005, there was the opening of the highly-acclaimed Civil War Adventure Camp, where participants can stay overnight, and have a hands-on learning experience, as a Civil War soldier. Several outbuildings, such as a tobacco barn, and the addition of livestock and gardening demonstrations, provided even more opportunities for agricultural interpretation at the Tudor Hall site in 2005.

For more information, please call (804) 861-2408, or visit www.pamplinpark.org.

“Pamplin Historical Park is still evolving today, as we tell the stories of Civil War Soldiers, enslaved people, and civilians, through interpretation and special events,” Romanick added.”

Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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