By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: June 12, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – A fixture in the community and a must-visit location for history buffs locally and abroad celebrated a milestone anniversary as Pamplin Historical Park just off U.S. Route 1 heralded their 25th anniversary with a celebration that was well attended by the community during Memorial Day weekend.
Across a two-day event on May 26 and 27 during the weekend where those who made the ultimate sacrifice are honored across America, Pamplin Historical Park invited the community to come out and experience a key piece of Civil War history that lives right in their backyard.
“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 of Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier in the lead-up to their celebration. “Today’s park boasts three historic homes and a world-class 25,000 square foot museum.”
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 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.
One of the highlights of their two-day celebration was featured that Sunday as the park opened a new exhibit, which showcases the history of the park and never-before-seen artifacts that were uncovered on their sprawling 424-acre grounds, along with a period baseball game, and other family-friendly and educational activities.
In addition, a special time capsule was deposited, featuring a host of items that will not be retrieved until 2044, when Pamplin Park’s 50th anniversary is upon the region.
On Memorial Day Monday, the park continued its tradition of holding a special ceremony in honor of fallen American service members as the honor guard presented the nation’s colors and Taps echoed through the tall, green foliage of the park. Tours and living history demonstrations, both a fixture of Pamplin Park were held for attendees, as well.
For Romanick, Pamplin Park’s first 25 years are just the beginning.
“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.”
For more information on Pamplin Historical Park, please call 804-861-2408 or visit http://www.pamplinpark.org.