VMI Acquisition of Jackson Foundation Complete
Lexington, Va., June 6, 2011 – The Stonewall Jackson Foundation has become part of Virginia Military Institute.
The process was complete in late May following a decision by Gov. Robert McDonnell earlier this spring authorizing the transfer of the Stonewall Jackson House, the adjacent Davidson-Tucker House, and the foundation’s collection to VMI. They will become a part of VMI’s museum operations, which also include the VMI Museum and the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park and Virginia Museum of the Civil War.
The proposal was sent to the governor after being approved by VMI Board of Visitors and the Stonewall Jackson Foundation Board of Trustees.
“The VMI Foundation will hold those funds for the express purpose of supporting the Stonewall Jackson House Museum and its operations,” said Lt. Col. Dallas Clark, Institute planning officer. “All those resources will be dedicated to the operation of the Stonewall Jackson House.”
“The state is interested in seeing that higher education is involved in economic development,” said Clark. “We [VMI] have a presence downtown now. We’re part of the community; we’re a community partner. It helps the local economy; one of the key local industries is tourism.”
“We’re all very excited about having the Jackson House under the umbrella of the VMI museums,” said Michael Lynn, executive director of the Stonewall Jackson Foundation. “We’re hoping to strengthen both institutions through this collaboration.”
At VMI, short-term planning is under way to make sure the museum continues to operate as it has in the past - “The experience and the availability to the public won’t change,” said Clark - and long-term planning is looking at ways to broaden the interpretation of the Stonewall Jackson House.
“Like so many house museums throughout the country, the Stonewall Jackson House faced substantial challenges going forward,” said Farris Hotchkiss, president of the Stonewall Jackson Foundation, noting the Board’s appreciation of the dedication over the years of loyal volunteers and donors. “We believe it will be a great asset to VMI and will be an even more important move for Lexington and our community in assuring the ongoing operation of the Stonewall Jackson House.”
“This is sort of what could be considered the third evolutionary phase of the house,” said Gibson, citing its opening as a museum in 1954 as the first phase, and its 1979 renovation and restoration to its appearance during Jackson’s occupancy as its second.
“We do have a confident sense that there is an economy of scale that can assist with the operation of the house in bringing it under the VMI umbrella,” said Col. Keith Gibson, VMI director of museum operations. “We think that this is not only desirable from an operational perspective but also from a programmatic perspective. We see opportunities in the future to have a greater VMI presence in the house and in the story and to have greater cadet involvement in the house as interpreters or as assistants. Joining the Jackson house with the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park and the VMI Museum, said Gibson, provides a more complete interpretation of the VMI story.
VMI Board of Visitors Vote to Acquire Jackson House
LEXINGTON, Va., Dec. 6, 2010 – The Virginia Military Institute Board of Visitors voted Saturday to proceed with the process that could lead to the transfer to VMI the assets and activities of the Stonewall Jackson Foundation in Lexington.
Institute officials continue to evaluate the proposed acquisition, which must be approved by the state.
The proposed acquisition was made in May by the Stonewall Jackson Foundation to protect the future of the Stonewall Jackson House Museum and its collection of historic artifacts. The VMI Board approved the proposal after determining that the acquisition of the house and its collections was both feasible and desirable.
The Jackson House Museum will be operated within the current VMI Museum Operations, which includes management of the VMI Museum and the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Confederate Gen. Thomas J. Jackson lived in the house during his tenure as professor of natural and experimental philosophy and instructor of artillery at VMI from 1851 till 1861. The house was rented out after his death, and for nearly 50 years the house –with additions – served as the only hospital in Rockbridge County. It has been operated as a museum since 1954. In 1979, it was renovated and restored to its appearance during Jackson’s occupancy.
Stonewall Jackson House, VMI May Merge Museums
Press release of the Stonewall Jackson Foundation and VMI
Lexington, Virginia, October 5, 2010 - The Stonewall Jackson Foundation and the Virginia Military Institute have announced a proposal to transfer the assets and activities of the Stonewall Jackson House to VMI. Under the plan Stonewall Jackson’s house in downtown Lexington, and its collection of historic artifacts, would be administered and managed by the VMI Museum, whose operations include management of the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park.
The proposed transfer is subject to approval by The VMI Board of Visitors and the board of the Stonewall Jackson Foundation, as well as state agencies. If approved, this arrangement could become effective sometime in 2011.
“For more than two years the Stonewall Jackson Foundation board has been engaged in a comprehensive study of the existing and future operations of the Stonewall Jackson House,” said Michael Lynn, the Executive Director of the Stonewall Jackson Foundation. “House museums throughout the country, including the Jackson House, are facing challenges created by the economic downturn and long term changes in consumer interests. Our board concluded that a consolidation of efforts through a transfer of assets to VMI was an opportunity to protect the future of the Stonewall Jackson House and its collections.” Lynn added, “The Jackson House brings to the table important collections, well-maintained facilities, and an operation that is free of debt. One of our greatest assets is our extraordinary group of dedicated volunteers.”
General J. H. Binford Peay, III, VMI’s Superintendent, said the VMI’s educational mission and its close association with Jackson make the consolidation a sensible move. “This supports our educational mission as a state institution, and it allows us to support the tourism industry in the Shenandoah Valley,” he said. “Joining our museum activities in New Market and at VMI with those of the Stonewall Jackson House offers great opportunities for economic development.”
Peay noted that the histories of VMI and Jackson are intertwined. “Scholars and military experts throughout the world continue to study Jackson and his military career, he said. “The plan we’re discussing is clearly the right way to assure that important assets with which to interpret his life, his times, and his legacy are preserved.”
Peay further stated, “We’re excited about these prospects. The timing could not be better, as the Commonwealth and VMI prepare to observe the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.”
Over the past two years, in reviewing its operations and its options, the Stonewall Jackson Foundation has obtained advice from numerous organizations, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The foundation also engaged the services of Jordan and Bryan Consulting LLC. The firm’s partners, Dan Jordan, President Emeritus of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and operates Monticello, and Dr. Charles Bryan, President Emeritus of the Virginia Historical Society, issued this statement:
“We have been pleased to assist the Stonewall Jackson Foundation in its strategic planning process for the last two years. We have known professionally its director Michael Lynn, and Keith Gibson, director of the VMI Museum operations, for many years. There are few more accomplished executives in the field. Their expertise and professionalism is truly commendable and their operations among the best-managed in America.”
“Combining their operations not only makes economic sense, but will also provide enormous benefits to the Commonwealth, each institution and the communities and historical significance they represent. We commend the leadership at VMI and the Stonewall Jackson Foundation for their foresight, leadership and commitment to preserving and enhancing their contributions to history and tourism in Virginia.”