A gravestone marks the spot where the arm of General Stonewall Jackson is buried near the Ellwood house in Orange County. Wednesday, Walmart dropped its plans to build a store near the battlefield where Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant first met in 1864. —The Associated Press
Walmart won’t pursue store near battlefield
HISTORY » Plan withdrawn ahead of trial over site
The Associated Press
ORANGE — Under withering opposition from hundreds of historians, Walmart Stores Inc. abruptly abandoned plans Wednesday to build a Supercenter near a Civil War site where Robert E. Lee first met Ulysses S. Grant on the field of battle in 1864.
Attorneys for the world’s largest retailer announced the decision in court on the eve of a trial that would have put Pulitzer Prize winning historian James McPherson on the witness stand. He was to testify that a portion of the site 60 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., was a “nerve center” for the Battle of the Wilderness.
Walmart, which had weathered two years of criticism by preservationists over the site, did not elaborate on its decision to withdraw plans for the store one day before the trial was to begin.
BREAKING NEWS: National Trust for Historic Preservation Commends Walmart’s Decision to Withdraw Plans for Supercenter at Wilderness Battlefield
By National Trust for Historic Preservation on January 26th, 2011
Walmart today announced that it has withdrawn its proposal to build a Walmart Supercenter at a location within the boundaries of Wilderness Battlefield — the site of one of the most important battles of the Civil War. The company instead plans to work with the local community in Orange County, Virginia, to identify an alternative site for development in the County. The company’s development proposal at Wilderness — at a location described by historians as the “nerve center” of the Union Army during the 1864 battle — prompted the National Trust for Historic Preservation last year to list the battlefield as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Orange County’s approval of the development also became the subject of a legal challenge brought by local citizens and preservation organizations. The case was originally scheduled to go to trial this week in Orange County circuit court.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation applauds Walmart’s decision, joining with our partners in the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, a group including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Trust, the Piedmont Environmental Council, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, the National Parks Conservation Association, Preservation Virginia, and a number of other conservation organizations.
Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, made the following statement:
The National Trust for Historic Preservation commends Walmart for taking this important step. By withdrawing the current proposal, the company has created an opportunity for all parties to work together to find an appropriate solution — one that will allow Walmart to pursue development elsewhere in Orange County, while ensuring that this important part of America’s Civil War heritage is protected. We and other members of the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition are greatly encouraged that Walmart is willing to find another location for development — one removed from the battlefield — that we can all support. We also look forward to working with Walmart and others to ensure that the current site will never again become the subject of a development battle.