Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2005

HJR 747 - Joint Subcommittee to Examine the Cost and Feasibility of Relocating the Museum and White House of the Confederacy

July 22, 2005

On July 22, the joint subcommittee held its first meeting at 10:00 a.m. in the General Assembly Building. Members are Delegates William R. Janis, R. Steven Landes, R. Lee Ware, Jr., Ryan T. McDougle, and Franklin P. Hall; Senators Charles R. Hawkins, Thomas K. Norment, Jr., and Benjamin J. Lambert, III; Mr. Donald C. Gehring of VCU; Dr. Walter R.T. Witschey, Director of the Science Museum of Virginia; and S. Waite Rawls, III, Executive Director of the Museum and White House of the Confederacy. The subcommittee elected Delegate R. Lee Ware as Chairman and Senator Benjamin Lambert as Vice-chairman.


House Joint Resolution 747 (Janis) charges the joint subcommittee to examine the cost and feasibility of relocating the Museum and White House of the Confederacy and such other related issues as it deems appropriate. The joint resolution notes that the Museum and White House of the Confederacy serves as a worldwide center for studying the role of the Confederacy in the American Civil War and is the preeminent center for the display, study, and preservation of the history and artifacts of the Confederate States of America. Located in Richmond at the corner of 12th and Clay streets, the Museum and White House have increasingly become surrounded by the
campus of the Medical College of Virginia. As VCU prepares to build a new 14-story hospital immediately to the east of the Museum building, the Museum is considering whether to remain at its site or to move to another location.


S. Waite Rawls, Executive Director of the White House and Museum of the Confederacy, presented an overview of the problems facing the Museum at its current location. The White House, first occupied in 1812, once stood alone atop a hill in Richmond's Court End. When Jefferson Davis lived there during the Civil War, the mansion overlooked the Shockoe Valley, Church Hill, and Capitol Square. Now, the once prominent location is enclosed by the high-rise buildings of the Medical Center complex and the magnificent views that once existed are completely obstructed.

Mr. Rawls said that development in the area has also detracted from the overall experience at the Museum as evidenced by common complaints by visitors expressing difficulty finding the facility, parking their vehicle, and hearing tour guides over the noise from nearby construction projects and medevac helicopters. As the Medical College of Virginia campus continues to expand in accordance with the VCU 2020 master site plan, the location of the museum and White House will become more inconvenient to visitors.

Mr. Rawls reported that the museum's visitation has declined from approximately 75,000 per year in 1993 to the current annual visitation of approximately 55,000. At the current rate of decline, the Museum will soon require significant funding from the state to remain in operation.

Mr. Rawls concluded the presentation by submitting three options for the joint subcommittee to consider: The Museum and White House could remain at its current location at the corner of 12th and East Clay streets, the Museum could be relocated while leaving the White House in its current location, or both the Museum and the White House could be relocated.

While the ultimate decision will rest with the Museum's Board of Trustees, the joint subcommittee will examine the cost and feasibility of the options at its subsequent meetings.

Following Mr. Rawl's presentation, several members of the joint subcommittee and interested members of the public took a tour of the Museum and the White House.


The joint subcommittee is charged with completing its meetings by November 30, 2005. The next meeting is scheduled for August 29 at 2:00 p.m. in the General
Assembly Building.

The Hon. R. Lee Ware

For information, contact:
Robie Ingram, Bryan Stogdale, DLS Staff


Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2005 

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