Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation purchases New Market Military Museum

Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT
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NEW MARKET, Va. (WHSV) - A major purchase by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation has opened the door for a variety of new historical experiences in New Market.

The Battlefields Foundation has purchased the New Market Battlefield Military Museum and the five-acre property it sits on for $2.8 million.

With the purchase, the public will be able to see lands previously restricted.

“It will become a trailhead that will allow us to open up over 170 acres of the preserved battlefield that we’ve owned for a great deal of time but have never been open to the public because we did not have access,” said Kevin Walker, CEO of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.

The foundation was able to make the purchase thanks in part to a $1.3 million donation from John and Geroga Bracken, the previous owners of the museum who will continue to operate it.

“It’s people like the Brackens who are making preservation possible. Their donation is going to open up 170 acres of grounds to generations of people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to enjoy them, and we’re really looking forward to showing the world how special the Valley is, how special our communities are, and how important the history is here to the history of the nation,” said Walker.

With the purchase, the Battlefields Foundation can now create a much larger battlefield experience for visitors.

“What we’re hoping to do is to stitch all those pieces together so that we can have a battlefield experience that gives more outdoor recreation opportunity, gives more trails, gives more interpretation, and gives people more of a reason to stay for a longer period of time,” said Walker.

The Battlefields Foundation plans to restore the historic River Road to the way it looked during the 1864 Battle of New Market. The road runs through the museum property and the 170 acres of land and will be a big part of the future plans for the property.

“You’re gonna be able to pull onto the Bracken property, park in the museum parking lot, go into the museum, and you’re also going to be able to get onto this trail system that we’re going to be quickly developing throughout that 170 acres hopefully connecting that to the visitor experience that VMI provides,” said Walker.

The Virginia Civil War Museum in New Market announced earlier this year that it was discontinuing its annual Battle of New Market Reenactment. While the Battlefields Foundation doesn’t have plans at the moment to hold a reenactment of its own, it will start some new living history events.

“One of the things that we’re definitely going to do is work with both museum partners in New Market to figure out what we can offer as a Battlefields Foundation during that traditional battle anniversary weekend that might help bring people to town like the reenactment did,” said Walker.

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