Governor McDonnell Announces Donation of Battlefield Lands to Commonwealth by Wal-Mart
(Richmond, Va.) - Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that Wal-Mart has donated to the Commonwealth of Virginia more than 50 acres of land in Orange County associated with the Civil War battle of Chancellorsville and most notably with the battle of the Wilderness.
“We are delighted by this generous and voluntary gift from Wal-Mart,” said Governor McDonnell. “It’s another demonstration of Wal-Mart’s role as a good and positive corporate citizen in Virginia, whose presence here serves long range goals for our vitality.”
Henry Jordan, Senior Vice President, Eastern Seaboard Wal-Mart said, “Wal-Mart is extremely pleased that we have both found a home for our new store in Orange County while donating the property at the originally proposed site to the Commonwealth. In this way, we have been able to give back to the community and serve the needs of our customers.”
Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources, the agency that will receive and steward the donated land, has worked quietly with Wal-Mart to complete a the donation documents and its acceptance. Those documents are now final and will be record by Wal-Mart. The department holds or co-holds numerous easements on thousands of acres of privately-owned battlefield lands throughout the commonwealth, easements that protect the lands from future development.
“This is a wonderful legacy gift from Wal-Mart that comes during the mid-point of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War,” said Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of the Department of Historic Resources. “We look forward to working with community leaders to steward the property and realize its potential for public benefit. We are grateful to the Company and to Speaker Bill Howell, Chairman of the Sesquicentennial Commission, for his work to encourage the donation.”
“On behalf of the entire Sesquicentennial Commission, I want to thank Wal-Mart for this generous donation,” added Speaker Bill Howell. “The Civil War is an important part of Virginia’s history. This donation will allow for the preservation of these historic lands for future generations.”
Wal-Mart had originally purchased the land, which was zoned for development, for construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter store, a decision the company was willing to revisit when the site’s close affiliation with Chancellorsville and Wilderness were brought to light.
Wal-Mart has since then selected, purchased, and constructed a store at an alternative site four miles west of the original site located at the intersection of Routes 3 and 20. The company’s alternative site was supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Trust, and other groups who today applauded the donation.
“With this donation, Wal-Mart successfully fulfils the commitment made in 2011 to choose an alternate site and work to set aside the original location,” said Jim Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust. “The Commonwealth and Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources are ideally suited to be stewards of this resource, safeguarding its integrity for future generations of Americans to visit and study. We deeply appreciate Wal-Mart’s gift and the Commonwealth’s willingness to facilitate this important milestone in the protection of battlefield lands.”