(Chancellorsville, Va.) - At a public hearing Tuesday night, the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors unveiled a proposal to preserve 140 acres of the historic Mullins Farm on Chancellorsville Battlefield. The deal is the result of an unique alliance between local homebuilder Tricord Homes; Spotsylvania County, Virginia; and the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT).
"Two years ago, few believed that the Mullins Farm could be saved," remarked CWPT President James Lighthizer. "Now, thanks to this unusual partnership, an irreplaceable part of Chancellorsville Battlefield will be protected for future generations of Americans. It is no exaggeration to say that this is the most significant battlefield preservation victory in a decade."
The linchpin of the deal is preservation of 140 acres of core battlefield land associated with the opening clash of Chancellorsville. Tricord Homes, a local family-owned development company, acquired the eastern half of the Mullins Farm — 227 acres in total — in July of this year. Soon thereafter, talks began that resulted in an agreement that permits Tricord to build age-restricted housing on 87 acres of the farm in exchange for the protection of the remaining 140 acres. CWPT is contributing $3 million toward the purchase of the preserved land.
"This is a real partnership where everyone wins," Lighthizer noted. "Tricord is able to build quality housing for seniors, the county is getting open space for its citizens, and preservationists are getting a battlefield of enormous historic significance."
Since 2002, the Mullins Farm has been the focus of a national campaign to save this important part of the Chancellorsville Battlefield. In March 2003, a proposal to build a 2,000-house development on the Mullins Farm was rejected by the county Board of Supervisors. In January 2004, a plan to put a highway interchange on the property was turned down by the local transportation authority.
However, it was not until the Tricord proposal was announced Tuesday evening that any battlefield land on the Mullins Farm was set aside for preservation. "Tricord recognized early on that preserving the battlefield was the path, not the obstacle, to a deal at the Mullins Farm," Lighthizer stated.
Although pleased with the Tricord deal, CWPT remains concerned that the western segment of the Mullins Farm remains slated for development. Lighthizer hopes to begin talks with Toll Brothers, the owner of the 566-acre western portion of the Mullins Farm, in the coming weeks. "There is still much more work to be done at Chancellorsville," he observed.
With 60,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its goal is to preserve our nation's endangered Civil War sites and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism. CWPT's website is located at www.civilwar.org.