Category Archives: Land of Leadership

Experiencing Presidents’ Day In The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area

For some residents, Presidents’ Day is a recognized federal holiday, a day off of school or work. I can recall honoring the actual birthdays of President George Washington (Feb. 22) and President Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12). But the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971 moved the holiday to the third Monday in February and is intended to celebrate all those that have served as our nation’s top leader. Whether you have the day off or not, this is a great opportunity to connect with our shared American heritage. Right here in our region, there is a rich collection of presidential history. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, a 180-mile swath of land that stretches from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, is known as the region Where America Happened™. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area contains more history than any other in the nation and includes: National and World Heritage sites, over 10,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, 49 National Historic districts, nine Presidential homes, 13 National Parks, hundreds of African American and Native American heritage sites, 30 historic main street communities, sites from the Revolutionary War, French-Indian War, War of 1812 and the largest collection of Civil War sites in the nation.

Of course there are the traditional places where Washington slept, but many other presidents visited or lived within this historic region. For example, Gettysburg, PA, primarily known for the battle that took place there in 1863, is also home to the Eisenhower National Historic Site. The former home and farm of General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower served the President as a weekend retreat and a meeting place for world leaders. With its peaceful setting and view of South Mountain, it was a much-needed respite from Washington and a backdrop for efforts to reduce Cold War tensions. For more information, visit

Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Nearby, tucked away in the Catoctin Mountain region of Maryland sits the presidential retreat known as Camp David. Essentially, every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has traversed to this retreat site while they were in office. Although it is closed off to visitors, individuals can visit Catoctin Mountain Park, where there is some interpretation of Shangri-La and its predecessor available at the Visitors Center. For more information, visit

Traveling down Route 15, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, visitors should also stop in Middleburg, Virginia. Considered the capital of Loudoun County’s horse country, President John F. and Mrs. Jackie Kennedy leased and then purchased a place in the quaint town as their own country retreat. In the 1990s, Jackie Kennedy Onassis often returned to spend fox-hunting weekends in the Middleburg countryside, which was filled with happy memories from her time as First Lady. Today, visitors can see memorabilia at the Red Fox Inn and other establishments visited by the first family. The town’s public pavilion and garden are dedicated to her. A great website to check out is

Montpelier, located near Orange, VA, was the lifelong home of James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution” and fourth President of the United States. The mansion core was built by Madison’s father circa 1760. The house has been newly restored to the way it looked when James and Dolley Madison returned from Washington in 1817, following Madison’s two terms as President. The 2,650-acre estate features the Madison mansion, 135 historic buildings, a steeplechase course, gardens, forests, the Gilmore Cabin, a farm, two galleries and an Education Center with permanent and changing exhibits, many archaeological sites and an Archaeology Laboratory. Information can be found at

In Charlottesville sits Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, third President of the United States and noted architect and inventor. Jefferson began construction on his “little mountain” home in 1769 and, after remodeling and enlarging the house, finally finished 40 years later in 1809. For more information, visit

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.

Jefferson’s friend and neighbor James Monroe owned Ash Lawn-Highland, along with his wife Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, from 1793 to 1826 and their official residence from 1799 to 1823. Ash Lawn-Highland is an historic house museum and 535-acre working farm of the former U.S. President and Revolutionary War veteran. Check out for more details.

Also in the area is Pine Knott, the country retreat of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt and their children from 1905 to 1908 during his term as President. This rural retreat from the “city environment” of Washington, D.C. provided a sanctuary for the Roosevelt family where they could hike, observe birds and wildlife, hunt, ride and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. The building had no plumbing, toilet, heat, or electricity or other facilities for the family, with a minimum of rustic comfortable furniture. For more information, check out

Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

In addition to the sites listed above, several other presidents visited towns and locations throughout the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. For example, President Lincoln’s footsteps can be traced to several locations. After the Battle of Antietam, he visited the site to meet with Union generals as well as wounded soldiers. During that trip, he stopped in other places such as Harpers Ferry, WV and Frederick, MD, where he gave remarks to citizens gathered on the street. And a year later, he gave a short address in Gettysburg that would is recited today by many around the world. Travelers interested in getting the presidential experience will find maps, suggested itineraries, and other travel resources are available at

George C. Marshall, Soldier and Statesman

Although George C. Marshall was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, he made Dodona Manor in
Leesburg, Virginia his permanent home for the last fourteen years of his life. Marshall was a
remarkable man, whose contributions as a leader made him Time’s “Man of the Year” twice,
once in 1943, and again in 1947. Indeed, Marshall was a key player in many historic events of
the 20th century. Marshall was a young officer in World War I and an aide to General John J.
Pershing in the early 1920s. Rising through the ranks, he became U.S. Army Chief of Staff in
World War II. In this role, he participated in eight wartime allied conferences, helping to shape
outcomes of global importance. copyAs Marshall biographer Ed Cray noted, “By dint of cool authority, Marshall had come to be the acknowledged leader of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff. He alone had held his post since the outbreak of war. He alone had the global vision to balance competing European and Pacific theaters and commanders, the personal reputation to keep such headstrong men as Douglas MacArthur and Joseph Stilwell in line, and the sheer physical presence to convince Congress and the public that the war was in good hands. . . . Those meeting him even for the first time came away reassured by Marshall’s confidence, his commanding grasp of a war waged in five theaters, and his austere manner. Somehow he seemed a man to whom one could trust one’s sons and the fate of the nation.”

Shortly after the war, Marshall was tapped by President Harry Truman as special ambassador to China, where he attempted to mediate the forces of democracy and communism vying for control of that government. While Secretary of State, he developed and sought passage for the European Recovery Program, better known as the Marshall Plan, which brought a unique and enlightened approach to the reconstruction of war-torn Europe. By encouraging economic integration, and supporting methods for increasing productivity and modernity, the ERP raised living standards, curbed Communism, and helped in restoring political stability on that continent. Many historians consider the Marshall Plan the most successful foreign aid program in American history.

As an outgrowth of his work on the European Recovery Program, Marshall encouraged the formulation of a system of mutual defense for Western Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Marshall’s final call to duty was as Secretary of Defense during the Korean War, directing U.S. military policy in that United Nations “police action.” A permanent 5-star General, Marshall was the only professional soldier to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, an honor that acknowledged his role in the reconstruction of Europe at war’s end. Although he wielded considerable power, especially in World War II, Marshall was never tempted to abuse it. Further, his sense of duty to country led him to accept Truman’s various calls to duty, long after he might have expected a peaceful retirement.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

American diplomat Charles Bohlen said of Marshall: “He was a man of absolute integrity. You felt the firmness, as if it were written in large letters all over him. . . . We realized we were working for a great man.”

400 Years of History on One Tank of Gas

Photos by Kenneth Garrett.  © Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photos by Kenneth Garrett. © Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

With gas prices where they are, families may be wondering what to do this summer or where to travel. There is a place where travelers can get 400 years of unparalleled American history and heritage on a single tank of gas- that is the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. This 180 mile swath of land that runs from Gettysburg, PA to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, VA includes nine Presidential homes, 13 National Parks, the largest single collection of Civil War sites in the nation, 30 historic Main Street communities to stay and dine in, many of the country’s best wineries and restaurants to enjoy, and to top it off, a National Scenic Byway with breadth taking landscapes, rivers and trails nearby to explore. And it’s all within a short drive from Washington, DC, Baltimore MD, Philadelphia, PA, Harrisburg, PA, and Richmond, VA.

Known as Where America Happened™, this region holds more American history than any other in the nation and can be enjoyed on just one tank of gas. As fuel prices rise and air travel becomes more unwieldy, now more than ever is the time to Take the Journey™ to discover some of the nation’s most picturesque landscapes and explore 400 years of American heritage.

Photos by Kenneth Garrett.  © Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photos by Kenneth Garrett. © Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Visitors can discover the stories of Abraham Lincoln and Gettysburg, PA; Civil Rights and Harpers Ferry, WV; historic downtowns like Frederick, MD and Leesburg, VA; the Iroquois Indians and the Potomac River; the inspiration of James Madison and the U.S. Constitution at Montpelier; the genius of Thomas Jefferson and Monticello; as well as locally grown foods, a perfectly aged barrel of Virginia grapes and so much more.

“There are few things that match the joy of discovery when exploring the unmatched history and heritage found in this spectacular National Heritage Area,” said Cate Magennis Wyatt, president and founder of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership. “The Sesquicentennial Commemorations of the American Civil war are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and make it the perfect time walk the battlefields; explore the exceptional historic downtowns; and taste the vibrancy of the farms and vineyards. It’s only by visiting these remarkable places, that the stories of the heroic men and women who lived here during the Civil War become real.”

Photos by Kenneth Garrett.  © Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photos by Kenneth Garrett. © Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area contains the single largest collection of Civil War sites in the nation, including the beginning, middle and end of the Civil War. Sites include: Aldie, Antietam, Appomattox Court House, Ball’s Bluff, Brandy Station, Bristoe Station, Cedar Mountain, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, Kelly’s Ford, Manassas, Middleburg, Rappahannock Station, Spotsylvania Court House, Thoroughfare Gap, Upperville, Wilderness and many others. In fact, July 2014 marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Monocacy, near Frederick, Maryland. Plan your itinerary, request a map, and get more travel information at

Restoring a Masterpiece

As the Architect for the University of Virginia, each day I’m reminded of the privilege of working in such magnificent surroundings. The Jeffersonian Grounds, or the University’s core historic precinct, were designed by Thomas Jefferson as the embodiment of his ideas for an educated citizenry as a cornerstone of democracy. In fact, Jefferson cited the University (in his phrasing the ‘Academical Village’) as one of his proudest achievements, along with writing the Declaration of Independence and Virginia’s statute for religious freedom. He sought recognition not only for two documents fundamental to American freedom but also for the institution through which those freedoms would be preserved.

image00That’s why the Jeffersonian Grounds, with the Rotunda as the centerpiece, have been designated a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage site along with Monticello. In short, Jefferson’s Academical Village is recognized as an architectural masterpiece.

This historic heart of the University of Virginia is not set aside as a museum. It is a bustling place filled with top-notch teachers, world-class researchers, and bright, striving students. In addition, it is heavily trafficked each day, attracting thousands of visitors annually. As such, it presents special preservation challenges. The needs are continuous, costly, and urgent for the 17 historic structures, 103 student rooms, and 40 acres of gardens and landscape that comprise the Jeffersonian Grounds.

In these spaces, students and faculty continue the shared pursuit of knowledge as they have for nearly 200 years. If I may be so bold to say it, the Jeffersonian Grounds are the physical and emotional core of the University of Virginia—the place where our beliefs reside, where we commit every day to the expansion of knowledge, freedom of inquiry, and open dialogue.

That’s why I and so many others are determined to accomplish a landmark program to restore, renovate, and repair Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village. The Jeffersonian Grounds Initiative is our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that this historic precinct remains a thriving academic center for both U.Va. and visiting students and faculty, as well as a vital cultural heritage site for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world.

We cannot afford to wait. Time, the elements, and constant use have taken a toll on the Jeffersonian Grounds. Marble column capitals on the Rotunda are crumbling. Cores of the Colonnades are eroding. Air conditioning units hang from Jeffersonian windows. The ranges must be sand-bagged in rainy weather. A fire nearly destroyed Hotel A, and only a chance discovery led to a $4 million emergency repair of chimneys and installation of a fire-suppression in student rooms.

The total cost of maintaining a masterpiece is high, in the many millions of dollars. Yet the opportunities are unprecedented. Restoring the Jeffersonian Grounds opens the door to new discoveries in archeology, history, landscape architecture, and conservation. We’re already making great strides:

  • Phase I of the Rotunda renovation was completed in 2013. The project included installing a new oculus and copper roof, making extensive masonry repairs, and refurbishing the window sashes and architraves. Phase II has just begun. Work to replace the marble column capitals and to provide all new building systems is part of this phase.
  • The University has contracted with award-winning landscape architect Laurie Olin, of OLIN, to create a design for the Rotunda courtyards and North Terrace. Patricia O’Donnell, principal of Heritage Landscapes LLC, led the creation of the University’s first-ever Cultural Landscape Report to document the conditions of the Lawn, gardens, and other landscapes, and guide decisions within the World Heritage site’s boundary.
  • The University is developing plans for a new interpretive center that will enhance the visitor experience, complement the University Guide tours, and provide interactive displays for rotating exhibits and tour highlights.

With our unique situation—as a living, breathing, constantly evolving institution of higher learning—comes a tremendous amount of responsibility. We have an obligation to our national heritage, the students and faculty, and to future generations. That sense of duty is what drives me each day to ensure that we’re giving the appropriate care and feeding to these nearly 200-year-old buildings and grounds. It’s what drives everyone involved in the Jeffersonian Grounds Initiative.

The restoration of the Academical Village gives the University a chance to renew its commitment to our community of learners and to educate visitors from around the world about Jefferson as the architect of American democracy and higher education.

History Through Art

By Shuan Butcher, JTHG Director of Communications

Art is a powerful tool and has always been an important vehicle to capture history or reflect on history.  As we are in the midst of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, art is one means for commemorating this country’s most defining moment.  On such exhibit, entitled The Civil War and American Art, is currently on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City through September 2, 2013.  This exhibit, which first debuted at the Smithsonian Institution, examines how America’s artists represented the impact of the Civil War and its aftermath.  Whether it is Winslow Homer’s aesthetic power in conveying the intense emotions of the period in his paintings or Alexander Gardner’s battlefield photography that documents the gruesomeness of carnage and destruction, each artist’s work portrays the triumph and tragedy of the American experience during the 1860’s.

But you do not have to travel to New York City to see an art exhibit chronicling the American Civil War.  Within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, there are three art exhibits currently on display that explore this subject matter.  Here is a brief description of each:

The Gettysburg Collection: Rebecca Pearl Art ShowRebecca Pearl's Robert E. Lee
National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Through July 12, 2013

Based on the equestrian monuments located through the battlefields of Gettysburg National Military Park, nine original watercolor paintings will be the anchor pieces of the Rebecca Pearl Art Show. Additionally, eight landscape views of the battlefield will be on display.  This special exhibit is open to the public and Rebecca Pearl’s artwork will be available for purchase.  For more information, visit



John Rogers Mail Call“Valley of the Shadow”
Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
Through July 28, 2013

With 23,110 casualties, the Battle of Antietam remains a day of great loss for America and stimulated a chain of events leading to the Emancipation Proclamation and the Battle of Gettysburg. This extensive exhibition brings together works of art, such as Eastman Johnson’s (American, 1824-1906) “Study for ‘The Wounded Drummer Boy'” on loan from the Brooklyn Museum and objects of material culture, such as weaponry, musical instruments and clothing, to tell the stories of the war, from the soldiers who fought in its battles to the women and children who remained at home. Loans from public and private collections and the museum’s collection will come together in our largest gallery, the Groh Gallery, to create a “museum within a museum” commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Gettysburg Campaign of 1863.  For more information, visit



“Images of the Civil War”Antietam flag bearer by Susan Ruddick Bloom
Carroll Arts Center
Through August 6, 2013

The Civil War conjures sentiments on both sides, the issue of slavery, artillery, battles, the role of women and children, uniforms, portraits and more.  The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War is being honored in Carroll County with an exhibit by local artists entitled “Images of the Civil War.”  For more information, visit

In addition to the art exhibits, there are other exhibitions worth checking out.  A new exhibit that just opened on June 16th, entitled Treasures of the Civil War: Legendary Leaders Who Shaped a War and a Nation, offers a rare glimpse into the personal and professional lives of 13 individuals who shaped a nation: Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses Grant, George G. Meade, John Reynolds, George Pickett, Alexander Webb, William Tecumseh Sherman, George Custer, John Mosby, Frederick Douglass and Clara Barton.  This exhibit offers 94 historic items from seven different outstanding Civil War collections throughout the United States – all being exhibited together for the first time at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. Visitors can look at Lincoln’s face mask; Meade’s frock coat and slouch hat he wore at Gettysburg; Pickett’s spur; Grant’s sword for the Vicksburg victory; Reynolds’ kepi worn at Gettysburg; a lock of Lee’s hair and his horse Traveller’s mane; and an original copy of Douglass’ autobiography “The Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass,” to name a few.  For more information, visit