The nonprofit Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, active in preserving battlefield land for 13 years in far western Virginia, has purchased a three-story antebellum hotel in New Market as its headquarters. The 1808 brick building is at the main intersection of the historic town and within the general boundaries of the New Market battlefield.
The foundation had been renting a small building nearby.
The $500,000 purchase reflects the growth and influence of the organization said Executive Director Denman Zirkle. “We have had a substantial increase in private donations and funds from grant organizations,” he said. “Donations increased by 70 percent in 2012 over 2011, and that was during a difficult year for nonprofits.”
The foundation, incorporated in 2000 as a public, nonprofit corporation, is the management entity implementing the 1996 congressional legislation that created the Shenandoah Valley National Historic District. Since then, the foundation and its partners have preserved more than 6,000 acres of battlefield land in the valley. Initially, the foundation received federal funds but now is financially on its own.
The new headquarters will have enough space for the foundation’s administrative offices on the second floor, and the first floor — a former restaurant — will be used for an orientation center, gift shop and small restaurant. Zirkle anticipates that the space will become a community center for residents who drop in for coffee, wine or a wrap, as well as an ideal place for visitors to begin a tour of the valley’s Civil War battlefields.
Office space on the third floor will be rented out, he said.
The building comes with a long history and many owners. First it was a residence, then a general store, hotel, antique shop, museum and finally a fine restaurant which closed in 2009. During the Civil War, Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson reviewed his troops as they marched past him and the hotel en route to Luray in May, 1862. In the fall of 1864, Gen. Jubal Early used the building as his headquarters.