MANASSAS, Va. (WDVM) — The Weir family built its historic Liberia House in 1825. The center of a working plantation, it also housed a mathematical and classical school. Little was known about the school until a Purcellville couple made a donation.
Up until recently, all that was known about the Liberia school was from an 1847 advertisement in the Alexandria Gazette; the county’s only news source at the time.
Last week, collector Chip Paciulli of Purcellville and his wife, Ann, met with a Manassas Museum curator to examine a healthy collection of documents from Manassas; most pre-dating the Civil War.
“I was hoping that they would enjoy it and be able to take it to a level that I was not going to be able to get into and do,” said Mr. Paciulli. Among his collection of Civil War letters and photographs was a math assignment from 1845. At the top: “Liberia School May 1845.”
“When I saw this, I could not believe it,” said Mary Helen Dellinger, curator of the Manassas Museum System. “This was concrete evidence that there was a school on the property.”
Paciulli says he didn’t document where each of the items came from. He says most came from estate sales, antique shows, and specialized shows. Mrs. Paciulli, a Manassas native, helped him comb through them.
“We thought, ‘Well, the museum has resources to analyze everything and find out how it fits into the larger picture,'” said Mrs. Paciulli. “And, boy, within five minutes of sitting there we found out they really did!”
“I love my job; I say that almost every day,” said Dellinger. “But I really loved my job that day. And I really couldn’t calm down for the rest of the day and get anything done… it was great.”