At Liberia House, Confederate and Union soldiers left messages behind

Virginia

Liberia House in Manassas has become the sixth house on the Northern Virginia Graffiti Trail; not graffiti found in alleyways, but messages left behind.

Built in 1825, the house was a successful plantation, which grew corn, wheat and oats. By the Civil War about 90 slaves lived and worked there.

During the war, it was headquarters for soldiers — first Confederates in 1860, and then Union soldiers in 1862.

The City of Manassas inherited the home in the 1980’s. It was occupied by private citizens until 2001, and underwent renovations.

“First we had to work on the roof and the windows and the bricks to make sure that was well-repaired,” said Communications Coordinator Lisa Sievel-Otten for the Manassas Museum. Then came the walls. Paint and wallpaper were scraped off into so-called “windows” by Chris Mills, the conservator for President Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. 

“Almost every historic house,” said Sievel-Otten, “If they had soldiers around, they were writing their names on the walls.” 

Apart from a few drawings, conservators found names, dates, and locations of infantries. A museum volunteer was able to find five descendants of the names left behind. 

“It’s just a moving experience when they come into this room and they look up at the wall and see great-great grandfathers’ signatures,” said Sievel-Otten. “It’s very moving for everybody.”

To read about the soldiers’ stories and their descendants, visit manassascity.org/1962/Civil-War-Graffiti

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