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The Blue & Gray Press | October 19, 2017

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No Garage for President

By STEPHANIE ROCHE

University of Mary Washington officials have backed away from plans to build a two-car garage at Brompton, due to an estimated cost of $250,000.

Vice President for Administration, Finance and Legislative Affairs Rick Hurley said concerns about UMW President Judy Hample’s safety provided the motivation for the project.

“A garage would provide added security for the President to drive into a facility and have a door close behind her without getting out of the car,” he said.

Hurley said lack of funding was the deciding factor in canceling the project.

“Dr. Hample was flabbergasted to learn that the cost would be approximately $250,000 for a two-car garage,” Hurley said.

As a result the plans to build a garage at Brompton have been put on hold.

Hample declined to comment.

However, Associate Historic Preservation Professor Gary Stanton remains concerned about the project, which he said, if resurrected, could harm the historic integrity of Brompton, a famed Civil War site.

The Brompton house is at the military crest of the Fredericksburg battlefield, or the highest point people below can actually see.

Stanton said the front of the house looks same today as it did in 1865. Stanton said there is a important picture of Brompton from the Civil War taken from the side of the house that faces the town of Fredericksburg, from Hanover Street and shows amputees out on the lawn.

Brompton was used as a field hospital at times during the war.  Because of this picture, the Fredericksburg side of the house is always displayed when photographed.

“They did not cancel the garage because of historical concerns but rather because they could not afford it,” Stanton said. “So if enough money is raised, are we going to return to this issue?  If so we need to consider the alternatives.”

Stanton suggested that the garage, if built at some point in the future, could be constructed at the back of the property, facing away from town and towards the UMW Battleground Athletic Complex.

If that were the case, the driveway could be accessed from the Tennis Center parking lot.  The hidden driveway would make it hard for people to monitor the coming and going of the president.

“The land allows new construction, without it being entirely evident.  We would then be able to keep today’s picture the same as 1865, and end the conflict while allowing changes for the occupant’s needs,” Stanton said.

According to Wiltenmuth, the university did account for historical concerns during the research process into the proposed garage.

“UMW consulted with the National Park Service, our own Department of Historic Preservation, and the state’s Department of Historic Resources,”  Wiltenmuth said.

All those organizations contributed to the process of understanding the requirements of potentially adding a garage to a designated National Landmark structure.

Stanton, however, said he only heard about the proposed garage by way of a casual conversation.

“Fredericksburg is the place where Confederate and Union armies came together early on during the Civil War.  It is a site where many lives were lost in massive killings,” Stanton said.

That’s why Stanton said he compiled all the Civil War images he could find and presented them to President Hample and Facilities Services earlier this year.

“I wanted them to understand why the garage would need to be put in the back of the house,” he said. “Ultimately, Brompton is an important landmark in history as well as for UMW, and we need to respect both institutions.”