Plans for the Robinson House at the VMFA

I came across this article describing the history of the Robinson House, which is currently being renovated in accordance with plans drawn up by a leading architectural firm in Richmond.

As the article reminds us, this building once housed administrative offices, an infirmary, and a museum where pride of place was given to Stonewall Jackson’s own Little Sorrel.

The article points to the future when it says:

When visitors glide off the interstate into the revitalized Robinson House, they’ll find an introduction to Richmond embracing war and peace, slavery and freedom, and a history of architecture and art.

hathaway oppsSince some of those visitors would have been struggling to view a certain rather well-concealed flag alongside the interstate (and the site of a far less well concealed piece of machinery that is no longer there, perhaps due to the fact that certain parties highlighted its presence), it remains a matter of curiosity whether a flag or flags will be flying in front of the Robinson House in 2015 … and what that/those flag/flags will look like.

My understanding is that a Confederate flag once did fly near the Robinson House, according to this diorama. So one must believe that one will fly there now … or the Virginia Flaggers would be all over this.

No word yet from Susan Hathaway as to what she makes of the project. Indeed, the Virginia Flaggers are very quiet about this project, which is surprising given their well-known opposition to the VMFA’s position on the flying of the Confederate flag at the nearby Confederate Memorial Chapel. Nor have we heard any explanation as to the cause of Hathaway’s silence or the silence of her loyal followers concerning the plans for the Robinson House. Then again, although this mock cover of Time magazine shows Hathaway with the question, “Is the Confederate Chapel Next?” (next for what, one might ask, after the Flaggers’ funny fiasco along I-95), we haven’t seen Hathaway personally working to “restore the honor” at the Confederate chapel lately, either.

And, of course, no word on what happened to that piece of machinery along I-95. Its absence makes it all the more difficult to spot the little flag in the woods. No word on what happened to the original flag, either.

Finally, it’s worth noting that many Union veterans and veterans’ organization contributed to the Confederate soldiers’ home on this site … the very veterans now being mocked by so-called advocates of Confederate heritage. For people with such long memories, it’s amazing how quickly they forgot this.

But are we surprised?

6 thoughts on “Plans for the Robinson House at the VMFA

  1. Billy Bearden November 14, 2013 / 6:41 pm

    Yes, a 10×10 ANV CBF did fly on the tri-leg pole near the Robinson House and the present day UDC HQ bldgs. from 1886 – 1941.

    • Brooks D. Simpson November 14, 2013 / 11:51 pm

      Thanks. Thus (as I suspected), there’s grounds to fly it there today. So now the ball’s in the VMFA’s court on that issue.

      • Andy Hall November 15, 2013 / 8:49 am

        It’s in their court, but it’s a non-starter, and there’s no compelling reason to restore that flag. It was there when the entire site was home for living, breathing Confederate veterans, but it has not been that for more than 70 years. There is no particular reason the site needs to remain awash in Confederate iconography solely for the purpose of pleasing a relative handful of people in the 21st century, most of whom probably never met a Confederate veteran. It’s neither a battlefield nor a cemetery.

        There were only two substantial structures left from the Confederate home when the VMFA took on full oversight of the grounds 20 years ago. Since then the museum has done a good job of preserving and maintaining both the Robinson House and the chapel, and telling their stories. (Remember that the VMFA’s application to put the Robinson House on the National Register went on for page after page about the home and its connection to the R. E. lee Camp.) I recall reading not long ago that even before this major renovation of the Robinson House, the VMFA has sunk almost a half-mission dollars into major preservation project on these buildings, ($200K for a new roof on the chapel, $250K for exterior work on Robinson House to keep it secure from the elements), all in addition to the monies they spend day-in, day-on on general maintenance and upkeep. The VMFA have been good stewards of what remains of the Confederate home, even if they’re not willing to turn it into the all-Confederates-all-the-time mausoleum some would have it become.

  2. Jefferson Moon November 14, 2013 / 7:33 pm

    “the little flag in the woods” theres the beginnings of a great country song.

  3. Betty Giragosian November 15, 2013 / 8:07 am

    Folks have been trying for some time to have the CBF fly there, as it was there in the days when the R. E. Lee Camp No. 1 was an active community. You have probably seen pictures of the veterans preparing to mount it. That is where it should be, not on the chapel. Perhaps we will see it there once again. It is to be hoped.
    Kevin, are you trying to start something???? I hope the other group will leave this alone. They would be no help at this point.

    • Brooks D. Simpson November 15, 2013 / 2:35 pm

      I’m not Kevin.

      It’s far from clear to me that the Virginia Flaggers have accomplished anything with the VMFA, but I’d be quite open to an argument that an appropriate flag might fly on the grounds in connection with the renovation of the Robinson House. I simply haven’t seen the argument.

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