Volume XII Number 3
May 24, 1998
Special Total Family Edition
This Special Edition of the News Quarterly comes to you
, the Robinson-Naylor-Harris family members, to inform you of the Good
News we recently received from Cousin Richard R. Robinson. As you will
read in the letter included in this edition, the US Department of the Interior
through Mr. Robert K. Sutton, Superintendent of the Manassas National Battlefield
Park has made a preliminary decision about the reconstruction of the Gentleman
Jim Robinson House. You will, no doubt, remember that the Robinson House
was destroyed by arsonists on July 26, 1993 (see the December 1993 issue
of the News Quarterly, Vol. VI, number 1). Since then members of the Family
have worked diligently to have the historical homestead restored. It appears
their labors have met with some success. Should you have any questions,
write to Richard Robinson.
The Gentleman Jim Robinson Homestead, Manassas, Virigina
May 8, 1998
Mr. Richard R. Robinson
2501 36th Place, SE
Washington, DC 20020
Dear Mr. Robinson:
Thank you so much to taking the time to meet with us concerning the
future of the Robinson House in Manassas National Battlefield Park.
As always, it was a pleasure to see you again, and as an added benefit,
I was happy to meet your Uncle Louie.
The arson fire in the Robinson House has been
a tragedy for all of us, and particularly for your family. Several years
ago, we determined that the best course of action was to carefully dismantle
what remained of the Robinson House, from which we gained valuable inform-
ation about the house and your family, and to conduct an archeological
investigation of the site of the house and the surrounding area, in which
you participated. We will be featuring some of the materials you uncovered
in a new permanent exhibition we are developing for the park visitor center.
Since the archeological project has been completed, however, we have been
weighing various options for the more permanent future of the site.
As I noted yesterday, my greatest concern
for the present is the chimney. A chimney is designed for support by the
structure to which it is attached. Without the building for support, there
is a great potential for the chimney to col- lapse. As I showed you, there
are clear signs that the chimney is beginning to fail, and in a very short
time, it likely will topple. It is impos- sible to stabilize the chimney
in place, because the nature of the structural failure indicates that not
only has the mortar failed, but in several locations, the stones have fractured
as well. It is also virtually impossible, and prohibitively expensive to
consider reconstructing the chim- ney in place.
We need to take the chimney down as soon as
possible. As you, no doubt, are aware, many ark visitors come to the site
of the Robin- son House as part of the Henry Hill walking tour. My greatest
concern is for the safety of our visitors, and the precarious nature of
the chimney creates a safety hazard that I must correct.
We, of course, will keep all of the stones
with the carving on them in our permanent park museum collection.
In the place of the chimney, we are explor-
ing the potential of representing the original James Robinson House, with
the correct dimensions and elevations, on the site. We were able to determine
the location of the house from the archeological investigations. The photographs
that survive provide us with the correct dimensions. By constructing this
repre- sentation of the house, our visitors will gain a much better understanding
of the relationship between the house and both battles of Manas- sas, and
the role of James Robinson in these battles. We will need to obtain approval
from several sources to build this structure, but I do not foresee any
difficulty with obtaining the necessary clearances.You and the other family
members have been very patient with us over the years. I, as the superintendent
of the park, value your and your family’s interest in this site and the
park. James Robinson has become one of my favorite personalities associated
with the battlefield. I am very committed to ensuring that our visitors
understand his importance, as well as the continuity of the Robinson family
with the landscape for the past 100+ years.
National Park Service Director, Mr. Robert
G. Stanton, whom you and many of your family members know well, is aware
of this proposal for the future of the site, and is supportive of this
Robert K. Sutton
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