The Robert E. Lee Memorial Association, Inc., announced last week the public phase of a $17 million comprehensive campaign that will include further restoration to Stratford Hall’s Great House and gardens, a newly expanded visitor center and new digital-based tours. The fundraising portion of the campaign has already raised $10.1 million of its $17 million goal.
Stratford Hall is one of the largest employers in Westmoreland County and representatives there hope that these new developments will help to change the area’s economic landscape by increasing partnerships with schools and community groups.
“Fewer people are coming into museums, but these places are important with important stories to tell for the future,” said Jon Bachman, public events manager. “It is our goal to tell the entire story of Stratford Hall.”
For visitors who prefer to depart from the guided-tour approach, a smart phone app with scan capabilities will focus on areas of particular interest, including seeing historic interiors through the eyes of a Lee family member or museum professional. Some speculate that this feature may draw more youth to the historic home of the Lees.
“The best way to engage kids is simple,” said Abigail Newkirk, director of interpretation and education. “Simple words, not simple ideas, and we are developing different ways to experience the space.”
Stratford Hall’s board of directors has secured site plan approval and is looking to begin construction work over the course of the next year. Several new highlights of what’s being called the “re-restoration” project will feature information of Virginia’s underwater existence 10,000 years ago and span through Native American, British and French influences.