Liberia Plantation is a Manassas historic gem that served as a Civil War headquarters and was visited by two Presidents. It is the focus of a new exhibit, Enduring Legacy, Liberia Plantation 1825-2013, opening May 10 at The Manassas Museum.
Liberia Plantation has been named to the National Historic Register, the Virginia Landmarks Register, and is being recognized during Virginia’s Year of the Historic Home, but its captivating story has never been the subject of an exhibit until now.
Built in 1825, Liberia was one of the most prosperous and largest plantations in the region. During the Civil War, Liberia served as headquarters for both Confederate and Union forces and was visited by Jefferson Davis and AbrahamLincoln. After the devastation of the war, Liberia was transformed into a successful dairy farm and became home to the Breeden family, who later donated the property to The City of Manassas.
Enduring Legacy details the establishment of the plantation by the Weir family and their ties to the wealthy and influential Carter family of Virginia. The exhibit explores the conflicting attitudes about slavery within the family,despite owning nearly 90 slaves, and what happened to the family and their slaves when the home was occupied by Civil War troops. Period furnishings, Civil War artifacts, and ledgers from Liberia’s time as a dairy farm are also included.
The exhibit features a hands-on experience for children and adults, including an activity with a cipher disk – a Civil War spy tool. The exhibit also describes architectural features, construction of the home, and more about the home’s original owners.
The Manassas Museum has restored parts of the exterior of the house, with the help of generous Museum supporters, and hosts tours and special events on site. Recently, a Citizens Advisory Committee recommended a master plan for the site. This will provide direction for future restoration.
“We are very excited to be able to offer this new exhibition on Liberia – one of the most important historic sites in the City of Manassas,” said Museum Curator Mary Helen Dellinger. “The home and surrounding property are rich in history and this exhibit will help tell that story. Three other museums and one private collector have loaned objects for this show and the staff has reproduced numerous images from the collection at the Library of Congress to make the show one of the best offered by the Manassas Museum.”
As part of this exhibition, the Museum will unveil the landscape plan for the property, step one in the restoration of the grounds and house.
Enduring Legacy is free with admission, and is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A companion book that benefits Liberia restoration, Liberia, Sentry of the Ages, and various commemorative gifts are available at Echoes, the Museum Store.