Hey Wal-Mart! Ever Hear of “Historic Significance”?

Apparently, Wal-Mart has not or does not care. It’s probably the latter. Why? Wal-Mart has plans underway to build yet another store in the Fredericksburg, VA area.  Yet another? Aren’t there three already? See the map below.  The new store planned will be 8 miles away from other Wal-Mart stores.  It will be about one mile from the battlefield. (Be sure to look at the scale when looking at these maps).

It gets worse. Wal-Mart is building closer than ever before to a historic site – to a national battlefield. The Wilderness Battlefield, where Wal-Mart wants to build its 145,000 sq. ft. store, is one of the most significant Civil War battlefields.  I won’t reiterate everything that the National Trust explains, read the post Wal-Mart Superstore Threatens Wilderness Battlefield.

This battlefield is in Orange County, VA, which sadly has not been very good with smart development in the past. It is one of the fastest growing areas in the country.  Read this Washington Post article for an overview of the issue, the consequences, and what Orange County officials think. (It doesn’t bode well for the battlefield).  Here’s a quote from the article:

Keith Morris, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, said that the company has looked at other locations in the area but that none was as attractive. “This is the site we’re going forward with,” Morris said, describing it as “an ideal location.” The land is already zoned for commercial use and targeted for development by Orange County, he said. “There is a void here in this immediate area, especially in retail growth.”

How about this one?

The company has offered to place commemorative markers and other monuments to the battle at the supercenter. “There’s no reason why [the battlefield and the store] can’t coexist,” Morris said.

What can we do? The National Trust has set up a petition to sign to show your opposition to Wal-Mart near the Wilderness Battlefield.

While I may despise Wal-Mart, this isn’t just about Wal-Mart. It’s about all developers, commercial and residential, who build too close to our historic resources. Once these resources are gone, we can’t get them back.  A historic marker can never replace what we lost due to development. 

Thanks to Maria for sending the Washington Post link to me. And thanks to the HispAlum group for starting a conversation as well. Spread the word, preservationists!!