By Sally Voth
NEW MARKET - The 200-year-old Lee-Jackson Building, located on the corner of Congress Street and Old Cross Road, is about to get another incarnation.
Later this month it will become the new headquarters of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.
"We hope to be fully moved by the first of March," Amy Proctor, operations manager for the foundation, said Tuesday morning as she stood in the large vacant building.
The original part of the building was built in 1808 as a home and mercantile business for John Strayer, according to an SVBF news release. Starting in 1884, the building became a hotel for the first time, and its most recent name as an inn was the Lee-Jackson Hotel.
The three-story brick structure, which also has a basement, was later a pottery and antiques business and museum, according to the release.
Eight years ago, New Market's then-mayor Larry Smith and his wife Sharon bought the building, and the Publik House restaurant was opened there.
United Bank took ownership of the building in 2008, according to the release, and has since sold it to the foundation.
Proctor said SVBF hopes to lease out the restaurant space once again. The ground floor also will house a visitor orientation center and a store.
SVBF offices and a conference room would be on the second floor, and offices will be leased out on the third floor.
"Part of our mission is to open orientation centers in different areas of the national historic district," Proctor said.
She said there are already centers in Winchester, Harrisonburg and Highland County.
The battlefields foundation has been working out of the Shirley House, which is leased from the Virginia Museum of the Civil War New Market Battlefield State Historical Park, since 2007.
Proctor said the foundation's staff has grown to eight full-time members, and there wasn't much room for board meetings.
"[The Lee-Jackson Building] is very central to the Shenandoah Valley National Historic District, and it has its own history," she said. "It's a perfect space for us."
There are hardwood floors throughout the first two floors, along with several fireplaces. In the dining and bar areas, there is stained glass featuring Celtic designs and pineapples, as well as elegant light fixtures.
Proctor said only minor interior work needs to be done.
According to the release, Frazier & Associates, based in Staunton, is handling exterior work and signing and parking lot improvements.
"Having our own home will present opportunities for community engagement, cooperation, and commercial operations that were not possible during the first years of our operation," the release states.
While foundation staff member have been talking to potential lessees for the restaurant, anyone interested in operating the on-site restaurant can call 740-4545, Proctor said.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org