The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation has received two grants from the National Park Service to help the foundation pay for the cost of acquiring land at two battlefields.
As part of the American Battlefield Protection Program, the foundation will receive $373,298 for 63 acres of the Fisher’s Hill battlefield in Shenandoah County and $275,000 for 10 acres of the Star Fort property in Frederick County just outside Winchester.
John Hutchinson, the conservation director for the battlefields foundation, said that the American Battlefield Protection Program pays grantees up to half of the appraised value of a property. Hutchinson said that the battlefields foundation will pay for the rest of the Fisher’s Hill property through a grant from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and that the sellers of the Star Fort property donated half of the value of the property to the battlefields foundation.
Both properties are significant places in Civil War history in the Shenandoah Valley, Hutchinson said.
“Star Fort was a fort in several engagements in Frederick County,” Hutchinson said. “Winchester changed hands 70-some times during the war. So both armies maintained serious fortifications around the town. In 1864, Star Fort was controlled by the Confederate Army and they got run out of it by the Union Army.”
The Battle of Fisher’s Hill, meanwhile, marked “pretty much the end of Confederate control” of the Shenandoah Valley, Hutchinson said.
“Here again, the Confederates occupied the property when the battles started and the Union Army ran them off,” Hutchinson said.
The battlefields foundation has owned and operated the Star Fort property largely as a park and will continue to do so with the additional 10 acres that will soon be purchased, Hutchinson said.
“We do living history there on occasion,” Hutchinson said of the Star Fort property. “But it’s mainly just a neighborhood park with a lot of historic resources on it.”
Hutchinson said that the 10 acres of Star Fort property planned for acquisition is owned by someone else and had been on the market for 10 years, with the expectation that the land would be developed.
“We finally reached an agreement with the owners to purchase it,” Hutchinson said.
The battlefields foundation intends to build a trail network at the Fisher’s Hill property. The foundation purchased the land at Fisher’s Hill in 2017 using a bank loan and will use the funds from the National Park Service and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to pay off the loan.