Thursday, March 10, 2016

Interesting facts about the Stone House at Manassas Battlefield

One of the most recognizable landmarks at the Manassas Battlefield National Park is the Stone House. The house stands on the fields where the Union and Confederate armies clashed, not once, but twice during the Civil War. It lived through both the First and Second Manassas battles.

Today the home stands as a gateway of sorts to the past. Run by the U.S. National Park Service (NPS), visitors to the battlefield can visit the Stone House and learn more about its pivotal role during the mid-1800s.

Over the years the Stone House has served many capacities since it was initially built. After the Civil War was over, it was eventually restored back to a private residence and served as such for many decades.

In the late 1940s the U.S. government took ownership of the Stone House and the properties surrounding it, creating a national park. In the 1960s The Stone House was restored to its earlier appearance. 

From what I’ve learned through tours of the home, the exterior of the house is pretty intact to the original structure and much of the interior is original too with restorations made. Everything has been brought back to the way the house would have looked during the 19th century.

Other interesting facts about the Stone House:

  • The house was built in 1848.
  • Over the centuries the structure served as a rest stop, farmhouse, tavern and, ultimately, a Civil War field hospital (twice).
  • Henry P. Matthews and family owned the home at the time the Civil War broke out. The Matthews family sold their home and moved away in 1865.
  • The Confederates mostly retained control of the house during both battles.
  • On the second floor, two soldiers from the 5th New York Infantry carved their names into the floorboards. According to NPS, those etchings are still visible today.
  • In the years after the war, many different owners possessed Stone House.
  • There are cannonballs embedded in the exterior of Stone House. This was common to find during and after the war, however, the story goes a later owner of the Stone House placed cannonballs over damage that had been done during battle time. 

  • There are two primary floors and a basement. The first (main) floor is often open to visitors with a rare second-floor opening. The basement is not available for tours.
One of the fireplaces in the Stone House. Image taken by my family member, I am not sure what room this was in.

A family member of mine was there back in 2006 when it was opened for a day when a former resident was visiting. Being new to the area at that time and not realizing how rare of an opportunity this was, I was in another part of the park. Very disappointed I missed it!

Photo taken by my family member from the second floor
The property surrounding Stone House is also a popular destination for hikers. There are many trails throughout Manassas Battlefield Park. A few years back I got a good feel for what’s back there after we were following some horse trails that ended and we found ourselves lost in the woods for a bit. An interesting experience! 

Manassas Battlefield Park is open daily, year-round (except Thanksgiving and Christmas). Visitors can take both walking and driving tours. There are also frequent interpretive programs scheduled and a small museum inside the visitors’ center with several Civil War artifacts. 

[ Related reading: Photos on Friday - Manassas National Battlefield Park ]

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