Unison Preservation Society News
Note: All our newsletters are in pdf format for ease of viewing and reading.
The first of our 2017 Newsletters features another first - an online article of the old Unison-Bloomfield School. We invite you to read
this unique first time story of the school while enjoying a wealth of accompanying old photographs going back to 1919, along with a plethora of data that
recreates the school's rich and colorful 33 year history.
To Read the Article Please Click Here
Unison-Bloomfield High School - 1917-1944
Photo prior to 1934
On Tuesday, April 21st 2015 the Virginia Department of Historic Resources erected a sign at our Store commemorating the 1862 Civil War battle of Unison.
It was the Unison Preservation Society that recognized the importance of this little known event and worked to put all 8000 acres of the pristine battlefield that surrounds our town onto the Virginia and National Registers.
The Unison Preservation Society is proud to share the following:
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 860
Agreed to by the House of Delegates, February 15, 2013
Agreed to by the Senate, February 21, 2013
Commending the Unison Preservation Society.
Patron-- J. Randell Minchew - Virginia House of Delegates
WHEREAS, the Unison Preservation Society, a nonprofit group dedicated to the care and protection of the historic Village of Unison, received the Preservationist of the Year award on May 24, 2012; and
WHEREAS, nestled between picturesque horse farms and beautiful estates, the Village of Unison has maintained the same quiet charm since it was founded in the 1730s; and
WHEREAS, incorporated in 2001, the Unison Preservation Society (UPS) has worked closely with landowners, stakeholders, Civil War historians, and state and federal authorities in and around the Village of Unison and throughout the Commonwealth to study, secure, and maintain battlefields; educate the public about the area’s history; and beautify the village through tree planting and clean-up initiatives; and
WHEREAS, every year, the Loudoun Preservation Society honors one individual or group that has made exceptional contributions to preservation efforts in Loudoun County with the Preservationist of the Year award; and
WHEREAS, the UPS received the award for creating the Unison Battlefield Historic District on the 8,000-acre site of the American Civil War Battle of Unison; the result of a six-year project, the Unison Battlefield Historic District was added to state and national landmark registries in 2011; and
WHEREAS, the Village of Unison remains one of the best-preserved original Loudoun County settlements thanks largely to the efforts of the volunteers at the UPS; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly hereby commend the Unison Preservation Society and its dedicated citizen-leaders for receiving the Preservationist of the Year award for their outstanding work in rekindling the historical appreciation of the November 1862 Battle of Unison and preserving the scenic and historical vistas of the Unison community for future generations; and, be it
RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to the Unison Preservation Society as an expression of the General Assembly’s admiration for the organization’s achievements in preserving the history of the Village of Unison.
Potential VDOT Work on Historic Bridges in Battlefield Area
VDOT has announced plans to work on three bridges in Loudoun county, and two of these bridges are on the gravel section of Green Garden Road inside of the Unison Battlefield. A public briefing was provided by VDOT on January 9, 2013 with many neighbors and organizations in attendance to voice their concern about the VDOT plans. The Unison Preservation Society had four members of their board of directors in attendance at the meeting. In addition, UPS sent a letter to both VDOT and Janet Clark, the county supervisor for the Unison area, to express our concerns about the bridge work.
At present, UPS is considering how to best address the issues raised by the planned bridge work and by early February this site will be updated with our plan of action including how best to coordinate with the various neighbors and organizations who have similar concerns.
Unison Heritage Day 2012
150th Anniversary of the Battle of Unison
and celebration of new Unison Battlefield Historic District
Thanks to everyone who came out to enjoy this year's annual celebration -held Saturday, Oct 27th, 2012 from Noon to 4pm. The 2012
Unison Heritage Day was a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the little known Civil War Battle of Unison and a celebration of the new Unison Battlefield Historic District, already being called one of the nation’s best preserved places.
The 8,000-acre, 8-mile-long battlefield, stretching from Philomont through Unison to Upperville, was placed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic places last fall.
A reenactment of the Nov. 1-3, 1862, battle was fight through the village for more than three hours, starting after 12:30 p.m., with over 200 Union
and Confederate cavalry, infantry and costumed civilians. The fighting, which left the village in flames in 1862, took place on Unison Road going past the
Unison Store, where the festival takes place. Reenactors from Liberty Rifles and 1st Maine Cavalry living history groups camped with their horses in
and around Unison Friday, Saturday and Sunday, staging mock battles on all three days, starting near Philomont and ending near Upperville.
The annual fall festival, sponsored by the nonprofit Unison Preservation Society, featured the Blue Grass Band Willow Branch, barbecue by Red,
Hot and Blue, oysters and clams on the half shell, a live auction and art show/sale. Hounds from the Piedmont Hounds, America’s oldest
fox-hunting club, were paraded in the village by the hunt staff at about 3:30 and mingled with the delighted crowd.
The Battle of Unison reenactment also included demonstrations of Civil War medical techniques, Civil War talks and tours of the 1832 Unison United Methodist
Church, used as a hospital for wounded Union soldiers during and after the three-day battle. Graffiti left by those soldiers is still visible on upstairs walls of the church.
The annual village fall festival is sponsored by the nonprofit Unison Preservation Society, which created the Unison Village Historic District and the Unison Battlefield Historic District. The village, one of the first settlements in Loudoun in the 1730s, is at the crossroads of Foxcroft Road (Rte. 626) and Unison Road (Rte. 630) northwest of Middleburg.
The Battle of Unison, described in a 52-page illustrated history by National Park Service historian David Lowe, is available for sale.
The small, three-day Civil War battle after the Battle of Antietam, followed a plan by President Lincoln himself, which he hoped might capture the
Confederate capital of Richmond and result in an early end to the war. When the plan and Gen. George B. McClellan failed, Lincoln immediately removed McClellan from command.
Historian Lowe says in his history “Thus, a small battle in Loudoun Valley had a disproportionate impact upon the course of the campaign and the war in Virginia.” The battlefield today, with most of its roads the original dirt roads of 1862, is so well preserved says Lowe that if Union and Confederate troops who fought here were to see it today they would recognize the entire battlefield.
Unison Preservation Society receives Loudoun Preservation Society Award
At the Loudoun Preservation Society's annual meeting held at the historic Thomas Birkby House in Leesburg on May 24th 2012, the Unison Preservation Society was awarded the organization’s
'Preservationist of the Year' designation. This award was for the work done by UPS in researching, documenting and obtaining official State and National
recognition for the 8,000 acre Unison Battlefield. This action by UPS brought a large group of property owners together to help preserve the history and
landscape of the area.
Unison Battlefield Wins Conservation Award
The Washington Sustainable Growth Alliance announced March 7 that the proposed Unison Battlefield Historic District has
won one of its 2011 Conservation Recognition awards. A ceremony will be held on the lawn at Mount Vernonat 1 p.m. on April 27.
The public is invited. The annual awards recognize projects "that protect environmental assets and enhance our region's quality of life."
The citation will appear on the alliance's 2011 Regional Conservation Priorities list and may be viewed on its website www.SGAlliance.org.
Unison Group Cited For Battlefield Preservation
Proposed Historic District To Get Public Review
By Margaret Morton
(Leesburg Today print and on-line issue: Friday, January 7, 2011 10:09 AM EST)
The Mosby Heritage Area Association has recognized the work of the Unison Preservation Society, bestowing its with its annual Heritage Hero Award on the volunteer organization.
Unison Preservation Society President Harry Bigley and members of the society's Battlefield Committee Owen Snyder, Paul Hodge, Mitch Diamond and Denis Gordon were on hand for the Dec. 22 ceremony as MHAA President Childs Burden presented the annual award.
The Heritage Hero award was initiated by then-President Gayle DeLashmutt in 2007 in an effort to recognize movers and shakers at the local level in the field of preservation and history education in the Virginia Piedmont. That first award was given jointly to Karen Hughes White for her work at the African-American Museum in The Plains and to the late Robert H. Smith for his preservation philanthropy. Subsequent awards went to Sen. John Warner (R-VA) for his support of preservation projects and to Linda Newton, president of the Atoka Preservation Society for its successful work.
The 2010 award was given in recognition of the Unison group's activism and dedicated work over the past four or five years to gain national recognition of the significance of the Nov. 1-3, 1862, Battle of Unison as well as other preservation activities in the village. That work has culminated in a nomination currently being prepared to create an 8,000-acre Civil War battlefield historic district. If approved, it would stretch across portions of western Loudoun and Fauquier counties and would be among the best preserved battlefield historic districts in the nation, according to the MHAA.
"We wanted to recognize another organization for its activist work," Burden said this week. Nominations are submitted by MHAA board members, and when Unison came up, Burden said it was timely because "it is coming up for battlefield historic district recognition and [historian] Maral Kalbian is about to finish her nomination." Saying his "hat is off to them," Burden noted he was involved in the early work on the battlefield designation, having been on the panel of historians during the society's application for its first grant from the National Park Service.
Although recognized in contemporary media accounts for its significance, the three-day delaying battle that helped Gen. Robert E. Lee escape to Richmond after the Battle of Antietam has largely fallen out of modern-day accounts. The story of the society's efforts to re-focus attention on the little-known battle has been a long one that started when Unison leaders were endeavoring to find ways to deal with an unwanted development of 100 acres on the edge of the village. History was one avenue.
Diamond and Hodge, former president of the Unison Preservation Society, worked together to dig out the actual history of the event and, based on what they found, gain attention for the battle at both the state and national levels.
Diamond conducted the historic research and said the battlefield group was excited "not just about the recognition, but the new scholarship" that was uncovered.
"Lee had retired behind the Blue Ridge. Looking at the map, [President] Lincoln saw that [Gen. George B.] McClellan was still near Sheperdstown and Antietam and was actually closer to Richmond than Lee was." Lincoln told McClellan to head south through Loudoun and move close to Lee's flank to cut off his retreat to Richmond, Diamond said.
In mid-October, McClellan crossed the Potomac, but "Lee figured it out and moved south," Diamond said. Part of that was knowing he needed a delaying action for several days so Lee ordered Gen. J.E.B. Stuart to take 1,000 troopers to the Bloomfield area to hold of McClellan for the necessary respite, which he did, fighting a fierce retreat south to Rt. 50. When Lincoln realized the impact of McClellan's delay, he fired the Union general.
"This battle is not mentioned in the history books," Diamond said. But he found an article on the end of McClellan's career in a magazine called Blue and Gray. "It gave a lot of history, so I started calling around and a group of us began investigating on our own." They met with State Historic Preservation Officer Kathleen Kilpatrick and her team. Once she was convinced their quest was real, she agreed to write a letter of support to the National Park Service.
Through that letter, the preservation society obtained the first of three federal grants, the initial one from the American Battlefield Protection Program of the NPS. With that first grant, the society hired a professional historian from the NPS to do a scholarly study of the battlefield area and its history. The credibility gained from the study and initial mapping became the "basis of what we wanted to do."
Later grants covered the bulk of the cost of Kalban's team in preparing the nomination. The research as it evolved produced wonderful surprises, Diamond said. "Names started popping up-Lincoln, Stuart, Lee, McClellan, even Mosby, who was attached to Stuart's group as a scout before anyone had heard of him," Diamond recalled. Among the other useful tools was the Internet, which enabled researchers to look at the New York Times archives and find contemporary stories of 1862, that had information not included in modern textbooks but which were fully available in the press at the time, and understood to be important.
Kalbian and her team have finished their fieldwork and are in the final process of preparing draft nomination document. Diamond said the Battlefield Committee is hoping to get the document edited and reviewed internally by the end of the month before being sent to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and local preservation organizations for their review. When the document is complete, a public hearing, likely next month, will be held in the area and area landowners invited to attend. There will be a presentation on the battlefield and its history, what it means and what it doesn't mean, according to Diamond.
Just as important is what the designation doesn't mean. There are "no restrictive efforts on zoning," Diamond said. "That's the single most important message. It's an honorary designation, which has tax benefits and recognition, but is not in any way restrictive."
The designation also gives leverage for fund-raising. Of the 8,000 acres 55 percent is already subject to conservation easements, and the group hopes to get more than that-through special funds available at the national register level and through organizations like the Land Trust of Virginia, which has a special fund to help defray easement costs in recognized battlefields, or the Virginia Outdoor Foundation.
If all goes well and there is community support, the document will be submitted to the state, and the group hopes in the spring to be considered the Virginia Register of Historic Places. Once approved, there is a six-month delay before the nomination can be approved for the National Register of Historic Places. "We hope to be on the state and national registers by the end of the year," Diamond said. The village of Unison already has those designations.
Now the beginning of the end is in sight, Diamond and his fellow committee members were elated by with the MHAA recognition.
"It's a particular pleasure and delight to be honored and recognized by your own friends and neighbors," Diamond said.