Friday, April 9, 2010

The Surrender House

The Wilmer McLean house where Confederate General Robert E Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S Grant was opened to the public on April 9th 1949.

The “Surrender House” was purchased for $1,250 by Nathaniel Ragland in 1875. His widow sold the property for $10,000 in 1891 to Captain Myron Dunlap of Niagara Falls New York. Dunlap purchased the property planning to make money off the history of the house. Among the ideas, were to take the house apart and move it to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition as an exhibit, or to Washington DC and charge fees to see the home. Detailed drawing were made, the house was dismantled, and packed to be shipped, but Dunlap ran out of money, and the house was left forgotten for fifty years.

The United States Congress created the Appomattox Court House National Historical Monument in 1940. The archaeological work began on the 970 acre property in February 1941. The site was cleaned of years of brush and honeysuckle, and a meticulous reconstruction began. The bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 brought everything to a halt. Work was begun again in 1947.

Eighty-four years after Lee and Grant meet in the McLean House for the surrender the National Park Service opened the house on April 9th 1949 to the public. There was a dedication ceremony April 16th 1950 at which descendents of Robert E Lee and Ulysses S Grant cut the ribbon.

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