I attended the Civil War authors Book Mart at Historic Blenheim Saturday and had a wonderful time meeting Civil War enthusiasts and other authors. What a fantastic facility it is! I highly recommend this historic treasure to anyone who lives near, or is planning to travel to Fairfax, Va.

As you may recall from an earlier post, Historic Blenheim was used as a Civil War hospital for Union troops and contains a “diary on walls” with the graffiti left by the recovering soldiers.

Words cannot adequately describe the walls of this house. Though the downstairs rooms are not quite as clear as the upstairs – due to layers of paint and plaster from renovations done after the war – there are still dozens of signatures, notes and drawings visible. The upstairs and attic areas are truly amazing with large, elegantly-written signatures, dates, units, and drawings.

Why, you ask, do I not have a picture of that artwork? Well, that’s a funny story (funny – strange, not funny – ha-ha). I took a picture of the house from the back as I was approaching it from the Interpretive Center before the tour. (See photo, right) Then I took a picture on the second floor of a large drawing that resembled Colonel John Mosby. As I was leaving, I stopped to get a picture of the front of the house, but my camera said, “battery exhausted.” I turned the camera off, and tried to turn it back on, to no avail.

When I got home, I turned the camera on to see what would happen, and it worked fine. The only problem was there was no picture of the inside of the house – not even a blank or dark picture as if it had just not turned out. It’s very disappointing because the walls are just incredible.

The second floor and attic are normally not open to the public because of the condition of the stairs. However, there is an exact replica of the attic in the Interpretive Center that gives visitors an example of what the house contains.

The facility is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., with guided tours that include the first floor of the house at 1 p.m. Take the family for a great learning experience, and tell them Jessica James sent you!


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