Decades after the former home of George C. Marshall was saved from the threat of demolition, efforts are advancing to have the Leesburg property designated as an affiliate of the National Parks Service.
This week, U.S. Rep. Jennifer T. Wexton (D-VA-10), along with Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), formally requested the park service conduct a reconnaissance survey to evaluate the suitability of designating Dodona Manor as an “affiliated area.”
The designation, they hope, would bring increased public interest and awareness of Dodona Manor and could produce additional funds to further assist in its preservation.
“Dodona Manor has a clear historic value to our nation. To honor General Marshall’s life and legacy, it would be fitting for Dodona Manor to become an affiliated area under NPS to ensure its preservation for future generations,” the lawmakers stated in their letter to NPS Deputy Director David Vela.
Tom Greenspon, president of the George C. Marshall International Center, said the NPS outreach has been ongoing for several years, with talks starting with then-Congressman Frank Wolf. Greenspon gave credit for the effort to a former docent at the property, Kent Knudson.
Knudsonsaid National Park Systemaffiliates are a choice group of nationally significant areas. They are neither owned by the U.S. government nor directly administered or managed by the National Park Service. From a legal point of view, they are not units of the national park system, but can seek park service technical assistance and limited financial aid from the parks service. If Dodona Manor receives an “affiliated area” designation, it will still be owned and operated by the George C. Marshall International Center.
Virginia has four of the 25 NPS Affiliated Areas: the Jamestown National Historic Site owned and managed by Preservation Virginia; Red Hill Patrick Henry National Memorial, owned and managed by the Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation; the Natural Bridge National Monument, owned and managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; and the Green Spring National Historic Landmark District in Louisa County.
Adding Dodona Manor to that list will depend, in part, on the results of thereconnaissance survey by park service staff members. The property is registered as a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior and has been designated a Virginia Landmark.
At Dodona Manor, which is open for weekend tours and a year-round schedule of special events, the staff and volunteer docents tell the story of Marshall’s lifetime of public service, serving as chief of staff to the Army during World War II, as Secretary of State where he orchestrated the historic Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe following the war, and as Secretary of Defense after the onset of the Korean War. This week, the center is holding a special program to highlight Marshall’s service as president of the American Red Cross. Marshall and his wife, Katherine, purchased the home in 1941.
“As one of only five individuals to serve the United States as a five-star General of the Army, General George C. Marshall was known for his integrity and selfless service that made him an American visionary and hero. General Marshall’s Dodona Manor is rich in history,” the legislators wrote. “General Marshall and his wife Katherine purchased Dodona Manor in 1941 and they lived there during the most important period of General Marshall’s career. The Marshall family owned the House during General Marshall’s tenure as U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Special Envoy to China, Secretary of State, President of the American Red Cross, Secretary of Defense after the onset of the Korean War, and Chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission. Notably, General Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953, the only professional soldier so honored, for his leadership and contributions to the economic recovery of Europe following World War II while living in Dodona Manor.”