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Discover Western Prince William August 2017
Doug Horhota
There are a variety of ways a community can express
its local spirit; it can be seeing friends and neighbors at
the high school football game on Friday night, coming
together for the holidays in December or a 4th of July
community picnic, or rallying when disaster strikes.
Another way local spirit can be shared and passed down
through time is through the things around us that we
store in a special place in our hearts through memories.
The movie "Field of Dreams" touched on this mindset,
using baseball as the analogy of what binds Americans
through time. "America has been rolled by like an army of
steamrollers...but baseball has marked the time." While
we don't have a baseball team in Manassas for that
shared memory, we have something similar.
The Architectural Resources Board is a local committee
responsible for ensuring the preservation of the Historic
Downtown area. The Manassas National Register
Historic District was designated by the Virginia Landmarks
Register and the National Register of Historic Places in
1988. Over the years, 518 properties have been surveyed
regardless of age, integrity, or contributing status. More
than 50% were categorized as historically important, an
excellent example of the local citizenry preserving the
past. Let me share the history of a few of them.
Looking back over the earliest written history of Manassas
and the surrounding region, the land is typically known as
the "Plains of Manassas." Let's face it, there isn't much
here topographically. The Potomac River dominates to
the north and east; the only thing of any consequence
to the south is the Rappahannock River and the Bull
Run Mountains, while the Blue Ridge and Appalachian
ranges dominate the west.
During the Civil War, the area reminded military
commanders of the type of landscape traditionally used
for warfare: wide open plains where large armies could
maneuver near and around one another in pitched
engagements. For the modern person, what is it we
see when we come upon Manassas? What's tall and
historical? The latest addition to the items on the National
Register of Historic Places is the water tower, located
behind the Manassas Volunteer Fire Department on
Centreville Road. The City of Manassas' 1914
water tower is the oldest "pre-World War
I hemispherical-bottom water tower" in
Northern Virginia. It played a critical
role in developing what was then the
Town of Manassas and was placed
on the National Register in 2016. Of
course, the newer water tower located
near the Train Depot records a more
recent historical record--Osbourn
High School's perfect season and state
championship football season in 2006!
Residents and visitors to the Town of Manassas around
the time the fi rst water tower was constructed would
have also seen another magnifi cent site just a few
blocks away. Annaburg Manor, a huge mansion that
served as the second home of businessmen Robert
Portner, and has been visited by Presidents Theodore
Roosevelt and William Taft, was constructed for getting
away from Alexandria, particularly during the heat
of summer. While I've written about the house in the
past, another much smaller structure just two blocks
away tells a more complete story of Annaburg and the
property. In its heyday, Portner owned close to 1,000
istory Preserved in Manassas
acres, consisting of much of what
is now the eastern half of the City
of Manassas, roughly from Sudley
Road to Manassas Drive, including
the Liberia property, which Portner
utilized as a dairy operation. Due
to the limited number of roads
at the time, the fi rst thing most
people would have seen was
the Gate House (after all, what
rich mansion offers no privacy?).
Built in 1892 as a gate house for
his Annaburg estate, this house
was home to Portner's gardener
and his family. It is constructed
of local stone and brick, with
a similar architectural style to
Annaburg Manor. Located at the
intersection of Main Street and Portner Avenue., this
charming little home is privately owned and remains an
important landmark.
A block away from the Gate House is one of the few
Manassas properties that has the highest ranking
of "outstanding" with the Architectural Resources
Board. While properties may have historical value, it is
challenging for a property, especially a privately owned
home, to maintain historical integrity with the addition of
modern conveniences such as electricity and plumbing.
Located on Main Street, a two-story antebellum-looking
house constructed soon after the end of the Civil War
was the home of George Carr Round and his wife,
Emily. Mr. Round, a Yankee from Connecticut, settled
in Manassas after the war and was possibly the most
signifi cant person in Manassas' development as a
community. Member of the Town Council, author of the
original Town Charter, and superintendent of schools,
he donated the land to allow construction of the County
Courthouse, thus establishing Manassas as the County
Seat of Prince William County. In addition, as a Civil War
veteran, he was instrumental in establishing peace and
harmony between the opposing sides. The Peace
Jubilee, held on the 50th anniversary of the 1st
of Manassas (Bull Run), the symbolic naming of
the courthouse intersection after Generals
Grant and Lee, and his efforts toward
honoring General Lee with a statue
in the U.S. Capitol, are just a few of
the contributions of this transplanted
Manassas resident.
This is only a small sample of
the more than 200
historical buildings in the
community. To learn more,
Architectural Tours will
be offered on October
7th at 2:00 p.m. as part of Fall Jubilee
and on November 4th after the
Veterans Day Parade beginning at the
Manassas Museum. Check out Echoes,
the Manassas Museum Store, which
features many of the historical buildings in
Manassas and the surrounding areas, in
its exclusive "Cat's Meow" collectibles.
Historic Manassas
Water Tower,
Centreville Rd.
Portner Gate House,
Main St. & Portner Ave.
Caprese Salad
2 cups Balsamic Vinegar
3 whole Ripe Tomatoes,
Sliced Thick
12 ounces Mozzarella Cheese,
Sliced Thick
Fresh Basil Leaves
Olive Oil, For Drizzling
Kosher Salt And Freshly Ground
Black Pepper
In a small saucepan, bring
balsamic vinegar to a boil over
medium-low heat. Cook for 10
to 20 minutes, or until balsamic
has reduced to a thicker glaze.
Remove from heat and transfer to
a bowl or cruet. Allow to cool.
When you're ready to serve,
arrange tomato and mozzarella
slices on a platter. Arrange basil
leaves between the slices. Drizzle
olive oil over the top of the salad,
getting a little bit on each slice.
Do the same with the balsamic
End with a sprinkling of kosher
salt and black pepper.
8 Servings
Extra balsamic reduction can be
stored in fridge for a later use.