- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 16, 2002

MANASSAS (AP) City officials want to restore Liberia, a 19th-century mansion that was headquarters to a Confederate general, then a Union commander, during the Civil War.
The sophisticated two-story, Federal-style brick house is reminiscent of a classic Tidewater plantation home. Its architectural features include solid interior brick partitions, Flemish bond brickwork and brick window arches.
Much of the home's original woodwork is decaying, the roof leaks and its historic facade is hidden in overgrown brush.
But the property could soon get a face-lift if Manassas officials can raise the money to restore the home to its original state of grandeur. The city soon will begin a $400,000 campaign to restore the building's exterior, including a new roof and replacement of deteriorating wood and paint. To restore the property to the way it was in the Civil War may cost more than $2 million, city officials said.
Officials hope to seek state and federal money, as well as private donations, said Melinda Herzog, the city's director of historic resources.
Donated to Manassas in 1986, the structure was built by William J. Weir in 1825 on land originally patented in 1724 by Robert "King" Carter.
Liberia achieved prominence during the Civil War when it served first as headquarters for Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard of the Confederate Army of the Potomac, who founded Camp Pickens on the grounds, and later as headquarters for Gen. Irvin McDowell, commander of the Union forces in Northern Virginia, according to documentation by the Prince William County Historical Commission.
President Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton visited Gen. McDowell at Liberia on June 19, 1862, after Gen. McDowell had suffered injuries in a fall from his horse. Confederate President Jefferson Davis is also believed to have visited Liberia in 1861.
After the war, Liberia was purchased and converted into a dairy farm by Robert Portner, the Alexandria brewer who built Annaburg, which is now a nursing home, in Manassas. Dairy operations continued on the property until 1947, and then it became a private residence for years for the Breeden family until it was turned over to the city.
"We are very excited about beginning work on the restoration of the property," Miss Herzog said. "I've met with the City Historic Resources Advisory Board, and they, too, want to get started as quickly as possible."

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