The Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation
The Formation of the Foundation
On December 9, 1775, The Battle of Great Bridge occurred in the area now known as Chesapeake. This battle played a critical role in the struggle for American independence; four days later, as a direct result of the Patriot victory, the Virginia Convention adopted the first public declaration expressing a spirit of independence.
In 1896, the construction of the Albemarle & Chesapeake Canal intersected a small portion of the battlefield. A century later, in the mid 1990s, plans for replacement of the bridge across the canal by the US Army Corps of Engineers provided the final opportunity to reclaim and preserve a major portion of the original battlefield. The urgency of preserving the battle site prompted the City of Chesapeake to write an Historic Preservation Plan in 1996, stating that the greatest threats to the battlefield would be transportation improvements caused by urban development and redevelopment of vacant properties. The National Park Service has also listed the Great Bridge Battlefield and Waterways site as an historical site in need of immediate and direct preservation measures by state and local governments and organizations. Without direct assistance, this historical site may not survive, removing an important source of public education and commerce within the Commonwealth of Virginia.
It was to save this irreplaceable piece of American history that on December 9, 1999, the 224th anniversary of the battle, a dedicated group of citizens formed The Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to preserving the battlefield and commemorating and promoting to the nation the strategic importance of the Battle of Great Bridge and the economic and cultural contributions made by the Albemarle & Chesapeake and Dismal Swamp Canals. The Foundation’s Strategic Plan was adopted on April 24, 2003.
Mission of the Foundation
The primary objective of the Foundation is to establish a Historic Park & Visitor Center in which educational displays and artifacts, electronic media, and trained staff will tell the story of the battle and the waterways. The Foundation will foster and promote the information center as a basis to form a regional history trail that will develop into a valuable educational and economic asset for the entire region.
*As a non-profit (501c3) organization, all donations to the GBB&WHF are tax deductible to the full extent allowed under the law. Click here for donation and sponsorship information.
Board of Trustees & Advisors
Our Capital Campaign Donors
The Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways
Historic park & Visitor center
The Visitor Center
Located along Battlefield Blvd. and the Intracoastal Waterways, The Great Bridge Battlefield and Waterways Museum/Visitor Center is a Georgian Revival design reflecting the architectural style of the late 18th century. This 12,000 sq. ft. building will be located adjacent to a reclaimed portion of the original battle site.
It will house a 100-seat auditorium for multi-media presentations and lectures, a 3,000 sq. ft. permanent gallery, a 2,000 sq. ft. gallery for changing exhibits, a gift shop and a multipurpose catering room with a catering kitchen. This visitor center/museum will be the information center for the larger project being undertaken cooperatively by the City of Chesapeake, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Foundation: to create an historic park that encompasses the four quadrants of land that surround the intersection of Battlefield Boulevard and the canal at Great Bridge.
The visitor center/museum will contain both permanent and changing exhibits that demonstrate the importance of both the Battle of Great Bridge and the historic waterways to the creation and development of the nation. Due to its location on the banks of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, it will receive both marine and vehicular traffic. The center will provide resources for local historical research, host both indoor and outdoor interpretive displays and programming, contain a 100-seat theater, and have space for social and civic events.
The Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways Historic Park & Visitor Center will be an important destination for education, with a partnership between it and area schools and universities. As planned, the building will be a vital asset to the community. Initial plans for the Museum/Visitor Center were conceived by a broad spectrum of community leaders shortly after the formation of the Foundation in 1999. As the project and vision progressed professional architects, exhibit planners, and museum interpretive personnel were asked to lend their expertise in developing a floor plan that would reflect best practices in permanent and changing exhibit design, research, lecture and office space, public and private reception areas, retail sales and other visitor interests.
The Historic Park
The Battlefield Historic Park, now almost complete, will serve as a tribute to the history of the Battle of Great Bridge. The Park will be home to an Interpretive Historic Pathway, an Outdoor Auditorium, a Recreation of the Causeway from 1775, a Family Picnic Area, and a monument to the British troops that lost their lives during the battle.
In the Spring of 2007, The Daughters of the American Revolution were instrumental in placing a large stone monument on the future Historic Park Site to commemorate the Patriot soldiers that fought for our freedom. This monument is visible today from Battlefield Boulevard, as well as from the Intracoastal Waterway. They have also kindly donated granite benches to surround the monument. The Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation is thankful for the continued efforts of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The Historic Park - Renderings with Labels
Leave a Legacy in Battlefield Park - Park Map and Naming Opportunities
Battlefield Park and Visitor Center Naming Opportunities List
The Visitor Center - Floor Plan
Visit the Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways Historic Park & Visitor Center
Directions: From I-64 East, take the VA-168/Battlefield Blvd. exit, Exit 290 A-B. Merge onto Battlefield Blvd. N. via Exit 290 B on the left toward Great Bridge. Continue for 4.4 miles and turn left onto Watson Rd., right before the Great Bridge bridge. The Park & Visitor Center will be located on your right.
From I-64 West, take the I-464 N/VA-168-BUSINESS/VA-168-TOLL S exit, EXIT 290-291, towardNorfolk/Battlefield Blvd/Great Bridge/Outer Banks. Merge onto VA-168 S via Exit 291 B. Take the VA-190 exit, EXIT 13B, toward VA-168 BUSINESS/Battlefield Blvd-South/Great Bridge. Turn left onto Great Bridge Blvd/VA-190. Turn right onto Battlefield Blvd. Continue for 1 mile and turn left onto Watson Rd., right before the Great Bridge bridge. The Park & Visitor Center will be located on your right.
Our offices are located across from the Park & Visitor Center in the Open Roads Consulting building, 103 Watson Rd. Please contact us in advance if you'd like to visit us in our office, or if you'd like a tour of the Historic Park.
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