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.
The Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and presentation of the historical significance of the Battle of Great Bridge and the Albemarle & Chesapeake Canal. The battle was a crucial victory over the British for a new nation. The canal, interwoven with the battlefield site, has been an important commercial and recreational waterway. The primary objective of the Foundation is to establish an information center in which educational displays and artifacts, electronic media and trained staff will tell the story of the battle and the canal. The Foundation will also 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 communities involved.
*As a non-profit (501c3) organization, all donations to the GBB&WHF are tax deductible to the full extent allowed under the law.
The Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation's Board of Trustees and Advisors, members, volunteers, and staff are all working very hard to make the Battlefield Historic Park & Museum / Visitor Center an educational showcase. We are grateful to our many donors for their support!
This project would not be possible without the support of our gracious donors, volunteers, and members helping to preserve this vital piece of American history!
The Foundation's Docents are local, volunteer subject experts that are passionate about our area's history and vital role in our nation's independence. They are committed to planting the seed for historical interest while focusing on SOL requirements. This exceptional group's unwavering support and dedication in representing the Foundation in the best possible way is truly priceless.
The docent’s job is an important one and crucial to the success of our goal of preserving and promoting history. Docent duties include: giving guided tours of the Historic Park and future Museum / Visitor Center; explaining the history and crucial details surrounding the Battle of Great Bridge and the history of the waterways of the region; and assisting with educational programs, events, and activities on and off-site.
Join the Docent Committee or Schedule Your Own Docent-Led VIP Tour Today! Contact the Foundation office for more information.
Board of Trustees:
Rebecca Adams, Chesapeake Public School Educational Foundation Records Management Administrator
*Lee Baynor, Baynor Inc., Real-Estate Investments Owner
Valerie Brown, Mount Lebanon Baptist School Director
*Jean Carideo, Major Hillard Library Manager
*Lee Curling, Retired US Army Reserve; Avaya Government Solutions Systems Engineer
Richard Fisher, Historian, GBB&WHF Docent
Lillie Gilbert, Virginia Canals & Navigation Society; Retired Wild River Outfitters President
Charlie Hackworth, Hackworth Owner
Elaine Hutto, Daughters of American Revolution
Timothy Kerr, Former Tidewater Community College Chesapeake Campus Provost
Scott Matheson, Former Chesapeake City Council Member
John Maxwell, Former Chesapeake City Manager
*Brent Nielson, Retired City of Chesapeake Planning Director
S.Z. “Debbie” Ritter, Chesapeake City Council Member
*Philip Smith, TowneBank
*Jon Stull, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret), Reenactor, GBB&WHF Docent, Military Staff College Instructor
Michael R. Ward, Crestwood Middle School Principal
Steven Wright, Chesapeake Economic Development Director
Board of Advisors:
*Michael Barber, Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director
Steve Best, Chesapeake City Council Member; Former Chesapeake Fire Chief
Donna Brown, Retired, First Grade Teacher
John Cosgrove, Senate of Virginia Member; House of Delegates Virginia General Assembly Former Member
Robert Creekmore, Jr., Civil Engineer
John deTriquet, Chesapeake City Council Member
*Louise Franklin, GBB&WHF Docent Coordinator
Robert Hitchings, Wallace Memorial Room Archivist/Historian; Clipper History Writer
Raymond Jones, WHRO Cultural Resource Manager
Molly Kerr, Historian
Garnett Lane, Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism Advisory Board Member; Chesapeake Free Care Clinic Board of Directors Member
Cindy MacDonald, Retired School Teacher
Peggy Haile McPhillips, Norfolk City Historian
Thomas Mercer, Chesapeake School Board
Lil Oman, Norfolk County Historical Society of Chesapeake Member
Hugo Owens, Jr., CFO of NIA Corporation
Michael Perez, Grassfield High School Principal
Teresa Peters, Stanton Partners President
Ron Phelps, Revolutionary War Reenactor; Historian
Lori Pickett, Historical Preservationist
Carl Pope, Jr., International Tile & Marble Ltd. Owner
Patricia Powers, Retired Curriculum and Instruction Assistant Superintendent
Michael Sarros, Froehling & Robertson Environmental Department Manager
Thomas Sledge, Retired School Teacher; Reenactor
Olivia Trombino, Retired CPA
Tom Whetstone, SAR Norfolk Chapter Past President, Historian
*Denotes Member of the Executive Committee
Lee Curling, President
Jon Stull, Vice President
Jean Carideo, Secretary
Philip Smith, Treasurer
We are proud of our work to preserve this nation’s history, and construction of Phase I of our Museum / Visitor Center is underway!
This beautiful Georgian style building located on the Intracoastal Waterways will become a welcoming place for travelers by both land and water. This 12,000 sq. ft. (Phase I: 8,550 sq. ft.) building commemorating the historic importance of the Revolutionary War Battle of Great Bridge and the history of our waterways is located adjacent to a reclaimed portion of the original battle site.
The completed Museum / Visitor Center will house a 100-seat auditorium for multimedia presentations and lectures, a 3,000 sq. ft. permanent gallery, a 2,000 sq. ft. gallery for 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, a museum gift shop, a resource room for local historical research, and a multipurpose meeting room with a catering kitchen. This Museum / Visitor Center 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 Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways Historic Park & Museum / Visitor Center will be an important destination for education, with a partnership between it and area schools. As planned, the building will be a vital asset to the community. The soft opening was held December 2018. The museum grand opening is scheduled for Spring 2020. The museum will be an educational and community resource for years to come.