Chatham Manor Utility Project

Stafford County, Virginia


The National Park Service (NPS) teamed with Stafford County to bring improved utilities to Chatham Manor within the Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania National Military Park in Virginia. Chatham, built in 1771, overlooks the Rappahannock River and downtown Fredericksburg, making it an ideal location as the Union Headquarters during the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg. Recognizing the centuries of use of this parcel of land, the NPS brought on Dovetail to monitor the installation of all utilities to assure that no significant archaeological sites were impacted during the work. This multi-month project included:

  • Monitoring all earth-moving activities during pipeline installation
  • Artifact analysis
  • Background review using records on file with the NPS
  • Limited archival research
  • Extensive coordination with the County and NPS related to schedule and results
  • Adherence to all NPS guidelines and curatorial protocols

Although most of the utility lines were void of cultural resources, a water line near the main house uncovered the remains of a nineteenth-century kitchen refuse pit and a 1920s greenhouse. Dovetail worked with the NPS to record these features and document the artifacts while also helping Stafford County identify a revised utility route to avoid impacts to the significant deposits while achieving all project goals.

This project reflects Dovetail’s thorough communication protocols, assuring that project details were disseminated daily to both the federal agency and locality. Through diligent observation and teamwork, notable historic sites were avoided and the project successfully resulted in improved utilities in this national park.