STUART, Va. — A well-traveled portrait of Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart will be unveiled and rededicated at a new home during a program Thursday in Stuart, on the 152nd anniversary of his death.
The portrait of the Civil War hero and Ararat native, for whom the Patrick County seat is named, is to be publicly displayed at the Patrick Veterans Memorial Building at 106 Rucker St. in Stuart – on a “wall of honor” in the second-floor hallway.
Thursday’s unveiling/rededication program will begin there at 10 a.m. and is to include Patrick County and town of Stuart officials along with members of the J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust, based in Ararat.
Among out-of-town guests invited are Stuart family members and Wayne Jones, a Stuart impersonator and Civil War re-enactor.
Roger Hayden, the Dan River District member of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors who represents Ararat, is expected to offer special remarks, according to Tom Bishop, a spokesman for the trust group.
Others expected to speak include County Administrator Tom Rose and possibly some Stuart town officials, Bishop added Tuesday.
Jones, who will be in uniform Thursday, is a highly regarded Stuart impersonator, even including the red beard that was a trademark of the Confederate cavalry officer.
“And he’s a great speaker, too,” Bishop said.
Taken from courthouse
The placement of the Stuart portrait on the Wall of Honor at the Patrick Veterans Memorial Building, the county administration building, was triggered by a decision last year by a local judge to remove it from a longtime spot in the courthouse nearby.
That controversial move came in the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina., church shootings.
After its removal from the courthouse wall, the Patrick County Board of Supervisors voted to have the portrait restored and to hang it in the administration building on the Wall of Honor. It memorializes county military members who were killed in action.
The special pastel portrait had been painted by Gen. Stuart’s cousin in 1889 at the request of Stuart’s wife Flora on the 25th anniversary of his death, according to information from Bishop. Stuart died on May 12, 1864, a day after being wounded during the Battle of Yellow Tavern near Richmond.
After its completion, the portrait was displayed and stored in various places around the county. In 1972, about two years after the closing of Stuart High School – where the portrait had graced a wall of the auditorium – it found its way to the courthouse wall.
A ceremony marking that occasion was attended by J.E.B. Stuart IV and other family members.
Bishop said Tuesday that the restored portrait has been encased in a protective frame that will prevent graffiti or similar problems, but still is “very nice, very clear, easy to see.”
A special feature also will be part of the Stuart display in the administration building. “A bronze plaque has been prepared that will be placed on the wall beside the portrait,” Bishop said.
Among those getting an early look at the repackaged portrait is Sharon Stuart McCree, a great-great-granddaughter of the Confederate hero and an author from California who has written about Stuart family history.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.