May, 2017

 Siege Museum

What happened at the Siege Museum?

Siege Museum

Siege Museum photo by John Rooney

One of the most exciting events of this project's (working with the Robert Bobb Group) duration was an event that happened at the Siege Museum aka Exchange Building in Petersburg. The previous City Council closed the City Museums in the fall of 2016.  A group of citizens gathered to form a board to manage the museums, which at that time included only Historic Blandford Church and Centre Hill Museum.  Later in a Memorandum of Understanding generated by the Petersburg Preservation Task Force (PPTF), the opportunity to manage the Siege Museum became possible.  Upon inspection of the contents of the museum, one of the PPTF members noticed the storage units for 2-3 dozen cannon balls.  Upon closer inspection, it appeared some of these were live and had been stored in the museum for over 40 years. These cannon balls dated from the Civil War.

The PPTF notified the Interim City Manager Tom Tyrrell who immediately contacted the Fire Chief who brought in the Virginia State Police to scan the ordinances with an X-ray device that determines if they are actually live.  Turned out there were four.  In a municipality such as Petersburg where funds are severely limited, the only option was to engage the ordinances at the City dump.  The procedure requires burying them in a landfill with an explosive device that detonates them simultaneously.

The street where the Museum faces was closed temporarily while the ordinances were inspected, removed and transported to the City dump.  The locals were lit up with questions.  "Are bombs in the Siege" was the most asked.  Following is a list of media reports that include local, statewide and national attention:

 

http://www.progress-index.com/news/20170419/editorial-shell-shocking-discovery

http://www.progress-index.com/http://wtvr.com/2017/03/21/vsp-bomb-squad-responding-to-siege-museum-in-petersburg/

http://wric.com/2017/03/21/petersburg-museum-to-be-guarded-overnight-after-ammunition-deemed-most-likely-live/

http://www.nbc12.com/story/34967104/police-guard-siege-museum-in-petersburg-after-live-civil-war-era-ammunition-found

http://www.progress-index.com/news/20170322/four-siege-shells-removed-from-petersburg-museum

http://www.progress-index.com/news/20170322/petersburg-votes-to-keep-consultants-running-city

http://www.progress-index.com/news/20170322/four-siege-shells-removed-from-petersburg-museum

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/22/likely-live-civil-war-era-cannon-balls-found-in-mu/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

http://wset.com/news/local/live-civil-war-cannon-balls-found-in-petersburg-museum

A history and photos of the Siege Museum can be found at

http://www.preservationpetersburg.org/explore_siege_museum.html