We were surprised to learn recently that Michael Anne Lynn, director of the Stonewall Jackson House in Lexington, Virginia, will be retiring at the end of this month.
Lynn, who has served at the Jackson House for 35 years, will retire effective Oct. 1.
“Michael is irreplaceable,” said Col. Keith E. Gibson, director of the Virginia Military Institute Museum System, which oversees the Jackson House. “The standard she has set and the work she has accomplished will be a legacy for all who follow her.”
A biography issued by VMI lauds Lynn’s leadership as “the driving force creating a nationally significant historic site based upon the highest professional museum standards.”
A graduate of the University of Virginia in 1974—UVA’s first co-ed class—Lynn then attended the prestigious Cooperstown Graduate Program of the State University of New York, followed by a two-year tour with the Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) program in the mid-70s.
Upon her arrival at the newly renovated Stonewall Jackson House in 1981, Lynn established an educational program for pre-school to adult visitors, providing context for understanding Jackson’s role in American history. She also organized a thorough volunteer training program, which has since prepared hundreds of Jackson House volunteers to share Jackson’s story.
In 1994, she provided the key leadership for establishing the Stonewall Jackson Foundation, which assumed ownership of the Jackson House from its parent organization, the Historic Lexington Foundation. Her successful coordination of a $1.2 million capital campaign resulted in the adaptive reuse of the 1887 Davidson-Tucker House as administrative offices, and he renovation of the Jackson House, including structural repairs and the replacement of aging mechanical systems. In 2011, Lynn Shepherded the gifting of the site to VMI and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Gibson also cited Lynn’s most recent contribution: a new orientation center. “[T]his resource will carry forward her legacy of ensuring an excellence in visitor interpretation when the Center opens next Spring,” Gibson said.
“Her work assures a strong future for the Stonewall Jackson House,” he added.
The Stonewall Jackson House is the only home owned by Thomas Jonathan Jackson, who occupied the residence during his time as an instructor at VMI. It has operated as a museum and historic site since 1954, interpreting the 19th Century life and times of the Jacksons. “Special emphasis is placed upon his life as a professor, church leader, businessman, husband, and community leader during the decade that he lived in Lexington and taught at the Virginia Military Institute before the American Civil War,” the site’s website explains.
Gibson says VMI will advertise the position of site director soon, with the expectation of filling the position later this fall.