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A detail from Gilbert Stuart's portrait of James Monroe, ca. 1820-22.
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The future of the existing James Renwick Jr.-designed Fredericksburg courthouse, an 1852 structure, is a critical issue for the City Council.
This structure was designed by the same architect who created the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Renwick also designed the striking St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, one of the most visited churches in North America.
The Fredericksburg building is of national importance. It should become the James Monroe Presidential Library and the Monroe Doctrine Study Center.
The courthouse could be maintained in such a center. Offices in the building and the space in the old jail could be used for the center and to store Monroe artifacts, papers, etc.
The city should forge a partnership with the University of Mary Washington to pursue such a plan.
The center would be an addition to the UMW programs. It would benefit UMW scholars and students and attract Monroe scholars to the community.
There are 13 such libraries and centers in the country that are a part of the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives and Records Administration.
I think the long-range vitality of the city would benefit by our moving forward with the new courthouse and creating a Monroe center, as I am proposing.