Welcome from Minnesota. I would wager a museum, even in a church would work. How many Civil War churches are set up in that fashion. There are bible distributing living historians who would enjoy that. Restore the church and other rooms contain the artifacts.
Even though I don't go to Virginia much, I would stop and pay a few bucks to go through it.
Wow! What a great way to be welcomed into the group! Thank you all very much!
I'm attaching some photos of the church which is located in Raccoon Ford, Virginia. Built in 1850 and occupied by both Union and Confederate troops periodically up until the Winter/Spring of 1863-64. Then some guy by the name of George Armstrong Custer placed 22 of his Michigan Calvary troopers in the church and then went back north to court and marry his wife Elizabeth "Libbie" Bacon back in Monroe Michigan.
Custer's boys were supposed to keep an eye on Ewel's army which was just 700 yards away on the southern bank of the Rapidan River. The union cavalry got worried about the southerners crossing the river at night and stealing their horses. Consequently they knocked a hole in the back wall so they could bring their mounts into the church with them each night. They burned the church pews as firewood and used the church records as either toilet paper or fire starting material.
When the Union cavalry departed in the spring they added insult to injury by wrecking the place knocking out all the windows, tearing the doors off their frames, and damaged the roof. The congregation waited until 1905 and then sued the U.S. Government in Federal court. The church vestrymen named George Armstrong Custer as a defendant in the lawsuit even though he had been killed in the Battle of the Little Big Horn some 20 years earlier. They won their case and Congress had to pass a Bill awarding the grand some of $1,200 to the Wardens and Vestrymen of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, of Raccoon Ford, VA. Although I could only find $600 had been paid by the U.S. Treasury.
Some notable parishioners associated with the church include Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow, the famous Confederate spy inaccurately depicted in the PBS Television series Mercy Street, Augustus Wallace Nalle who left the church to enroll at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and fought in the Battle of New Market. Loron Packard a union private who won the Medal of Honor for his heroism at Raccoon Ford. Much later the controversial Bishop John Shelby Spong did his seminary Educational Field work at the church in the 1950's.
Still researching and still learning. Just today a local resident stopped by while I was working on the church brought an old photo to show me for a fact that it did have a steeple at one point back in the early 1900's. Still not sure if the steeple was there during the "War of the Rebellion" as it is referred to in the court records. I"ll keep you posted on my restoration progress and historical research.
Congratulations. You didn't say where it was but here in Orange County, Virginia it is amazing how many local resources would be made available to you. Don't overlook local reenactors, historians and historical societies. I was restoring an old house and called a sawmill of very good reputation. I need some oak planks. After telling him what I wanted I add, "The kicker is it needs to look like it was milled in the 1800s." Mr. Lamb laughed and said. "You're restoring an old house. It will be ready Thursday." Virginians appreciate their history.
Ah, First Sergeant you are right across the Rapidan river. Please swing on by and visit! I am out there working at least part of every weekend. Especially now that I have some heat and power going in the place. Last winter was tough to stay warm out there. Just shoot me an email at email@example.com so I can make sure I'm around when you stop by.