HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The owners of a popular Harrisonburg bed and breakfast named after a Confederate general say they’re planning to change its name.
As drivers enter downtown Harrisonburg heading west along Route 33, for years they’ve passed by the Stonewall Jackson Inn. In 2018, the inn closed its doors after the owner decided to retire and enjoy time traveling when he had health issues.
More than a year later, in 2019, Joel and Rebecca Graham, who rented the inn for a while, took charge of the location, did some restoration work, cleaned the inn up, and reopened it to the public.
Now, in 2020, as the nation grapples with calls for racial equality and the history of racism in the country in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, the Grahams announced that they made the decision to pursue a name change for the business, which was named after Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
It’s the latest of many businesses and landmarks to pursue changes from names that were in honor of Confederate leaders.
On Thursday, June 25, they released a public statement on behalf of the inn, saying that they always knew that part of taking charge of the business would involve changing its name, but that they wanted to get to know the community and learn the business of inn management before making such a major change.
They are asking for help to be able to rename, which they say will come with significant costs, and launched a GoFundMe for assistance.
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“When we became the new owners of the Stonewall Jackson Inn B&B in downtown Harrisonburg in August 2019, we knew that part of the transition would include changing its name. We wanted to spend more time getting to know our new community and learning the business before making the change. However, it is clear to us that we need to make this change now. We believe in and support the pursuit of justice and equality for all people. Places named after Stonewall Jackson carry painful memories and signify the history of slavery and oppression.
We are excited to share the full range of local history assets with our guests – from the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center to Civil War Trail sites – so that no history is erased or untold. By changing our name, we feel we can tell a more inclusive story of Harrisonburg and make more guests feel welcomed. It will help us reflect the respect and sensitivity that we have for our guests and neighbors.
Under a new name, we will maintain our vision of welcoming visitors to our B&B and inviting them to experience all that Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley have to offer. We aren’t sure what our new name will be and will have to roll it out in phases as we raise funds to pay for a new permanent sign and update marketing materials.
We have already started the process of facilitating this change, but these costs are significant and we need the help of the community. Please consider donating and joining us in preserving this historic bed and breakfast under a new name.”