City honors delegate with Old Town dedication

Manassas had many things to celebrate Wednesday.

A day after receiving an award from the Virginia Municipal League for work on the downtown, the city dedicated its Old Town Hall, complete with a new shiny copper dome in honor of Delegate Harry J. Parrish, R-50th District.

Another ceremony marked the end of renovation work on the Old Hopkins Candy Factory, which will now serve as a home for the Center for the Arts.

“This is a community that’s getting it right. This is a community that’s one of the great places to live,” said Gov. Mark R. Warner, who attended both events.

The terror caused by a serial sniper shooter wasn’t able to deter hundreds from attending both ceremonies, mostly held outdoors.

“We normally feel nervous [in such a situation]. That’s an appropriate reaction and concern. But we have to go on with our daily lives. And I can think of no better reason than to celebrate Harry Parrish’s great service and the wonderful restoration of this building,” Warner said afterwards.

The gathering outside Old Town Hall on Wednesday signaled the completion of more than three years of work to restore a cupola, a domed structure, that has been missing from the building since the 1950s.

Efforts were spearheaded by former Councilman Doug Waldron and construction company owner John Gregory.

The cupola, Waldron said, was needed to make the building a fitting honor for Parrish, who has served in elected office since 1951. Over the years, Parrish was a town councilman and then a town mayor. When Manassas became a city in 1976, Parrish continued as city mayor. Since 1981, he’s represented the city in the General Assembly.

During his time as a city leader, Parrish played a crucial role in the building of Manassas Regional Airport and the creation of Lake Manassas and a water treatment plant for the community.

In his present role as a state delegate, Parrish has successfully lobbied for state funding to help pay for numerous area projects, including the building of George Mason University’s Prince William campus and the leasing of a new building for the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“If you want to see a monument, look everywhere around you. The city of Manassas is Harry J. Parrish’s monument,” said state Sen. Charles J. Colgan, D-29th District.

After the dedication of the Town Hall, those gathered walked down Center Street to the Old Hopkins Candy Factory on Battle Street, where a ceremony and reception marked the end of more than a year of renovation work to the 16,000-square-foot structure, built in 1908.

The Center for the Arts plans to use the building as an art gallery, a place to hold classes and theater.

“This is a wonderful example of the redevelopment and reuse taking place throughout the Old Town of Manassas,” said Mayor Marvin L. Gillum.

Staff writer Chris Newmarker can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 119.

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