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Things to do in Manassas

    Manassas National Battlefield Stonewall Jackson Statue @ Manassas National Battlefield Manassas, Virginia
    The Manassas National Battlefield Park is found sitting just north of the city of Manassas, Virginia, in Prince William County, and preserves the site of two of the biggest battles of the Civil War; the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861 and the Second Battle of Bull Run that was fought between August 28 and August 30, 1862. These battles were also referred to as the First Battle of Manassas and the Second Battle of Manassas, respectively. The quiet and peaceful countryside was ripped apart and witness to the horrible struggles between the two armies, North and South, and here, Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson would get his famous name, "Stonewall". The battlefield has become a drawing magnet for people from across the nation and around the world to visit and explore the historical landscape where many brave men fought and died, more than a century and a half ago. About 900,000 people come here every year to walk the battlefield which was listed on the National Register of Historic Sites in 1966. The Henry Hill visitor center, located near the south entrance, offers visitors the opportunity to view numerous exhibits and get interpretations that pertain to the First Battle of Bull Run, that includes; field gear, weapons, period uniforms and an electronic map of the battlefield. The center has an orientation film called "Manassas: End of Innocence, and a book store that is filled with materials related to the hard fought battle.  Some of the many historical sites that are located on the battlefield include; the Stone house that was used to take care of the wounded and dying at both battles, the Stone bridge that the Union troops would use to retreat from during both battles, Brawner's Farm, the Robinson House, Battery Heights, Hazel Plain, Matthews Hill, the Deep Cut, New York monuments that honors the 123 men of the 5th NY Zouaves that were killed within five minutes, Groveton, the unfinished railroad grade; all these places had something to do with both battles and are available to visit and wonder, why? And how could two battles be fought in the same area with the same results? Wasn't anyone paying attention during the first? Did they really need to go through it again, only the second time, the majority of the troops and leaders were now seasoned veterans of battles? The first Battle of Bull Run would take only one civilian life, that of 85 year old bed-ridden Judith Carter, killed by Union artillery fire on Henry Hill.  At the end of the first battle, almost a thousand men were killed, over 2600 wounded and 1300 missing or captured.  In the second battle, the Union lost some 10,000 dead and wounded, with the Confederacy losing 1300 dead and 7000 wounded. 

    Freedom Museum
    Freedom Museum Manassas, VirginiaThe McCormick Freedom Museum, in Manassas, Virginia, would become the first museum that opened in this country that was and is dedicated to the First Amendment of the Constitution, by the McCormick Foundation, opened in April, 2006, and then in March, 2009, became an online museum. This museum offers people an interactive experience that concentrates the first amendment rights that include the freedoms of press, speech, petition, religion and assembly. There has been much speculation about the irony of this museum, especially being named after Robert R. McCormick, a well known war profiteer that used the Chicago Tribune as his soapbox to oppose the entrance of this country into WWII. The museum is open seven days a week, from 10 AM to 4 PM, and was started to honor those Americans that have made the supreme sacrifice in their defense of freedom, and to pay tribute to the Americans that have served our great nation with honor and distinction; as well as offering a place where our young people can learn about their history and heritage. The main focus of the museum and their exhibits is the 20th century, with many believing it was the American century, and that may well come to be true, but only our descendants will know for sure; if we contributed more to the world, than the world contributed to us. Besides the permanent displays that are offered for public perusal, there are other splendid exhibits that commemorate the following; the National Guards' 29th Division on D-Day, Semper Fi month, the Fall of the Wall (Berlin) and many other significant examples. There are also many vintage vehicles and aircraft, special demonstrations and speakers. The Freedom Museum officially opened on July 4th, 1999, and their main goal or mission is to teach the younger generations that "freedom" is not really free, and that they should learn to appreciate their legacy of liberty, peace and prosperity that they will inherit. Perhaps, we should stipulate that every single person coming into the United States should learn about the many sacrifices that American born and bred people have given so that anyone in the world can come to the United States of America and enjoy those unalienable freedoms that were not easily won, but by centuries of hard work, blood, tears and certainly sacrifices, we and now they have a country, a nation that is here for the masses to come, visit or stay, where we all have the same opportunities to enjoy, to revel in those freedoms that cannot be found in any other country in the world. Nor is it likely that they ever will. All of these people coming here need to learn one important thing, that they are no longer something-slash-American; they are now Americans period, and they need to show their support and invest in its and their future with more than just protests about the way they are treated, as a whole, or whatever is happening in their former country that might affect their families, but doesn't ours. We are either Americans or we are not, it shouldn't be like it was during Nam, when the powers that are said, "love it or leave it", we need to all love the freedoms we have and learn to appreciate them, by staying and doing what every American does that cares about this country; vote.

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    Manassas MuseumManassas Museum Manassas, Virginia
    The Manassas Museum opened in 1991, housed in a 7000 square foot structure that sits on eight gorgeous acres in Manassas, Virginia, with permanent and temporary historical displays that showcase the Northern Virginia Piedmont history via documents, relics, videos and images. The museum also houses the McBryde Library and Archives and Echoes, the museum's store. Current exhibits include; From the Ashes: Manassas Then & Now, which started in October, 2010 and takes a 150 year journey from the war torn landscape of the city after the 1860s into the modern time; the upcoming 150th anniversary that will be held from July 21 to July 24, in 2011, that will commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War and the First Battle of Bull Run or Manassas, whichever you prefer, a four day extravaganza that will include many historical demonstrations, speakers, music, art and other historical events that will be very interesting and exciting. In January, 2011, there will be a Blue and Gray Ball held in the city which might be on interest to many. Some of the highlights of the excellent collection include; one exquisite candelabrum made in 1848 of marble, glass and gilded brass, a daytime satin taffeta dress from 1870 to 1875, a flax wheel that is from 1830 and made of wood and metal, a Mosby's Rangers reunion flag on staff from 1865, a John Brown pike from 1857 to 1859 and made of wood and steel with 10 inch blade and 37 inch staff, a cut and painted tin sign of Speiden & Speiden, Architects from 1896 to 1900 and a saltill sarape that is made of wool and cotton from 1800 to 1825 period. At the museum's store you can purchase limited edition prints, children's toys and books, unique Manassas souvenirs, Civil War collectibles, books, t-shirts, household decorative items and jewelry; plus many other exciting and unique items.

     Confederate Cemetery
    Confederate Cemetery Manassas, Virginia
    The Confederate Cemetery in Manassas, Virginia sits on a lonely acre of land that had been donated to hold Confederate soldiers and after being a place of complete solitude, had over 250 men buried there. The town of Manassas, would later buy the land next to it and start a Citizen's cemetery. The Confederate cemetery has a marvelous statue of a Confederate soldier that has many of the soldiers buried beneath it; and the town library has a complete list of those names.

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Local Restaurants in Manassas

    Panino
    Antipasti; calamari fritti is crispy fried squid; mozzarella e peperoni arrosto is roasted peppers with fresh mozzarella; salmone affumicato is smoked salmon; cozze gratnate o marinara is mussels with breadcrumbs or marinara sauce. Zuppe; pasta e fagioli is white bean soup with pasta; zuppa di lenticchie is lentil soup. Insalate; insalata panino is house salad; insalata romano is Caesar salad. Pasta; capellini d'angelo Napolitana is angel hair pasta with tomato sauce & basil; rigatoni emilia romagna is tubular pasta with meat sauce; tortellini tricolore gratinate is cheese tortellini with cream tomato gratine; linguine alle vongole is thin pasta with white or red clam sauce; fussili sorrentina is corkscrew pasta with tomato, eggplant, fresh mozzarella & basil. Pesce; filetti di sogliola al pomodoro e pignoli is filet of sole with diced tomato, basil & pine nuts; fritto misto is crispy fried squid, scallops, sole, shrimp, mussels & zucchini; salmone all griglia is grilled salmon with fresh herbs. Carni; sovrana di pollo alla griglia is breast of chicken grilled with fresh herbs; piccata al limone e capperi is veal scaloppini with lemon sauce & capers; scaloppine di vitello saltimbocca is veal scaloppini with prosciutoo & fresh sage; cotoletta di vitello Milanese is breaded veal with lemon; medaglione di Manzo is medallions of beef tenderloin sautéed with mushrooms & red wine sauce.

    Carmello's & Little Portugal
    Appetizers; steamed clams with onions & chourico served in white wine sauce with touch of tomato; bruschetta is diced tomatoes & roasted bell peppers marinated in olive oil, garlic, basil & touch of pesto over fresh baked bread & topped with creamy feta cheese; calamari fritti is lightly battered squid fried & served with marinara sauce; lumache trastevere is snails baked with parsley & garlic butter; bolinhos de bacahau is deep fried salt cod cakes; broiled Portuguese sausage served with sautéed onions & black olives; jumbo shrimp grilled on skewer & served in lemon vinaigrette; smoke Norwegian salmon with capers, eggs & Bermuda onions. House specialties; pernil de porco is 14oz. pork shank in rosemary demi-glace with potatoes & chef's choice of veggies; petto di pollo alla granciola is medallions of fresh chicken breast topped with crabmeat, asparagus & melted mozzarella in white wine lemon butter sauce with spaghetti, tomato sauce & chef's choice of veggie. Italian Entrees; fish of the day broiled & served in champagne sauce with fresh herbs & touch of lemon with spaghetti, tomato sauce & chef's choice of veggies; medallions of fresh chicken breast grilled with Italian sausage, roasted peppers, pine nuts, tomatoes in white wine lemon sauce, with spaghetti, tomato sauce & chef's choice of veggies; ricotta cheese & spinach stuffed agnolotti with artichoke hearts, pine nuts & crabmeat in pesto cream sauce; gnocchi pasta sautéed with onions, mushrooms, prosciutto, & diced tomatoes in light brown sauce; layers of housemade pasta, ricotta cheese, sausage & veal baked in tomato sauce with chef's special blend of herbs & spices; fresh chicken breast cutlet, lightly breaded, topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese & baked, with spaghetti, tomato sauce & chef's choice of veggies.

 

Angel Hair Pasta Panino Manassas, Virginia

 

Filet of Sole Panino Manassas, Viriginia

 

 

 Pork Shank Carmello's & Little Portugal Manassas, Virginia

 

Agnolotti Carmello's & Little Portugal Manassas, Virginia

 

 

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    Ben Lomond Manor House & Old Rose Garden Ben Lomond Manor House & Old Rose Garden Manassas, Virginia
    The Ben Lomond Manor House was constructed in 1832 by Benjamin Tasker Chinn, one of the fourth generation descendants of Robert "King" Carter, and is about two miles south of the Manassas battlefields and the city of Manassas, Virginia. It is a splendid two story Federal style house that was constructed with locally quarried red sandstone and had been originally covered over with stucco that was then scored to look like big stones. The manor house had been named after a Randolph estate in Goochland County, Virginia, which was also named Ben Lomond. The manor house has a very significant history in western Prince William County, with the original owners being Benjamin Tasker Chinn and his wife, Edmonia Randolph Carter Chinn, who was one of the distant cousins of the well known and wealthy Carter clan of the Northern Neck. Their clan or dynasty started with John Carter, who arrived here from England in 1655, and after marrying five wives and having six children, he would leave this world, wealthy and well known in the society such as it was back then. His fifth son, Robert "King" Carter had arrived via his fourth wife, and would eclipse his father's wealth and social standing in the early Virginia colony many times, as he became the richest man in the county and also one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, men in the region. He is the one that many historians assumed had started the dynasty. Robert would then have 15 children by two wives, Judith Armistead and Betty Landon Willis. His children would become politically involved in the county for years to come, with many of them becoming very rich. His seventh son, Robert II passed on at age 28, but not before having a son also named Robert III, and he would be the one that constructed the manor house. In Scotland, "Ben" meant "mountain", since the estate's name came from Mount Lomond in Scotland, it seemed apropos. There were at least three children or grandchildren that would sign the Declaration of Independence and fame.

    Manassas Industrial School/Jennie Dean Memorial
    Manassas Industrial School and Jennie Dean Memorial Manassas, VirginiaThe Manassas Industrial School and Jennie Dean Memorial is located on a five acre archaeological park in Manassas, Virginia that was dedicated in 1995, and sits on the original site of the old Manassas Industrial School that interprets that school that had been for colored youths, or what today would called black youths. That school had begun thanks to the monumental efforts of a former slave girl, named Jennie Dean, who had spent a good ten years of raising money to charter the school in October, 1893. It was created to be both a private residential facility that would give vocational and educational training to the blacks in a Christian environment. The school's initial structure would be name Howland Hall, and was completed in time for the dedication ceremonies to be given by Frederick Douglass in 1984, and although there were numerous destructive fires, the school would continue to grow. As the century began to turn, it would house 150 students that attended its three term academic year that went from October to May. The disciplines taught included; geography, music, math, English, literature and natural sciences, with the vocational instruction being applied in shoe making, carpentry, agriculture, mattress making, animal husbandry, blacksmithing, painting, mechanical drawing, wheel wrighting and cobbling for the boys. The girls curriculum included domestic arts, laundry methods, sewing, patch work, cooking and household arts.  The school was constantly trying to overcome its financial problems, but it would survive until the 1930s, when the local counties created a public school system that included joint control and bought 100 acres of land and every building in the Manassas Industrial School to begin a regional high school for African-American students. This outstanding and landscaped park sits on just four acres now and highlights that period with a kiosk displaying interpretive panels and an audio program. Those coming to visit can get an idea of where the school buildings had been located by the concrete outlines of foundations and the bronze three dimensional model of the original campus.

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    Mayfield & Cannon Branch Civil War FortsMayfield & Cannon Branch Civil War Forts Manassas, Virginia
    The Mayfield Fort location in Manassas, Virginia sits on 11 acres that encompasses the Mayfield Earthwork Fort, located between the Buckhall and Russia Branch tributaries of the Occoquan River, with its high ground and water resources that would be the best possible location for repelling any and all attacks. Native Americans had lived here as far back as 3700-2500 BC, since archaeologists have discovered many prehistoric relics that reflect the utensils and tools used by hunter/gatherers with much migration and trading connections. Europeans began to settle the region in 1740 after the land had been patented to Peter Hamrick, and would eventually be called Mayfield. Robert Hawson Hooe purchased it in 1779, already a rich and well known family that had a long history of settling in the lower Potomac area. The Hooe family would soon shape the town into a busy operation that included many support buildings. By 1861, the family would have to abandon the Mayfield area, as Confederate soldiers under command of General Beauregard arrived to create defense areas to keep the important railroad lines that were located at the Manassas Junction. In May and June of 1861, the general would coordinate the construction of a ring of 12 defensive fortifications surrounding the junction of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad and the Military Railroad to Centreville. These works were done under the leadership of Col. G. H. Terret, one of the Confederate engineers, who used local troops and conscripted slave labor. These forts were built of earth reinforced with log revetments and armed with naval guns that had been captured at the Norfolk Navy Yard. Southern troops would occupy the forts between June of 1861 and March of 1862, until the troops were withdrawn to defend Richmond. Once they were gone, Union troops would occupy them occasionally from March 1862 until November 1864. During those occupations, the fort sites were usually filled with tents or huts and big expanses of grass and bare earth. Archaeological excavations have discovered that the fort had parapet walls, southern entrances and three interior buildings. Currently, the site showcases eight Civil War interpretive markers, which are stone markers for the foundation of the Hooe mansion at Mayfield, the earthen remnants of the Civil War earthwork fort and a copy of the Quaker guns that had been left behind by the Confederates to cover their removal of their main artillery to the defense of Richmond. The Union Cannon Branch fort that was built in 1864 is located on the west side of the town along the railroad tracks, just on the opposite side of the Mayfield fort; which is the last remaining earthworks fort in the ring.

    Old Dominion Speedway
    Old Dominion Speedway Manassas, Virginia
    The Old Dominion Speedway is found in Manassas, Virginia, and is a 3/8 mile NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and drag racing track, close to Washington, DC; but in August of 2006, the Potomac News announced that the track had been sold and would be developed in about a year. Then, in 2007, the track announced that the slumping housing market and economy had caused the deal to fall apart and now, it is up in the air. The track opened in 1952, and hosts Friday night drag races, with Wednesday night hosting the Test and Tunes event. Some of the Weekly divisions include Quick 16, Super Pro, Top Street 5.8, Foot Brake and Motorcycle, and had been originally a 1/8 mile dirt strip that may have been the first officially sanctioned drag race. The track now hosts Saturday night Late Models, Mini Modifieds, Bandeleros, INEX Legends, UCARS, and Street Stocks. The late models must run on 8 inch tires, with a number of weight and carburetor rules that depend on what kind of motor is being run. Old Dominion is the birthplace of the Late Model Stock Car, and early scoffers said that the division would never take hold, but it did and has become one of the most popular divisions that would soon spread through America. The track also hosts a kart series, as well as special events that include monster trucks, car shows and a U. S. Drift sanctioned drifting event. They are still hosting six state Sprint races and five Shenandoah mini cup races, a Rolling Thunder Modified race, and the premier event that is held at the end of the season; the Big One.

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    Historic Liberia HouseLiberia House Manassas, Virginia
    The Liberia Plantation was constructed in 1825 by Harriet Bladen Mitchell Weir and her husband William James Weir and would become known as Liberia, sitting on 1660 acres that were known as the lower Bull Run, originally patented in 1732. Today the house is called the Liberia, although the family has often called it the Brick House, and according to the old tax records, the house was worth $2,876 when it was built. By the time the Civil War reached the region, the estate had become one of the biggest and most successful plantations in the western Prince William County. They used 90 slaves to plant the grounds that would produce grains and vegetables, that would be sold in Washington City, as well as raising hogs, cattle, horses and a big herd of Moreno sheep. When the state seceded in 1861, the Weir's sons would enlist in the Confederate army, and since William was an old man, he would stay home and take care of the plantation. During the following months, the nearby railroad junction became a huge military encampment, and by July, the plantation had been pulled into service to be the headquarters of General P. G. T. Beauregard; and after the battle it would become a hospital and "death house" for the wounded at the First Battle of Bull Run. Although it became very hard for the family to continue living at Liberia, they stayed until March of 1862, when the advancing Union army caused them to leave and head south. The house would be left in the care of trusted slaves and became the military headquarters of General Irvin McDowell, of the Union army. During this time, President Abraham Lincoln visited the plantation to talk with his generals about the war, and by the time the war was over, the plantation house would be about the only standing structure on the plains of Manassas. It would be to this ravaged landscape that the Weir family returned to try and salvage their plantation and home, but even though they tried their best, it would never return to its former glory. Robert Weir would sell the plantation in 1888, to Robert Porter, a rich banker, shipper and brewer from Alexandria, although they would never move in, but rather develop it into a successful dairy farm; keeping it in their family until 1947, when they sold it to the Breeden family.  During the 1970s, the city started to gain some interest in acquiring the plantation to preserve it historical significance and develop it into a tourist attraction, and after a decade of trying and negotiations it acquired the property in 1986. The owners, Hilda and I. J. Breeden donated the Liberia mansion and 5.6 acres of land that encompassed the house, and the city would buy another 12.6 acres of land surrounding the property so that no one could develop the land around it and create a buffer between any developments that might grow nearby. 

    Candy Factory Arts CenterCandy Factory Arts Center Manassas, Virginia
    The Hopkins Candy Factory started out in 1900, when C. A. S. Hopkins of Ohio, came to Manassas, Virginia and started the Hopkins Candy Factory; which produced candies in a frame structure on West Street in downtown Manassas. In this 16 by 20 foot factory, some 25 employees began making a sweet number of coconut bars, stick candy, peanut bars and rock candy, with salesmen going by wagon and train taking sample cases of wholesale candy confections to the many general stores around the area. This high quality and cheap candy would become a favorite among the public very fast and the business grew quickly as well. Then, in 1905, a terrible fire almost destroyed the factory, and even though the business still stood, Hopkins would take the opportunity to buy a burnt-out plot land along the railroad tracks on Battle Street. Hopkins would construct a new, modern factory that was designed by Manassas architect Albert Speiden and by 1907, the factory was going strong. The company moved into the four story brick building in February 1908, with the local newspapers describing it as one of the most modern structures in the country. The factory had equipment that would produce machine dipped chocolates and new lines of drops, creams and fancy crystallized jellies; as well as producing the older candies that the company had grown with. The company soon started producing a premium blend of hand-dipped chocolates that it named "Robert E. Lee" or "Eastern Star" selections. By the end of the year, the company was employing 10 salesmen serving all the states east of the Mississippi River and shipped 5 to 10 tons of candy every day. Even with this marvelous success, the factory stopped making candy before 1917 and sold the building. During the following decades, the factory building would be adapted to numerous different businesses, the first being the Manassas Feed and Milling Company; which is how the many advertisements on the sides of the building are what they are today. The Southern States Manassas Cooperative would open their business next in the 1930s, and it kept going until the summer of 1980 when it sold the structure to Mae and Canton Merchant, who would use the building to run their tire warehouse out of it. By 1998, the Merchants were ready to retire, no pun intended, they donated the building to the city so that it would be part of the city's efforts to revitalize the historic district. In August 2001, the rejuvenation started under the leadership of the Manassas Museum system and in October of 2002, it was leased to the Center for the Arts of Greater Manassas and currently houses the Merchant Family art gallery, studio classrooms, theater and has become the centerpiece of the city's growing art community. The art center sponsors summer camps for kids and teens, offers community outreach programs for the local youth, teaches classes in the arts and has theater productions for kids and adults.

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    Manassas Railroad DepotManassas Railroad Depot Manassas, Virginia
    The Manassas Amtrak station on West Street in Manassas, Virginia was originally constructed by the Southern Railroad company in 1914 and has become the penultimate station on the Virginia Railway Express Manassas Line; and a stop for three of Amtrak's trains. The original Manassas Junction rail depot was a small log structure that was east of the current depot and on the north side of the station where the Orange and Alexandria and Manassas Gap railroads would cross in 1852. In July of 1861, the small railroad community would become one of the most significant railroad junctions in American history as it would be the site of the First and Second Battles of Bull Run. Both generals, of the northern and southern armies didn't take long in realizing that this small junction would become such an important stopover in the Civil War. The Union general, Irvin McDowell saw the junction as the best route to Richmond, the Confederate capital, and the Confederacy realized that they would have to defend the junction with everything they had and could muster. Confederate soldiers under Generals Johnston and Stonewall Jackson would march to the site of the first battle through the Thoroughfare Gap in the Bull Run Mountains. After the Civil War ended, the next depot would be a long frame structure that was built in the 1880s, copying the designs of the Richmond and Danville Railroad company depot designs, that had bought controlling interest in the Orange and Alexandria in 1886. In 1904, they would take down the frame building and replace it with a brick structure for passengers and baggage. In June, 1914, a fire started in the baggage room and the depot burned down, leaving just the walls and foundation. In October, 1914, the third and final depot was completed in red-brick Victorian style with ceramic tile covered hip roof, and incorporated some of the walls of the old depot, that measured about 20 by 77 feet and contained four new rooms, baggage and express room, ladies' waiting room, men's waiting room and office. This new building is some 32 feet longer than the old one and allowed for a modified room arrangement and also had an umbrella shed added to the front and east side, electric lights and lovely tiled roof. During the 1990s, the city would acquire the depot from the Norfolk Southern Railway and restored it to the original condition, under the leadership of the Manassas Museum System. Today, the depot houses many exhibits and artifacts that are sure to entice the railroad enthusiasts among us and very interesting to all as well.

    Carper/Speiden House
    The Speiden Carper House in Manassas, Virginia was designed by the architect himself for his new bride, Effie Nelson Speiden, and Albert mixed the mission, Queen Anne and arts and crafts architectural style that seemed to be quite prevalent and characteristic of the company's designs. This house, that is managed by the Manassas Museum System is only one of the eleven structures designed by Speiden and Speiden Architects company. Albert Speiden (1868-1933) was born in Alexandria, Virginia and went to the Columbian College of George Washington University, studying law and architecture, where he received his LLB degree and began working for the US Patent Office. In 1896, Albert went into business with his brother, William L. Speiden to start Speiden and Speiden, Architects that would then design more than 2000 buildings in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington DC. After Albert married Effie, the daughter of the Clerk of the Court for Prince William County, they moved to Manassas and began building their home. The house is called the Speiden Carper House after his daughter, Virginia Speiden Carper. Albert would become one of the first commuters from Manassas to Washington DC to work. He became an active person in the city, joining the volunteer fire department from 1916-1921 and becoming a member of the Town council from 1909-1919, as well as designing many of the buildings in the city, that included the town hall, many churches and the Hopkins Candy Factory building. He would pass on in 1933 in Manassas.

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May 13, 2011