DHR News Clips, Week of July 16, 2010

July 18, 2010

News from DHR:

National Register of Historic Places: New listings in Virginia:  Hockley, Gloucester Co.;  “The Work of Marshall Swain Wells, Architect” (Multiple Property Document), Albemarle and other counties;  St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Norfolk.

Statewide Virginia:

Minds Wide Open: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts: Virginia’s First Ladies to honored with portraits: First lady Maureen McDonnell has announced her plan to commission portraits of every living first lady for the mansion’s 200th anniversary in 2013.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Historic Virginia: Buildings and Architecture:  Flickr group has wonderful selection of photographs, ever growing.  Flickr

NoVa & Shenandoah Valley:

Culpeper Co., John Preston “Pete” HillNegro League Hall of Famer:  John Preston “Pete” Hill, born Oct. 12, 1882, was an outfielder and manager in baseball’s Negro Leagues from 1899 to 1925. Hill played for the Philadelphia Giants, Leland Giants, Chicago American Giants, Detroit Stars, Milwaukee Bears, and Baltimore Black Sox. He died in Buffalo on Dec. 19, 1951.  He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.   But his plaque lists his name as “Joseph” and his birthplace is recorded as Pittsburgh, Pa.  Research shows Hill was actually born in Culpeper County, and his family is determined to get that hall of fame entry corrected.   Star-Exponent More here: Star-Exponent

Salubria, Culpeper Co.:  Germanna Foundation researchers pry loose secrets:  Salubria is the 18th-century Georgian-style house built by the widow of colonies founder Alexander Spotswood and her second husband. The popular wisdom had been that Montpelier–the home James Madison built in 1764–influenced the design of Salubria. But the scientific dating process for Salubria’s lumber “places it before wood used in Montpelier.”  Free Lance-Star Also here: Star-Exponent

Battlefield Grants: NPS awards 3 to Virginia:  The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation won $61,500 to “create a new battlefield preservation and planning website … in preparation for the Civil War Sesquicentennial.”  Shenandoah Valley Network was given $21,500 to “secure improved local zoning and planning in two Shenandoah Valley counties.”  Stafford County was selected to receive $77,700 to help recognize one of the first naval engagements of the Civil War, the Battle of Aquia Creek.  InsideNoVa.com

Strasburg, Shenandoah Co.: A block of historic town goes up for auction: The roadside attractions of Leo M. Bernstein, the late Washington financier with a fondness for the history and kitsch of the Shenandoah, go on the auction block July 22, two years after he died at age 93. It’s the rare auction that puts a key part of a town’s identity up for sale, but it’s equally rare that an entire side of a city block goes up for bid — almost all of it with no reserve minimum price. Washington Post

Orange Co., Leland-Madison Park: Columnist: Park’s significance: “It was during the later years of his stay in Virginia that Elder John Leland and James Madison met (near the location of the Leland-Madison Park). In 1788, with the final state endorsements of the Constitution being sought, Madison asked Leland to endorse the Constitution for Virginia. Leland promised his support with one condition: Madison must develop an amendment in the Constitution to assure religious liberty.”  Star-Exponent

“Wilderness” Walmart, Orange Co.: Next court date Aug. 13: Attorneys are due back in court next month in the battle over a Walmart Supercenter proposed near an endangered Civil War battlefield in northern Virginia. A trial date was expected to be scheduled at a hearing July 13 in Orange Circuit Court, but lingering issues delayed that decision until an Aug. 13 hearing.  Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

Rockingham Co.: Remembering War of 1812:  Members of the recently chartered Shenandoah Valley Chapter National Society of the United States Daughters of 1812 are seeking to make sure those who fought in that conflict, as well as others, are remembered.  As the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812 approaches, Shenandoah Chapter members plan to mark as many grave sites of veterans of that conflict as possible between Winchester and Roanoke. Washington Examiner

Mary Washington University, Fredericksburg: Master Plan announced: The proposed plan calls for Ball, Virginia and Willard halls, which are described as “jewels” of the campus, to be among the first eight residence halls to be renovated. Bushnell, Jefferson and Marshall halls, however, would be torn down and replaced.  Free Lance-Star

Woodford, Spotsylvania Co.: Historic Beazley’s Store auctioned:  The old general store at the corner of U.S. 1 and Arcadia Road sold for $122,000 at auction. The building has become a curiosity of a bygone era. The store closed in 2003 after its proprietor, Arthur Lee Beazley Jr. died at 62. The store had been in the Beazley family since 1929.  Free Lance-Star

Roslyn: Previously undocumented Charlie Chaplin film to be shown: The movie will be shown before an audience for the first time since its original release in 1914, at the Slapsticon Festival.  The film, “A Thief Catcher,” is a 10-minute comedy discovered last autumn.”I stopped, got up, rewound the projector, watched it again, watched it again, watched it again and it finally sank in that I had found a completely previously undocumented, unknown Charlie Chaplin film appearance,” said Paul Gierucki.  Chaplin makes a three-minute cameo as a policeman in the film. SkyNews HD

Tidewater & Eastern Shore

William & MaryWMCAR discovers two small, unmarked graves on campus:  Dating to sometime prior to the mid-19th century, the graves contain tiny bone fragments that have been incorporated into the soil matrix. They were discovered July 13 by the William & Mary Center for Archaeological Research (WMCAR).  W & M News

Virginia Beach: Will preserve Lynnhaven River open space: The city, in partnership with several conservation groups, plans to buy 122 acres of environmentally sensitive land off Shore Drive that had been marked for a housing development.  The purchase would guarantee that the last major tract of undeveloped land along the Lynnhaven River, which boasts oyster beds, wetlands and a maritime forest, is preserved.  Virginian-Pilot

Portsmouth: Historic church in disrepair and apparently abandoned: The 110-year-old church remains vacant and work has stopped. The church’s building permits expired months ago. Code violations have racked up. And construction crews and the former owner of the building have filed liens and lawsuits, claiming they haven’t been paid.  Virginian-Pilot

Assateague Lighthouse: Undergoing renovations:  After ownership of the 100-plus-years building passed from the U.S. Coast Guard to the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2004, a $1.5 million, multi-phase restoration project began. The lower gallery deck has already been replaced, allowing visitors to walk on the deck — approximately 130 feet in the air — for the first time. Fund raising is underway for remaining phases of renovation.  DelmarvaNow

Roanoke & Southwest

Danville, Pittsylvania Co.: Proposal to balance historic preservation concerns at mega industrial park site:  About 70 dilapidated buildings, including old log barns, houses and outbuildings and at least one old slave cemetery can be found in the site Danville and Pittsylvania County officials hope to transform into a major industrial center.  Preservation Virginia and the Danville and Pittsylvania historical societies propose six items to include in the covenants for the park to protect the site’s natural beauty and historic resources.   GoDanRiver.com

Danville: One-time hospital in critical condition:  Built by the Ladies’ Benevolent Association in 1903, the 23,000-square-foot structure was a hospital for about 20 years, according to local historian Gary Grant. It served as an apartment building from the 1920s until a fire in 1996. This month, the city will tear down the now-dilapidated Georgian Revival building.  Preservation Magazine Online

Lexington, Rockbridge Co.: Fire destroys Southern Inn Restaurant: The Lexington landmark went up in flames around 1:30 a.m. Buildings next door were damaged by smoke and water.  The buildings go back to the 1820s.  WDBJ

Beyond Virginia:

World Trade Center Site, NYC: 18th-century ship uncovered:  A 30-foot length of a wood-hulled vessel has been discovered about 20 to 30 feet below street level. The area under excavation had not been dug out for the original trade center. The vessel, presumably dating from the mid- to late 1700s, was evidently undisturbed more than 200 years.  A 1797 map shows that the excavation site is close to where Lindsey’s Wharf and Lake’s Wharf once projected into the Hudson.  NY Times AP YouTube Video

Vernon Baker: Last living black veteran awarded Medal of Honor for valor in World War II:  Baker received his award 52 years after he wiped out four German machine-gun nests on a hilltop in northern Italy. He died at his home near St. Maries, Idaho. He was 90. On April 5, 1945, Lt. Baker was leading 25 black infantrymen through a maze of German bunkers and machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, a coastal town north of Pisa. About 5 a.m., they reached the south side of a ravine, 250 yards from Castle Aghinolfi, a German stronghold they hoped to capture. . .  NY Times

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Virgin of the Rocks”Restoration reveals new details: The 18-month conservation project involved removing much of some badly degraded varnish that was applied to the painting in the late 1940s, enabling experts to take a much closer look at the picture’s brush strokes and styles. The cleaning revealed the painting’s full tonal range, especially in the darker areas, and resulted in a clearer sense of how the artist intended for space to recede through the rocky landscape. It also affirmed that Leonardo likely painted the entire picture himself. Washington Post


DHR News Clips, Week of

July 11, 2010

Northern & Shenandoah Valley

Mount Vernon DistilleryAnother go round on G.W.’s whiskey making:  “We learned everything about making the whiskey from Washington’s papers,” said Dennis Pogue, vice-president of restoration at Mount Vernon.  After Washington built the distillery in 1797, it became one of the most successful of its day, topping out at a production of 11,000 gallons of spirits in 1799.  After Washington’s death, the distillery fell into disrepair and then burned in 1814.  Kansas City Star

Manassas National Battlefield Pipeline repairs could disturb 150th anniversary events: An energy firm is seeking to expand and replace a natural gas pipeline under the Northern Virginia Civil War battleground.  Civil War reenactors fear that construction will affect next year’s commemoration, which organizers have estimated could draw 150,000 people for a string of events July 21-24.  Washington Post

Clifton, Fairfax Co.:  Historic school to close:  The Fairfax School Board has voted to shut down Clifton Elementary School, following months of intense resistance from residents seeking to save the town’s only school.  Parents in the tiny picturesque town and its pastoral environs said the school is an integral part of their community and a crucial gathering place for families.  Clifton neighbors are seeking a historic designation for the 1950s-era building.  Washington Post

Spotsylvania Co. WW II-vet receives French government’s highest award:  It wasn’t the first time the French thanked Col. Jack Morris for his World War II service. Morris has been honored in four different decades by those he and other Allies helped liberate during the war.  The first reception came in August 1944, after Paris was freed from German forces. Morris was with the 749th Tank Battalion, the first American tank unit to cross the Seine River at the site of the first Allied bridgehead.  F’burg Free Lance-Star

Roanoke & Southwest

Rocky Mount, Franklin Co.: Ceremony to dedicate new Confederate monument: Author and distinguished Civil War historian Dr. James I. Robertson Jr. will deliver the keynote address Saturday, Aug. 7, at the 2 p.m. dedication of the new Confederate monument on the courthouse green. The monument replaces one originally erected in Dec. 1910, which a wayward pickup truck destroyed in 2007. Smith Mountain Eagle

Abingdon, Washington Co.Custom woodworker has hand for history:  Joe Cress creates custom-made furniture-– specializing in Civil War era reproductions.  Among the pieces in his repertoire are replicas of the field desks used by Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, the bed that Jackson died in, and J.E.B. Stuart’s field desk.  Cress has recreated pieces at the Virginia Military Institute, the Museum of the Confederacy, and in cooperation with the NPS.  Bristol Herald Courier

Gate City, Scott Co.City officials delighted to be on register:  Town officials are elated that DHR has recognized the town’s historic district for inclusion into the Virginia Landmarks Register. Gate City officials have been working for the past four years on obtaining the historic district designation for a five-block area of Gate City’s downtown area. Virginia Star

Capital & Central

University of VirginiaRestoring Jefferson’s flat-roof design:  Jefferson designed the roofs over the student rooms and colonnades that span the distance between the pavilions, which were both learning spaces and faculty housing.  Built beginning in 1817, the roofs were flat-topped over metal and wood channels to divert the water that flowed through gaps in the decking into gutters and cisterns. Professors could use the flat roofs as an elevated walkway to move from one pavilion to the other.  “Flat roofs were popular in France while Jefferson was living there,” said Joseph. D. Lahendro, historical architect.  News Leader

University of Virginia: Nears completion of first extension of the Lawn:  The project includes what the university is calling Vista Point, a large circular stone plaza surrounded by pergolas.  In the distance beyond the trees, one can see Carters Mountain and neighboring peaks. James A. Kelley Jr., U.Va.’s project manager for the South Lawn Project, said Vista Point is meant to bring back the view of the mountains that students in Jefferson’s era might have seen, before the construction of Old Cabell Hall in 1898. “This restores the original Jeffersonian concept of the vista at the end of the Lawn,” Kelley said.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Historic Albemarle Co. Jail: BOS deciding on study for its future:  The Board of Supervisors weighed Wednesday whether to retain a firm to study the historic Albemarle County Jail or to leave the task to the local historical society.  Built in 1876 on East High Street, the jail is listed on the National Register.  A steering committee involving members from the BOS, county staff and the historical society was established in 2008 to devise a strategy to reclaim the jail and preserve its architectural and social significance.  C’villeTomorrow Background story: Daily Press

MonticelloW&L archaeology advances research on Edmund Bacon, overseer:  According to Alison Bell, associate professor of anthropology and archaeology at W&L, who is leading the project, the artifacts they have uncovered provide important insights into Bacon’s life and, quite possibly, into the lives of the middle spectrum of the Virginia population in the 18th and 19th century.   Washington & Lee

Amherst Co.: Historic resources survey completed:  Through matching funds from DHR,  Amherst County hired The Antiquaries to identify 275 “new” buildings and determine their historical significance.  “That sounds like a lot,” Scott Smith said, “but there’s more than 1,000 we could have done.”  News Advance

Richmond, Slave Museum: Editorial: City should be the location: “From the beginning, Richmond should have rated as the top choice for the museum.  Although slavery was not introduced in Richmond, the city played an important role in its history. Slaves were bought and sold here. The legislature that convened in Richmond passed the laws affecting not only slaves but emancipated African-Americans. The story told by a slave museum must not end with the Civil War but must include Jim Crow, Massive Resistance, and other social and political phenomena with roots in the peculiar institution.”  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Richmond Area: Profile of Warren Davies, historic masonry restoration and repair:  Davies was 8 years old when he started helping his father, Glyn Davies, with masonry work. “He was Welsh, and he was an amazing brickmason. He was an artist,” Davies said. “He worked for members of the royal family in Wales.  He moved to London after completing his indentured apprenticeship and was recruited by a company in Missouri to work in the United States.”  Davies became interested in historic restorations after working on many homes in Richmond’s Fan District in the 1990s.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Tidewater

Virginia Beach: Fate of 1793 farmhouse uncertain: Preservationists are hoping to save the Whitehurst/Buffington House, located across from the municipal center. The city is spending $2,500 on a second try to get the house listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register, a critical step because it would allow the city-owned house to qualify for historic restoration tax credits.  WHSV

Tidewater Archaeology: Why We Dig,” by Garrett R. Fesler, Matthew R. Laird and Nicholas M. Luccketti:  “Tidewater is arguably the richest archaeological region in the nation, with evidence of human occupation spanning more than 20,000 years. Hundreds of significant sites remain to be discovered. . . ”  Daily Press

Virginia’s Historic Triangle: Where African-American history had its beginnings: “Virginia is home to the longest continuous experience of African-American life and culture in the United States; so this would be a good place to start your exploration of African Diaspora Heritage Trails. Forty percent of blacks living in America today have roots in Virginia. Virginia has recognized the integral role that African slaves played in helping to build America into what it is today.” African Diaspora Tourism (Web site)

Virginia

Virginia Main StreetSummer Toolkit: Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Downtown: July 22 and 23, Franklin, Franklin Co.: For more info contact:  kyle.meyer@dhcd.virginia.gov.

Robert E. Lee: Why didn’t Lee write his memoirs?: “After 1866, Lee put the military history project aside, having never progressed past a few pages of memoranda on several of his wartime campaigns. Yet it would be wrong to conclude that he had not thought or talked about what he would say. Based on notes of conversations with him, as well as public statements and his private correspondence, we can gain insight into what he would likely have written.”  HistoryNet.com

Chesapeake Bay Oysters: Hopeful signs of a comeback:  Oysters are slowly gaining strength against two diseases that have nearly wiped out the species in the Chesapeake Bay, according to a new report.  While MSX and Dermo continue to thrive in Bay waters, more and more native oysters are able to tolerate their bite.  And while kill rates once hovered around 90 percent, they now are softening, to 50 percent or 70 percent.  Virginian-Pilot Also, more here

Blue Ridge ParkwayCongressional resolution commemorating road:  Rep. Tom Perriello has introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives that “commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway and acknowledges the historic and enduring scenic, recreational, and economic value of this unique national treasure.”  WHSV

Virginia Forum, March 25-26, 2011: Call for papers:  VF welcomes proposals from scholars, teachers, and historical professionals in all fields.  The theme, “Different Virginias,” is comparative and invites scholars to submit papers about all aspects of Virginia life, history, and culture.  The VF also plans to offer sessions or workshops on teaching Virginia history, digital history, museums, and libraries.  Additional information is available online at Virginia Forum.

American ShadNot rebounding, cause of coastwide decline is not known:  “Because problems appear to be coastwide rather than focused on individual river spawning stocks, many believe shad are being impacted as they migrate along the coast, where stocks from many rivers are believed to merge.”  Chesapeake Bay Journal

Virginia Department of Conservation and RecreationVirginia Cultural Heritage Site Directory:  DCR seeks applications for sites for designation and inclusion in the Heritage Site Directory. The designation and directory were established to help promote sites across the state that are open to the public and provide insight into their historic or cultural significance. Sites such as museums and visitor centers that promote history or culture may also be included. Privately and publically owned sites are eligible, with the exception of properties owned or managed by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  DCR Cultural Heritage webpage

Beyond Virginia

Sen. Robert C . ByrdPacking office: substantial collection to archive:  The Dear Abby note is one of thousands of letters, photographs and other memorabilia that fill drawers and closets and filing cabinets in Byrd’s cluttered office in the Senate Office Building.  “It’s a pretty big process,” said Senate Archivist Karen D. Paul. “We’ve developed checklists to help manage aspects of this. It isn’t like 30 years ago when people could just put papers in a box and just ship it off.”  Washington Post

Valley Forge: Archaeologists believe they’ve found G W  log cabin site:  Martha Washington mentioned the cabin in a letter to a friend 232 years ago while she was visiting Valley Forge. During the Continental Army’s stay, Washington, his aides, servants and wife all lived and worked together in the small headquarters house. To ease the cramped conditions, the general had a cabin constructed; it served as both a dining hall and war room for Washington and his men.  Norristown Times Herald

Norfolk, England: Evidence indicates human occupation 800,000 years ago:  Researchers from the British Museum and other institutions announced that an eroding cliff in Norfolk, England, has yielded evidence of the earliest substantial record of the human presence in Northern Europe.  The discovery of 78 flint tools, more than 800,000 years old, shows that early humans, thought to survive only in warm, Mediterranean-style climates, could penetrate much colder regions and survive with a kit of crude tools.  NY Times

Evanston, Illinois: Film honors black Y.M.C.A.:  The Emerson Street Y.M.C.A., known around town as “the black Y,” served as the heart of the African-American community for more than 50 years after opening in 1914.  To honor the Emerson, the Y.M.C.A. here commissioned a filmmaker, Susan Hope Engel, to produce a documentary, “Unforgettable: Memories of the Emerson Street Branch Y.M.C.A.”  Copies of it are being passed around town to families, and schools are planning to use the documentary as part of the curriculum to teach about race relations.  NY Times, includes slide show

China: Retracing the incredible odyssey of China’s Imperial Art Treasures:  Scholars, from mainland China and Taiwan, took part in an extraordinary two-week research project, retracing the routes taken by the imperial treasures in the 1930s and 1940s, when they were being safeguarded from the ravages of civil war and Japanese aggression.  “We had a rough idea of how things happened, but we didn’t know the details,” said Li Wenru, deputy director at the Palace Museum in Beijing. “But we knew it was a miracle that in wartime over a million treasures were moved 10,000 kilometers, on roads, in water, by air, and nothing was lost.”  NY Times,  slide show here



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