DHR News Clips, October 28

October 28, 2010

News from DHR

November 5-6: Cemetery Preservation Workshop, Abingdon: DHR staff will be conducting a two-day cemetery preservation workshop in partnership with Preservation Virginia. The workshop will be held at the Masonic Lodge, 325 W. Main Street in Abingdon. Topics will include researching and recording historic cemeteries, following good practices for cleaning and maintaining gravestones, interpreting funerary symbols and iconography, and the proper techniques for photographing monuments and grave markers.  For more information about the fees and registering, contact Dee DeRoche, Chief Curator, DHR. or see this press release for more information.

Historic Cemeteries in Virginia: This new blog is brought to you by DHR as a place for citizens who care for, and about Virginia’s historic cemeteries. There you will find information on workshops, cemetery preservation, and other resources.  http://dhrcemeteries.blogspot.com/.

Historic Virginia, Site of the Month: Slide Show: Fairfield Archaeological Site, Gloucester County: View a slide show of this significant archaeological site where research is focused on understanding the plantation landscape and specifically the 1694 manor house and its immediate surroundings.  Excavations also are shedding light on the house’s evolution, the lifestyles of its occupants, and the layout and transformation of the surrounding landscape. Archaeological evidence has revealed slave quarters, fence lines, and a large formal garden. The slide show was developed in collaboration with the Fairfield Foundation. Slide show here

Now, some items of interest from around Virginia and beyond during October:

Tidewater and Eastern Shore Region:

Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic TrailNPS seeks public comment on plan:  Four hundred years ago, John Smith and fellow adventurers set off on a journey to explore nearly 3,000 miles of the Chesapeake Bay, including waterways throughout the Historic Triangle.   Congress has designated the routes Smith and his team took as the first national historic water trail. The National Park Service is now looking for citizen input on the future of the historic trail.  W-Y Daily

York River State Park: Archaeologist finds 17th-century site:  Jerome Traver, archaeologist for York River State Park, has uncovered a previously undocumented fortified complex with a double palisade wall, bastions and redoubts dating to 1676. Inside the complex were several structures, including a barn and a house.  It’s unclear who built the fortification, but Traver said that the property was owned by a man named Brian Smith, a supporter of Royal Gov. Sir William Berkeley.   Virginia Gazette

Hampton: City reprints 3 books about Hampton’s history: Greater Hampton, Phoebus, Old Point and Places of Interest is the kind of publication that could easily have disappeared into antiquity. But the book, and two others, have been given a longer shelf life after being reprinted by the city as commemorative volumes to mark the Hampton’s 400th anniversary. The picture book, Hampton Illustrated, is the oldest of the three. It was originally published in 1892. The third book, Little England Chapel, is a reprint of the 1993 booklet about the African-American landmark. Daily Press

Norfolk, Attucks Theatre: Struggles to fill seats: In 2004, the glass doors to the restored historically black theater opened. Six years later, those who oversee the theater struggle to fill the 625 velvety, wine-red seats. Programming is one issue that plagues the Attucks, but others keep it from being a draw, including its budget, competition and location.  Virginian-Pilot

Virginia Beach: Historic house relocated: A 200-ton historic brick house was moved 300 feet.  Built sometime before 1886, the house was moved from one road side to the other to make way for a new intersection.  WAVY

Historic Triangle: EPA regs could obliterate local budgets: New EPA regs could balloon municipal budgets in the Historic Triangle by more than $1 billion, which local officials say would be devastating. Under the agency’s proposed “pollution diet” for Chesapeake Bay, York would have to pay $594 million over the next 14 years to comply, or $42 million a year. In a budget of $125 million, that’s one-third.  Virginia Gazette

Colonial Williamsburg: Pioneering digital curriculum for high school students: Schools across the nation are shedding textbooks, and CW is in the vanguard of a digital curriculum.  No books required.  “The Idea of America,” a web-based history curriculum for high school, takes American history from pre-colonial times into the 21st century. Bill White, director of educational program development, said CW is a forerunner in the field in textbook-free education.  Virginia Gazette

Northampton Co.: New partners to co-hold easements: The county continues to offer a land conservation program to county residents to help protect open space and the county’s rural agricultural setting. To assist the county with its program, the Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation have accepted partnership roles as conservation easement co-holders.  DelmarvaNow.com

Northampton Co. #2: Op-ed: Preserve the historic jail buildings: “. . . Northampton County should endeavor to keep its two former jails on the courthouse green–one built in 1914, one built in 1899. Even if there is only funding enough to repair and restore their exteriors, that decision should be swiftly made. They should not be torn down. . . . Certainly the former jails aren’t the stars of Northampton’s architectural reputation. . . But the jails tell the story of the county’s history and complete one of the state’s most notable courthouse greens.” DelmarvaNow

Southampton Co.: DHR adds two landmarks to state register: The two county treasures are the Sebrell Rural Historic District and the Rochelle-Prince House. The historic district includes the village of Sebrell and its predecessor, a settlement informally known as Barn Tavern. The Rochelle-Prince House, located in Courtland, was built around 1814 and served as the residence of James Henry Rochelle, a naval officer during the Mexican War and the Civil War who later served with the Peruvian Navy. His niece, Martha Rochelle Tyler, was a granddaughter of President John Tyler who also lived at the house.  Tidewater News To see all the recent additions to the Virginia Landmarks Register, go here.

Onancock, Accomack Co.: Kentucky writer finds town a step back in time, with updates: Lexington Herald-Leader

Capital Region:

Richmond: A.C.O.R.N. announces Golden Hammer Awards: The Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods has announced the 27 nominees in all 4 categories (Residential Renovation, Commercial Renovation, Urban Infill, and Neighborhood Design) for the 2010 Golden Hammer Awards.  ACORN

Richmond, Slave Burial Ground: Judge dismisses case against DHR’s director: Sa’ad El-Amin, a former Richmond city councilman, lost his bid to force Kathleen Kilpatrick, the director of the Virginia Department for Historic Resources, to explore the boundaries of the slave burial ground under a VCU parking lot in downtown Richmond.  “I do believe very strongly that we can do better. For a 195 years the burial ground has been ill treated,” Kilpatrick said.  She says the site should be memorialized and that she’s offered to help raise the $3 million to buy the site back from VCU.  WTVR More here:  RTD

Nelson Co., Elk Hill: Rare farm prizery embodies the story of tobacco in county:  Peter Agelasto knew he had something special when he bought Elk Hill in 1978. The then-owner, the last in a long line of Coleman family members who had lived there for generations, advised him to hang on to the prizery no matter what. An international tobacco company had approached the last Coleman owner with a request to buy the prizery. No sale was the answer. The prizery’s preservation proved fortuitous. There are precious few left.  Nelson County Times

Charlottesville: Martha Jefferson neighborhood, first conservation district: The local designation brings an extra layer of regulation to protect some of the neighborhood’s properties. The Martha Jefferson neighborhood is the first to request the designation, which says no building or structure can be constructed and no “contributing structure” can be demolished in the district unless approved by the city’s Board of Architectural Review and the council. Unlike the city’s eight architectural design control districts, conservation districts’ guidelines are less restrictive.  Daily Progress

Goochland Co.: Chancery records now available online: The chancery images span the years 1731 through 1912 (the index covers through 1924). The Library of Virginia says that this completion of another digital scanning project marks a milestone in its ongoing effort to preserve the documentary heritage of Virginia’s circuit courts. The images have been added to the Chancery Records Index (CRI) on Virginia Memory. Because these records rely so heavily on testimony from witnesses, they offer a unique glimpse into the lives of Virginians from the early eighteenth century to the eve of the first World War.  Goochland Gazette

Caroline Co.: County taps rising interest in racehorse Secretariat:  Although Secretariat left Caroline as a 2-year-old to begin his racing career, the foaling barn and many other buildings associated with the chestnut colt’s early days still exist. They’ve been preserved by the State Fair of Virginia, which currently owns the former farm. It hopes that the recent Disney movie will boost not only interest in Secretariat and Caroline, but also in donations to its proposed Museum of the Virginia Horse and the additional equine facilities it plans to build at the event park.  Free Lance-Star

Roanoke & Western Region:

Dante, Russell Co.: Historic train station gets stay of demolition: Community members and preservationists–with the help of Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., and Rep. Rick Boucher,  D-9th–asked the CSX to step on the brakes with its planned demo of the station. The community’s goal is to turn the building, which has been vacant for decades, into a library and community center, giving it a modern-day use while preserving its historic function as a stop along the Virginia Coal Heritage Trail, a 325-mile driving route being developed to showcase the region’s history.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Pittsylvania Co.: Launches self-guided heritage tour: Thirteen sites in the Pittsylvania County/Danville area are featured in a self-guided heritage tourism package compiled by a member of the Pittsylvania Historical Society, a local field representative with Preservation Virginia and Pittsylvania County’s agriculture development director. Members of area historic groups and the director of the county’s agriculture development office hope to attract tourists to heritage sites in Danville and Pittsylvania County and spread awareness of the area’s history and heritage.  GoDanRiver.com

Washington & Lee: Rededicates Newcomb Hall: The renovation of Newcomb Hall, built in 1882, had two distinct aims—the historic preservation of the exterior of the building (remaining true to the building materials and the means and methods of putting those materials together) and the historic rehabilitation of the inside.  News at W&L

Stonewall Jackson House, Lexington: House to merge with VMI: The Stonewall Jackson Foundation and the Virginia Military Institute have announced a proposal to transfer the assets and activities of the Stonewall Jackson House to VMI. Under the plan, the Jackson house and its collection of historic artifacts would be administered and managed by the VMI Museum, whose operations include management of the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park. The proposed transfer is subject to approval by The VMI Board of Visitors and the board of the Stonewall Jackson Foundation, as well as state agencies.  If approved, this arrangement could become effective sometime in 2011. VMI News

Bedford/Bedford Co.: Preservationist Clara Sizemore Lambeth dies:  For decades Lambeth was on the front line of the effort to preserve historic buildings and properties in Bedford and Bedford County. She was still talking about saving buildings from her nursing-home bed before her death at age 96.  A charter member and guiding light of the Bedford Historical Society, Lambeth was instrumental in establishing the Bedford Historic District for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.   RTD

Virginia Creeper Trail: Writer recommends a visit: Salisbury Post

Bristol: Historic warehouse to be converted to school admin offices: The Bristol Virginia School Board plans to convert the former Bristol Builder’s Supply-Central Warehouse building into school division offices after city leaders donated the building and helped arrange interest-free funding.  Herald Courier

Shenandoah Valley & Northern Region:

Orange Co.: CWPT to purchase Wilderness Battlefield tract:  Civil War Preservation Trust has announced that it is working to buy 49 acres beside the battlefield’s best-known landscape, Saunders Field along State Route 20. The property, owned for the past 50 years by Orange County resident Wayne Middlebrook, is bordered on three sides by Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and on the north by Lake of the Woods. It fronts Route 20 and adjoins the site of the park’s Saunders Field exhibit shelter, where tens of thousands of visitors come each year to learn about the May 1864 battle.  Free Lance-Star

Fairfax Co.: New book chronicles history of police department:  In July 1940, the Fairfax County Police Department was created, and the first five decades of that department are re-created in a new, coffee table-style book written and compiled by a group of retired Fairfax officers and recently released by Fairfax publisher History4All.  Washington Post

Stafford Co.: DHR-led archaeological field school brings scholarship and education together:  Archeologists and students visited the site of a Civil War encampment where Union soldiers spent the winter of 1862-63. Eric Powell, Stafford County Schools social studies coordinator,  said he hoped having the students help out at the site by sifting through the dirt volunteers took from the dig would illustrate what archeology is all about.  Clarence Geier, a JMU professor of anthropology, told a group of the Stafford students that camp life for Civil War soldiers was sometimes more dangerous than combat.  News & Messenger

Stafford Co. #2: More on the DHR-JMU-ASV field school:  Some Union soldiers called the area “Camp Misery” because of its harsh living conditions in the winter of 1862.  Many shared huts–smaller than many walk-in closets–with four people for weeks or months, according to the state historians. Officials with the DHR, James Madison University and the Archaeological Society of Virginia worked to identify features of those huts.  Free Lance-Star

Frederick Co.PATH moves along: The Virginia State Corporation Commission said it will continue to consider an application to build a high-voltage power line through Frederick County, nearly a month after SCC staff recommended rejecting the proposal as incomplete. The 765-kilovolt line is projected to run from the Amos substation near St. Albans, W.Va., through Frederick, Clarke and Loudoun Counties in Virginia to the proposed Kemptown substation in Frederick County, Md.  NV Daily

Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria: A fire significantly damaged the 129-year-old Immanuel Chapel.  “It is clear that significant damage has occurred, including the loss of the stained glass windows and iconic words, ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel,’” the Episcopalian seminary said on its website.  RTD Photo hereWashington Post

Culpeper Co., Cedar Mountain Battlefield: Additional wooded acreage protected: The Friends of the Cedar Mountain Battlefield, with the help of a transportation-enhancement grant and funding from the Civil War Preservation Trust, have purchased two wooded acres in what was called “the bloody wheat field” during the Aug. 9, 1862, battle. That land adjoins another 152-acre parcel that is already owned by the CWPT.  Free Lance-Star

Culpeper Co.Pete Hill, Negro League Baseball star:  DHR has announced that a historical marker on Hill’s home turf will honor the phenomenal Negro league player. The marker will be erected in the small African-American community of Buena in Culpeper County, where John Preston Hill was born on Oct. 12, probably in 1882.   Free Lance-Star More hereCulpeper Star Exponent

Northern Virginia Conservation Trust: Seeks to establish green belt in NoVa: The trust’s goal for the next 15 years is to ensure that area residents will be connected to some kind of green space. The group is setting out to connect green spaces across the region, including privately owned properties, trail systems and parks. Washington Post

Spotsylvania Co.:  Looking to draw National Academy of Environmental Design: Luck Development Partners is recruiting the National Academy of Environmental Design to locate its headquarters at a proposed mixed-use development off U.S. 1 in Massaponax called Ni Village. The environmental design academy is a public think tank of some of the nation’s top experts in architecture, planning and design.  Free Lance-Star

“Wilderness” Walmart, Orange Co.: Historian James McPherson to testify:  Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson has agreed to testify on behalf of residents attempting to block the construction of a Walmart Supercenter near an endangered Civil War battlefield in Orange County. McPherson said he will testify that the Walmart site and nearby acres were blood-soaked ground and a Union “nerve center” in the Battle of the Wilderness and not simply a staging area for the 1864 battle, as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its supporters have contended.  Texarkana Gazette

Waynesboro: Selects firm for downtown revitalization: Officials have selected Staunton-based Frazier Associates to design a spark to kindle downtown revitalization.  News Virginian

Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation: Celebrates its 10th anniversaryWHSV

Statewide:

Oliver L. Perry Sr., Chief Emeritus of the Nansemond Tribe: Passed away Oct. 2: Virginia’s American Indian community recently lost a leader and a hero with the death of Perry, whose Indian name was Fish Hawk.  He was a native of Norfolk and served in the Army Air Corps for 32 years and then worked as the senior supervisor aircraft aeronautical examiner at the Naval Air Rework Facility. Following his retirement, he devoted himself to American Indian affairs on the local, state and national levels. Virginian Pilot

The Jeffersons at Shadwell: New book by W&M professor:  Dr. Susan Kern was a member of a team from Monticello’s Department of Archaeology who conducted a five-year excavation of Shadwell. The main house burned to the ground in 1770, the fire depositing a rich bed of artifacts. Interpretation of Shadwell’s material culture helped Kern to depict the household life.  “The book’s about the Jeffersons—plural,” Kern said. Her book corrects a number of scholarly misconceptions about the young Jefferson.  W&M News

Blue Ridge Parkway: Symposium focuses on the next 75 years: The scenic attraction needs partnerships to sustain its purpose. That was the driving message during the opening of a three-day symposium on the parkway’s sustainability. Stakeholders and community leaders gathered to celebrate the parkway’s 75th year of existence but also to ponder how to preserve the 469-mile stretch for future generations.  Lynchburg News & Advance

Shenandoah National Park: Budget cuts proposedWHSV

Virginia History Textbook: Publisher will correct mistakes in future printings: Responding to national media attention sparked by factual inaccuracies, the publisher of a fourth-grade Virginia history textbook has announced it will begin printing revised editions early next year. The new versions will correct a sentence that inaccurately states the combat role of Southern blacks in the Confederate military and replace a photo of an animal that is not native to Virginia, the publisher announced.  Daily Press

Va. History Textbook #2: W & M professor at heart of story: When Carol Sheriff looked through her daughter’s social studies textbook, the William & Mary history professor had no idea she would soon find herself a central player in a national story.  A section of the fourth-grade textbook on the Civil War claimed that two battalions of African American soldiers fought under Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. Sheriff, who teaches about the Civil War at the College and has authored a book on the subject, knew the passage in the textbook to be factually inaccurate.   W&M website

Beyond Virginia:

Civil War Photographs: Virginia collector donates nearly 700 pictures to Library of Congress:  The donation is the largest trove of Civil War-era photographs depicting average soldiers that the LOC has received in at least 50 years. The stunning photographs–small, elegant ambrotypes and tintypes–show hundreds of the young men who fought and died in the war, often portrayed in the innocence and idealism before the experience of battle.  The pictures make up the bulk of the collection of Tom Liljenquist, 58, of McLean. Washington Post

Founding FathersMany of their documents to go online: The University of Virginia Press is putting the published papers of Washington, Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin on a National Archives website that is expected to be accessible to the public in 2012.  Salon

Holland Island, Maryland: Lost to erosion: Slide Show: The last house on Holland Island, a large Chesapeake Bay island that was reduced to one house by erosion, recently toppled over. The island gradually succumbed to nature and is now completely submerged by water during high tide. Washington Post

Lost Colony, North CarolinaOne man’s quest:  Sam Sumner retired as a schoolteacher, left his Hawaii home and recently moved to North Carolina, all for the purpose of solving the mystery of the Lost Colony.The answer lies not in Buxton where experts and amateur sleuths have searched for decades, he says, but at Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge in Currituck County, a site that leaves experts skeptical.  Virginian Pilot

Norway: Archaeologist find unique town site: Archaeologists discovered a mini-Pompeii-type site while digging in the headland formed by the Topdalselva River and the North Sea near southern Norway.  Under three feet of sand, they found a settlement that has been undisturbed for 5,500 years.  The Norwegian settlement was likely built by people of the Funnel Beaker Culture — a late Neolithic culture that thrived in northern Europe and Scandinavia between 4,000 B.C. and 2,400 B.C.  Aolnews


DHR Approves 21 New Historical Highway Markers

October 7, 2010

State Approves New Historical Highway Markers Honoring

Early Negro League Power Hitter Pete Hill,

Virginia’s War of 1812 Legacy in 10 Locales,

And 7 Other Signs

Baseball Hall of Famer Pete Hill was born in Culpeper County—
—War of 1812 markers slated for Caroline, Charlotte, Essex, Henrico, Lancaster, Middlesex, Northumberland, Orange, and Westmoreland counties, and Va. Beach—
—Other new markers recall people, places, or events in the counties of Halifax, Northampton, and Surry; and the cities of Norfolk, Radford and Richmond—

[Text of each marker can be found at the end of this particular post]

RICHMONDAs one of black baseball’s earliest power hitters, John Preston “Pete” Hill was welcomed home often by ecstatic fans of the many legendary African American teams for whom he played during the first quarter of the 20th century. Yet Hill never made it back home to the place of his birth in Culpeper County, Virginia.

Now, through the teamwork of researchers including Culpeper historian Zann Nelson, Hill family members, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which late last week approved a new historical highway marker honoring his career, Hill is coming home.

Home, in this case, is Buena, a small, historically African-American community that arose along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad in Culpeper County after the Civil War. That railroad carried Hill’s mother, likely a former slave, and her children north to eventually settle in Pittsburgh in the late 19th century, making Hill, born on October 12, probably in 1882, part of the Great Migration of African Americans who departed the South during the era of segregation.

“With the approval of this new marker, we commemorate Pete Hill’s accomplishments and his inspiring story of triumph, despite the limits imposed by an era of segregation,” said Governor Bob McDonnell. “At long last, we welcome Hill home to Buena, the rural Culpeper County community where he was born. It’s a homecoming that’s long overdue, and we have, in particular, Culpeper’s own Zann Nelson to thank for the research that firmly established Hill’s connection to Culpeper County,” Gov. McDonnell added.

As in the example of Hill’s career, the story of how the Hill highway marker came to be contains lessons in stick-to-it-ivness—and teamwork as well.

That story spans four years. And it involves “players” in North Carolina, Kansas, and Culpeper, and Hill family members in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and elsewhere, now connected to Hill kin in Virginia. All of them, like one of Hill’s teams, have been brought together by the baseball legend, who was a star outfielder for many black teams including the Philadelphia Giants and Chicago American Giants, and who also hit 28 home runs for the Detroit Stars in 1919, the same year Babe Ruth hit 29 in more games.

The marker’s story begins in 2006 when officials in Cooperstown inducted Hill into the National Baseball Hall of Fame with a plaque reading “Joseph Preston Hill” and citing his place of birth as “Pittsburgh, Pa.”

In 2007, avocational baseball historians Gary Ashwill, in North Carolina, and Patrick Rock, in Kansas, first questioned the accuracy of the Hall of Fame plaque. Based on documentation the two uncovered, Ashwill, through his blog, began publically making the case that “Joseph” Hill was actually John “Pete” Hill, born in Virginia, possibly Culpeper County.

Ashwill next contacted Hill’s grand-niece Leslie Penn of Los Angeles and informed her about her connection to the great Negro League player and Virginia. Penn, in turn, relayed that news to her cousin, Ronald Hill, in Pittsburgh.

An inspired Ronald Hill, who has coached Little League, spent the next couple of years lobbying the Hall of Fame to correct his great-uncle’s plaque. Seeking assistance with his efforts, in 2009 he eventually connected with Nelson, a former director of the Museum of Culpeper History, and a historian and columnist for Culpeper’s Star-Exponent.

Excited by the prospect that Culpeper County was the birthplace of yet another baseball Hall of Famer (the other is Eppa Rixey, a white player whose career overlapped with Hill), Nelson spent much of 2009 doggedly pursuing the Hill story through court records, deeds, passenger manifests, census reports, Social Security documents, and death certificates, in addition to field investigations and personal interviews with numerous people including long time residents of the communities of Buena and Rapidan.

In December 2009, through a three-part feature story published in the Culpeper Star Exponent, Nelson summarized her research confirming that Hill was born in Buena. She also submitted her findings and documentation to officials at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

She struck a home run.

As a result of her work, the NBHF announced earlier this year that it would correct Hill’s plaque. In a ceremony scheduled for later this month, on Hill’s October 12th birthday, officials in Cooperstown will rededicate the Hill plaque, correcting his proper name and place of birth.

“Certainly, the fact that Culpeper can now claim two Hall of Fame baseball players is fun and a genuine source of pride,” said Nelson. “But Hill’s story personalizes a far greater message. He was a real-life super hero, rising from the same streets and fields that we walk every day. Times may be different, and many of the hardcore obstacles that Pete Hill faced have dissipated. Yet we share similar struggles and desires for opportunity, fairness, security and success,” Nelson added.

Nelson’s columns drew the attention of Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of the Department of Historic Resources, to the incredible story of Pete Hill, resulting in the department working with Ashwill (with input from Rock and Nelson) in developing the marker text approved by the Board of Historic Resources during its September 30th quarterly meeting.

“The Hill highway marker serves as a reminder that just as the history of our national game is incomplete without the story of black baseball, so too is American and Virginia history incomplete if we fail to recognize the struggles, triumphs, and contributions of all the people who have had a role in shaping it,” said Kilpatrick.

In addition to Culpeper’s County’s Rixey and Hill, Virginia has three other baseball hall of famers, all of whom played in the Negro Leagues. They are Ernest “Jud” Wilson from Fauquier County; Leon Day from Alexandria; and Ray Dandridge from Richmond. DHR plans to sponsor and develop new signs to honor each of these Hall of Fame players. The department also will unveil the Hill marker during a public dedication ceremony in Buena in 2011.

War of 1812 Markers

In addition to the Hill highway marker, DHR’s Board of Historic Resources reviewed and approved a trove of other history-rich markers, including 13 new signs focusing on Virginia’s important legacy of people, places, and events associated with the War of 1812.

“These new markers are part of a broad-based collaboration between DHR and the bicentennial commission for the War of 1812 to better inform the public about what many people call ‘America’s forgotten war,’” said Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. “They recall crucial events in Virginia, such as the burning of Norfolk and the vulnerability of Hampton Roads, that profoundly shaped our post-war national defense policy as a young nation,” Kilpatrick added.

According to the legislation enacted by the General Assembly to establish the bicentennial commission, “An estimated 70,000 Virginians served during the War of 1812. There were some 73 armed encounters with the British that took place in Virginia during the war.” The legislation also states, “The nation’s capitol, strategically located off the Chesapeake Bay, was a prime target for the British, and the coast of Virginia figured prominently in the Atlantic theatre of operations.”

“Virginia’s epic role in the American Revolution and the Civil War can all too easily eclipse the state’s significant role in the War of 1812. It’s appropriate to remind Virginians and visitors to our state about the Commonwealth’s great sacrifices in that war as well,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech.

These markers, developed by DHR in collaboration with The Virginia Bicentennial of the American War of 1812 Commission, are aimed at boosting public awareness of Virginia’s significant role in the war in advance of the bicentennial. Among the many subjects covered are –

  • Dolly Madison’s role as First Lady, and significantly when the White House was burned by the British;
  • The soldiering contributions of many African Americans who sided with the British in order to gain freedom from enslavement;
  • British attacks on towns in Northumberland, Westmoreland, and Essex counties, as well as Norfolk and present-day Virginia Beach.

Virginia’s Civil War Sesquicentennial

The DHR board also approved two new markers for Richmond as part of the department’s initiative to create new signs as a part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, which begins in 2011.  The two markers highlight “Lincoln’s Visit to Richmond” and “Richmond’s Civil War Hospitals.”

Other New Highway Markers

The remaining markers chronicle significant events as well.  These markers, like the Pete Hill marker, stem from DHR’s nearly decade-long effort to sponsor or work with other sponsors to create new signs that reveal the full spectrum and richness of Virginia history.

Topics covered by this grouping include signs to—

  • Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman whose cell tissue was removed “without permission” after her death in 1951 for medical research, giving rise to an internationally recognized cell line, the “HeLa line,” a “gold standard” of cell lines, from which Jonas Salk developed his polio vaccine.
  • Pauline Adams, an Irish-born, suffragist who co-founded the Norfolk Equal Rights Suffrage League and who was arrested in 1917 for picketing the White House.
  • Lovely Mount Baptist Church in Radford; “the first church of the Baptist denomination in Radford, [it] served the African American community for more than 60 years until Radford College purchased it in 1961 and demolished it.”
  • And two signs to educational facilities founded by and for African Americans in Surry County (“Temperance Industrial & Collegiate Institute”) and Northampton County (“Northampton County High School”).

The Virginia highway marker program, which began in 1927 with the installation of the first historical markers along U.S. Rte. 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,100 official state markers, most maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The manufacturing cost of each new highway marker approved by the DHR board is covered by its respective sponsor, except for those markers developed by the Department of Historic Resources, which are funded by a federal grant awarded to DHR.

More information about the Historical Highway Marker Program is available on the website of the Department of Historic Resources at http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/.

Full Texts of Markers:

Lovely Mount Baptist Church (First Baptist Church)

On 13 Nov. 1869, the Rev. Capt. Charles S. Schaeffer of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands met with the people of Lovely Mount (later Radford) and organized the Lovely Mount Baptist Church.  In 1898, the congregation purchased the Lutheran church that stood at this location on Fairfax Street, and changed its name to the First Baptist Church.  The first church of the Baptist denomination in Radford, Lovely Mount/First Baptist Church served the African American community for more than 60 years until Radford College purchased it in 1961 and demolished it to expand Peters Hall.

Sponsor: Radford University (contact Karen Casteele)

City: Radford

Temperance Industrial & Collegiate Institute

On 12 Oct. 1892, Dr. John Jefferson Smallwood, born enslaved in 1863 in Rich Square, North Carolina, founded the Temperance Industrial & Collegiate Institute nearby with fewer than ten students.  Sprawled over sixty-five acres on the James River in Claremont, his school provided a high level of education for African American boys and girls from Virginia and other states.  After Smallwood’s untimely death on 29 Sept. 1912, his school underwent several mergers and name changes.  By the time the school closed in 1928, more than two thousand students had attended.

Sponsors: Parkside Historic Preservation Corporation, Philadelphia, PA

County: Surry

Northampton County High School

Constructed in 1953 as the county’s first purpose-built African American high school, Northampton County High School reflects the desires of local African Americans to obtain modern educational facilities.  It is an example of the statewide efforts by African American and Virginia Indian communities during the early 20th century to secure better education for their children. The building contained classrooms, a library, a gymnasium, and a 500-seat auditorium.  Concurrent with integration of Virginia’s public schools, the high school ceased operations with the 1970 class.  Until 2008, the facility served as a junior high school and middle school for all Northampton County students.

Sponsors: DHR and Northampton County High School Alumni Foundation,

County: Northampton

Henrietta Lacks (1920-1951)

Born in Roanoke on 1 Aug. 1920, Henrietta Pleasant lived here with relatives after her mother’s 1924 death. She married David Lacks in 1941 and, like many other African Americans, moved to Baltimore, Md. for wartime employment.  She died of cervical cancer on 1 Oct. 1951.  Cell tissue was removed without permission (as usual then) for medical research. Her cells multiplied and survived at an extraordinarily high rate, and are renowned worldwide as the “HeLa line,” the “gold standard” of cell lines. Jonas Salk developed his polio vaccine with them. Henrietta Lacks, who in death saved countless lives, is buried nearby.

Sponsor: DHR

County: Halifax

Pauline Adams (1874-1957)

Born in Ireland in 1874, Pauline Adams was a suffragist and activist for women’s rights, known for her militant approach to campaigning for women’s suffrage. The Norfolk Equal Suffrage League was formed at her house here in Ghent on 18 Nov. 1910; Adams was elected its first president. On 4 Sept. 1917, Adams and 12 other women were arrested for picketing at a parade attended by President Woodrow Wilson in Washington D.C.  In 1921, Adams passed the bar exam and became the second woman to practice law in Norfolk. She died on 10 Sept. 1957 and is buried in Norfolk.

Sponsor: DHR

City: Norfolk

Pete Hill (1882-1951)

John Preston “Pete” Hill, Negro League baseball player and manager, was born nearby on 12 Oct., probably 1882, and likely to formerly enslaved parents. Banned from whites-only major leagues, Hill became a star outfielder for African American teams, notably the Philadelphia Giants and Chicago American Giants. A Cuban League 1910/11 winter-season batting champion (with a .365 average), Hill hit 28 home runs for the Detroit Stars in 1919 (when Babe Ruth hit 29 in more games), marking Hill as among black baseball’s earliest power hitters. Hill died 19 Dec. 1951 and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Sponsor: DHR

County: Culpeper

War of 1812 Bicentennial Markers

(DHR is the sponsor for each War of 1812 marker.)

The War of 1812

Impressment of Americans into British service and the violation of American ships were among the causes of America’s War of 1812 with the British, which lasted until 1815. Beginning in 1813, Virginians suffered from a British naval blockade of the Chesapeake Bay and from British troops’ plundering the countryside by the Bay and along the James, Rappahannock, and Potomac rivers. The Virginia militia deflected a British attempt to take Norfolk in 1813, and engaged British forces throughout the war. By the end of the war, more than 2000 enslaved African Americans in Virginia had gained their freedom aboard British ships.

Locale: Various—would be placed on opposite side of some markers to provide background information.

British Naval Blockade and Cape Henry Lighthouse

During the War of 1812, a British naval blockade along much of the U.S. East Coast disrupted foreign trade and interfered with commerce. On 4 Feb. 1813, the blockade was extended to the Chesapeake Bay. At that time, the light at the Cape Henry Lighthouse was extinguished to prevent British ships from using it as a navigational aid. The British attacked the lighthouse early in Feb. 1813 and thereafter British scouting parties often visited the area to obtain freshwater from local wells. On 14 July 1813, Captain Lawson of the Princess Anne militia captured 20 British marines nearby.

City: Virginia Beach

Capture of Tappahannock

Here on 3 December 1814, British naval forces under the command of Capt. Robert Barrie assaulted and seized the town of Tappahannock during the War of 1812. Aiding the British were three companies of African American Colonial Marines. Although the British held the town for only a few hours, they destroyed a number of private houses, and completely demolished the Essex County courthouse. British Royal Marines ransacked many of the town’s dwellings, set fire to landmarks such as the Brockenbrough mansion, and pillaged the family burial vaults of the prominent Ritchie family before Virginia militia reinforcements arrived.

County: Essex

Capture of the Dolphin

On 3 April 1813, one of the largest naval engagements in Virginia waters during the War of 1812 took place at the mouth of Carter’s Creek. One hundred five British naval and marine forces under Lt. Polkinghorne managed to subdue four American privateers: Arab, Dolphin, Lynx, and Racer. The largest ship, Dolphin, out of Baltimore, had twelve guns and one hundred men commanded by Capt. W.J. Stafford.  Stafford stubbornly refused to give up when the other ships were taken, and defended his ship until he was severely wounded and his ship boarded.

County: Middlesex or Lancaster (at one entrance to the Robert O. Norris Bridge, Rte. 3)

African Americans in the War of 1812

During the War of 1812, thousands of enslaved African Americans gained freedom by fighting for the British or serving as guides during British raids on coastal communities. Many were given the choice of enlisting in the armed services or settling in various locations throughout the British Empire. East of here on Tangier Island, at the British base of Fort Albion, the British trained African Americans to serve in the Colonial Marines. From Fort Albion, the Colonial Marines, along with British troops, engaged the Virginia militia in numerous landings along the Northern Neck and the Eastern Shore throughout the summer of 1814.

County: Northumberland

Lt. Col. George Armistead (1780-1818)

Known for his service in the War of 1812, George Armistead was born here at Newmarket plantation.  Armistead distinguished himself in 1813 during the capture of Fort George, Canada, but is best known as the commanding officer of Fort McHenry during the 1814 Battle of Baltimore, for which he earned the rank of lieutenant colonel. The American victory proved a turning point in the war, and was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s poem “The Star Spangled Banner.” Armistead commanded at Fort McHenry until his death in Baltimore in 1818.  He is buried there in Old St. Paul’s Cemetery.

County: Caroline

War of 1812 Opposition—John Randolph

The War of 1812 sparked intense opposition, particularly among members of the Federalist Party who unanimously opposed the June 1812 declaration of war. One of its most outspoken opponents was Virginia Republican Congressman and later Senator John Randolph of nearby Roanoke Plantation.  Echoing other opponents, he denounced the war as needless and argued that it would lead to high taxes and a larger national debt. Randolph lost his reelection bid in 1813 over his opposition to the war, but was elected to his former seat in 1815. He died in Philadelphia in 1833 and is buried in Richmond.

County: Charlotte

British Attacks at Kinsale and Mundy Point

Two miles east on 3 Aug. 1814, 500 British marines and seamen under Adm. Sir George Cockburn landed at Mundy’s Point and Kinsale. Opposing the enemy at the Point were Capt. William Henderson and thirty Northumberland county militiamen. Henderson’s company was forced to retreat to the county courthouse. Later that day, British forces took Kinsale, burned the town, and seized tobacco. Three days later, they began raids along the Coan River. The British troops included about fifty formerly enslaved African Americans, who were among the thousands who gained freedom by fighting or working for the British.

County: Northumberland

British Landing at Nomini Ferry

On 20 July 1814, Adm. Sir George Cockburn sent about a thousand marines ashore at Nomini Ferry to attack the Westmoreland County militia under the command of Lt. Col. Richard E. Parker. Parker’s Virginians bravely defended their positions, but were soon outflanked by superior British forces and forced to retreat to Westmoreland Court House (Montross). Before they left the next morning, the British marines burned and destroyed a number of houses and several plantations in the immediate area, such as Bushfield, and ransacked nearby Nomini Church.

County: Westmoreland

Richmond’s War of 1812 Defensive Camps

During the War of 1812, Virginia established three militia posts on the outskirts of Richmond to guard against possible British invasion. Within a mile of this point was built Camp Carter (Sept.1814-Feb. 1815) under the command of Gen. John H. Cocke. Camp Holly Springs (April 1813-Feb. 1814) was located five miles southwest at Route 5 near Newmarket Road, under Gen. Robert Porterfield. Camp Bottoms’ Bridge (Sept.-Nov. 1814), under the command of Gen. William Chamberlayne, was two miles east at Bottoms Bridge. These posts were never threatened by British forces during the war.

County: Henrico

Admiral Sir George Cockburn on the Chesapeake

During the War of 1812, a British naval squadron arrived in Hampton Roads on 4 February 1813 to establish a naval blockade of the Chesapeake Bay. Later commanded by Adm. Sir George Cockburn, the squadron remained in the Bay for two years. Its missions were to seize USS Constellation, to occupy Norfolk, and to harass, seize, and destroy commercial traffic on the Bay and its tributaries. Although the attempt to seize Norfolk failed, Cockburn’s squadron carried out numerous raids on the James, Rappahannock, York, and Potomac rivers. In August 1814, British forces burned Washington, but were later defeated at Baltimore.

City/County: TBD (Hampton Roads area)

Governor James Barbour

Here at Barboursville lie the ruins of the family home of James Barbour, Virginia’s governor during the War of 1812. As commander in chief of Virginia’s militia forces, Barbour planned, organized, and directed the defense of Virginia from January 1812 until December 1814. Known for his oratorical skills and organizing talents, he inspired his fellow Virginians to defend the Commonwealth from relentless British incursions in Hampton Roads and the Northern Neck.  On a few occasions, he took command of the militia while in the field. He later served as U.S. Senator from Virginia and U.S. Secretary of War.

County: Orange

Dolley Madison (1768-1849)

Born to Quaker parents in North Carolina, Dolley Payne lived with her family in Hanover County, Virginia until 1783. Following the death of her first husband, John Todd, she married Congressman James Madison in 1794. As First Lady of the United States from 1809-1817, her social graces, political acumen, and enthusiasm for public life became the standard by which first ladies were measured for more than a century afterward. Before the British burned the White House in August 1814, Mrs. Madison oversaw the removal and safeguard of many national treasures, including a large portrait of George Washington. She is buried at Montpelier.

County: Orange

2011 Civil War Sesquicentennial Markers

(DHR is the sponsor for each Civil War Sesquicentennial marker.)

Lincoln’s Visit to Richmond

President Abraham Lincoln first entered Richmond at Rocketts Landing on 5 Apr. 1865. He was brought upstream from City Point for a tour of the captured capital by Adm. David Dixon Porter on his ship, USS Malvern. Crowds formed as Lincoln walked through Richmond to the White House of the Confederacy. The president also visited the State Capitol, Camp Lee where U.S. Colored Troops had made camp, and Libby Prison and Castle Thunder, former Confederate prisons then holding Confederate officers. On 9 April, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, ending the Civil War.

City: Richmond

Richmond’s Civil War Hospitals

Hospitals such as Chimborazo, erected on this site in 1861, were built to handle the increasing influx of wounded Civil War soldiers to Richmond from nearby battlefields. The construction of Winder Hospital followed to the west in 1862.  Eventually, soldiers from throughout the Confederacy were brought to Richmond for treatment here and at more than twenty-five warehouses, private homes, and churches used as hospitals throughout the city. Although officials at first prohibited women from working in these hospitals, they later relented and women such as Juliet Hopkins, Phoebe Pember, and Sally L. Tompkins gained distinction through hard work caring for wounded soldiers.

City: Richmond


DHR News Clips, Sept 28

September 28, 2010

Greetings,

I am hoping to get back on track with regular postings of news stories from around Virginia and beyond pertaining to preservation, history, and related topics. Meanwhile here are some items of interest from September. –Randy Jones

News from DHR:

Virginia’s Historic Cemeteries:  A dedicated group of DHR personnel has been providing two-day workshops focusing on various topics and stewardship issues associated with historic cemeteries.  Interest in the workshops has spurred DHR to create a new blog, “Historic Cemeteries in Virginia.”  The blog will focus on forthcoming events and other news related to historic cemeteries.  DHR’s next cemetery workshop will be presented, in partnership with Preservation Virginia, in Abingdon during November 5-6.  More details about that workshop will be forthcoming.

Around Virginia:

Gov. McDonnell: Addresses Civil War conference:  Speaking at Virginia’s second annual conference on the Civil War sesquicentennial, Gov. McDonnell promised that next April his proclamation on the beginning of the war in Virginia will more carefully examine the full scope of the nation’s bloodiest conflict. “It will remember all Virginians–free and enslaved; Union and Confederate.  It will be written for all Virginians,” he said.  Free Lance-Star (Text of Governor’s full remarks here)

Tidewater & Eastern Shore:

Fort Monroe, Hampton: NPS supports park unit: The National Park Service supports establishing a park unit at Fort Monroe after the Army vacates the historic post next year, according to a letter sent this week to Virginia’s senior U.S. senator, Jim Webb.  It also calls for protection of the fort’s historic assets and a stronger plan to present parts of its history to the public.  The park service’s primary interest is in 65 acres enclosed by the stone fort and circled by another 35 acres outside the moat.  Virginian-Pilot

Fort Monroe: Developer visits fort to see potential redevelopment:  Hal Fairbanks was at Fort Monroe last week to see the historic properties that the Army will vacate next September and to identify any ripe for investment.  HRI Properties is also working as the master developer of a military base in New Orleans, the Naval Support Activity base, that is closing down under the BRAC.  Daily Press

Portsmouth & Negro League Baseball: Honoring player Leon Ruffin and recalling memories of NL days: Norfolk and Portsmouth were popular stops for barnstorming Negro Leagues teams. Many of the greats of the game stopped through. Willie Mays, stationed at Fort Eustis during the Korean War, formed an all-star team that played on weekends.  Portsmouth also had its own semipro teams – The Belleville Grays, the Portsmouth Quick Steps and others.  Ruffin and another Portsmouth catcher, Buster Haywood, were the best of the area’s pre-World War II players.  Virginian-Pilot

Historic TriangleWorld Heritage status sought:  Colonial Williamsburg and Preservation Virginia, with the assistance of the National Park Service, plan to seek World Heritage status for the Historic Triangle, which includes CW, Historic Jamestowne, Yorktown National Battlefield and the Colonial National Historic Park.  WUSA-9 (AP)

Virginia Beach, Adam Thoroughgood House: Re-opening delayed as restoration continues:  Work on the restoration project – which began September 2009 – was delayed several months by problems finding suitable replacement brick for the 1719 home. The city’s historic resources coordinator said it was important that the bricks match the size, color and texture used in the home’s original construction.  Virginian-Pilot

College of William & Mary: Discovered remains bone fragments of dogs: Laboratory analysis by the College of William and Mary’s Center for Archaeological Research has revealed that the bone fragments found during the summer in two unmarked graves on campus are the remains of dogs interred some two centuries ago.  Evidence of the formal interment of dogs dating from the Colonial period is unprecedented. WMCAR has dated the graves to the late 17th to mid 18th Century.   W&M News

Ivor Noel Hume: Pens memoirs:  “[Hume] recollects how he discovered his avocation on the London mud flats of the Thames and how, with the professional support of his first wife Audrey, disclosed the harsh lives spent by English people on Roanoke Island and at Wolstenholme Towne and those colonists who followed to reside in relative security and prosperity at Mathews’ Manor in Warwick County, Rosewell Plantation in Gloucester County, and throughout Williamsburg.”  Virginia Gazette

Roanoke & Southwest Region:

Abingdon: Muster Ground interpretive center opened: With fifes and drums and a crowd of well over 100, Abingdon formally opened its new interpretive center at the Muster Ground, a site where men mustered before marching over the mountains to the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780.  Bristol Herald-Courier

Radford UniversityWhite supremacist’s name removed from campus building: Powell Hall is no more. The name of one of RU’s arts and music buildings has been stripped by a unanimous vote of the school’s board of visitors.The vote came five years after Radford history professor Richard Straw and his class discovered that the namesake of the building, John Powell, was an influential white supremacist in Virginia. Roanoke Times

Gretna, Pittsylvania Co.: Seeks historic designation of downtown district:  Gretna Town Council voted earlier this month to seek historic designation for its downtown. About 20 structures, including a former Masonic lodge building, would be included in the district, said Mike Pulice, architectural historian DHR. GoDanRiver.com

Bristol: Beaver Creek has long history in city: “Early and numerous water-powered mills were set up in Bristol.  So numerous were they that J. R. Anderson once wrote that the ‘water barely left one mill pond until it was in another.’ Beaver Creek certainly helped Bristol to become an industrial town. Then came the negative uses of this stream.”  Bristol Herald Courier

Rockbridge Co.WWII reenactments grow in popularity:  Every autumn for years, history buffs have been coming to Bells Valley to practice what is a growing hobby nationwide — re-enacting World War II.  Saturday’s re-enactment was based on a conflict that played out on the war’s eastern front, with the Germans trying to defend what had been a stronghold in Romania against the advancing Russians, who at the time of the battle, were Soviets.  Roanoke Times

Gate City, Scott Co.: Downtown historic district added to National RegisterKingsport Times-News

Capital and Central Region:

University of Virginia, McCormick ObservatoryRecently restored observatory 125 years old: For several years senior scientist in the astronomy department and the observatory’s caretaker have been working with the university to bring the telescope and building back to its original look. The effort has restored it to a near like-new appearance.  And these days the magnificent telescope continues to educate and inspire.  Daily Progress

Monticello: Archaeologist focus on world of enslaved:  Largely out of sight of Thomas Jefferson’s esteemed guests at Monticello was a world of enslavement that archaeologists are gradually bringing to life through excavations. “We want to be able to show what life was like then,” said Thomas Jefferson Foundation spokeswoman Lisa Stites, adding that a true picture would show the world of Jefferson’s slaves.  Jefferson had as many as 200 slaves at any given time.  Richmond Times Dispatch

Richmond: City’s role in history easy to experience:  “Any place you point on the timeline of America, Richmond has a story to tell. An important story. An interesting story. An amazing story. At times, a disturbing story.” Richmond Time-Dispatch Related storiesPlaces to visit: RTD City prepares for Civil War SesquicentennialRTD

Richmond, Tredegar: Designated gateway to Civil War: The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar and the Richmond National Battlefield Park/National Park Service have designated Historic Tredegar as Your Gateway to the Civil War, with the 8.3-acre site serving as the Region’s official Civil War 150th Visitor Center under the banner, “The Story Starts Here.”  Tredegar was the largest munitions foundry in the South.  WTVR

State Capitol: Civil Rights leader’s portrait unveiled:  Barabara Johns, who died in 1991, will join former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder as the only African-Americans with portraits hanging in the historic Capitol that was built in part by slave labor. When she was only 16, Johns heroically lead a school strike in 1951 that led to the abolition of segregated schools in the Old Dominion and across the country. Gov. Bob McDonnell recently unveiled her portrait at the State Capitol.  blackvoicesnews.com

Blandford Cemetery, Petersburg: Receives donation of granite stones:  Bill Delk, owner of Pembroke Granite Works in Petersburg, provided the Historic Blandford Foundation with three pieces of granite for use in the Foundation’s project to restore monuments in Blandford Cemetery.  Progress-Index

Northern Region & Shenandoah Valley

CulpeperMan fights to save Blair House:  The structure was built circa 1920 by Charles Claiborne Blair, a black barber born 1899 in Culpeper.  It is located across from Antioch Baptist Church, a historic black congregation dating to the 1850s. The Rev. Harrison Blair was among the church’s first leaders — he was also the grandfather of Charles. The home sits in an old black neighborhood once known as Sugar Bottom for the sweet spring that ran through it.  Star Exponent

Fairfax Co.: Archaeological research on Colchester to begin:  The Fairfax County Park Authority will be conducting archaeological investigations at the Old Colchester Park and Preserve. The Town of Colchester, chartered in 1753, was one of the first towns in Fairfax County. The property has the potential to provide important information about the history of one of the earliest settlements in this community.  Fairfax Daily-Monitor

Frederick Co.: Easement authority opposes PATH: The Frederick County Conservation Easement Authority adopted a resolution last week opposing the construction of the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline in Frederick County.  NVDaily

Dahlgren Navy Base, King George Co.: Museum to be established:  The base is a treasure trove of military history unrivaled in its focus on ordnance. The base was established in 1918 as the Naval Proving Ground, to test guns destined for Navy warships.  The site along the Potomac River has evolved into one of the Navy’s premier research and development labs, and includes a 25-mile firing range along the river.  Free Lance-Star

Calendar

Lexington: Lecture on Robert E. Lee:  William C. Davis, a noted historian and professor of history at Virginia Tech, will be the featured speaker at the annual Remembering Robert E. Lee program on Monday, Oct. 11, at 12:15 p.m. in Lee Chapel. Davis’ topic is “Lee: The Man in the Middle” and the talk is open to the public.  Rockbridge Weekly

Gloucester (Co.) History CrawlSaturday October 16: The Fairfield F0undation is hosting its first ever  Gloucester Fall History Crawl, which will feature tours, archaeology, and food at three of Gloucester’s most significant landmarks: Rosewell, Fairfield, and Walter Reed’s Birthplace.  The event will be followed by a wine tasting at Rosewell.  Tickets are limited. For more information contact fairfield@inna.net.

Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail: Conference October 21:  Register to participate in the exciting statewide meeting of the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail (CREIGHT) at the Prizery, the award winning meeting place in South Boston, Halifax Co.  The conference is sponsored by Dominion, and is presented by Virginia’s Retreat and the Robert Russa Moton Museum.  More info here

Beyond Virginia:

Michigan1679 Giffon shipwreck may have been located:  The effort to confirm whether a suspected shipwreck in Lake Michigan is the long-lost Griffon, the first European sailing ship on the Great Lakes, just took a step forward. The Griffon disappeared in 1679, carrying furs that were to help finance the expedition of René-Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle.  Detroit Free Press

Lorenzo Dow Turner, African American HistorySmithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum exhibit focuses on scholar’s work:  Lorenzo Turner was one of the earliest scholars to suggest that traces of African languages and customs, brought across the Atlantic by slaves, survived in modern African-American culture. For 40 years he worked steadily and traveled widely to validate that proposition.  NY Times


DHR News Clips, Aug. 2-21

August 19, 2010

News from DHR:

Greetings,

Last week the Virginia Department of Historic Resources conducted a survey of an undocumented shipwreck in the York River, situated near previously documented Revolutionary War shipwrecks that are now listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

The survey, funded through DHR’s “Threatened Sites Program,” set out to map and confirm if the ship, discovered in 2008 through sonar, was associated with Lord Cornwallis’s fleet from the Battle of Yorktown.

The preliminary conclusion of the archaeologists from DHR and Tidewater Atlantic Research involved in the project, which wrapped up Thursday, is that the ship is almost certainly part of Cornwallis’s fleet.  A report is expected later this year.

Meanwhile, if you missed it, here are a few of the stories the survey generated and that carried the news around the world:

Yorktown Survey Articles:

Pre-survey story:  Two years ago a sonar company in Gloucester was testing equipment in the York River when the  crew hit the jackpot: an uncharted shipwreck on the river bottom.  “That was quite a surprise,” said David Hazzard, an archaeologist with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.  Virginia Gazette

During survey: Two of the nation’s foremost underwater archaeologists began work in the river off Yorktown Beach Wednesday morning, surveying the previously undetected wreck of a ship that may have been scuttled by the British during the Revolution.  Brought in by the Department of Historic Resources’ Threatened Sites Program, the team includes John D. Broadwater and Gordon Watts.  Daily Press

During survey: Archaeologists dived to a shipwreck Wednesday that they suspect dates to the Siege of Yorktown.  Working in 16-20 feet of olive-green water, four divers found a nearly fully buried 40-foot section of hull on the bottom of the York River, said Dave Hazzard, one of the divers and an archaeologist with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.  Free Lance-Star / AP

Post survey:  A veteran team of underwater archaeologists working off Yorktown Beach concluded a survey of a recently discovered shipwreck late Thursday.  But despite delays caused by lightning, they came away with evidence linking the half-buried vessel to the fleet of some 60 ships scuttled along the shore by Gen. Charles Lord Cornwallis’ embattled British forces during the October 1781 Siege of Yorktown.  Daily Press

Post Survey: Diver Dave Hazzard said metal probes were used Thursday to plot out the new, 27-foot section of the hull. He said that section and a 40-foot portion of the hull found Wednesday would be consistent with the size of other wrecks found off of Yorktown.  Associated Press

Post Survey:  The ship is about 67 feet long and 22 feet wide; its dimensions suggest the vessel was about 160 tons, according to David Hazzard, an archaeologist with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources in the Tidewater region.  Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily

Annual Virginia Preservation Conference:

Please mark your calendars and join DHR and Preservation Virginia at the 25th Annual Virginia Preservation Conference, September 20-21 in Hampton. This year’s conference, titled “Playing for Keeps: Challenges and Benefits of Heritage Stewardship,” will focus, in part, on Fort Monroe.  For more information and to see an agenda or to register, visit Preservation Virginia.

Cemetery Preservation Workshop:

DHR staff will be conducting a two-day cemetery preservation workshop on September 10-11 at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville.  For more information, visit this link or contact Dee.Deroche@dhr.virginia.gov.

New National Register Listings

The National Park Service has listed the following sites on the National Register of Historic Places:  Floris Historic District, Fairfax Co.; Calverton Historic District, Fauquier Co.; and Portsmouth Community Library, Portsmouth.

Rosenwald Schools in Virginia

We have posted a new slide show, “Rosenwalds in Virginia,” to the DHR website for our “Historic Virginia / Site of the Month” feature, found on the DHR homepage.  Consisting of 17 slides, the show features three Rosenwalds listed on the state and national registers: Dry Bridge School, in Martinsville; Scrabble School, in Rappahannock Co., and Shady Grove School, Louisa Co, and also includes some wonderful historic and contemporary images.  See the slide show.

* * * * *

Now here are some of the news items gleaned from around the state (and beyond) since the beginning of August. I’ve arranged them thematically, in hopes you can home in on areas of most interest.

Civil War Related

Wilderness Walmart, Orange Co.Trial date set:  A judge set a January trial date for a lawsuit challenging Orange County’s approval of a Walmart Supercenter in the Wilderness battlefield area.  Circuit Judge Daniel R. Bouton scheduled the trial to run Jan. 25 through Feb. 3.   Free Lance-Star

Staunton: Columnist: Ex-Confederate made city business history: “Had the Yankees been a little nicer to Stephen D. Timberlake, generations of Stauntonians might never have benefited from his prodigious business acumen.”   News Leader

Stafford Co.: Civil War park underway:  Vulcan Materials Co. will donate 5,000 tons of gravel to the park effort.  Backers of the park want it to commemorate Stafford’s important but often overlooked role in the Civil War.  No battles occurred in the county, but some 130,000 Union troops spent the winter of 1862-63 camped in Stafford, regrouping between the key battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Free Lance-Star

Kelly’s Ford, Culpeper & Fauquier Cos.:  Civil War site is being trashed:  Recreational overuse and abuse of Kelly’s Ford has prompted local officials and volunteers to take action.  The Brandy Station Foundation owns the Culpeper bank of Kelly’s Ford.  Foundation president Bud Hall says his group and other preservation foundations are working to stop the abuses.  Star-Exponent More here: Free Lance-Star

Staunton River Battlefield, Halifax & Charlotte Cos.Historic Staunton River Foundation receives Civil War document:  HSRF has accepted donation of the 1864 “minutes” of the Employees of the Danville Arsenal. These rare “minutes” from Captain W. H. Otey’s Company include particulars of the defense of the Staunton River Bridge.  Virginian Gazette

Prince William Co.: Prepares for Civil War Sesquicentennial:   Over the past decade, the county has invested more than $16 million to preserve historic sites, including “The Prince William Civil War Heritage Trail’ which includes 25 key sites and Civil War Trails markers. Inside NOVA

Fredericksburg: Legal battle over the location of a memorial to Confederate dead to go to trial:  The City Council wants the SCV’s Matthew Fontaine Maury Camp No. 1722 to remove a granite-and-bronze memorial it erected in early 2009 to honor 51 Confederate soldiers who were buried nearby. The small monument sits on one corner of the much-larger Fredericksburg Area War Memorial. A court must decide some of the facts disputed by both sides.  Free Lance-Star

Rocky Mount, Franklin Co.Replacement Confederate memorial dedicated:  During an hour-long ceremony attended by Confederate re-enactors, dignitaries and more than 100 bystanders, the county’s history was applauded, and a new statue was unveiled.  Roanoke Times More here:  Franklin Co. Post

Museums:

Virginia Historical Society: Opens new exhibit on rockabilly: The exhibit, “Virginia  Rocks! The History of Rockabilly in the Commonwealth,” runs from Aug. 28 through Dec. 12.  The traveling exhibit was organized by the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum of Ferrum College.  It looks at more than 60 artists and bands from all over the state who made rockabilly records in small recording studios and radio stations in the 1950s and early 1960s.  It also features well-known musicians like Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline, and Virginia artists Janis Martin, Phil Gray, the Rock-A-Teens and the Dazzlers. VHS

Lancaster and Northumberland Cos: New exhibits focus on watermen’s history:  Great steamboats and menhaden rigs are featured in new or updated exhibits at two Northern Neck museums that do an inspired job of interpreting the commerce and history of the Chesapeake Bay region. While the exhibits at the Irvington Steamboat Era Museum and Reedville Fishermen’s Museum tell very different stories, there’s actually some crossover in the designers and model builders who helped create them.  Free Lance-Star

Landmarks/Districts in the News:

Mount VernonFamily traces history back to Washington’s slaves: For the Quanders, their connection to Washington is at the heart of familial lore.  It’s a history they celebrate and lament but continue to pass on.  Quanders from all over the East Coast toured the estate, gathering around a memorial to the hundreds of slaves who lived and died here in the 1700s. Somewhere nearby, the Quander matriarch and field laborer Suckey Bay is buried in an unmarked grave.  Washington Post

Clifton, Fairfax Co.Group seeks to register historic school:  Parents of current and future Clifton students, with the help of the local nonprofit group Friends of Community Schools, have formally nominated the elementary school’s circa-1953 building for inclusion in the Town of Clifton Historic District. Washington Examiner

Fairlington, Arlington Co.:  An appreciation of the close-knit neighborhood:  Built in the early 1940s at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to house defense workers, the 322-acre, 3,400-unit complex was the largest publicly financed housing development at that time. Despite wartime supply shortages, the buildings — a mix of townhouses and apartments — were made with sturdy materials: solid brick exteriors, oak floors and slate roofs.  Washington Post

Shenandoah Co., CourthouseTask force still looking at plans for 1795 building’s futureNVDaily

Charlottesville: Jefferson School plans raise controversy:  “The story of the sale of the Jefferson School to a group that wants to preserve it as the center of African-American history in the city sounds almost too good to be true, particularly given Charlottesville’s history of taxpayer-funded giveaways.  So when the city sells a property valued at $10 million to a private company for the nominal sum of $100,000 (a price actually coming out of nearly $6 million handed to the project from city coffers), how can this be a good deal for the community? The Hook finds out.”  The Hook

Charlottesville1939 Coca-Cola building soon to be vacant: The Mid-Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Co. announced last month that it would be closing its Charlottesville sales and distribution center. “There’s a whole string of historic buildings along Preston Avenue,” said Mary Joy Scala, the city’s preservation and design planner.  “I think it’s important that this building is saved, but also it’s a great location because it’s so close to downtown.”  Daily Progress

Ingles Ferry, RadfordHistoric gem: Visitors and volunteers at Radford’s Ingles Ferry take part in the site’s history for different reasons but agree that it’s a gem for the area. The 18th-century living history farm is best known as the site of the cabin of Mary Draper Ingles, whose story of escaping Indian captivity and returning home after an arduous trek has been re-told in books, films and re-enactments.  The Roanoke Times

Accomack Co.Central High School listed on state register:  Built in two phases in 1932 and 1935, the school is “an excellent example of a pre-World War II Art Deco high school and a rare example of Art Deco architecture on the Eastern Shore, especially on a monumental scale,” according to the nomination form.  Eastern Shore News

St. John’s Church, HamptonEnglish America’s oldest continuous parish and its 1728 landmark church: “Not many churches have this kind of story — and certainly not over such a period of time,” says James Tormey, author of “How Firm a Foundation: The 400-Year History of Hampton, Virginia’s St. John’s Episcopal Church.”  Daily Press

Landmark Lost:

Blackstone, Nottoway Co.Fire destroys landmark Ambuster house:   For many in the tiny town of Blackstone, the Armbruster estate is an icon.  A symbol of their community.  Now it’s gone and neighbors are stunned.  The home, once used as a restaurant and a hotel, according to townspeople, burned to the ground around last week.    WTVR

Archaeology:

Newport News: Warwick Town artifacts exhibited:  Artifacts showcasing the history of Warwick Town — which for many years were nearly inaccessible to the public — are now on display at the Main Street Library.  Warwick Town was founded in 1680 at the confluence of the James and Warwick rivers, and dissolved in 1813. Today, the Newport News City Farm is located where the thriving river town once existed. The town included a courthouse, tavern, tobacco inspection warehouse and homes.  Daily Press

Hampton Colonial era site emerging:  When archaeologists began exploring the site of the future Old Point Bank headquarters weeks ago, they feared that any clues to this historic town’s lost colonial landscape might have been destroyed by later construction.  Instead, more than 800 features have been unearthed since the downtown dig began in June, including an early 18th-century structure, a recently discovered cellar and three wells that date to the period when Hampton ranked among Colonial America’s busiest port towns.  Daily Press

Other News:

Richmond: Columnist:  Developer French’s problems don’t negate tax credits’ value:  “The face of Richmond would be unrecognizable without state historic tax credits to renovate old buildings . . . . ‘It’s the best economic-development tool that Virginia has. And without it, these projects won’t happen,’[developer Robin] Miller said.”  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Route 5 Corridor, Henrico Co.: Public forum focuses on road’s future:  Planners envision the corridor becoming a friendly stretch for walkers, joggers and cyclists, among others.  “We’re starting with a blank slate,” RRPDC Principal Planner Lee Yolton told those in attendance.  “We’re looking for your vision.  There is going to be a lot of future development. We want to try to get ahead of the curve.”  Henrico Citizen

Virginia Indians: Baptist execs urge federal recognition:  The top executives of two Virginia Baptist groups have joined other religious leaders in calling for federal recognition of six Native American tribes in the state.  Federal recognition acknowledges a tribe’s sovereignty in dealing with the U.S. government and qualifies tribal members for federal education and health-care programs.   Associated Baptist Press

Spotsylvania Co.Couple’s plans for inn move ahead:  Dan and Debbie Spear are gaining notoriety for reusing old, rustic structures and turning them into quarters for guests at their inn.  The county has approved a tax incentive plan for the  Spears, who will get business tax incentives for building a 10,000-square-foot event center that will host weddings and other special occasions.   One of the chief attractions of the property are Civil War trenches Union troops dug in May 1864.  Free Lance-Star

Orange Co.: Woman helps build new chapter of DAR:  Debbie DeHart organized the Mine Run chapter in 2006.  It was chartered a year later, and currently has an astounding 78 members, including 74 who didn’t belong to DAR before DeHart corralled them.  Here’s her lure:  She offers to do the legwork to see if she can connect modern residents to the 1770s.  Free Lance-Star

Richmond Co.: Writer’s appreciation for preservationist Francene Barber:  “I’m saddened to say that this woman who always knew how to make history come alive, who gave freely of her time to so many Northern Neck attractions and efforts, won’t be doing that any longer.  She died Sunday [Aug. 2] at Westminster Canterbury in Irvington at the age of 80.  Free Lance-Star

University of Virginia: Receives grant to bolster history education: In partnership with the Southwest Virginia Public Education Consortium and the Wythe County school system, the UVa. project aims to address the lack of resources with a three-year, $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s “Teaching American History Program.”  Through the grant, a group of Virginia history teachers will participate in “My History Partner,” a new support program its creators hope will ultimately increase students’ knowledge and performance. UVa Today

Culpeper Co.Baseball Hall of Fame will correct record for Negro League player Pete Hill: Thanks to the genealogical sleuthing of a Virginia historian/journalist, the Hall of Fame announced in late July that it will commission a new, correct plaque and unveil it on Oct. 12 — more than a century after John Preston Hill was born in Culpeper County. A star on some of the greatest early black teams — the Cuban X-Giants, Philadelphia Giants, Leland Giants and Chicago American Giants — he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006 with 16 other African-Americans.  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Culpeper Historical SocietyGone:  After a 40-year run, the CHS officially became part of history in June.  Local attorney Butch Davies, who was president of the society in 1975 and remained a life member until the end, said it became clear that the CHS was no longer serving its intended purpose. CHS’s accumulated $65,000, and will split the money between the Culpeper Library Foundation and the Museum of Culpeper History.  Star-Exponent

Forthcoming Events

International Preservation Trades WorkshopsFrankfurt Kentucky October 21-23:  IPTW workshops provide an opportunity to interact with tradespeople from across the globe and to ask lots of questions regarding technical preservation trades matters.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to ask questions and get them answered.  For more information, visit IPTW.

Virginia Indian Festival: To be held at Riverbend Park in Great Falls, 10 am- 4 pm, Saturday, Sept. 11. This celebration of the American Indian returns after a two-year hiatus. Members of eight tribes of Virginia Indians will be featured, including the Upper Mattaponi, to share their culture, dance, storytelling and history at this family-friendly celebration.  Events will feature canoe and arrowhead building, archery and spear throwing, animal hide tanning and a chance to see totem poles, Indian costumes and tools.  Admission: $5, under three free.  See more information.  

Colonial Williamsburg Annual brick kiln burn scheduled: Fans of CW’s annual brick kiln burn can double the experience this year. This year the Historic Trades brickmakers will ignite two kilns several months apart.  The first burn begins Sept. 8 as brickmakers stoke the kiln fires for five days to push the kiln’s internal temperatures to nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The second kiln burn is scheduled to begin Dec. 8. Reconstruction of the James Anderson Blacksmith and Public Armoury, perhaps wartime Williamsburg’s most important industrial site, will require more than 25,000 bricks in three different sizes.  Virginia Gazette

Beyond Virginia

Georgia: Camp Lawton located: A succession of scholars and officials, including a U.S. congressman, spoke during a ceremony to announce the discovery of the exact location of Camp Lawton, a Civil War stockade that housed some 10,000 Union prisoners. Camp Lawton, constructed in late 1864 to help relieve overcrowding at the prison at Andersonville, held Northern soldiers and housed hundreds of Confederates who guarded them.  Savannah Morning News Also related story here CNN

National Park Service: Partnership with Temple University recruits students to guard NPS sites: The National Park Service, facing a shortage of rangers, sought out Temple students to stand guard over the sites where U.S. history was made,The four-year, paid internship program is called ProRanger Philadelphia. Temple students are also law enforcment rangers at the early English settlements in Virginia, the place where the Declaration of Independence was written in Philadelphia and at major battlefields of the Civil War, among other spots.Temple was chosen for its nationally ranked criminal justice program and for its diversity Associated Press

Blair Mountain, West Va.: The battle to preserve it and the man who is leading the charge:  It was on Blair Mountain in 1921 that an army of coal miners clashed with an armed force representing the authorities in league with coal companies — the largest battle on American soil since the Civil War and a watershed in labor’s struggle for recognition.  L.A. Times

Green Buildings: Op-Ed: Why they “won’t save the planet”:  “‘Green’ buildings alone are not enough to divert our perilous course. A broader vision of sustainability is imperative to meet America’s challenge. We must decide if we are willing to change our behavior: to migrate toward more populated, more diverse, more sustainable cities. Only by changing behavior — particularly suburban sprawl and its accompanying carbon intensive lifestyle — can the United States reach ecological balance. Strategies for maximizing the potential of our urban cores’ existing vitality and infrastructure must be the basis for any definition of sustainability.”  CNN


DHR News Clips, July 20 — Aug. 6, 2010

August 7, 2010

Greetings,

I was away on vacation at the end of July.  Here are some of the interesting news items from around Virginia during the past three weeks.

Randy Jones, Virginia Dept. of Historic Resources

Statewide

Battlefield Preservation: Man’s legacy will help preserve four Civil War battlefields in Virginia:  Karl M. Lehr entrusted his estate to the Civil War Round Table of Eastern Pennsylvania. The group now is donating Lehr’s bequest–with interest–to three separate efforts to save four Virginia battlefields. The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, based in Fredericksburg, will receive $53,000 to help preserve 93 acres of the Wilderness battlefield in Spotsylvania.  Another $53,000 will go to the Richmond Battlefields Association toward purchase of 13 acres at Fussell’s Mill and 4 acres at the Malvern Hill battlefield. The Civil War Preservation Trust, based in Washington, will get $22,000 for 10 acres at Manassas.  Free Lance-Star

Farmland in VirginiaLoss of acreage slows:  The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced earlier this month that loss of farmland to development appears to be slowing in the Commonwealth. Virginia lost 81,500 acres of agricultural land directly to developed uses between 1997 and 2002 but lost 25 percent less–60,800 acres–between 2002 and 2007.   Brookneal Union Star

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech: Interview with Sec. Domenech: “[He] calls himself a ‘granola Republican’ who loves the outdoors. But he also is a self-professed climate change skeptic and is not reluctant to decry what he calls ‘shocking’ behavior by his regulatory counterparts at the federal level. Domenech had a wide-ranging conversation recently about jobs, energy and the environment.”  Blue Ridge Business Journal: Pt 1 Pt. II

Virginia Indians: One writer reflects about her “lost” family history and Virginia’s “lost” history: “The only surviving photo I have of my great-great-grandmother, on my mother’s side, hangs in my parents’ house. She was a Native American. . . . Very little has been passed down through the oral history of our family about this woman. . . .” Richmond Times-Dispatch

Capital & Central Region

Hatton Ferry, Albemarle Co.Profile of a singular place:  “Once upon a time in America, this was the way we crossed rivers.  We boarded flat-bottomed ferries, tethered to land by rope, and glided slowly but surely from shore to shore, propelled by nothing more than the flow of the river and the strength of the ferryman poling the craft through the water.”  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Hatton Ferry #2: Voice-over slideshowThe Hatton Ferry

Hatton Ferry #3: Success raises parking problems:  When the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society took over the ferry in order to keep this link with the past alive, too many visitors for available parking was not then a concern.  The Daily Progress

William Faulkner: UVa launches audio archive:  During spring semesters in 1957 and 1958, at 36 different public events, Faulkner gave two addresses, read a dozen times from eight of his works and answered more than 1,400 questions.  Fortunately, two English department faculty members had the presence of mind to preserve those conversations, which have now been compiled into “Faulkner at Virginia: An Audio Archive.”  Besides recordings and transcripts, the site contains a trove of photos, documents and scholarly articles.   News Leader Website: Faulkner at Virginia: An Audio Archive

Buckingham Co.Historic company continues to mine prized slate:  The slate that lies in the county’s hills has attracted entrepreneurs for centuries now.  Since Colonial times, the durable material has been quarried and shipped to builders who prized it as a roofing material, or to stonemasons to make historical markers and tombstones.  “It’s recognized as the best in the world,” said Mark Claud, president of Buckingham Slate Co., a 143-year-old company based in Arvonia that quarries and sells the famous stone.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Appomattox Co.Gains first VDOF conservation easement:  The Virginia Department of Forestry has secured its first conservation easement in the county– a 275-acre working forest easement owned by Joan Rockwell and Hugh Radcliffe.  The property, known as Rockcliffe Farm, borders the James River near the Beckham community.  DOF Press Release More here: The News & Advance

Powhatan Co.: Proposed State Police shooting range continues to draw fire: Gov. Bob McDonnell has directed his secretary of public safety and the superintendent of state police to look at all options regarding a controversial state police shooting range and training facility proposed for the county.  The planned range has drawn intense opposition from residents and county leaders, and the FBI has confirmed that it is pulling out of the project. It was supposed to contribute the bulk of the funding.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Richmond: Developer Justin French: Agents raided the Shockoe Slip offices of embattled developer French. The FBI would not say what they were investigating but said the search warrant was sealed. However, two sources close to the investigation said French might have violated the rules that allow developers to obtain historic tax credits from the state and federal governments  RichmondBizSense.com Also here: Richmond Times-Dispatch Previous story (Aug. 1)Richmond Times-Dispatch

Richmond #2:  History and bar tour: “Whether you’re a dedicated drinker looking to expand your horizons or a history buff trying to let loose, select from these pairings of iconic Richmond historical sites and drinking establishments.” Richmond.com

Virginia Capitol: Green project launched:  Gov. Bob McDonnell broke ground last week on a set of construction projects that will “green” Virginia’s Capitol grounds and surrounding Richmond streets.  These projects that will retrofit the Capitol and make it one of the greenest in the nation. Several low impact development techniques will let storm water slowly infiltrate rather than flow over the ground and into the James River.  WHSV

Tidewater & Eastern Shore

WilliamsburgSite of first school in U.S. for African Americans?: Terry Meyers, an English professor with a penchant for local history, suggests that the College of William and Mary was instrumental in opening a school in 1760 — at the urging of Benjamin Franklin, no less — and so became the first college in America involved in the education of black students.  Washington Post

Williamsburg#2: Architectural historian Calder Loth on “The Block Modillion”:  “The block modillion is a little used classical detail but one meriting greater attention.  Hardly any architectural treatises or glossaries make note of it. . . .  One of America’s earliest uses of the block modillion is the exterior cornice of the 1748 Public Records office in Williamsburg, Virginia. . . .” Read his well-illustrated blog here:   Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America

James River Institute: Profile of the archaeology firm:  Long before Nick Luccketti and other archaeologists arrived at the corner of East Queens Way and Wine Street in Hampton last month, they knew that 18th-century dwellings once occupied part of the half-acre site.  Since the 1960s, state and federal efforts to protect culturally significant properties from development spurred demand for professional archaeologists like those at James River Institute.  Virginian-Pilot

Hampton Roads: 10 obscure, weird or plain interesting places:  Click a number on the map to begin reading the story behind the location.  Virginian-Pilot

Tidewater Oyster IndustrySuffers from BP spill:  While most attention from the oil spill centers on the gulf, there are businesses throughout the country that are feeling the weight of the spill. Virginia’s oyster industry has lost $11.6 million since April, according to a report from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.   Daily Press More here: Richmond Times-Dispatch

NorfolkEntrepreneurs offering historic tours:  Several local businesses have opened in recent years to capitalize on Norfolk’s rich 400-year history by adding some creativity to their guided tours, hoping it will allow tourists to discover the city in new ways.  Virginian Pilot

Southampton Co.Grant to develop Nat Turner tour:  A $420,000 federal grant, with a matching $105,000 from the Southampton County Historical Society, will be used to create a driving tour through the county, marking Turner’s path. There are plans for an “electronic map” at the Rebecca Vaughan House in Courtland. Vaughan’s house was the last place people were killed in 1831, and it will serve as the visitor s center for the tour.  Virginian-Pilot

Tiffany Lamps / Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk: Exhibit reveals work of Clara Driscoll, not Tiffany:  Driscoll was mentioned in 1894 as the head of the women’s glass-cutting department in the studios of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Now experts label her the designer of treasured lamps on display in an internationally touring show of Tiffany glass at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, which has a world-renowned Tiffany collection.  The egotistical artist-designer Tiffany might be mortified that the world has learned that most of his signature lamps–much-copied icons of American decorative arts–were actually designed by Driscoll and her “Tiffany girls.”  Virginian-Pilot

Sebrell, Southampton Co.: Public meeting scheduled for proposed historic district: A proposal to designate the Sebrell area as a historic district is moving forward with a public hearing to discuss the issue.  DHR will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11, in the board room of the county’s administration building at 26022 Administration Center Drive in Courtland.  Tidewater News

Suffolk, Nansemond Indian Tribe: Council ends talks to transfer land to tribe: The dream of having part of its ancestral land back is apparently dead for the Nansemond Indian Tribe.  City officials and an attorney for the tribe have confirmed a letter had been sent to the tribe that essentially ends talks on a transfer of land at Lone Star Lakes to the tribal association.  Suffolk News-Herald

Preservation Planning for Campuses, Complexes, and Installations, Hampton: September 28-29:  The workshop is being hosted in cooperation with Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority, DHR, and the U.S. Army, Fort Monroe. The advance registration rate is available through August 17.  The workshop will focus on understanding how buildings and landscapes contribute to the institutional identity of campuses, complexes, and installations.  More info an agenda here:  www.npi.org.

Roanoke & Southwest

Smyth Co., African American HistoryImportant document preserved:  The Library of Virginia has conserved a document found in the Smyth County courthouse that could prove invaluable to students of local African-American genealogies and other historians. Titled “The Register of Colored Persons of Smyth County, Virginia, cohabitating together as Husband and Wife on 27th February 1866,” and hand-penned in ink long-since oxidized but still legible, the document “is the first legal recognition of slaves’ marriages and the first legal recognition of their lives,” said Circuit Court Clerk John Graham.  SWVA.com

Poplar Forest, Bedford Co.:  Archaeology focuses on Jefferson’s historic landscape design:  This summer, activity and focus at the site has shifted to an exterior project led by Jack Gary, director of archaeology and landscapes at the third president’s Forest plantation.  The goal is to locate and eventually re-establish Jefferson’s landscaping and other outdoor features that have disappeared during the past 200 years.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Virginia’s Coal Heritage Trail: Supporters push for a national byway designation: The Coal Heritage Trail is already designated as a state scenic highway in Virginia. It winds more than 325 miles through the beautiful mountains of Southwest Virginia, including seven counties and one city. Beyond providing a welcomed tourism boost to the coalfield counties of Southwest Virginia, a national byway designation would also help promote additional economic development and historical preservation in the region. Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Virginia Tech: Landmark tree downed:  The sycamore on the hill was cut down piece by piece. Some say the tree was on the Henderson Lawn when VT was founded in 1872.  WSLS10.com

Explore Park, Roanoke & Bedford CountiesNew plans proposed:  After a Florida developer’s $200 million vision for a resort at Virginia’s Explore Park faded away this year due to lack of finances, a “Plan B” to bring new life to the site is taking shape.  The Virginia Recreational Facilities Authority, the board that governs the 1,100-acre park, was presented a preliminary plan from a consortium of stakeholders last month.  News Advance

Abingdon, Washington Co.: Sec. Domenech visits town:  Strolling the Barter Green and touring the Muster Ground recently, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech said Abingdon sets an example on preserving history.  “The folks at DHR [Department of Historic Resources in Richmond] have just talked about the amount of tax incentives here and how wisely the town has been able to seek out and use state support and federal support and private foundation support,” Domenech said. “It’s a great model for the rest of the state.”  Bristol Herald News

Abingdon, Washington Co.Recently-arrived resident leads local history tours: Carl Mallory has been researching Abingdon’s history for the past four years, ever since he bought a home on Main Street.  Now Mallory, a self-proclaimed history buff, conducts historical walking-tours of downtown Abingdon for the Virginia Highlands Festival.  One Sunday, while many people were buying new crafts and other goods along Remsburg Drive, Mallory explained the rich history of the 270-year-old town.  Bristol Herald

Washington Co.: BOS creates conservation program: The Washington County Board of Supervisors decided this past week to create a Purchase of Development Rights program for the county, which would allow landowners to sell the right to develop their property, keeping it rural in perpetuity.  Bristol Herald

Chatham, Pittsylvania Co.: VT group offers plan for visual enhancements: The Community Design Assistance Center, an outreach of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, has completed a report that recommends visual improvements to the town’s entrances, medians, and downtown area, along with recommendations on a trail, model ordinances and grants.  Star-Tribune

Pittsylvania Co.NRC names uranium study committee: The National Research Council has named a 13-member provisional committee for a scientific study of uranium mining in Virginia. Virginia Uranium announced plans three years ago to explore mining uranium at Coles Hill, about six miles northeast of Chatham.  Discovered in the early 1980s, the uranium deposit is one of the largest in the U.S. and is worth an estimated $7 billion.  Star-Tribune

Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville: Technology costs may increase nearly 66 % this fiscal year: Joe Keiper, executive director at VMNH, said he recently received a memo that the museum will have to pay the entire cost of services it gets from the Virginia Information Technologies Agency. Martinsville Bulletin

NOVA & Shenandoah Valley

City of Fairfax: Historic photographs of Fairfax county available online:  A new partnership between the Virginia Room at the City of Fairfax Regional Library and the Library of Virginia has resulted in a total of 574 historic photos recently added to the Library of Virginia’s online photo database. This allows people to pore over photos showing the county’s agrarian past, the important role it played during the Civil War and the rapid changes over the past few decades.  Connection Newspapers

Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park: USA Travel Guide highlights park: The W&OD RPR exists to preserve the path originally cut for the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad, which served the short line from Alexandria to Bluemont as late as 1968. While almost all remnants of the actual rail lines are gone today, the rail bed has been repaved in asphalt and has blossomed into a truly remarkable historic recreation trail. Today you can follow all 44.8 miles from just outside Alexandria to the town of Purcellville.  USA Travel Guide

Mount VernonOne family’s reunion: One of the oldest and largest black families in America, the Quanders celebrated a part of their 85th reunion this year at Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George Washington, where some of the family’s ancestors were once held as slaves.  NPR

Loudoun Co., Mountain Gap FarmPlaced under conservation easement: Sandy Lerner, owner of Ayrshire Farm in Upperville, has placed the 350-acre Mountain Gap Farm south of Leesburg near Oatlands Plantation under protective conservation easement with the county. The farm dates back to 1741.  The property contains a 19th century archaeological site, house and six ancillary structures.  Leesburg Today

Montpelier, Orange Co.Archaeology focuses on African American history:  Archaeologists are unearthing the undisturbed remains of slave dwellings.  The actual dwellings of house, stable, garden and field slaves were abandoned abruptly in about 1840. But the sites on which they had stood were never dug up again, leaving a trove for researchers.  “We’ve just got an incredible playground for aarchaeologists to work in,” said Matthew Reeves, director of archaeology at Montpelier.  The Daily Progress

Montpelier #2: Students participate in archaeology field school:  James Madison University students were among college students from all over the country who, in separate month-long sessions, got to live at the historic home of the nation’s fourth president. Their charge: spending long days doing excavations to find and understand the layout of the lost Madison Stable Quarter, made up of the stables, a blacksmith’s shop and slave quarters.  The student work fits in with a three-year effort to investigate the life and quarters of slaves who toiled at Montpelier during Madison’s time.  Free Lance-Star

Brandy Station Battlefield, Culpeper Co.: Two new easements preserve additional land:  The two conservation easements on the sprawling battleground–site of the world’s largest cavalry engagement–add 782 acres to the 1,000 acres preserved there since 1987.  The 349-acre northern tract, which includes nearly a mile of Hazel River frontage, is where Union Brig. Gen. John Buford’s cavalry fought Confederate troopers led by W.H.F. “Rooney” Lee, Robert E. Lee’s middle son.  Its easement was donated by Beauregard Farms LP.  The southern tract, comprising 433 acres southwest of Culpeper Regional Airport, includes land where Union Col. Thomas Devin’s Federal cavalry repeatedly clashed with Confederates led by Gen. Wade Hampton. Free Lance-Star

Brandy Station #2: Editorial praises easements: “IMAGINE: It could have been a 3.4-million-square-foot development of condominiums, a multiplex theater, a water park, an equestrian center, a hotel and asphalt, lots of asphalt. Instead, thanks to some generous landowners, 443 acres in Culpeper County, part of the Brandy Station battlefield, has been preserved.”  Free Lance-Star

Wilderness Battlefield, Orange Co.:  Group to protect more land: The Central Virginia Battlefield Trust will purchase a tract of land adjacent to the Wilderness Battlefield near Rts. 3 and 20. The group moved on the land purchase when the Wilderness Walmart dispute heated up.  “It’s an extremely important piece of property, especially because of it’s close proximity to the new Walmart,”  said a CVBT representative. Orange Co. Review

Staunton: Facebook page features history:  The “I Grew Up in Staunton, Virginia” page is a unique fusion of technology and history that provides a forum for memories, photos, reminiscences and links to articles about Staunton.  The page has posts about everything from businesses that no longer exist, teachers who made a difference, schoolhouse behavior that netted detention hall, news—even descriptions of “characters” who used to populate downtown.   News Leader

Staunton #2Historic pedestrian bridge to be preserved:  A last-minute deal has saved a century-old Staunton bridge from demolition. The city’s Historic Preservation Commission has approved a plan to temporarily take down the Sears Hill pedestrian bridge and let restoration begin.  NBC29.com

Waynesboro, Augusta Co.: New state historical marker dedicated:  About 60 people gathered for the unveiling, including city officials, longtime residents of ‘The Hill’ and many who graduated from the community’s historic all-black Rosenwald School.  The sign honors the the Port Republic Road Historic District, which is one of the city’s oldest intact neighborhoods, said Calder Loth, an architectural historian with DHR.  The neighborhood’s oldest home dates to 1818. By 1867, there were 23 black families in the area.  The News Virginian Also covered here: News Leader

Waynesboro #2 Officials promote Main Street grant program: Downtown merchants last year maxed out a Waynesboro fund that offsets building renovation costs, but money is left untapped some years, so officials are ramping up promotion of the program. The grant program matches business owner investments of up to $5,000 for simple facade improvements such as new signage, awnings and paint, and more extensive reconstruction efforts such as swapping out bricks or restoring historic stonework.  News Virginian

Chapman/Beverley Mill, Prince William Co.:  Dedication event scheduled: The Turn The Mill Around Campaign proudly invites the public to attend the dedication for Chapman/Beverley Mill’s Prince William County Civil War Trails sign on Sunday, August 15, at 11 a.m. at Chapman/Beverley Mill in Thoroughfare Gap in Broad Run. After wards, guests may attend the “John Chapman’s Civil War Nightmare” and partake of refreshments. More info here: www.chapmansmill.org.

Beyond Virginia

New York CityNY Times webpage highlights recent archaeology:  Since the late 1970s, hundreds of archaeological digs around the city have uncovered thousands of artifacts and structures — each of which have helped to shape our understanding of New York’s history. The NY Times editors asked 12 local archaeologists to share their most memorable discoveries.  NY Times

Train Depots: Preservationists on track to save depots: Preservationists weave a bit of time travel and local pride to restore old train stations across the USA. Many are being saved from demolition and finding new uses as museums and businesses. The depots also are reclaiming their roles as community gathering places, says Jerry Hardwich, a spokesman for the National Railway Historical Society.  USA Today

Maryland: Shipwreck could be associated with War of 1812: The sailing ship could be the USS Scorpion, part of a fleet known as the Chesapeake Flotilla that was designed to navigate the shallow waters of the Patuxent River and harass the British, whose Royal Navy at the time was terrorizing towns from Havre de Grace to Norfolk. Researchers hope to find more definitive proof when they map the ship’s dimension  Washington Post

New York City: World Trade Tower-site ship: The ship, discovered in New York on July 12 when its ribs were spotted poking out of the muck as workers were excavating the World Trade Center site, has been shipped to Maryland’s state archaeological conservation laboratory, which specializes in such work.  Washington Post

Timbuctoo, New JerseyArchaeologists’ research of lost African American community part of larger trend: Tmibuctoo was founded by freed blacks and escaped slaves in the 1820s. Archaeological excavation of African American communities such as Timbuctoo is booming across the country, spurred by an increasing number of prominent black academics and politicians and a proliferation of museums dedicated to African American history, whose curators are eager to display the artifacts. Washington Post


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



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers