DHR News Clips for the Week of April 9

April 19, 2010

Department of Historic Resources
DHR News Clips, April 9:

News from DHR:
New NRHP Listings: The following sites have been approved by the National Park Service for listing on the National Register of Historic Places: Sibley’s and James Store Historic District, Mathews Co.; Saltville Battlefields Historic District, Saltville, Wythe Co;


Restore Virginia!:  Workshop scheduled: If you own an older or historic home, consider heading south for Preservation Virginia’s Restore Virginia event in Old Towne Petersburg, at the historic McIlwaine House and Union Train Station, Saturday, April 24. Through workshops, demonstrations, and talks by restoration experts, you can learn how to restore original windows, prevent water infiltration, boost energy efficiency and obtain tax credits for historic rehabilitation. You can also take advantage of free 10-minute consultations with preservation experts. More info at http://www.apva.org/

Historic Garden Week: April 17-25: The event is a shining example of how Virginia’s rich traditions, warm hospitality and beautiful landscape make it a great place to relax and reconnect with loved ones. Known as “America’s Largest Open House,” Historic Garden Week showcases more than 250 of Virginia’s most beautiful private homes, gardens and historic landmarks annually. Now in its 77th year, the program is the oldest and largest statewide tour event of its kind in the nation. Properties showcased on three dozen tours hosted by garden clubs across the state span four centuries of Virginia’s architecture, history and landscape design. Tours range from $10 to $35 per person. Compete details are available on http://www.virginia.org.

Virginia Main Street Program: 25th Anniversary: To help celebrate the Virginia Main Street 25th anniversary, the DHCD has identified “25 Treasures of Main Street,” a list representing the best of what can be found downtown in Virginia. http://www.appomattoxhistory.com/2010/virginias-main-street-program-turns-25.html

Nature Conservancy in Virginia: Director Michael Lipford recognized: The Virginia Environment Symposium has presented its 2010 Erchul Environmental Leadership Award to Lipford. The Erchul Award recognizes a Virginian who has made significant individual efforts to better the environment through vision, expertise, commitment, integrity, communication skills, accomplishments, and diplomacy. The award is named for retired Virginia Military Institute (VMI) Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Ronald A. Erchul, the founder of the Environment Virginia Symposium, hosted annually on the VMI Post. http://www.vmi.edu/show.aspx?tid=4294970021&id=4294970210

2010 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards: The awards were presented by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling on April 7th at the Environment Virginia 2010 Symposium in Lexington. The awards recognize the significant contributions of environmental and conservation leaders in three categories: environmental projects, environmental programs and land conservation. They are given to businesses and industrial facilities, not-for-profit organizations, government agencies and individuals. More info and recipients here: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/News/viewRelease.cfm?id=112

Confederate History Month: Gov. McDonnell issues additional language to proclamation recognizing “abomination of slavery”: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/News/viewRelease.cfm?id=111

“Virginia Rocks! The History of Rockabilly in the Commonwealth”: Exhibit guide now available: Published to compliment the exhibit on display at the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum on the Ferrum College campus, the guide gives a visitor “something to take home” after viewing the exhibit, which features Virginia musicians who influenced rockabilly, a blend of rock ‘n’ roll and hillbilly music. Notable Virginians playing roles in the new sound that lasted through the 1950s include Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps; Janis Martin, the female Elvis; Roy Clark; Jim Eanes and the Shenandoah Valley Boys; Wayne Newton; Moon Mullins; The Dazzlers; and Patsy Cline.  http://www.thefranklinnewspost.com/article.cfm?ID=15941

“The Story of Virginia, an American Experience”: Teacher seminar: The course, offered by the University of Richmond in partnership with the Virginia Historical Society, will be offered July 26-30. It will provide an overview of the history of Virginia from earliest habitation to the present and follows the curriculum framework for Virginia Studies. http://scs.richmond.edu/summer/opportunities/vhs.html

Capital / Central Region:

Charlottesville, Downtown Mall: Activities to highlight mall’s history: Several area groups are behind a new exhibition showcasing Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall that will open today. The public history research project, “More than Just Bricks. Designing Community — a Social and Design History of the Charlottesville Downtown Mall,” will include several exhibits, walking tours, gallery talks and lectures. The project is sponsored by the Charlottesville Community Design Center, Preservation Piedmont and the University of Virginia School of Architecture. The exhibition will run through May 31 and all events, most of which will be held at 100 Fifth St. N.E., are open to the public.  http://www2.dailyprogress.com/cdp/news/local/article/downtown_mall_–_more_than_just_bricks/54240/

Richmond: Gettysburg visitor center inspires Richmonders: The recent grand-opening of a $103 million visitor/museum facility in Gettysburg is prompting some Richmonders to consider whether the project could be a model for Richmond. With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War approaching in 2011, the potential for commemorative tourism is significant in both places, even though they appeal in different ways. Creating a Gettysburg-type visitor experience in Richmond would require a public-private partnership similar to the Gettysburg Foundation. The Richmond National Battlefield Park and the American Civil War Center, adjacent to each other at Tredegar Iron Works, would be a possible starting point.  http://nocasinogettysburg.org/gettysburg-a-model-for-civil-war-tourism

Wilton House, Richmond: New exhibits: “To Entertain and Gratifie the eye: The History of Centrepieces in America,” April 17 through June 11: Tour Wilton House Museum and view the history of table decorating in American culture. Displays showcase different trends in American households from ‘salts’ to ‘centrepieces’; fresh flowers to paper flowers; dazzling displays of silver and glass; to elaborate figural ‘garden’ designs complete with boxwood, temples, and fountains. http://www.wiltonhousemuseum.org.

University of Virginia, Morven Farm: New archaeological findings: Recently completed archaeological work at the farm, combined with some documentary detective work, found promising glimpses of several little-studied aspects of history, including local Indians both before and after contact with the first European settlers, and the life of “middling class” tenant farmers in the 18th and early-19th centuries.  http://www.virginia.edu/uvatoday/newsRelease.php?print=1&id=11429

University of Virginia: History of its colors: From 1861-87 students and faculty wore the school’s of red and grey with great pride. The crew and baseball teams wore these colors and men wore them on their coats. But then, according to an article by Professor William Echols in the 1914 Corks & Curls yearbook a few “callow youths in charge of a football team, about 1888, permitted themselves to be persuaded, by a Yankee manufacturer, that the red and grey would run, and therefore substitute for them a streak of yellow and the federal blue!” http://www.thesabre.com/news_archive/showArticle-5291.php

Monticello: Indiana University archaeology team researches landscape: Members of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology at IU are working with Monticello staff to help restore Monticello to its appearance as it was during Jefferson’s lifetime. During the project the thickness and characteristics of the historic fills that underlie the southern end of the East Lawn were documented. The Monticello Plantation Survey, to which IU’s team has contributed, is part of a long-term effort to complete an inventory of the archaeological resources located on the 2,000-acre tract currently owned by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/14014.html

Charlottesville: DEQ finds unusual levels of pesticide in two creeks: Abnormally high levels of chloradance, a pesticide that was banned more than two decades ago because of its potential to harm plants, animals and people, have been found in two Charlottesville creeks–Meadow Creek and Schenk’s Branch. Two samples showed levels of chlordane that were 40 and 1,000 times higher, respectively, than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s probable effects concentration benchmark.  http://www2.dailyprogress.com/cdp/news/local/article/harmful_pesticide_found_in_city_creeks/54328/

Roanoke and Southwest Region

Lynchburg: Historical marker for Abram Biggers dedicated: The ceremony to unveil a historical marker dedicated to pioneer Lynchburg school superintendent Abram Biggers attracted around 60 people. Biggers, who served the city as superintendent from 1871 to 1878, cobbled together a network of public schools from the disarray left by the Civil War by talking various wealthy Lynchburgers into helping to bankroll the project, and wrestled more money out of a reluctant city government. http://www2.newsadvance.com/lna/news/local/article/a_signpost_for_a_school_that_left_its_mark_on_lynchburg/25590/

Christiansburg, Montgomery Co.: Residents unenthusiastic about local historic district overlay: Residents do not see an overwhelming need for the town to recognize a historic district, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the town. The survey was meant to get public input about whether Christiansburg should adopt a historic district and regulations into its zoning ordinance. Surveys were sent to 198 property owners in the town’s three historic areas, as well as some adjoining areas, and the town received 80 responses. http://www.roanoke.com/news/nrv/wb/242469

Danville, Ferrell Furniture Store: Demolition pending: Judy and Earl Vipperman were given an extra six weeks to make headway on building code violations at the Ferrell Building by a Danville General District Court. Building code violations had been filed by Mike Burton, a maintenance code inspector for the city’s Inspections Department. The city was asking for the building to be stabilized and made weather tight. http://www2.godanriver.com/gdr/news/local/danville_news/article/repairs_must_be_made_judge_tells_owners_of_downtown_danville_building/19501/  More here: http://www2.godanriver.com/gdr/news/opinion/editorials/danville_editorials/article/reaching_the_end_of_the_line/19735/

Scott Co., Dungannon Train Depot: Added to VLR: Dungannon Mayor Karen Powers said the designation will help the town’s efforts to promote heritage-based tourism in the area. http://www.timesnews.net/article.php?id=9021846

Radford University: Students research arctic sea ice: An ongoing Radford University student study of arctic sea ice in Alaska could eventually help climate scientists better monitor the melting of polar ice caps and other threats to endangered species and native cultures.  The group of 11 led by physics professor Rhett Herman spent two weeks, including spring break, enduring temperatures of minus-40 degrees to collect data for the project in Barrow, Alaska. http://www.roanoke.com/news/nrv/wb/241687

Tidewater Region:

The College of William and Mary: Examines its role as a slave owner and other related race issues: The Lemon Project Committee will examine slavery and race relations from the end of the Civil War to present times. It takes its name from a slave named Lemon, owned by William and Mary in the 1800s. Research has found the college owned five to 10 slaves from the early 1800s to the start of the Civil War, and it may also have hired slave laborers, said Kimberley Phillips, a history professor who is co-chairing the Lemon committee with colleague Robert Vinson. Slaves also built some of the college’s buildings, but that wasn’t uncommon during the era, Phillips said.  http://fredericksburg.com/News/apmethods/apstory?urlfeed=WFA/content/AP%20Virginia%20State%20News%20-%20No%20Weather/c6cc1788da194727ba83c354b38aabb3-eff19abc8b304923a5b9663fedac8f51-entry.xml

Windsor Castle, Smithfield, Isle of Wight Co.: Christopher Newport University students assist in archaeological research: Meg Voelkner rubbed dirt off a tiny brick fragment that had long been buried outside Windsor Castle. “This is living history,” said Voelkner, one of 18 Christopher Newport University history students helping launch the first professional excavation at Windsor Castle. For generations, the circa-1750s mansion overlooking the Pagan River was home to the family of Thomas Smith IV, founder of the town of Smithfield.  Article and video: http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-local-windsor-castle-0405apr05,0,6220307.story

Mathews Co., Sibley’s and Thomas James Store Historic District: Listed in the National Register of Historic Places: The historic district features three store buildings, two of which were connected at some point, that have played a role in the development of the county since 1810.  http://www.gazettejournal.net/articles.php?artid=4332

Norfolk: Short video essay envisions downtowns future: http://hamptonroads.tv/hrtv.php?id=12294220

Northern Virginia / Shenandoah Valley

Northern Virginia: House museums’ visits surge up: The Weems-Botts Museum, a historic home in Dumfries, is experiencing what they call “exploding” visitorship rates, according to museum administrator Beth Cardinale. It’s not alone. Prince William County government historical sites, such as the Ben Lomond House in Manassas and Rippon Lodge in Woodbridge, saw an increase from about 17,000 visitors in 2008 to more than 25,000 in 2009. The county’s Brentsville Courthouse Historic Center reported a 30 percent increase in attendance in 2009, according to site manager Rob Orrison.  http://www2.insidenova.com/isn/news/local/dumfries/article/historic_homes_sites_have_record_admissions/55344/

Front Royal, Riverton Dam: Demolition approved: If things go as planned, demolition of the Riverton Dam on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River could begin in September. The Town Council voted unanimously to accept a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to demolish the dam, which is more than 100 years old. http://www.nvdaily.com/news/2010/03/council-approves-demolition-of-dam.php

Loudoun Co., Windham Farm: Easement: The 496-acre Windham Farm property that houses Doukenie Winery north of Hillsboro has been placed in conservation easement with the Land Trust of Virginia.The property contains nearly 135 acres of forested mountainside and 360 acres of agricultural land. http://www.loudountimes.com/index.php/news/article/496_acres_near_hillsboro_protected_in_easement/

Harrisonburg: Revitalization through Main Street Program: In 2003, Harrisonburg’s downtown commercial district had a high number of retail vacancies, buildings falling into disrepair, limited downtown housing and crumbling sidewalks. Today, the area features brick sidewalks, a $300,000 farmers market, landscaping and more than two dozen restaurants, and the number of housing units has increased from 170 to 440. “The contrast is rather dramatic in many people’s minds,” said Eddie Bumbaugh, executive director of the nonprofit Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. “In my opinion, being a part of Virginia Main Street was a key to our success.” http://www2.timesdispatch.com/rtd/business/local/article/MAIN04_20100403-190807/334927/

Blue Ridge Parkway, Augusta Co.: Man arrested in shooting: A 56-year-old mechanic has been charged in the shootings of two people at a scenic overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. http://www.wdbj7.com/Global/story.asp?S=12261634

Beyond Virginia:

Historic Preservation and Green Architecture: Friends Or Foes?: According to architecture critic Blair Kamin, they’re natural allies—and always have been. http://www.preservationnation.org/magazine/2010/march-april/green-architecture.html

North Carolina: Historic shipwreck recovered: In a race against the tide, crews dug the 12-ton remains of a 300-year-old shipwreck out of the sand, loaded it on a sled and moved it to high ground so it would not disappear or break apart. Video: http://hamptonroads.tv/hrtv.php?id=12469256

Galveston, Texas: Historic house has ties to Virginia: The Powhatan House was built as the home of John S. Sydnor, a prominent cotton merchant, early mayor of Galveston, financier, and Texas’ largest slave dealer. Col. Sydnor migrated to Galveston from his native Hannover (sic) County, Virginia, in 1838. Sydnor dubbed the 24-room, Doric Greek Revival house “Powhatan,” after the Indian tribes in his native Virginia. http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM8FZ1_Powhatan_House_Galveston_Texas

Why We Study Archaeology:  Video summarizes project in East St. Louis: The 7-1/2 minute narrated video shows the discovery and investigation of a 1,000-year-old Native American village and graphically demonstrates why archaeological investigations are performed and what we can learn from these investigations into America’s past. The video explains the importance of archeology in easy to understand language that is accessible to school children and adults alike. 3-D interpretive renderings help visualize Native American life up to 1,000 years ago. A link to the video is posted on the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Archaeology web page: http://www.illinoishistory.gov/PS/archaeology.htm. Here’s a direct link: http://www.illinoishistory.gov/PS/78th.m3u

Narragansett, Rhode Island: Developer and state contest archaeological site: Archaeological evidence of the Narragansetts’ early presence in Rhode Island has ignited a debate over private development on a site that some consider to be culturally and historically significant. The state maintains it has the regulatory authority to stop development on the site. The developer says this amounts to a taking of his land, for which he is constitutionally entitled to compensation, a claim the state denies. At issue is a 25-acre parcel in Narragansett, part of a 67-acre tract on which the developer wants to build 53 single-family houses.  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/07/realestate/commercial/07indian.html

Cyclorama Center, Gettysburg National Battlefield: NPS must reconsider demolition: A U.S. District Court judge told the Park Service that it must go back and reconsider its 1999 decision to raze the 48-year-old Cyclorama Center, designed by nationally-renowned architect Richard Neutra. The park planned to knock down the building, which sits atop Ziegler’s Grove near Pickett’s Charge, as part of its long-time plan to restore the 6,000-acre battlefield to its Civil War era appearance. Those plans are now likely delayed.   http://www.gettysburgtimes.com/articles/2010/04/02/news/local/doc4bb6427d12ed4526769098.txt

Eugene Allen, White House Butler: Dies: Allen, who endured a harsh and segregated upbringing in his native Virginia and went on to work for eight presidents as a White House butler, died March 31. During Mr. Allen’s 34 years at the White House, some of the decisions that presidents made within earshot of him came to have a direct bearing on his life — and that of black America.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/01/AR2010040103444.html