DHR News Clips, Sept 28

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

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