DHR News Clips, December 5

Greetings,

We have now posted on the web a slide show about the Old Thomas James Store, Mathews County, our featured December state and national register listing for “Historic Virginia, Site of the Month.” The show was created in collaboration with the Mathews County Historical Society.  You can access the slide show from DHR’s home page or directly from this link.

To inquire about collaborating with DHR on a “Historic Virginia, Site of the Month” slide show, please contact Randy.Jones@dhr.virginia.gov. (A site must be listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register or the National Register of Historic Places.)

Now, here is a selection of articles of interest on history, preservation, land use and related issues from around Virginia and beyond since mid November.

Northern Virginia & Shenandoah Valley

Colchester, Fairfax Co.: Archaeological research underway: Located on the Occoquan River, Colchester once was a bustling port to which tobacco planters  would bring their crop for export. Later, wheat and other commodities were shipped from the port. “This would have been one of the hubs” for tobacco shipment, said Christopher Sperling, a county archeologist who is historic field director for the site. “Tobacco was the lifeblood of the Virginia colony. We’re finding aspects of what was used early on in the colonial port town.”  Washington Post Also here: American Archaeologist

Fairfax Co.: 6th Annual Fairfax County History Conference held: With more than 100 attendees, the conference, “Preserving Our Paths in History,” was a tremendous success.  Fairfax Connection

Manassas: Businessman leading sesquicentennial plans dies: Nothing Creston Martin Owen did was small, so when he began leading efforts for the upcoming Civil War sesquicentennial anniversary, friends said they knew Manassas’s commemoration would be one to remember. A probable accident, however, has left friends and city officials with the task of carrying out next year’s Civil War commemoration without the energetic, charismatic Manassas businessman by their side. Washington Post

Stafford Co.: Atlatl expert: Eric Rugg tests and evaluates a Stone Age weapon that has survived since its invention some 17,000 years ago. It was in use in the 1600s in the first contacts in Virginia between Europeans and American Indians. The weapon is, Rugg points out, “the first compound machine weapon designed by man”–the first weapon with moving parts. Called an atlatl, it was the forerunner of the bow and arrow.  Free Lance-Star (includes video)

Spotsylvania Co.Officials visit Arlington Urban Development Area: County officials visit Clarendon to learn how they could take aspects of an urban, mixed-use development in Arlington back to Spotsylvania. The county planning department has been working with consultants to designate UDAs in the county.  Free Lance-Star

University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg: Students rally to save Seacobeck HallPreservation Magazine

Waterford Foundation, Loudoun Co.: Help restore historic community school: The foundation is requesting your assistance to win a $50k Pepsi Refresh Grant to restore the fire-damaged Waterford Old School. Go here for more information: Pepsi Refresh Grant

Culpeper: Holiday house tour: Dec. 4 tour, which is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and incorporates some of the most historic homes in Culpeper’s East Street Historic District.  Star Exponent

Warren Co.: NPS and Dominion reach deal on proposed powerplant: Dominion Virginia Power and the Shenandoah National Park have reached a deal over the proposed Warren County Power Station proposed for Front Royal. Although the agreement between the park and the power company was approved by the Obama administration, the deal does not address a range of concerns expressed by the Shenandoah National Park superintendent and others at a November 9 public hearing held by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Clarke Daily News

Strasburg, Shenandoah Co.: SVBF eyes Island Farm: The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation is interested in purchasing the “Island Farm” property. Although not a Civil War battlefield, the property has historical significance and also could be important to SVBF’s effort to build trails connecting Strasburg, Shenandoah National Park and the Fishers Hill battlefield area because of its location near the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park.  NV Daily

Waynesboro, Augusta Co.: Slow road to greenway: City officials said a section of the greenway stretching along the South River from Constitution Park to Loth Springs finally will be constructed. Meanwhile, a grant application for the second phase is underway. Officials acknowledged that progress on the greenway has been slow, with more than a decade passing since its conceptualization.  News Virginian

Richmond & Central Region

Thomas Jefferson & Wine: Monticello restores wine cellar: Jefferson famously declared wine a “necessity of life,” and he tried in vain to produce wine at his Charlottesville home.  Jefferson’s fully restored wine cellar is now open to the public, permitting visitors to experience the room that once held his prized collection of European wines. Preservation Magazine

Albemarle Co.: Popular novelist restores Esmont, plantation house: Jan Karon has set her own life among rolling green hills in a nearly perfect recreation of the past—an 1816 brick plantation house she spent four years restoring. “She did everything right,” says K. Edward Lay, a professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Virginia, who says the house is an unusually sophisticated example of the Jeffersonian style of architecture.  Wall Street Journal

Steven Spielberg: Gov. McDonnell seeks Lincoln bio-pic: Gov. Bob McDonnell called film director Spielberg this week to help try to convince him to bring his new movie on Abraham Lincoln to Virginia.  The project could translate to $50 million in the Richmond area, according to the Governor. Washington Post

Library of Virginia: Exhibit focuses on Virginia’s Secession Convention: The convention that met in Richmond from Feb.14 through May 1, 1861, is known as the Secession Convention because on April 17, the delegates voted for a motion to secede from the Union — but for its first two months it was a Union convention. A major exhibition at LOV reveals how Virginians from all walks of life and from all parts of the state experienced the drama of the secession crisis.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Richmond: Tribal chiefs deliver game to Governor: The 333-year-old tradition of delivering game to the governor commemorates the peace treaty with Virginia’s Indian tribes that was signed by England’s King Charles II and royal Gov. Herbert Jeffreys in 1677.  RTD

Richmond: RTD offering map of city’s historical sites: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Colonial Heights, Chesterfield Co.: Historic church to be demolished: After years of debate and discussion, the old Colonial Heights Baptist Church will be demolished next year to make way for a new courthouse complex. Progress-Index

Amherst Co.: Local historian publishes new book: For more than three decades, Florence Nixon has gathered bits of history of Monroe and Elon. Her book, “In the Shadow of Tobacco Row Mountain,” is a collection of stories and includes more than 500 photographs depicting the way of life in Monroe and Elon, from the 1930s to 1970s. New Era Progress

Mario di Valmarana: Former UVa architecture professor dies: Di Valamarana came to the University of Virginia in 1972 to teach in the School of Architecture for three months. It became his academic home for 27 years. He taught and directed the Historic Preservation Program, and founded in 1975 the university’s first study-abroad program, which takes architecture students to live among the cultural treasures in Vicenza, Italy.  He retired in 2000, and died Oct. 13 at his home in Venice.  RTD

Roanoke & Southwestern Region

Carroll Co.: Commemorating “The Carroll County Courthouse Tragedy”:  100 years ago, two teenagers in southwest Virginia shared a seemingly innocent kiss that eventually led to a courtroom massacre that dominated the news until it was bumped from the front pages by the sinking of the Titanic. Residents are preparing to commemorate the shooting’s anniversary starting with a community corn shucking on Dec. 18. Daily Press

Danville: Student founds historic preservation club in high school: For 17-year-old Ella Schwarz, co-founding a historic preservation club at George Washington HS is a way to get classmates fired up about the past. DanRiver

Danville: Lynchburg program can serve as preservation model: Southside preservationists hope a Lynchburg program might act as a model to revitalization efforts in Danville. Lynchburg’s Spot Blight program has rehabilitated about 140 properties in the last decade. Preservationists sent a letter to Danville’s City Council, asking them to consider starting a program similar to Lynchburg’s Spot Blight Program.   TV-13 (includes video)

Bush Mill, Scott Co.: Preservation funds awarded: Plans to restore the historic mill were boosted by  $300,000 in recent grants.  A check for $100,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Commission was presented this week. That money, plus $200,000 from the Virginia Department of Transportation, will give the mill new life for restoration to begin.  WCBY TV-5

Wolf Creek Indian Village and Museum, Bland Co.: Archaeological research: The seeds of the museum were sewn in May 1970, when highway construction crews encountered a Native American village site as they worked to re-locate Wolf Creek to make room for I-77. During the past two weekends, some of Virginia’s top archaeologists visited to re-examine the topsoil that was removed from the original village site in 1970 as part of Dr. Howard MacCord’s original examination of the Brown Johnston Site.  Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Bristol: Local historian Bud Phillips new book: Hidden History of Bristol: Stories from the State Line: For years, Bud Phillips has collected stories along the state line, where Virginia meets Tennessee. It started soon after he arrived in town, practically penniless, in 1953. The Arkansas native heard tales from the rich and mighty but also folks who had even less money than him – among the earliest pioneers of the city that became Bristol. Then for years, like a student, Phillips went home and scribbled, writing down nearly everything – word for word.  Herald Courier

Tidewater & Eastern Shore

Upper Mattaponi Tribe, King William Co.Restoring Sharon Indian School: The school, as well as the Indian View Baptist Church next to it, remains a cornerstone of a tribal community that has survived centuries of discrimination with its dignity intact. The tribe will celebrate the restoration of the school Dec. 12.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Jamestown: 400-year-old personalized pipes found: “Finding these pipes has illuminated the complex political and social network in London that was behind the settlement,” said William Kelso, director of archaeology for Historic Jamestowne. The personalized clay pipes, which archaeologists say were probably made between 1608 and 1610, also provide new insights into Jamestown’s early pipemaking industry. The settlers’ lives depended on pleasing the investors of the Virginia Company, which bankrolled and supplied struggling Jamestown. It may not be surprising, then, that among the eight names that can be seen on, or inferred from, the fragments are those of several Jamestown investors.  National Geographic

Yorktown: Plans to erect replica windmill halted: When Walt Akers started building a replica of an 18th-century windmill more than two years ago, he hoped to have it completed and displayed by 2011 to mark the 300th anniversary of a similar windmill in Yorktown.  A little known National Park Service rule, however, may take the wind out of the project.  Virginia Gazette

Stratford Hall, Westmoreland Co.: Writer’s visit combines good food and history:  “So the home of the Lees, the 1807 birthplace of a boy named Robert who would go on to become a great general, became a balance between the idealistic and the practical, the big picture and the everyday. It’s still that way today, as I rediscovered during what promises to be a new Thanksgiving tradition–dinner at Stratford, followed by an overnight stay in a small lodge on the property.” Free Lance-Star

Old Dominion University, Norfolk: Seeks to become hub on study of rising sea levels: ODU unveils an initiative to become a national hub for research, teaching and expertise in rising sea levels related to climate change.The university’s initiative includes at least $200,000 and a commitment to pursue federal grants to hire faculty, conduct research and expand climate change in the university’s curriculum. Virginian-Pilot

Hampton University: Black military history: Historian and author Bennie J. McRae Jr. has donated his entire archives on the African-American military experience to Hampton University. The centerpiece of McRae’s collection is the history of the Union Army’s United States Colored Troops that served in the Civil War. Hudson Valley Press

Swann’s Point, Surry Co.: Plantation sells for $7.1 million: The 1,688-acre historic plantation on the James River was sold at auction last month.  The plantation was part of a wedding gift to Pocahontas in 1614 from her father, Chief Powhatan, when she married colonist John Rolfe. The property was most recently owned by Stanley Yeskolske, a businessman who died several years ago.  Virginian-Pilot

Suffolk: Visitor Center opens in re-purposed historic courthouse:  A ribbon cutting ceremony with city’s elected officials marked the rebirth of a historic building. The courthouse building played a pivotal role in the history of old Nansemond County and the City of Suffolk. The 1840-era building is the third such structure built on the site.  WVEC

Chesapeake Bay Foundation: Issues report on pollution costs: Report says pollution is killing jobs and slowing the region’s economy, and the foundation says that delays in cleaning up the nation’s richest estuary could cost government and businesses billions of dollars.  Free Lance-Star

Virginia War Memorial Foundation: To host events with historian Dr. James I. Robertson: Dr. Robertson, executive director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies and author of many books,  will be the featured speaker at a dinner at The Chamberlin, Fort Monroe, Friday, December 10, 6:30 p.m.  He will also be signing books after a lecture on December 11 at the Virginia War Museum. For more information, call (757) 247-8523. (No link)

Virginia Beach and Norfolk: Historic photographic collection online: Va. Beach Photographer (blog)

Virginia:

Off-Shore Drilling: Obama administration halts development: The Obama administration announced this week that it will not allow any drilling for oil and gas off the Virginia coast until at least 2017, a move rooted in the record oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.  Virginian-Pilot

Journey Through Hallowed Ground: First Lady Maureen McDonnell honors organizationLoudoun Times

Patrick Henry: New biography published: review: “It’s unfair to reduce Henry’s career to excerpts from two speeches, but it’s also fitting that he’s remembered chiefly for his words. Henry was a hardworking lawyer, a somewhat adequate military commander, and a popular, if inconsistent, politician. He wasn’t the best farmer or the best businessman, but he was almost certainly the greatest orator in 18th century America. And he was, in a way, the Father of the Founding Fathers — as Harlow Giles Unger notes in his excellent new Lion of Liberty, Henry was the first of the American revolutionaries ‘to call for independence, for revolution against Britain, for a bill of rights, and for as much freedom as possible from government — American as well as British’.”  NPR

Preservation Virginia: Holiday event calendar: PV is pleased to announce its special programming for the holidays offered at several of its historic sites across the Commonwealth. Preservation Virginia

Beyond Virginia:

Black American Indians: “A Hidden Heritage“: NPR interviews historian and author William Loren Katz, and Shonda Buchanan, a descendent of North Carolina and Mississippi Choctaw Indians and a professor of English at Hampton University in Virginia. NPR

Civil War Sesquicentennial: Controversy surrounds some commemorative events: “That some — even now — are honoring secession, with barely a nod to the role of slavery, underscores how divisive a topic the war remains, with Americans continuing to debate its causes, its meaning and its legacy.” NY Times

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