DHR News Clips, February 10

February 10, 2011

Greetings,

Below are new postings for news items of interest from around Virginia and beyond pertaining to history and preservation and related matters.

News from DHR:

National Register of Historic Places: New listings:  (1) Town of Halifax Court House Historic District and (2) Donk’s Theatre, Mathews Co. (see article below).

Also, please be sure to check out DHR’s new Historic Virginia site of the month posting. In celebration of Black History Month, we are featuring a slide show (14 slides) about the Reconstruction-era Longs Chapel in Rockingham County. You can access the slide show from DHR’s home  page here.  Or go directly to the title slide here.

Western Region:

Bristol: New historic district likely to be proposed: Cold and dark as a January night, the nearly vacant, red brick warehouse at 220 Lee St., is now the impetus for efforts to establish the city’s newest historic district. Herald Courier

Virginia Marker History: Richard Harrison, founder of VMH: Harrison has staked out signs noting the Barter Theatre, Bristol, Benge’s Gap, Wytheville Training School and the Stonewall Jackson Female Institute. All of which was part of Harrison’s mammoth project to photograph every historic marker in Virginia.  Herald Courier

Martinsville: Historic Henry Co. Courthouse: The former Henry County courthouse has been converted into a historical museum. Debbie Hall, Executive Director of the museum, says they plan to use the site for meetings, weddings and mock trials for students. She says this building was once the center of public life, and the historical society wants it to become that, once again. WSET-TV

Roanoke: LOV to honor to local women: Pearl Fu and Lucy Addison have long been considered important female leaders in Roanoke. Now, that distinction has gone statewide. The Library of Virginia included them in its 2011 list of “Virginia Women in History,” which recognizes women’s accomplishments during the congressionally sanctioned National Women’s History Month in March.  Roanoke Times

Capital and Central Region:

Sweet Briar College, Amherst Co.: New exhibit focuses on un-built college:  If architect Ralph Adams Cram had had his way, the campus of Sweet Briar College might be a very different-looking place.  “When you see the 1901, 1902 renderings, it looks like this city,” said Marc Wagner, an architectural historian from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. “This really fussy, detailed design.” A selection of Cram’s architectural renderings that never came to fruition are now on display in a new exhibit, “Unbuilt Sweet Briar,”  New Era Progress

Bruce Library, Appomattox Co: Citizens oppose demolition: Opposition was loud and clear at a public hearing held to discuss the possibility of demolishing the old Appomattox County library, which was dedicated on April 12, 1940. The library was built with funds anonymously donated by diplomat and philanthropist David K. E. Bruce. Times-Virginian

University of Mary Washington: Freedom Riders celebrated: UMW kicks off Freedom Rider celebration with activists who rode buses to challenge segregation. The anniversary is especially significant to UMW because civil rights activist James Farmer was a distinguished professor of history and American studies at Mary Washington from 1985 until 1998.  Free Lance-Star

Jefferson School, Charlottesville: Plans on schedule for re-purposing building: Planners are moving forward to re-develop the historic Jefferson School into a mixed-use community space. The space got it’s start as one of just 10 African American high schools in Virginia back in 1926. This spring, construction is scheduled to begin to convert the building into a mixed-use community space.  NBC-29

Richmond Slave Trail: Missouri writer visits the trail: “My husband and I had come to Richmond to follow the designated Slave Trail consisting of nine stops around the city. Janine Bell of the Richmond Slave Trail Commission says the trail “reveals so much of our past that’s hidden in plain sight. We invite people to see first-hand where history that helped shape the nation took place.”  St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Virginia Historical Society: “An American Turning Point: Virginia in the Civil War“: New exhibit is a blockbuster exhibition.  Free Lance-Star Also see this review of exhibit “Bizarre Bits: Oddities From the Collection“: Free Lance-Star

Greene Co.: Land conservation: New conservation totals show that in 2010, landowners in Greene County permanently protected 668 acres of land, bringing the total amount of land protected by conservation easements to approximately 8,700 acres, or 8.5 percent of the total land within the county. Greene Co. Record

Tidewater:

Fort Monroe: Housing proposal put on table: A $30 million proposal, unveiled at a Hampton City Council work session, would bring 445 multi-family residences to a large office building on the parade ground within the moat at Fort Monroe and the present U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) complex which is outside the moat in the historic village.  HRMilitary.com

Fort Monroe#2: Oak tree is remarkable: A live oak tree on the grounds of Fort Monroe that predates the founding of Jamestown has been nominated to Virginia’s equivalent of the hall of fame for trees. The Algernoune (al-jer-nuhn) Oak is estimated to date back to 1540, according to research conducted by R.J. Stipes, a professor of plant pathology and physiology at Virginia Tech.  WSET-TV

Middlesex Co.: New historical highway marker will recall vanished Indian village: VDOT will soon install a road marker on Route 227 near Rosegill denoting that John Smith’s mystery Indian town of “Opiscopank” was once located on the banks of Urbanna Creek. “It is a mystery village,” said Deanna Beacham of the Virginia Council on Indians. “They were never mentioned again in any writing found from that time period. We know nothing about them but they are significant because they are mentioned on John Smith’s map.”  SSentinel.com

Donk’s Theatre, Mathews Co.: Listed on National Register: Located in Hudgins, Donk’s Theater dates to 1946-47, when the late Wilton E. “Donk” Dunton constructed the building. A movie house operated at the theater until 1970. In 1975, new owners founded Virginia’s Lil’ Ole Opry in the theater. The theater’s 2011 season — its 36th — kicks off on Feb. 19 with the “All-Star Opry.” Daily Press

Off-Shore Wind Energy: Picks up speed: The Obama administration has announced that it could begin leasing sites off the coasts of Virginia and three other states for wind energy development by the end of the year. The Virginia site is approximately 20 nautical miles off the coast of Virginia Beach and spans 165 square nautical miles.  Virginian-Pilot

James E. McGee: Painter of slave experience: McGee, 75, a black-experience artist and collector of slave-era artifacts, has kept his work draped in obscurity at his Southampton home for most of his career. He has shunned repeated requests to document his work from both local and national media and has allowed only limited viewing by close friends and associates. For Black History Month, however, McGee plans to offer a rare glimpse into his world on a limited basis.  Virginian-Pilot

Montross, Westmoreland Co.: Historic inn being restored: While town and county governments ponder changes and improvements to the court square in the heart of the town, Cindy Brigman Syndergaard is restoring the inn built around 1800 on the site of a 17th-century tavern, near the square.  Free Lance-Star

Suffolk: Eyes development of waterfront property: The city and Tidewater Community College know they are sitting on a gold mine–nearly 450 acres of prime waterfront property at the foot of the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel. A panel of experts from the Urban Land Institute will conduct a weeklong study this month and offer recommendations for developing the site.  Virginian-Pilot

Carter’s Grove, James City Co.: Colonial Williamsburg forecloses on the Halsey Minor entity which purchased Carter’s GroveVirginia Gazette

Northern Region and Shenandoah Valley

Montpelier, Orange Co.: Pieces of James Madison’s chess set unearthed: Archaeologists at Madison’s home say they’ve unearthed fragments of a chess set they think Madison used.  Archaeologists recently found fragments of two pawns while investigating part of Madison’s Montpelier estate. Initially, they thought the pieces’ quarter-inch tops were sewing bobbins, but then figured out they were shards of chessmen. Free Lance-Star NBC-29 video

Prince William Co.: Ken Burns creates tour of battlefields: A highly-anticipated Civil War-related tour created by award-winning documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, is headed to the county. The tour will focus on the “the people’s” point of view as opposed to strict historical reporting. Guests will embark on themed adventures designed to give context to the Civil War and the three topics that Ken Burns sees as critical to understanding it: “Lincoln’s War,” “The Meaning of Freedom,” and “The People’s War.” PRNewswire

Aquia Landing: Gateway to Freedom: Aquia Landing is now recognized as the “Gateway to Freedom,” the key junction on the Trail to Freedom, a regional project designed to focus attention on the area’s role in the story of emancipation. Aquia Landing was a point of departure for slaves seeking freedom for decades before the Civil War. Some of those individual stories are illuminated by new markers that have been installed at Aquia Landing, now a county park at the confluence of Aquia Creek and the Potomac River. The markers were dedicated by National Park Service historian Noel Harrison.  Free Lance-Star

Clifton, Orange Co.: 1863 photograph: Caption: “General Hermann Haupt supervising a construction site at Devereux Station of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad in Clifton, Virginia. The locomotive bears his name. At right is J.H. Devereux, superintendent. Photo taken in 1863 by photographer Andre J. Russell.”  Jiggsy

Culpeper Co.: Easements in 2010: The Piedmont Environmental Council has announced that county landowners in 2010 placed 1,774 acres of land into permanent conservation easements, bringing the total area of protected land in the county to nearly 13,200 acres, which is about 5.5 percent of the total land in the county. The newly protected areas include the 349-acre Beauregard Farm in Brandy Station and Triloch, a 118-acre tract in the Rixeyville area.  Star Exponent

Culpeper: State Theatre restoration re-started: The State Theatre Foundation last month held a symbolic groundbreaking to signal the restart of a multimillion-dollar restoration project designed to make the theater a centerpiece of downtown Culpeper. While the exact cost of restoring the circa-1938 Main Street theater and creating a new addition is still uncertain, the overall cost of the project is estimated to be about $8.5 million.  Free Lance-Star

Clarke Co.: Fairfield for sale: The house that was built by George Washington’s first cousin and later owned by Robert E. Lee’s aunt.  WashPost

Loudoun Co.: Boom continues: The county in the last decade grew 84.1 percent to 312,311, figures show, placing it as the fourth most populated county in Virginia.  Loudoun Times

Waynesboro, Mill at South River: Completes $5.5 million environmental prep work: It is the largest known voluntary Brownfield investment by an individual in Virginia and ranks in the top 7 percent in size of Voluntary Remediation Program sites in the state. With a nearly 40-acre site with 490,000 square feet of buildings, the mill project to preserve and restore the historic buildings is symbolic of the city’s attempt to reshape its economy through adaptive reuse, while paying homage to its industrial heritage. Augusta Free Press

Virginia:

Leroy R. Hassell Sr.: Virginia’s first black chief justice dies: Hassell rose from segregated Norfolk to become the first black chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court—a role in which he pressed for a judiciary attuned to the disabled and dispossessed. He died after a lengthy illness. He was 55.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

The Civil War 150 Legacy Project: Profile of program: The program works this way: You bring in whatever items you have, the archivists scan them with a high-resolution scanner, you fill out a permission form for the library to include them in the collection  and jot down any details about the item you know. You go home with your belongings, and the Library of Virginia has another piece of the Civil War puzzle for historians. Richmond Times-Dispatch

Virginia’s Historic Churches: Many now threatened: Preservation Virginia’s Sonja Ingram posts a guest blog about recent efforts to save churches in Colonial Heights and South Boston PreservationNation

Classicist Blog: Calder Loth: The Gibbs Surround: “The Gibbs surround is a particular form of rusticated doorway or window frame, the pedigree for which extends to ancient times. The term derives from the 18th-century English architect, James Gibbs (1692-1754), a leading figure in the Anglo-Palladian movement. . . . ”  Classicist Blog

FitzGerald D. Bemiss: Former legislator and preservationist dies: Bemiss was a pioneer in conservation, heading statewide studies that, among other things, led to the creation of programs supporting the preservation of open space through tax credits. In 2008, he wrote the introduction to a history of the state’s preservation movement, “Conserving the Commonwealth,” by Margaret T. Peters. Times-Dispatch

Uranium Mining: NAS committee studies issue: A National Academy of Sciences committee pressed Virginia mining and environmental officials on the state’s ability to regulate uranium mining if a 1982 state ban is lifted. Opponents said the statements of the department heads made it clear the state doesn’t have the resources to oversee the mining of the largest uranium deposit in the United States. Martinsville Bulletin More here: Virginian-Pilot

Preservation Virginia / RESTORE VIRGINIA: New membership program: In order to reach a wider audience RESTORE VIRGINIA! is now a web-based resource dedicated to connecting people and resources. Search the directory to find contractors, craftsmen, materials and preservation related services for your historic property. If you have a preservation related business or service PV invites you to please consider joining as a RESTORE VIRGINIA member. Your business will be listed on PV’s website in the RESTORE VIRGINIA directory. Preservation Virginia/Restore Virginia

Beyond Virginia:

World War I: Last living U.S. veteranNews Leader

Harriet Tubman: Push for National Park: In honor of Black History Month, Democratic Sens. Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have renewed efforts to honor Tubman with a national park in each state. News Journal

New York Public Library: Completes restoration project: The New York Public Library has just completed a three-year, $50 million restoration and preservation of the landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street, which has stood as an impressive symbol of opportunity and access for the people of New York City for a century.  artdaily.org

China: Preservation: Across the country, local governments have launched projects costing tens of billions of pounds in order to save, restore and recreate ancient Chinese sites. The Telegraph

China: Influx of architects changes skylines: Drawn by a building boom unmatched in the world in recent decades, U.S. and European architects are flocking to China, turning Chinese leaders’ bold visions into concrete and steel realities and giving Chinese cityscapes a distinctly foreign signature. Washington Post

Human migration: Modern humans may have left Africa thousands of years earlier than previously thought, turning right and heading across the Red Sea into Arabia rather than following the Nile to a northern exit, an international team of researchers says. Stone tools discovered in the United Arab Emirates indicate the presence of modern humans between 100,000 and 125,000 years ago. NBC-29

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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, 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