DHR News Clips, January 27

January 27, 2011

Greetings,

Here are some news items of interest in preservation and history from around Virginia and beyond that appeared during the latter half of December and this month.  Also, in case you missed it, on December 17, DHR approved 12 new historical highway markers (press release) and listing 15 new sites to the Virginia Landmarks Register (press release).  Some of the stories below highlight these new markers and VLR listings.

In other news, DHR has posted online a PDF of the most recent copy of Notes on Virginia (No. 53, 2009/2010). The magazine will not be printed, and is available only online. Please be aware the PDF is a large file (about 9 MB) and may take some time to download.

And in other . . .

DHR News:

Save the Date: April 17-18: Virginia Battlefield Preservation Conference, Manassas:Taking the Lead in Battlefield Preservation: Tools, Resources, and Strategies for Virginia.” This conference, sponsored by Prince William County, DHR, and the National Park Service, is geared for local officials with stewardship responsibilities for Virginia’s nationally significant battlefields; land conservation advocates and battlefield friends groups; owners and managers of battlefield land; local and regional planning commissioners and local preservation commissioners; local committees for Virginia’s Sesquicentennial Civil War Anniversary Commemoration; citizens who want to put battlefields to work for tourism, education and sustainable development. To encourage local government participation, stipends to cover lodging and registration costs will be available to one official from every Virginia Certified Local Government and to one offical from every Virginia jurisdiction with a nationally significant Civil War battlefield. To find out if your locality may qualify for a stipend, contact Ann Andrus at DHR (804.367-2323, ext. 133).


News from Around Virginia:

Tidewater and Eastern Shore:

Newport News: USS Monitor’s steam engine a marvel of its day: Last month conservators at the USS Monitor Center drained the 35,000-gallon solution in which the massive engine was submerged. Working slowly and carefully, they stripped off more than two tons of encrustation and gradually revealed the details of a naval milestone that had not been seen since the historic Union ironclad sank in December 1862. “This is a technological marvel,” said conservation project manager Dave Krop.   L. A. Times

Eastville, Northampton Co.: Effort to save two historic jails underway: The Northampton Branch Preservation Virginia has established a fund to raise $119,000 for the preservation of the 1899 and 1914 jails on Eastville’s Court Green. To date, $33,000 has been raised.  DelmarvaNow

Hog Island, Eastern Shore: Former resident recalls a lost way of life: Short video includes many historic photos. Virginian-Pilot

Bacon’s Castle, Surry: Preservation Virginia closes site for programming and maintenance projects:  Elizabeth Kostelny, PV’s executive director describes the temporary closure as “a fulfillment of our role as steward of such a unique site, a rare surviving example of Jacobean architecture in America.”  “Our vision is to create at Bacon’s Castle a distinct heritage tourism destination and a community asset as a place where residents and visitors alike come to learn and reflect.”  Bacon’s Castle dates from 1665.  Daily Press / Virginia Gazette

Jamestown: 400-years old pipes unearthed:  The white clay pipes—actually, castoffs likely rejected during manufacturing—were crafted between 1608 and 1610 and bear the names of English politicians, social leaders, explorers, officers of the Virginia Company that financed the settlement and governors of the Virginia colony. Archeologists also found equipment used to make the pipes.  Associated Press

Hampton Roads: 3 new historical markers approved: Virginian-Pilot

Northern Region & Shenandoah Valley:

“Wilderness” Walmart, Orange Co.: Company withdraws from proposed site: Walmart issued a statement saying it would buy the parcel it had hoped to build on, but would not develop it. The company said it would reimburse Orange County for all of its administrative costs and legal fees and begin looking for another parcel along the Route 3 corridor in the eastern part of the county on which to build the store.  Free Lance-Star

“Wilderness” Walmart #2: Preservationist formidable foes?: The case looks to be the latest proof that when big-box stores take on preservationists in Virginia, they face formidable foes. . . One industry analyst said that said it is rare for Walmart to back away from a store once it has researched a location and chosen a site.  Free Lance-Star

Fredericksburg: Op-ed: Slavery museum plans: “Let’s call it a bitter- sweet confirmation of what we already knew. Nowhere in Sunday’s lengthy New York Times report on ‘The Thorny Path to a National Black Museum’ was there any mention of the project that was to rise in Fredericksburg’s Celebrate Virginia.” Free Lance-Star

Patsy Cline House, Winchester: Foundation will restore and open house: Celebrating Patsy Cline announced it has raised the $100,000 needed to begin work on the late singer’s childhood home and eventually open it to the public.  Cline lived in the house with her siblings and mother, Hilda Hensley, from 1948 to 1957.  NV Daily

Arlington Cemetery: Historic urns to be returned: The owner of a pair of towering decorative urns that were originally part of Arlington National Cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater told Army officials that he would return them, saying they belong at the nation’s most revered burial ground, not on the auction block. Washington Post

Arlington Co., Lyon Park: Rehabilitating the 1930s-era community center:  Residents have been working on the community center’s building plan for more than a year. It includes new bathrooms, widened doorways and a sunroom, all accessible for people with disabilities. “Arlington is a very interesting community. The neighborhood pride is very strong,” said Michael Leventhal, who helped the Lyon Park residents work historic preservation of the old building into their renovation plans. “Despite it being a small county, there are no municipalities within the county. The neighborhoods take on an interesting sense of importance.” WashingtonPost

Arlington Co.: Winslow House added to VLR: The home was designed by architect Kenton Hamaker and built by Ira Henry for Earle and Blanche Winslow, and “successfully fuses the elements of the remarkably popular Colonial Revival style with those of the distinctive Streamline Moderne” and features an interior “remarkably intact in plan, design and materials.” Sun Gazette

Fairfax Co.: Drops to second place in tourism: Although Fairfax County remains one of Virginia’s top tourism destinations, it no longer holds the state title for generating revenues after being supplanted by neighboring Arlington County. Fairfax officials don’t plan on being second for long. Washington Post

Mount Vernon: Historian Mary Thompson:  When Mount Vernon’s event planners decided to re-enact Washington’s 1899 funeral, Thompson dug up the details so the event was historically accurate.  When visitors see Martha’s famous Christmas cake on the dining room table, it is Thompson who supplies the recipe. For the last three years, winter visitors have delighted in “George Washington’s camel,” thanks to  Thompson.  She learned 25 years ago that Washington paid a man to bring a camel to Mount Vernon at Christmas and she suggested to program managers that a camel would be something new and fun for the holidays. Mount Vernon Patch

Loudoun Co.: Crednal added to VLR: Crednal’s John Armistead Carter was a lawyer who served in the state legislature from 1842 to 1877. Acting as one of Loudoun’s two delegates to the State Conventions, he voted against secession. Among the visitors to the property noted in the nomination packet were John Marshall, John Mosby, and Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, who reportedly camped on the property with his officers during the Battle of Unison. Leesburg Today More here: Middleburg Life

Frederick Co.: High Banks House added to VLR: High Banks survived the Civil War and represents a “vanishing” architectural style.  NV Daily

Clarke Co.: BOS resolution supports CW sesquicentennial: Civil War commemoration activities are planned to run from 2011 through 2015. Much of Clarke County’s participation will be coordinated with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District. Clarke County is one of the eight constituent counties in the district determined by Congress to promote and commemorate this important historic milestone.  Clarke Daily News

Front Royal: Rezoning endorsed to preserve McKay house site: The Warren County Planning Commission has endorsed a rezoning proposal from town and county officials that seeks to preserve land containing remains of the historic Robert McKay Jr. house and make the rest of the property eligible for commercial development. The McKay house, which had been recognized as the oldest home in Warren County, was destroyed by a fire and is a total loss.  NV Daily

Front Royal #2: New highway marker approved: The sign will highlight Warren County’s place in the history of public school desegregation. The marker memorializes events at the former Warren County High School during Virginia’s Massive Resistance era. NV Daily

Capital & Central Region:

Richmond: Developer Justin French pleads guilty in historic rehabilitation tax credit case: “The Department of Historic Resources profoundly regrets that an individual schemed to commit fraud,” said DHR Director Kathleen S. Kilpatrick. “I am proud that this agency identified a problem that went unnoticed by some pretty heavy duty companies and agencies and brought it to the attention of law enforcement.”  Kilpatrick said DHR first alerted law enforcement close to two years ago that something was fishy about French.  “It became a concern that things didn’t add up,” Kilpatrick said.  Richmond BizSense

Richmond, Slave Burial Ground: Gov. McDonnell supports transferring property from VCU to city: The African burial ground beneath a Virginia Commonwealth University parking lot should be preserved to tell the story of Richmond’s role as a slave center for the Civil War sesquicentennial, Gov. Bob McDonnell said last month in announcing a budget amendment that would transfer the property to the city. Times-Dispatch

St. John’s Church, RichmondAfrican-American spirituality: It took root among a people who were enduring the “horrific experience lived on a daily basis” that was slavery. But they had faith that one day they would live as free people, “and if they didn’t see it their children would,” Lauranett Lee, curator of African-American history for the Virginia Historical Society, told a group gathered one Sunday evening at St. John’s Church.  Lee noted that her talk was on the 225th anniversary of Virginia’s religious-freedom statute, “the most radical result of the American Revolution.”  RTD

Virginia Randolph Museum, Henrico Co.: BOS taking control:  The Henrico County Board of Supervisors plans to preserve the historic property. Virginia Randolph, a pioneer educator who worked in Henrico County for 57 years, was a daughter of slaves.  WDBJ

Henricus Historical Park, Chesterfield Co.Anniversary year: Throughout 2011, Henricus Historical Park will celebrate 400 years of history in the Richmond Region as the site of North America’s second successful English settlement. TravelVideoNews

Lynchburg Area: New additions to VLR: WDBJ

Western Region and Southside:

Bristol: Plans underway to renovate historic warehouse:  Architect Bill Huber made a lengthy presentation, showing concepts for rehabilitating the two-story Bristol Builder’s Supply-Central Warehouse into office space for school division administrators, work areas for part of school maintenance operations and a new space for board meetings.  Herald Courier

Wise Co.: Group works to restore Wise Inn: For the past 100 years, the Wise Inn has been a landmark for Southwest Virginia residents, but in the last 20 years has fallen into disrepair. A series of private owners proved unable to peel back the layers of time on the building, and the Wise County Industrial Development Authority purchased the building in December 2007.  Herald Courier

Roanoke, Old Heironimus Warehouse: Gets new life despite unexpected structural problems:  By the time the project is finished in June or July, the renovation costs could be upward of $500,000. It’s only working financially because a previous owner won recognition for the building on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. Those designations qualify the rehab project for historic tax credits.  Roanoke Times

Roanoke: Firetrucks from 1950s through 1970s:  Nice photos and information about various models of firetrucks that served City of Roanoke. Va Fire News

Historic Henry Co. Courthouse: Re-purposed: The former Henry County courthouse in uptown Martinsville is now home to the Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society. The courthouse, the oldest part of which was built in 1824, was restored to its 1929 appearance using $93,000 from The Harvest Foundation and $98,000 from Save America’s Treasures, as well as private contributions. Martinsville Bulletin.  See this DHR slide show about the courthouse.

Danville, Dan River Inc. Personnel Building: Listed on Virginia Landmarks Register:  The Dan River mill owners used the building to provide child care, a health clinic and meeting space for employees. GoDanRiver NBC12

Blacksburg, Yellow Sulphur Springs: Jim Crow-era resort served blacks:  In the late 1920s, during the days of segregation that legally separated white and black communities, Yellow Sulphur Springs was operated by and for African-Americans as a resort. However, until the recent discoveries of a VT professor this fact was virtually unknown.  Roanoke Times

Coal Heritage Trail: Plan progresses: A corridor management plan is complete for the 325-mile driving route, with detailed descriptions of some of the places and things that might appeal to visitors and help tell the region’s history. Herald Courier

Statewide:

Chesapeake Bay: New map charts shipwrecks: Commissioned by National Geographic, Don Shomette, who’s written volumes about nautical history, was tasked with culling the 7,000 known shipwrecks to the 2,200 featured ones on the map. Based on predictive modeling, he said between 10,000 and 12,000 wrecks are believed to lie on or beneath the sea floor. USA Today

Better Ideas for Growth: Op-ed: “Urban planners, elected officials and all others who care about preserving the scenic wonder and great places of Virginia, will want to get a copy of an insightful new book: Better Models for Development in the Shenandoah Valley 2010.”  Times Dispatch

Buildings, Landscapes, and Memory: New book by Daniel Bluestone:  Bluestone chronicles historic preservation in the United States through 10 case studies that look at preservation from the early days of the new nation, when French general and American Revolutionary supporter Marquis de Lafayette toured the U.S. in 1824 and 1825, to the restoration and preservation of lands that were once toxic landscapes, which provides a more broad and more diverse understanding of our world today. UVa Today

Virginia Landmarks Register: 15 new sites added in DecemberVirginian-Pilot

Beyond Virginia:

Calder Loth’s “Classicist Blog”Ionic of the Erechtheum: DHR’s senior architectural historian Calder Loth (now part-time with DHR) contributes to a monthly blog on the website of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America. His most recent illustrated posting examines the Ionic of the Erechtheum, “commonly acknowledged to be the most beautiful of the Greek Ionic orders.”  Classicist Blog

Robert E. Lee: 150 Years After Civil War/NPR’s Talk of Nation: NPR’s Neal Conan spoke with historian Noah Andre Trudeau, reporter Mary Hadar, and Joseph Riley, mayor of Charleston, S.C., about how and why we mark the anniversary of the Civil War. NPR

National Building Museum: “Palladio and His Legacy: A Transatlantic Journey“:  Why has Roman classicism been so pervasive for 2,000 years? And why, during the past two centuries, did many European and American architects rebel against classicism’s aesthetic dominance and stylistic constraints? In the rejection of classicism, has something been lost? Some answers to these questions can be found at the NBM’s exhibition. WashPost

Wench: Novel explores relationship between slave owners and slave mistresses: Dolen Perkins-Valdez was reading a biography of W.E.B. DuBois when she came across the small aside. It was piece of history she hadn’t known, and couldn’t stop thinking about.  The land for Ohio’s Wilberforce University, the nation’s oldest private historically black college, where DuBois had once taught, at one time had been part of a resort–a place called Tawawa House, where wealthy Southern slaveholders would take their slave mistresses for open-air “vacations.”  Washington Post

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DHR News Clips, December 5

December 5, 2010

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