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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