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


DHR News Clips, July 20 — Aug. 6, 2010

August 7, 2010

Greetings,

I was away on vacation at the end of July.  Here are some of the interesting news items from around Virginia during the past three weeks.

Randy Jones, Virginia Dept. of Historic Resources

Statewide

Battlefield Preservation: Man’s legacy will help preserve four Civil War battlefields in Virginia:  Karl M. Lehr entrusted his estate to the Civil War Round Table of Eastern Pennsylvania. The group now is donating Lehr’s bequest–with interest–to three separate efforts to save four Virginia battlefields. The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, based in Fredericksburg, will receive $53,000 to help preserve 93 acres of the Wilderness battlefield in Spotsylvania.  Another $53,000 will go to the Richmond Battlefields Association toward purchase of 13 acres at Fussell’s Mill and 4 acres at the Malvern Hill battlefield. The Civil War Preservation Trust, based in Washington, will get $22,000 for 10 acres at Manassas.  Free Lance-Star

Farmland in VirginiaLoss of acreage slows:  The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced earlier this month that loss of farmland to development appears to be slowing in the Commonwealth. Virginia lost 81,500 acres of agricultural land directly to developed uses between 1997 and 2002 but lost 25 percent less–60,800 acres–between 2002 and 2007.   Brookneal Union Star

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech: Interview with Sec. Domenech: “[He] calls himself a ‘granola Republican’ who loves the outdoors. But he also is a self-professed climate change skeptic and is not reluctant to decry what he calls ‘shocking’ behavior by his regulatory counterparts at the federal level. Domenech had a wide-ranging conversation recently about jobs, energy and the environment.”  Blue Ridge Business Journal: Pt 1 Pt. II

Virginia Indians: One writer reflects about her “lost” family history and Virginia’s “lost” history: “The only surviving photo I have of my great-great-grandmother, on my mother’s side, hangs in my parents’ house. She was a Native American. . . . Very little has been passed down through the oral history of our family about this woman. . . .” Richmond Times-Dispatch

Capital & Central Region

Hatton Ferry, Albemarle Co.Profile of a singular place:  “Once upon a time in America, this was the way we crossed rivers.  We boarded flat-bottomed ferries, tethered to land by rope, and glided slowly but surely from shore to shore, propelled by nothing more than the flow of the river and the strength of the ferryman poling the craft through the water.”  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Hatton Ferry #2: Voice-over slideshowThe Hatton Ferry

Hatton Ferry #3: Success raises parking problems:  When the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society took over the ferry in order to keep this link with the past alive, too many visitors for available parking was not then a concern.  The Daily Progress

William Faulkner: UVa launches audio archive:  During spring semesters in 1957 and 1958, at 36 different public events, Faulkner gave two addresses, read a dozen times from eight of his works and answered more than 1,400 questions.  Fortunately, two English department faculty members had the presence of mind to preserve those conversations, which have now been compiled into “Faulkner at Virginia: An Audio Archive.”  Besides recordings and transcripts, the site contains a trove of photos, documents and scholarly articles.   News Leader Website: Faulkner at Virginia: An Audio Archive

Buckingham Co.Historic company continues to mine prized slate:  The slate that lies in the county’s hills has attracted entrepreneurs for centuries now.  Since Colonial times, the durable material has been quarried and shipped to builders who prized it as a roofing material, or to stonemasons to make historical markers and tombstones.  “It’s recognized as the best in the world,” said Mark Claud, president of Buckingham Slate Co., a 143-year-old company based in Arvonia that quarries and sells the famous stone.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Appomattox Co.Gains first VDOF conservation easement:  The Virginia Department of Forestry has secured its first conservation easement in the county– a 275-acre working forest easement owned by Joan Rockwell and Hugh Radcliffe.  The property, known as Rockcliffe Farm, borders the James River near the Beckham community.  DOF Press Release More here: The News & Advance

Powhatan Co.: Proposed State Police shooting range continues to draw fire: Gov. Bob McDonnell has directed his secretary of public safety and the superintendent of state police to look at all options regarding a controversial state police shooting range and training facility proposed for the county.  The planned range has drawn intense opposition from residents and county leaders, and the FBI has confirmed that it is pulling out of the project. It was supposed to contribute the bulk of the funding.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Richmond: Developer Justin French: Agents raided the Shockoe Slip offices of embattled developer French. The FBI would not say what they were investigating but said the search warrant was sealed. However, two sources close to the investigation said French might have violated the rules that allow developers to obtain historic tax credits from the state and federal governments  RichmondBizSense.com Also here: Richmond Times-Dispatch Previous story (Aug. 1)Richmond Times-Dispatch

Richmond #2:  History and bar tour: “Whether you’re a dedicated drinker looking to expand your horizons or a history buff trying to let loose, select from these pairings of iconic Richmond historical sites and drinking establishments.” Richmond.com

Virginia Capitol: Green project launched:  Gov. Bob McDonnell broke ground last week on a set of construction projects that will “green” Virginia’s Capitol grounds and surrounding Richmond streets.  These projects that will retrofit the Capitol and make it one of the greenest in the nation. Several low impact development techniques will let storm water slowly infiltrate rather than flow over the ground and into the James River.  WHSV

Tidewater & Eastern Shore

WilliamsburgSite of first school in U.S. for African Americans?: Terry Meyers, an English professor with a penchant for local history, suggests that the College of William and Mary was instrumental in opening a school in 1760 — at the urging of Benjamin Franklin, no less — and so became the first college in America involved in the education of black students.  Washington Post

Williamsburg#2: Architectural historian Calder Loth on “The Block Modillion”:  “The block modillion is a little used classical detail but one meriting greater attention.  Hardly any architectural treatises or glossaries make note of it. . . .  One of America’s earliest uses of the block modillion is the exterior cornice of the 1748 Public Records office in Williamsburg, Virginia. . . .” Read his well-illustrated blog here:   Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America

James River Institute: Profile of the archaeology firm:  Long before Nick Luccketti and other archaeologists arrived at the corner of East Queens Way and Wine Street in Hampton last month, they knew that 18th-century dwellings once occupied part of the half-acre site.  Since the 1960s, state and federal efforts to protect culturally significant properties from development spurred demand for professional archaeologists like those at James River Institute.  Virginian-Pilot

Hampton Roads: 10 obscure, weird or plain interesting places:  Click a number on the map to begin reading the story behind the location.  Virginian-Pilot

Tidewater Oyster IndustrySuffers from BP spill:  While most attention from the oil spill centers on the gulf, there are businesses throughout the country that are feeling the weight of the spill. Virginia’s oyster industry has lost $11.6 million since April, according to a report from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.   Daily Press More here: Richmond Times-Dispatch

NorfolkEntrepreneurs offering historic tours:  Several local businesses have opened in recent years to capitalize on Norfolk’s rich 400-year history by adding some creativity to their guided tours, hoping it will allow tourists to discover the city in new ways.  Virginian Pilot

Southampton Co.Grant to develop Nat Turner tour:  A $420,000 federal grant, with a matching $105,000 from the Southampton County Historical Society, will be used to create a driving tour through the county, marking Turner’s path. There are plans for an “electronic map” at the Rebecca Vaughan House in Courtland. Vaughan’s house was the last place people were killed in 1831, and it will serve as the visitor s center for the tour.  Virginian-Pilot

Tiffany Lamps / Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk: Exhibit reveals work of Clara Driscoll, not Tiffany:  Driscoll was mentioned in 1894 as the head of the women’s glass-cutting department in the studios of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Now experts label her the designer of treasured lamps on display in an internationally touring show of Tiffany glass at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, which has a world-renowned Tiffany collection.  The egotistical artist-designer Tiffany might be mortified that the world has learned that most of his signature lamps–much-copied icons of American decorative arts–were actually designed by Driscoll and her “Tiffany girls.”  Virginian-Pilot

Sebrell, Southampton Co.: Public meeting scheduled for proposed historic district: A proposal to designate the Sebrell area as a historic district is moving forward with a public hearing to discuss the issue.  DHR will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11, in the board room of the county’s administration building at 26022 Administration Center Drive in Courtland.  Tidewater News

Suffolk, Nansemond Indian Tribe: Council ends talks to transfer land to tribe: The dream of having part of its ancestral land back is apparently dead for the Nansemond Indian Tribe.  City officials and an attorney for the tribe have confirmed a letter had been sent to the tribe that essentially ends talks on a transfer of land at Lone Star Lakes to the tribal association.  Suffolk News-Herald

Preservation Planning for Campuses, Complexes, and Installations, Hampton: September 28-29:  The workshop is being hosted in cooperation with Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority, DHR, and the U.S. Army, Fort Monroe. The advance registration rate is available through August 17.  The workshop will focus on understanding how buildings and landscapes contribute to the institutional identity of campuses, complexes, and installations.  More info an agenda here:  www.npi.org.

Roanoke & Southwest

Smyth Co., African American HistoryImportant document preserved:  The Library of Virginia has conserved a document found in the Smyth County courthouse that could prove invaluable to students of local African-American genealogies and other historians. Titled “The Register of Colored Persons of Smyth County, Virginia, cohabitating together as Husband and Wife on 27th February 1866,” and hand-penned in ink long-since oxidized but still legible, the document “is the first legal recognition of slaves’ marriages and the first legal recognition of their lives,” said Circuit Court Clerk John Graham.  SWVA.com

Poplar Forest, Bedford Co.:  Archaeology focuses on Jefferson’s historic landscape design:  This summer, activity and focus at the site has shifted to an exterior project led by Jack Gary, director of archaeology and landscapes at the third president’s Forest plantation.  The goal is to locate and eventually re-establish Jefferson’s landscaping and other outdoor features that have disappeared during the past 200 years.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Virginia’s Coal Heritage Trail: Supporters push for a national byway designation: The Coal Heritage Trail is already designated as a state scenic highway in Virginia. It winds more than 325 miles through the beautiful mountains of Southwest Virginia, including seven counties and one city. Beyond providing a welcomed tourism boost to the coalfield counties of Southwest Virginia, a national byway designation would also help promote additional economic development and historical preservation in the region. Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Virginia Tech: Landmark tree downed:  The sycamore on the hill was cut down piece by piece. Some say the tree was on the Henderson Lawn when VT was founded in 1872.  WSLS10.com

Explore Park, Roanoke & Bedford CountiesNew plans proposed:  After a Florida developer’s $200 million vision for a resort at Virginia’s Explore Park faded away this year due to lack of finances, a “Plan B” to bring new life to the site is taking shape.  The Virginia Recreational Facilities Authority, the board that governs the 1,100-acre park, was presented a preliminary plan from a consortium of stakeholders last month.  News Advance

Abingdon, Washington Co.: Sec. Domenech visits town:  Strolling the Barter Green and touring the Muster Ground recently, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech said Abingdon sets an example on preserving history.  “The folks at DHR [Department of Historic Resources in Richmond] have just talked about the amount of tax incentives here and how wisely the town has been able to seek out and use state support and federal support and private foundation support,” Domenech said. “It’s a great model for the rest of the state.”  Bristol Herald News

Abingdon, Washington Co.Recently-arrived resident leads local history tours: Carl Mallory has been researching Abingdon’s history for the past four years, ever since he bought a home on Main Street.  Now Mallory, a self-proclaimed history buff, conducts historical walking-tours of downtown Abingdon for the Virginia Highlands Festival.  One Sunday, while many people were buying new crafts and other goods along Remsburg Drive, Mallory explained the rich history of the 270-year-old town.  Bristol Herald

Washington Co.: BOS creates conservation program: The Washington County Board of Supervisors decided this past week to create a Purchase of Development Rights program for the county, which would allow landowners to sell the right to develop their property, keeping it rural in perpetuity.  Bristol Herald

Chatham, Pittsylvania Co.: VT group offers plan for visual enhancements: The Community Design Assistance Center, an outreach of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, has completed a report that recommends visual improvements to the town’s entrances, medians, and downtown area, along with recommendations on a trail, model ordinances and grants.  Star-Tribune

Pittsylvania Co.NRC names uranium study committee: The National Research Council has named a 13-member provisional committee for a scientific study of uranium mining in Virginia. Virginia Uranium announced plans three years ago to explore mining uranium at Coles Hill, about six miles northeast of Chatham.  Discovered in the early 1980s, the uranium deposit is one of the largest in the U.S. and is worth an estimated $7 billion.  Star-Tribune

Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville: Technology costs may increase nearly 66 % this fiscal year: Joe Keiper, executive director at VMNH, said he recently received a memo that the museum will have to pay the entire cost of services it gets from the Virginia Information Technologies Agency. Martinsville Bulletin

NOVA & Shenandoah Valley

City of Fairfax: Historic photographs of Fairfax county available online:  A new partnership between the Virginia Room at the City of Fairfax Regional Library and the Library of Virginia has resulted in a total of 574 historic photos recently added to the Library of Virginia’s online photo database. This allows people to pore over photos showing the county’s agrarian past, the important role it played during the Civil War and the rapid changes over the past few decades.  Connection Newspapers

Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park: USA Travel Guide highlights park: The W&OD RPR exists to preserve the path originally cut for the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad, which served the short line from Alexandria to Bluemont as late as 1968. While almost all remnants of the actual rail lines are gone today, the rail bed has been repaved in asphalt and has blossomed into a truly remarkable historic recreation trail. Today you can follow all 44.8 miles from just outside Alexandria to the town of Purcellville.  USA Travel Guide

Mount VernonOne family’s reunion: One of the oldest and largest black families in America, the Quanders celebrated a part of their 85th reunion this year at Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George Washington, where some of the family’s ancestors were once held as slaves.  NPR

Loudoun Co., Mountain Gap FarmPlaced under conservation easement: Sandy Lerner, owner of Ayrshire Farm in Upperville, has placed the 350-acre Mountain Gap Farm south of Leesburg near Oatlands Plantation under protective conservation easement with the county. The farm dates back to 1741.  The property contains a 19th century archaeological site, house and six ancillary structures.  Leesburg Today

Montpelier, Orange Co.Archaeology focuses on African American history:  Archaeologists are unearthing the undisturbed remains of slave dwellings.  The actual dwellings of house, stable, garden and field slaves were abandoned abruptly in about 1840. But the sites on which they had stood were never dug up again, leaving a trove for researchers.  “We’ve just got an incredible playground for aarchaeologists to work in,” said Matthew Reeves, director of archaeology at Montpelier.  The Daily Progress

Montpelier #2: Students participate in archaeology field school:  James Madison University students were among college students from all over the country who, in separate month-long sessions, got to live at the historic home of the nation’s fourth president. Their charge: spending long days doing excavations to find and understand the layout of the lost Madison Stable Quarter, made up of the stables, a blacksmith’s shop and slave quarters.  The student work fits in with a three-year effort to investigate the life and quarters of slaves who toiled at Montpelier during Madison’s time.  Free Lance-Star

Brandy Station Battlefield, Culpeper Co.: Two new easements preserve additional land:  The two conservation easements on the sprawling battleground–site of the world’s largest cavalry engagement–add 782 acres to the 1,000 acres preserved there since 1987.  The 349-acre northern tract, which includes nearly a mile of Hazel River frontage, is where Union Brig. Gen. John Buford’s cavalry fought Confederate troopers led by W.H.F. “Rooney” Lee, Robert E. Lee’s middle son.  Its easement was donated by Beauregard Farms LP.  The southern tract, comprising 433 acres southwest of Culpeper Regional Airport, includes land where Union Col. Thomas Devin’s Federal cavalry repeatedly clashed with Confederates led by Gen. Wade Hampton. Free Lance-Star

Brandy Station #2: Editorial praises easements: “IMAGINE: It could have been a 3.4-million-square-foot development of condominiums, a multiplex theater, a water park, an equestrian center, a hotel and asphalt, lots of asphalt. Instead, thanks to some generous landowners, 443 acres in Culpeper County, part of the Brandy Station battlefield, has been preserved.”  Free Lance-Star

Wilderness Battlefield, Orange Co.:  Group to protect more land: The Central Virginia Battlefield Trust will purchase a tract of land adjacent to the Wilderness Battlefield near Rts. 3 and 20. The group moved on the land purchase when the Wilderness Walmart dispute heated up.  “It’s an extremely important piece of property, especially because of it’s close proximity to the new Walmart,”  said a CVBT representative. Orange Co. Review

Staunton: Facebook page features history:  The “I Grew Up in Staunton, Virginia” page is a unique fusion of technology and history that provides a forum for memories, photos, reminiscences and links to articles about Staunton.  The page has posts about everything from businesses that no longer exist, teachers who made a difference, schoolhouse behavior that netted detention hall, news—even descriptions of “characters” who used to populate downtown.   News Leader

Staunton #2Historic pedestrian bridge to be preserved:  A last-minute deal has saved a century-old Staunton bridge from demolition. The city’s Historic Preservation Commission has approved a plan to temporarily take down the Sears Hill pedestrian bridge and let restoration begin.  NBC29.com

Waynesboro, Augusta Co.: New state historical marker dedicated:  About 60 people gathered for the unveiling, including city officials, longtime residents of ‘The Hill’ and many who graduated from the community’s historic all-black Rosenwald School.  The sign honors the the Port Republic Road Historic District, which is one of the city’s oldest intact neighborhoods, said Calder Loth, an architectural historian with DHR.  The neighborhood’s oldest home dates to 1818. By 1867, there were 23 black families in the area.  The News Virginian Also covered here: News Leader

Waynesboro #2 Officials promote Main Street grant program: Downtown merchants last year maxed out a Waynesboro fund that offsets building renovation costs, but money is left untapped some years, so officials are ramping up promotion of the program. The grant program matches business owner investments of up to $5,000 for simple facade improvements such as new signage, awnings and paint, and more extensive reconstruction efforts such as swapping out bricks or restoring historic stonework.  News Virginian

Chapman/Beverley Mill, Prince William Co.:  Dedication event scheduled: The Turn The Mill Around Campaign proudly invites the public to attend the dedication for Chapman/Beverley Mill’s Prince William County Civil War Trails sign on Sunday, August 15, at 11 a.m. at Chapman/Beverley Mill in Thoroughfare Gap in Broad Run. After wards, guests may attend the “John Chapman’s Civil War Nightmare” and partake of refreshments. More info here: www.chapmansmill.org.

Beyond Virginia

New York CityNY Times webpage highlights recent archaeology:  Since the late 1970s, hundreds of archaeological digs around the city have uncovered thousands of artifacts and structures — each of which have helped to shape our understanding of New York’s history. The NY Times editors asked 12 local archaeologists to share their most memorable discoveries.  NY Times

Train Depots: Preservationists on track to save depots: Preservationists weave a bit of time travel and local pride to restore old train stations across the USA. Many are being saved from demolition and finding new uses as museums and businesses. The depots also are reclaiming their roles as community gathering places, says Jerry Hardwich, a spokesman for the National Railway Historical Society.  USA Today

Maryland: Shipwreck could be associated with War of 1812: The sailing ship could be the USS Scorpion, part of a fleet known as the Chesapeake Flotilla that was designed to navigate the shallow waters of the Patuxent River and harass the British, whose Royal Navy at the time was terrorizing towns from Havre de Grace to Norfolk. Researchers hope to find more definitive proof when they map the ship’s dimension  Washington Post

New York City: World Trade Tower-site ship: The ship, discovered in New York on July 12 when its ribs were spotted poking out of the muck as workers were excavating the World Trade Center site, has been shipped to Maryland’s state archaeological conservation laboratory, which specializes in such work.  Washington Post

Timbuctoo, New JerseyArchaeologists’ research of lost African American community part of larger trend: Tmibuctoo was founded by freed blacks and escaped slaves in the 1820s. Archaeological excavation of African American communities such as Timbuctoo is booming across the country, spurred by an increasing number of prominent black academics and politicians and a proliferation of museums dedicated to African American history, whose curators are eager to display the artifacts. Washington Post


DHR News Clips, Week of July 16, 2010

July 18, 2010

News from DHR:

National Register of Historic Places: New listings in Virginia:  Hockley, Gloucester Co.;  “The Work of Marshall Swain Wells, Architect” (Multiple Property Document), Albemarle and other counties;  St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Norfolk.

Statewide Virginia:

Minds Wide Open: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts: Virginia’s First Ladies to honored with portraits: First lady Maureen McDonnell has announced her plan to commission portraits of every living first lady for the mansion’s 200th anniversary in 2013.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Historic Virginia: Buildings and Architecture:  Flickr group has wonderful selection of photographs, ever growing.  Flickr

NoVa & Shenandoah Valley:

Culpeper Co., John Preston “Pete” HillNegro League Hall of Famer:  John Preston “Pete” Hill, born Oct. 12, 1882, was an outfielder and manager in baseball’s Negro Leagues from 1899 to 1925. Hill played for the Philadelphia Giants, Leland Giants, Chicago American Giants, Detroit Stars, Milwaukee Bears, and Baltimore Black Sox. He died in Buffalo on Dec. 19, 1951.  He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.   But his plaque lists his name as “Joseph” and his birthplace is recorded as Pittsburgh, Pa.  Research shows Hill was actually born in Culpeper County, and his family is determined to get that hall of fame entry corrected.   Star-Exponent More here: Star-Exponent

Salubria, Culpeper Co.:  Germanna Foundation researchers pry loose secrets:  Salubria is the 18th-century Georgian-style house built by the widow of colonies founder Alexander Spotswood and her second husband. The popular wisdom had been that Montpelier–the home James Madison built in 1764–influenced the design of Salubria. But the scientific dating process for Salubria’s lumber “places it before wood used in Montpelier.”  Free Lance-Star Also here: Star-Exponent

Battlefield Grants: NPS awards 3 to Virginia:  The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation won $61,500 to “create a new battlefield preservation and planning website … in preparation for the Civil War Sesquicentennial.”  Shenandoah Valley Network was given $21,500 to “secure improved local zoning and planning in two Shenandoah Valley counties.”  Stafford County was selected to receive $77,700 to help recognize one of the first naval engagements of the Civil War, the Battle of Aquia Creek.  InsideNoVa.com

Strasburg, Shenandoah Co.: A block of historic town goes up for auction: The roadside attractions of Leo M. Bernstein, the late Washington financier with a fondness for the history and kitsch of the Shenandoah, go on the auction block July 22, two years after he died at age 93. It’s the rare auction that puts a key part of a town’s identity up for sale, but it’s equally rare that an entire side of a city block goes up for bid — almost all of it with no reserve minimum price. Washington Post

Orange Co., Leland-Madison Park: Columnist: Park’s significance: “It was during the later years of his stay in Virginia that Elder John Leland and James Madison met (near the location of the Leland-Madison Park). In 1788, with the final state endorsements of the Constitution being sought, Madison asked Leland to endorse the Constitution for Virginia. Leland promised his support with one condition: Madison must develop an amendment in the Constitution to assure religious liberty.”  Star-Exponent

“Wilderness” Walmart, Orange Co.: Next court date Aug. 13: Attorneys are due back in court next month in the battle over a Walmart Supercenter proposed near an endangered Civil War battlefield in northern Virginia. A trial date was expected to be scheduled at a hearing July 13 in Orange Circuit Court, but lingering issues delayed that decision until an Aug. 13 hearing.  Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

Rockingham Co.: Remembering War of 1812:  Members of the recently chartered Shenandoah Valley Chapter National Society of the United States Daughters of 1812 are seeking to make sure those who fought in that conflict, as well as others, are remembered.  As the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812 approaches, Shenandoah Chapter members plan to mark as many grave sites of veterans of that conflict as possible between Winchester and Roanoke. Washington Examiner

Mary Washington University, Fredericksburg: Master Plan announced: The proposed plan calls for Ball, Virginia and Willard halls, which are described as “jewels” of the campus, to be among the first eight residence halls to be renovated. Bushnell, Jefferson and Marshall halls, however, would be torn down and replaced.  Free Lance-Star

Woodford, Spotsylvania Co.: Historic Beazley’s Store auctioned:  The old general store at the corner of U.S. 1 and Arcadia Road sold for $122,000 at auction. The building has become a curiosity of a bygone era. The store closed in 2003 after its proprietor, Arthur Lee Beazley Jr. died at 62. The store had been in the Beazley family since 1929.  Free Lance-Star

Roslyn: Previously undocumented Charlie Chaplin film to be shown: The movie will be shown before an audience for the first time since its original release in 1914, at the Slapsticon Festival.  The film, “A Thief Catcher,” is a 10-minute comedy discovered last autumn.”I stopped, got up, rewound the projector, watched it again, watched it again, watched it again and it finally sank in that I had found a completely previously undocumented, unknown Charlie Chaplin film appearance,” said Paul Gierucki.  Chaplin makes a three-minute cameo as a policeman in the film. SkyNews HD

Tidewater & Eastern Shore

William & MaryWMCAR discovers two small, unmarked graves on campus:  Dating to sometime prior to the mid-19th century, the graves contain tiny bone fragments that have been incorporated into the soil matrix. They were discovered July 13 by the William & Mary Center for Archaeological Research (WMCAR).  W & M News

Virginia Beach: Will preserve Lynnhaven River open space: The city, in partnership with several conservation groups, plans to buy 122 acres of environmentally sensitive land off Shore Drive that had been marked for a housing development.  The purchase would guarantee that the last major tract of undeveloped land along the Lynnhaven River, which boasts oyster beds, wetlands and a maritime forest, is preserved.  Virginian-Pilot

Portsmouth: Historic church in disrepair and apparently abandoned: The 110-year-old church remains vacant and work has stopped. The church’s building permits expired months ago. Code violations have racked up. And construction crews and the former owner of the building have filed liens and lawsuits, claiming they haven’t been paid.  Virginian-Pilot

Assateague Lighthouse: Undergoing renovations:  After ownership of the 100-plus-years building passed from the U.S. Coast Guard to the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2004, a $1.5 million, multi-phase restoration project began. The lower gallery deck has already been replaced, allowing visitors to walk on the deck — approximately 130 feet in the air — for the first time. Fund raising is underway for remaining phases of renovation.  DelmarvaNow

Roanoke & Southwest

Danville, Pittsylvania Co.: Proposal to balance historic preservation concerns at mega industrial park site:  About 70 dilapidated buildings, including old log barns, houses and outbuildings and at least one old slave cemetery can be found in the site Danville and Pittsylvania County officials hope to transform into a major industrial center.  Preservation Virginia and the Danville and Pittsylvania historical societies propose six items to include in the covenants for the park to protect the site’s natural beauty and historic resources.   GoDanRiver.com

Danville: One-time hospital in critical condition:  Built by the Ladies’ Benevolent Association in 1903, the 23,000-square-foot structure was a hospital for about 20 years, according to local historian Gary Grant. It served as an apartment building from the 1920s until a fire in 1996. This month, the city will tear down the now-dilapidated Georgian Revival building.  Preservation Magazine Online

Lexington, Rockbridge Co.: Fire destroys Southern Inn Restaurant: The Lexington landmark went up in flames around 1:30 a.m. Buildings next door were damaged by smoke and water.  The buildings go back to the 1820s.  WDBJ

Beyond Virginia:

World Trade Center Site, NYC: 18th-century ship uncovered:  A 30-foot length of a wood-hulled vessel has been discovered about 20 to 30 feet below street level. The area under excavation had not been dug out for the original trade center. The vessel, presumably dating from the mid- to late 1700s, was evidently undisturbed more than 200 years.  A 1797 map shows that the excavation site is close to where Lindsey’s Wharf and Lake’s Wharf once projected into the Hudson.  NY Times AP YouTube Video

Vernon Baker: Last living black veteran awarded Medal of Honor for valor in World War II:  Baker received his award 52 years after he wiped out four German machine-gun nests on a hilltop in northern Italy. He died at his home near St. Maries, Idaho. He was 90. On April 5, 1945, Lt. Baker was leading 25 black infantrymen through a maze of German bunkers and machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, a coastal town north of Pisa. About 5 a.m., they reached the south side of a ravine, 250 yards from Castle Aghinolfi, a German stronghold they hoped to capture. . .  NY Times

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Virgin of the Rocks”Restoration reveals new details: The 18-month conservation project involved removing much of some badly degraded varnish that was applied to the painting in the late 1940s, enabling experts to take a much closer look at the picture’s brush strokes and styles. The cleaning revealed the painting’s full tonal range, especially in the darker areas, and resulted in a clearer sense of how the artist intended for space to recede through the rocky landscape. It also affirmed that Leonardo likely painted the entire picture himself. Washington Post