News from DHR:
Last week the Virginia Department of Historic Resources conducted a survey of an undocumented shipwreck in the York River, situated near previously documented Revolutionary War shipwrecks that are now listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
The survey, funded through DHR’s “Threatened Sites Program,” set out to map and confirm if the ship, discovered in 2008 through sonar, was associated with Lord Cornwallis’s fleet from the Battle of Yorktown.
The preliminary conclusion of the archaeologists from DHR and Tidewater Atlantic Research involved in the project, which wrapped up Thursday, is that the ship is almost certainly part of Cornwallis’s fleet. A report is expected later this year.
Meanwhile, if you missed it, here are a few of the stories the survey generated and that carried the news around the world:
Yorktown Survey Articles:
Pre-survey story: Two years ago a sonar company in Gloucester was testing equipment in the York River when the crew hit the jackpot: an uncharted shipwreck on the river bottom. “That was quite a surprise,” said David Hazzard, an archaeologist with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Virginia Gazette
During survey: Two of the nation’s foremost underwater archaeologists began work in the river off Yorktown Beach Wednesday morning, surveying the previously undetected wreck of a ship that may have been scuttled by the British during the Revolution. Brought in by the Department of Historic Resources’ Threatened Sites Program, the team includes John D. Broadwater and Gordon Watts. Daily Press
During survey: Archaeologists dived to a shipwreck Wednesday that they suspect dates to the Siege of Yorktown. Working in 16-20 feet of olive-green water, four divers found a nearly fully buried 40-foot section of hull on the bottom of the York River, said Dave Hazzard, one of the divers and an archaeologist with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Free Lance-Star / AP
Post survey: A veteran team of underwater archaeologists working off Yorktown Beach concluded a survey of a recently discovered shipwreck late Thursday. But despite delays caused by lightning, they came away with evidence linking the half-buried vessel to the fleet of some 60 ships scuttled along the shore by Gen. Charles Lord Cornwallis’ embattled British forces during the October 1781 Siege of Yorktown. Daily Press
Post Survey: Diver Dave Hazzard said metal probes were used Thursday to plot out the new, 27-foot section of the hull. He said that section and a 40-foot portion of the hull found Wednesday would be consistent with the size of other wrecks found off of Yorktown. Associated Press
Post Survey: The ship is about 67 feet long and 22 feet wide; its dimensions suggest the vessel was about 160 tons, according to David Hazzard, an archaeologist with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources in the Tidewater region. Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily
Annual Virginia Preservation Conference:
Please mark your calendars and join DHR and Preservation Virginia at the 25th Annual Virginia Preservation Conference, September 20-21 in Hampton. This year’s conference, titled “Playing for Keeps: Challenges and Benefits of Heritage Stewardship,” will focus, in part, on Fort Monroe. For more information and to see an agenda or to register, visit Preservation Virginia.
Cemetery Preservation Workshop:
DHR staff will be conducting a two-day cemetery preservation workshop on September 10-11 at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville. For more information, visit this link or contact Dee.Deroche@dhr.virginia.gov.
New National Register Listings
The National Park Service has listed the following sites on the National Register of Historic Places: Floris Historic District, Fairfax Co.; Calverton Historic District, Fauquier Co.; and Portsmouth Community Library, Portsmouth.
Rosenwald Schools in Virginia
We have posted a new slide show, “Rosenwalds in Virginia,” to the DHR website for our “Historic Virginia / Site of the Month” feature, found on the DHR homepage. Consisting of 17 slides, the show features three Rosenwalds listed on the state and national registers: Dry Bridge School, in Martinsville; Scrabble School, in Rappahannock Co., and Shady Grove School, Louisa Co, and also includes some wonderful historic and contemporary images. See the slide show.
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Now here are some of the news items gleaned from around the state (and beyond) since the beginning of August. I’ve arranged them thematically, in hopes you can home in on areas of most interest.
Civil War Related
Wilderness Walmart, Orange Co.: Trial date set: A judge set a January trial date for a lawsuit challenging Orange County’s approval of a Walmart Supercenter in the Wilderness battlefield area. Circuit Judge Daniel R. Bouton scheduled the trial to run Jan. 25 through Feb. 3. Free Lance-Star
Staunton: Columnist: Ex-Confederate made city business history: “Had the Yankees been a little nicer to Stephen D. Timberlake, generations of Stauntonians might never have benefited from his prodigious business acumen.” News Leader
Stafford Co.: Civil War park underway: Vulcan Materials Co. will donate 5,000 tons of gravel to the park effort. Backers of the park want it to commemorate Stafford’s important but often overlooked role in the Civil War. No battles occurred in the county, but some 130,000 Union troops spent the winter of 1862-63 camped in Stafford, regrouping between the key battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Free Lance-Star
Kelly’s Ford, Culpeper & Fauquier Cos.: Civil War site is being trashed: Recreational overuse and abuse of Kelly’s Ford has prompted local officials and volunteers to take action. The Brandy Station Foundation owns the Culpeper bank of Kelly’s Ford. Foundation president Bud Hall says his group and other preservation foundations are working to stop the abuses. Star-Exponent More here: Free Lance-Star
Staunton River Battlefield, Halifax & Charlotte Cos.: Historic Staunton River Foundation receives Civil War document: HSRF has accepted donation of the 1864 “minutes” of the Employees of the Danville Arsenal. These rare “minutes” from Captain W. H. Otey’s Company include particulars of the defense of the Staunton River Bridge. Virginian Gazette
Prince William Co.: Prepares for Civil War Sesquicentennial: Over the past decade, the county has invested more than $16 million to preserve historic sites, including “The Prince William Civil War Heritage Trail’ which includes 25 key sites and Civil War Trails markers. Inside NOVA
Fredericksburg: Legal battle over the location of a memorial to Confederate dead to go to trial: The City Council wants the SCV’s Matthew Fontaine Maury Camp No. 1722 to remove a granite-and-bronze memorial it erected in early 2009 to honor 51 Confederate soldiers who were buried nearby. The small monument sits on one corner of the much-larger Fredericksburg Area War Memorial. A court must decide some of the facts disputed by both sides. Free Lance-Star
Rocky Mount, Franklin Co.: Replacement Confederate memorial dedicated: During an hour-long ceremony attended by Confederate re-enactors, dignitaries and more than 100 bystanders, the county’s history was applauded, and a new statue was unveiled. Roanoke Times More here: Franklin Co. Post
Virginia Historical Society: Opens new exhibit on rockabilly: The exhibit, “Virginia Rocks! The History of Rockabilly in the Commonwealth,” runs from Aug. 28 through Dec. 12. The traveling exhibit was organized by the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum of Ferrum College. It looks at more than 60 artists and bands from all over the state who made rockabilly records in small recording studios and radio stations in the 1950s and early 1960s. It also features well-known musicians like Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline, and Virginia artists Janis Martin, Phil Gray, the Rock-A-Teens and the Dazzlers. VHS
Lancaster and Northumberland Cos: New exhibits focus on watermen’s history: Great steamboats and menhaden rigs are featured in new or updated exhibits at two Northern Neck museums that do an inspired job of interpreting the commerce and history of the Chesapeake Bay region. While the exhibits at the Irvington Steamboat Era Museum and Reedville Fishermen’s Museum tell very different stories, there’s actually some crossover in the designers and model builders who helped create them. Free Lance-Star
Landmarks/Districts in the News:
Mount Vernon: Family traces history back to Washington’s slaves: For the Quanders, their connection to Washington is at the heart of familial lore. It’s a history they celebrate and lament but continue to pass on. Quanders from all over the East Coast toured the estate, gathering around a memorial to the hundreds of slaves who lived and died here in the 1700s. Somewhere nearby, the Quander matriarch and field laborer Suckey Bay is buried in an unmarked grave. Washington Post
Clifton, Fairfax Co.: Group seeks to register historic school: Parents of current and future Clifton students, with the help of the local nonprofit group Friends of Community Schools, have formally nominated the elementary school’s circa-1953 building for inclusion in the Town of Clifton Historic District. Washington Examiner
Fairlington, Arlington Co.: An appreciation of the close-knit neighborhood: Built in the early 1940s at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to house defense workers, the 322-acre, 3,400-unit complex was the largest publicly financed housing development at that time. Despite wartime supply shortages, the buildings — a mix of townhouses and apartments — were made with sturdy materials: solid brick exteriors, oak floors and slate roofs. Washington Post
Shenandoah Co., Courthouse: Task force still looking at plans for 1795 building’s future: NVDaily
Charlottesville: Jefferson School plans raise controversy: “The story of the sale of the Jefferson School to a group that wants to preserve it as the center of African-American history in the city sounds almost too good to be true, particularly given Charlottesville’s history of taxpayer-funded giveaways. So when the city sells a property valued at $10 million to a private company for the nominal sum of $100,000 (a price actually coming out of nearly $6 million handed to the project from city coffers), how can this be a good deal for the community? The Hook finds out.” The Hook
Charlottesville: 1939 Coca-Cola building soon to be vacant: The Mid-Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Co. announced last month that it would be closing its Charlottesville sales and distribution center. “There’s a whole string of historic buildings along Preston Avenue,” said Mary Joy Scala, the city’s preservation and design planner. “I think it’s important that this building is saved, but also it’s a great location because it’s so close to downtown.” Daily Progress
Ingles Ferry, Radford: Historic gem: Visitors and volunteers at Radford’s Ingles Ferry take part in the site’s history for different reasons but agree that it’s a gem for the area. The 18th-century living history farm is best known as the site of the cabin of Mary Draper Ingles, whose story of escaping Indian captivity and returning home after an arduous trek has been re-told in books, films and re-enactments. The Roanoke Times
Accomack Co.: Central High School listed on state register: Built in two phases in 1932 and 1935, the school is “an excellent example of a pre-World War II Art Deco high school and a rare example of Art Deco architecture on the Eastern Shore, especially on a monumental scale,” according to the nomination form. Eastern Shore News
St. John’s Church, Hampton: English America’s oldest continuous parish and its 1728 landmark church: “Not many churches have this kind of story — and certainly not over such a period of time,” says James Tormey, author of “How Firm a Foundation: The 400-Year History of Hampton, Virginia’s St. John’s Episcopal Church.” Daily Press
Blackstone, Nottoway Co.: Fire destroys landmark Ambuster house: For many in the tiny town of Blackstone, the Armbruster estate is an icon. A symbol of their community. Now it’s gone and neighbors are stunned. The home, once used as a restaurant and a hotel, according to townspeople, burned to the ground around last week. WTVR
Newport News: Warwick Town artifacts exhibited: Artifacts showcasing the history of Warwick Town — which for many years were nearly inaccessible to the public — are now on display at the Main Street Library. Warwick Town was founded in 1680 at the confluence of the James and Warwick rivers, and dissolved in 1813. Today, the Newport News City Farm is located where the thriving river town once existed. The town included a courthouse, tavern, tobacco inspection warehouse and homes. Daily Press
Hampton: Colonial era site emerging: When archaeologists began exploring the site of the future Old Point Bank headquarters weeks ago, they feared that any clues to this historic town’s lost colonial landscape might have been destroyed by later construction. Instead, more than 800 features have been unearthed since the downtown dig began in June, including an early 18th-century structure, a recently discovered cellar and three wells that date to the period when Hampton ranked among Colonial America’s busiest port towns. Daily Press
Richmond: Columnist: Developer French’s problems don’t negate tax credits’ value: “The face of Richmond would be unrecognizable without state historic tax credits to renovate old buildings . . . . ‘It’s the best economic-development tool that Virginia has. And without it, these projects won’t happen,'[developer Robin] Miller said.” Richmond Times-Dispatch
Route 5 Corridor, Henrico Co.: Public forum focuses on road’s future: Planners envision the corridor becoming a friendly stretch for walkers, joggers and cyclists, among others. “We’re starting with a blank slate,” RRPDC Principal Planner Lee Yolton told those in attendance. “We’re looking for your vision. There is going to be a lot of future development. We want to try to get ahead of the curve.” Henrico Citizen
Virginia Indians: Baptist execs urge federal recognition: The top executives of two Virginia Baptist groups have joined other religious leaders in calling for federal recognition of six Native American tribes in the state. Federal recognition acknowledges a tribe’s sovereignty in dealing with the U.S. government and qualifies tribal members for federal education and health-care programs. Associated Baptist Press
Spotsylvania Co.: Couple’s plans for inn move ahead: Dan and Debbie Spear are gaining notoriety for reusing old, rustic structures and turning them into quarters for guests at their inn. The county has approved a tax incentive plan for the Spears, who will get business tax incentives for building a 10,000-square-foot event center that will host weddings and other special occasions. One of the chief attractions of the property are Civil War trenches Union troops dug in May 1864. Free Lance-Star
Orange Co.: Woman helps build new chapter of DAR: Debbie DeHart organized the Mine Run chapter in 2006. It was chartered a year later, and currently has an astounding 78 members, including 74 who didn’t belong to DAR before DeHart corralled them. Here’s her lure: She offers to do the legwork to see if she can connect modern residents to the 1770s. Free Lance-Star
Richmond Co.: Writer’s appreciation for preservationist Francene Barber: “I’m saddened to say that this woman who always knew how to make history come alive, who gave freely of her time to so many Northern Neck attractions and efforts, won’t be doing that any longer. She died Sunday [Aug. 2] at Westminster Canterbury in Irvington at the age of 80. Free Lance-Star
University of Virginia: Receives grant to bolster history education: In partnership with the Southwest Virginia Public Education Consortium and the Wythe County school system, the UVa. project aims to address the lack of resources with a three-year, $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s “Teaching American History Program.” Through the grant, a group of Virginia history teachers will participate in “My History Partner,” a new support program its creators hope will ultimately increase students’ knowledge and performance. UVa Today
Culpeper Co.: Baseball Hall of Fame will correct record for Negro League player Pete Hill: Thanks to the genealogical sleuthing of a Virginia historian/journalist, the Hall of Fame announced in late July that it will commission a new, correct plaque and unveil it on Oct. 12 — more than a century after John Preston Hill was born in Culpeper County. A star on some of the greatest early black teams — the Cuban X-Giants, Philadelphia Giants, Leland Giants and Chicago American Giants — he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006 with 16 other African-Americans. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Culpeper Historical Society: Gone: After a 40-year run, the CHS officially became part of history in June. Local attorney Butch Davies, who was president of the society in 1975 and remained a life member until the end, said it became clear that the CHS was no longer serving its intended purpose. CHS’s accumulated $65,000, and will split the money between the Culpeper Library Foundation and the Museum of Culpeper History. Star-Exponent
International Preservation Trades Workshops: Frankfurt Kentucky October 21-23: IPTW workshops provide an opportunity to interact with tradespeople from across the globe and to ask lots of questions regarding technical preservation trades matters. It’s a wonderful opportunity to ask questions and get them answered. For more information, visit IPTW.
Virginia Indian Festival: To be held at Riverbend Park in Great Falls, 10 am- 4 pm, Saturday, Sept. 11. This celebration of the American Indian returns after a two-year hiatus. Members of eight tribes of Virginia Indians will be featured, including the Upper Mattaponi, to share their culture, dance, storytelling and history at this family-friendly celebration. Events will feature canoe and arrowhead building, archery and spear throwing, animal hide tanning and a chance to see totem poles, Indian costumes and tools. Admission: $5, under three free. See more information.
Colonial Williamsburg: Annual brick kiln burn scheduled: Fans of CW’s annual brick kiln burn can double the experience this year. This year the Historic Trades brickmakers will ignite two kilns several months apart. The first burn begins Sept. 8 as brickmakers stoke the kiln fires for five days to push the kiln’s internal temperatures to nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The second kiln burn is scheduled to begin Dec. 8. Reconstruction of the James Anderson Blacksmith and Public Armoury, perhaps wartime Williamsburg’s most important industrial site, will require more than 25,000 bricks in three different sizes. Virginia Gazette
Georgia: Camp Lawton located: A succession of scholars and officials, including a U.S. congressman, spoke during a ceremony to announce the discovery of the exact location of Camp Lawton, a Civil War stockade that housed some 10,000 Union prisoners. Camp Lawton, constructed in late 1864 to help relieve overcrowding at the prison at Andersonville, held Northern soldiers and housed hundreds of Confederates who guarded them. Savannah Morning News Also related story here CNN
National Park Service: Partnership with Temple University recruits students to guard NPS sites: The National Park Service, facing a shortage of rangers, sought out Temple students to stand guard over the sites where U.S. history was made,The four-year, paid internship program is called ProRanger Philadelphia. Temple students are also law enforcment rangers at the early English settlements in Virginia, the place where the Declaration of Independence was written in Philadelphia and at major battlefields of the Civil War, among other spots.Temple was chosen for its nationally ranked criminal justice program and for its diversity Associated Press
Blair Mountain, West Va.: The battle to preserve it and the man who is leading the charge: It was on Blair Mountain in 1921 that an army of coal miners clashed with an armed force representing the authorities in league with coal companies — the largest battle on American soil since the Civil War and a watershed in labor’s struggle for recognition. L.A. Times
Green Buildings: Op-Ed: Why they “won’t save the planet”: “‘Green’ buildings alone are not enough to divert our perilous course. A broader vision of sustainability is imperative to meet America’s challenge. We must decide if we are willing to change our behavior: to migrate toward more populated, more diverse, more sustainable cities. Only by changing behavior — particularly suburban sprawl and its accompanying carbon intensive lifestyle — can the United States reach ecological balance. Strategies for maximizing the potential of our urban cores’ existing vitality and infrastructure must be the basis for any definition of sustainability.” CNN