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Survey: Taking Stock of Historic Resources

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DHR is pleased to announce the availability of funds for the annual Cost Share Survey and Planning program for localities and planning district commissions who are interested in partnering with DHR to conduct local and regional cultural resources survey and planning activities. The application is available here and is due by May 9, 2014. Please contact your local regional office or Carey L. Jones, Survey Coordinator, for more information regarding the Cost Share Survey and Planning Program. See this Request for Applications.

Surveying historic resources lies at the heart of a good preservation program. In Virginia, the statewide survey has been underway for 45-plus years. During that time, more than 165,000 architectural and archaeological properties have been recorded and added to the state’s inventory of historic sites.

Developing an accurate and comprehensive inventory is an ongoing process, with thousands of new entries being made each year. Each individual property must be photographed and mapped on U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps. Information about the style of the building, its construction date, and who built it is accompanied by a detailed architectural description and an evaluation of the relative significance of the property. For archaeological sites, the period from which the site dates, the cultural affiliation, and a detailed description of the attributes of the site and its artifacts are recorded.

Survey is not limited to properties such as 18th-century plantation houses or grand public buildings, or churches and courthouses that are traditionally thought of as "historic landmarks." Survey includes simple vernacular 19th-century dwellings, streetcar suburbs, planned communities, barns and other agricultural structures, and bridges, cemeteries, factories, commercial structures, statues, and even carousels, tugboats, and structures associated with space exploration. All artifacts of society’s efforts to house its population and accommodate its activities that are at least 50 years old are targets for a survey.

 Photo
This 1918 school house was one of the buildings documented through a Cost Share survey of the Forestville Historic District in Shenandoah Co. Forestville is one of the most well-developed and best-preserved mill villages in the northern Shenandoah Valley.

Today the Department of Historic Resources receives the great majority of its new surveys from two sources: survey projects that are carried out to fulfill requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (environmental review) and survey projects performed under this department’s Survey and Planning Cost Share Program.

Virginia's unique Survey and Planning Cost Share Program is designed to develop a cultural resource database for Virginia’s local governments while concurrently aiding in the expansion of the state’s cultural resource database. Localities compete to participate in the program. DHR provides all the administrative functions for the selected projects by securing consultants to do the work, paying the bills, monitoring the work, and ensuring the delivery of the products. The primary products of a survey project are the completed forms, the photographs, and the mapping information. The projects require a written, illustrated report and a scripted slide presentation to expand public education about a locality’s history and resources. Local governments can use this valuable information in their long-range planning activities as well as to develop effective heritage tourism programs.

All collected survey data is housed in the department's electronic computer database, V-CRIS.
V-CRIS provides ready access to resource information for local governments and professional cultural resource management consultants.

Since the inception in 1991 of the Survey and Planning Cost Share Program, more than 100 communities have joined DHR to conduct 150-plus projects in every region of the Commonwealth. As a result, each year this department’s inventory of architectural and archaeological historic resources grows with the addition of more than 4,000 newly recorded properties.

For further information regarding the survey program, contact Carey Jones at (804) 482-6453.

 Updated 12.15.14