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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources is the State Historic Preservation Office.
Our mission is to foster, encourage, and support the stewardship of Virginia's significant historic architectural, archaeological, and cultural resources.

Historic Virginia

Report on the Stewardship and Status of Virginia’s State-Owned Historic Properties, 2019–2021

Cover of 2019 State Stewardship ReportIn 2006, the General Assembly passed legislation mandating that the Department of Historic Resources draft two biennial reports, with the option that they might be combined, on the stewardship of state-owned historic properties. Consistent with prior reports, the 2019 report (link below) combines–

  • priority lists of sites eligible for listing on the Virginia Landmarks Register as well as those VLR sites listed or eligible that are most threatened with loss of historic integrity or functionality, and
  • a status report on historic properties previously identified in prior reports.

The report is supplemented with guidance and reference materials located on our State Stewardship web page. This year’s illustrated report highlights the restoration of the Virginia War Memorial Carillon in Richmond as well as the status of cemeteries on state-owned lands.

Report on the Stewardship and Status of Virginia’s State-Owned Historic Properties, 2019—2021: Resolution: Low: (2.6 MB) / High (20 MB)

May is Preservation Month

St. Paul Historic District, Wise Co.
St. Paul Historic District, Wise Co.

Have you visited our VLR Online, a searchable listing of places on the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places? We’ve been perfecting the VLR Online with small adjustments here and there for nearly a year. It merits re-introduction for Preservation Month. Visit the homepage or pick from one of the links below . . .

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Public Notices: Two Applications for Relocation of Human Remains

DHR has received two independent applications for relocation of human remains, one pertaining to burials in Stafford County, another for remains in Henrico County:


Stafford County:
The Stafford Regional Airport Authority has applied for a permit for the archaeological relocation of buried human remains located within the O’Bryhim Cemetery in Stafford County, Virginia. The cemetery is located adjacent to an existing runway that must be extended to comply with FAA safety regulations. The O’Bryhim descendants have been contacted and have expressed no objection to the proposed relocation. Research indicates that the cemetery contains thirteen interments, ten of which are inscribed.

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 Eight New Historical Highway Markers Approved

Topics covered by eight recently approved and forthcoming historical highway markers include the era of James River bateaumen; two Lee County natives who were expert at code-breaking and encryption during World War II and the Cold War; and a Newport News apprentice training school for the shipbuilding trades.

Three man crew on a bateau
Benjamin Henry Latrobe sketched these African American men steering a bateau on the James River in 1798. (Courtesy Library of Virginia)

The marker “James River Bateaumen” will rise in Richmond and recollect the era from the 1770s through the mid-1800s when bateaux plied the James River transporting goods between the capital and points west. The era of bateaumen on the river waned after 1840, when the James River and Kanawha Canal was completed to Lynchburg. “Crews of three men, often free or enslaved African Americans, performed the difficult and sometimes dangerous work of poling and steering the long, narrow boats,” the marker will read. Bateaux carrying tobacco, grains, iron ore, coal, and other commodities to Richmond helped to make the city an industrial and commercial hub.


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Seven Historic Sites Added to the Virginia Landmarks Register in April

Whittles Mill Dam, Mecklenburg County, DHR #058-5199
Whittles Mill Dam

Seven sites — located in Lee, Mecklenburg, and Rockingham counties, and Alexandria, Portsmouth, and Richmond — have been approved for listing on the Virginia Landmarks Register.

Of the sites listed by the Virginia Board of Historic Resources during its spring quarterly meeting on April 17, two arose where flowing waters could power mills—on the Meherrin River in Southside Virginia’s Mecklenburg County, and a creek in the Shenandoah Valley’s Rockingham County.

In present-day South Hill, the Whittle’s Mill Dam deflected strong currents from the Meherrin River to operate grain and saw mills. The mill complex, constructed around 1756, was part of a large homestead owned by Colonel William Davies and Fortescue Whittle, prominent colonial-era men. Portions of this earliest section of the dam are still visible on the river.

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Spotlight on DHR Collections: Sandglasses

Evidence of time keeping on the Betsy

Hour glass used on ships.
Common marine sandglass. (Wikimedia)

A sandglass, more commonly referred to as an hour glass, was an important tool used in 18th-century sailing, the era of the Betsy, a ship scuttled in the York River by the British at Yorktown in 1781. These timepieces were calibrated for specific increments of time and would have been used for everything from keeping track of work shifts to timing distance measurements. The precise measurement of time allowed sailors to calculate distances and speed so that they could track their location.

From the Betsy shipwreck, we have evidence of at least two different sandglasses, each telling a different story.

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Subscribe to DHR’s Quarterly Newsletter

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The Department of Historic Resources invites you to subscribe to our newsletter, which launches late next month. Bring DHR’s news and activities under one banner quarterly.

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