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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

Update on Archaeology at Eyreville, Northampton County

An aerial view of Eyreville with the Chesapeake Bay in the distance. The site of ongoing investigations is concentrated in the lawn between the house and the water.

DHR staff was first alerted to the possibility of an early colonial site at Eyreville, in Northampton County on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, in the winter of 2017. Since that time DHR has sponsored (in partnership with the Archeological Society of Virginia and the US Forest Service’s Passport In Time program) three field schools and conducted several additional investigations at the site.

What we know about the site from the extensive documents available at the Northampton courthouse archives is that John Howe received a patent for the property in 1637. The documents indicate that Howe already occupied the property at the time. We also know that he was living on the Eastern Shore by 1623 and represented Northampton County in the House of Burgesses at Jamestown. Therefore, it is evident that sometime between 1623 and 1637 he built a house at the site. Read full text »

Spotlight on DHR Collections: A Tale of Two Buckets

Shows a pitch bucket
A pitch bucket from the Betsy on display at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Conservation involves a lot of investigation and research. During the treatment of an object, many questions arise that make conservation all the more interesting. One of two buckets recovered from the Betsy, a ship scuttled in the York River by the British during the Siege of Yorktown in 1781, provides a recent example of an artifact that raises many questions.

Buckets were common items in the 1700s just as they are today. They were made by coopers who produced a wide variety of wooden containers. Of the two Betsy buckets, one was clearly used for holding pitch, the tar-like substance that sailors applied when waterproofing vessels. A bucket of pitch would clearly be an important item for any ship of the Betsy’s era.

Read full text »

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)

Public Notice: Application for Relocation of Human Remains

DHR has received an application for a permit for the archaeological recovery of the remains of James W. Loving (1884) and Sarah P. Loving (1920), whose interments are located at 8120 Pleasant Grove Road in Mechanicsville, VA. Descendants of the Lovings have reviewed and approved this proposal. Following recovery, reinterment will take place in a nearby cemetery in accordance with the family’s wishes.

Read full text »

 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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DHR now has two newsletters: a DHR Quarterly Newsletter, and a newsletter for Register Program Updates. We invite you to subscribe to our newsletters.  Once you have signed, you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Any questions or problems, please contact Randy Jones at DHR. We look forward to hearing from you and keeping you up to date with DHR’s register programs and other preservation news and Virginia history.


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