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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

State Historical Highway Marker “Lucy Harrison Miller Baber” to be Dedicated in Lynchburg

Photo of Lucy Harrison Miller Baber
Lucy Harrison Miller Baber

—Baber helped to overhaul Virginia’s juvenile justice system in the mid-20th century—

 The marker’s text is reproduced below

A state historical marker issued by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that highlights work of Lucy Harrison Miller Baber in overhauling Virginia’s juvenile justice system in the mid-20th century will be dedicated in Lynchburg later this month.

The dedication ceremony will begin at 11 a.m., Saturday, November 28, on the front terrace of the Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courthouse, located at 909 Court Street in Lynchburg.   Read full text »

Gov. Northam’s 2020 Black History Month Historical Marker Contest

Photo of Barbara Rose Johns
Barbara Rose Johns

Governor Ralph Northam’s inaugural Black History Month Historical Marker Contest encouraged schools during the month of February (2020) to feature a different marker each day from A Guidebook to Virginia’s African American Historical Markers, which DHR published in late 2019. The Governor’s office provided teachers with resources to guide history discussions, promoted Black History Month events around the Commonwealth, and initiated the competition for students to submit ideas for new historical markers to DHR.

The Governor’s Office received 285 entries from students across the Commonwealth. A team of historians at DHR reviewed them and selected ten entries based on the Historical Highway Marker criteria. The Virginia Board of Historic Resources approved the first group of winning markers at its public quarterly meeting in June. DHR expects the remaining five winners from the contest to be manufactured and erected in 2021. This handout features the texts of ten the new markers.

“Witch Bottle”

Witch bottle? This bottle — recovered by VDOT archaeologists during road construction on I-64, near Williamsburg. DHR and VDOT recently teamed up to analyze it. Witch bottles were used to protect one’s house from witchcraft and evil spirits. As artifacts, they are rare finds in Virginia. The video linked, produced by VDOT, offers a bit of history about witch bottles and DHR conservator Kate Ridgway talks about some of the analysis she conducted on it at DHR. . . . What would you put in your witch bottle?

Archaeology in the Field: Watercraft Survey of Inland Waterways in NOVA*

Archaeologist canoeing on river.
A volunteer surveys the Shenandoah River with a fish weir in the background. (Photos: DHR/Jolley)

In 2017 DHR’s Northern Regional Preservation Office (NRPO) began conducting archaeological survey of inland waterways in Northern Virginia by using kayaks and canoes to inspect the shorelines and river bottoms. This method of survey is an efficient way to locate sites threatened by ongoing erosion that terrestrial survey could not identify. Watercraft survey has the potential to identify buried sites that plowing has not disturbed as well as a variety of well-preserved underwater sites.

Read full text »

Commission for Historical Statues in U.S. Capitol Solicits Nominations for New Honoree to Replace R. E. Lee Statue

National Statuary Hall
National Statuary Hall. (c) Architect of the Capitol.

—On behalf of the commission, DHR will collaborate with the Va. Dept. of Education to solicit names from Virginia teachers and students from elementary through college level—

—Next Commission meeting, convenes remotely on November 17, at 9 a.m.—

The Commission for Historical Statues in the U.S. Capitol is asking the public to submit suggestions for a historical person to represent Virginia in a new statue for placement in the Capitol. The commission is particularly interested in hearing proposals from Virginia students. The deadline for submitting a name for the statue is November 27.

Read full text »

DHR Seeks Public Input on Our Statewide Preservation Plan

 Buildings in the Chase City Warehouse and Commercial Historic District.
Buildings in the Chase City Warehouse and Commercial Historic District.

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources is updating its five-year statewide preservation plan, and we need your help. Your feedback and input will help us shape the plan as we consider a wide range of strategies to identify, evaluate, and protect historic places throughout Virginia. The successful implementation of a comprehensive preservation plan is possible only if the commonwealth’s preservation community shares its common goals and objectives. For that reason, we urge you please take our brief on-line survey that seeks to capture your ideas and opinions about the current and future state of historic preservation in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Information gathered from this survey will help us determine how best to serve you in telling and preserving Virginia’s diverse and rich heritage. Thank you in advance for your participation in this important effort.

Ask an Archaeologist: Investigating a “corduroy” road

Illustration of soldiers building corduroy road
Illustration of soldiers building a corduroy road near Weldon, Va., during the Civil War.

In July, I was asked to field visit what was described as a possible “corduroy road” in Sussex County just south of Wakefield. The potential for finding a real, intact historic corduroy road was minimal, as most would not have survived for long due to poor preservation conditions or because they were often destroyed by subsequent road improvements.

Read full text »

Spotlight on DHR Collections: “Betsy” Dining Utensils

Photo of underwater archaeology

What do dining utensils tell us about life aboard Betsy, a 1772 British supply vessel for General Charles Cornwallis’s fleet?

Betsy was one of several ships strategically scuttled during the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. During underwater excavations in the 1980s, under the direction of Dr. John Broadwater, archaeologists recovered a number of utensils from Betsy including forks, knives, and spoons, all made from a variety of materials and in an assortment of styles. Fortunately, the underwater environment preserved the wooden and bone artifacts, allowing conservators to clean and treat them for study and exhibition.

(Photo shows an archaeologist recovering artifacts from Betsy during excavations in the late 1980s.)

Read full text »

15 New State Historical Highway Markers Approved

Four small photos related to markers—Markers cover topics in the counties of Bath (2), Charlotte, James City, Loudoun, and Shenandoah; and the cities of Hampton, Hopewell, Lynchburg (4), Norfolk, Richmond, and Williamsburg—

—Text of each marker reproduced below—

African American and women’s history in Virginia figures prominently in 15 state historical markers recently approved for placement along roads in the commonwealth including signs highlighting a “hidden figure” at NASA, two voting rights activists, and several markers about nationally known artists.

The Virginia Board of Historic Resources approved the forthcoming markers during a public quarterly meeting on September 17 that the Department of Historic Resources convened online.

Read full text »

15 Historic Sites Added to the Virginia Landmarks Register

Artifacts from the Millie Woodson-Turner Site
Artifacts from the Millie Woodson-Turner Site.

—VLR listings are in the counties of Albemarle, Arlington, Campbell, Craig (2), Essex, Fairfax, Halifax, Mecklenburg, Middlesex, Southampton, and Washington; and the cites of Alexandria, Charlottesville, and Danville—

Among 15 places approved in September for listing on the Virginia Landmarks Register is a site that traces back to Nottoway tribal reservation lands established in the colonial era; a historic district where one of the largest textile mill villages in the South evolved during the 20th century; and a rare surviving former “poor farm” established in the 1890s.

Read full text »

Completing a Preliminary Information Form, The First Step toward Listing a Property on the Historic Registers

The first step toward potentially listing a property or historic district on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places begins with completing a Preliminary Information Form.

DHR register program staff created this 7+ minute video about the importance of the PIF and what DHR staff look for when evaluating a property using the PIF. The good news is that the 3-page form is relatively simple to complete. If you want some tips or just familiarize yourself with the form before beginning, this video is a great place to start.

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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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