DHR is the host to this public meeting on Wednesday, July 1, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The meeting will convene virtually via Google Meet. See the Agenda (updated July 1) for information on how to connect.
Echoing Governor Northam’s comments regarding removal of Confederate monuments and public safety, DHR urges those advocating for removal of these monuments in Virginia localities to allow for a legal and deliberative process. As soon as July 1, localities may legally remove monuments; in the meantime, vandalism, potentially a Class 6 felony under state law (§ 18.2 – 137), may unnecessarily pose a risk to public safety and will impede the orderly removal of the monuments.
DHR offers these guidelines to support the removal of monuments in a manner adhering to best preservation practices, one that will also allow for input from local officials and citizenry about the ultimate fate of each monument.
—Markers cover topics in the counties of Campbell, Clarke, Dinwiddie, Fairfax, Fauquier (3), Greene, Hanover, King George, Louisa, Middlesex, Montgomery, New Kent (2), Nottoway, Orange, Prince Edward, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Scott, Shenandoah, and Smyth; and the cities of Danville, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg (2), Norfolk, Petersburg, Richmond (3), Roanoke (2), and Suffolk—
—Each marker’s complete text is reproduced toward the end of this post—
In June, the Virginia Board of Historic Resources approved 35 new historical markers covering a variety of topics. Twenty of the forthcoming markers highlight people, places, or events tied to African American civil rights, education, health, or Civil War and Reconstruction-era history, a grouping that Governor Ralph Northam announced in recognition of Juneteenth.
You may have read our recent post about scanning artifacts to document their condition and provide access to these objects for researchers, educators, and the public. DHR has employed a variety of techniques over the past several months to document larger objects as well, including a series of shipwrecks in Suffolk and the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond.
Our first foray into 3-D imaging of larger objects was conducted in Suffolk in the Fall of 2019. Supported by DHR’s Threatened Sites fund, archaeologists from the Longwood University Institute of Archaeology (IoA) and the St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) surveyed and documented 13 vessels submerged in the Nansemond River.
COVID-19 UPDATE: DHR is in Phase III of operations, as per Governor Northam’s guidance, under the Covid-19 pandemic. A major change to note is that our Archives will allow walk-ins only if there is an open appointment available. Meanwhile, guidance is literally changing daily, at times hourly, so DHR thanks the public (and our staff) for your patience as we continue our operations during this unprecedented time.
Please see our current Phase III Guidelines for staff and visitors. Many staff will work remotely during our hours of operation. Staff can be reached by email using this format: first name.last firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check the staff directory for a phone number to leave a message.
DHR also requires visitors conducting business at DHR to answer questions on this Covid Prevention Questionnaire. Its purpose is to protect visitors, our staff, and to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.
—The American Battlefield Trust donated the easement on Rock Tract, affiliated with the Sept. 29, 1864 Civil War battle involving United States Colored Troops —
The American Battlefield Trust has conveyed to the Commonwealth of Virginia a preservation easement that protects 33.814 acres of land in Henrico County affiliated with the 1864 Civil War battle of New Market Heights (Chaffin’s Farm) and the actions of United States Colored Troops, the official name given to the Army’s African American soldiers.
The specific acreage now under easement, known as the Rock Tract, is significant for its association with African American military heritage and the contributions made by the USCT during the Civil War. Authorized by the U.S. government in 1862, the formation of the USCT played an important role in the victory of the Union Army at the end of the Civil War. In 1865, the U.S. government recognized the sacrifices of the USCT at New Market Heights by awarding Medals of Honor to 14 black soldiers for their individual acts of heroism during the battle. Read full text »
—New VLRs in the counties of Bath, Greene, Hanover, Madison, Page, Pittsylvania, Rockbridge, and Rockingham; and the cites of Lynchburg, Newport News, Norfolk, Roanoke, and Williamsburg—
A water-powered gristmill in the Blue Ridge Mountains, four places connected to African American history, and two barns are among 13 sites added to the Virginia Landmarks Register in June.
The VLR listings were approved during a quarterly meeting of the Virginia Board of Historic Resources. In a historic first, the Department of Historic Resources conducted the board’s public meeting remotely and online due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Virginia Military Institute proposes to relocate the modern galvanized metal vault containing the remains of Col. Claudius Crozet to another location on the VMI campus. Previously buried at Shockoe Hill Cemetery, Richmond, Col. Crozet’s remains were relocated to the VMI campus in 1942. Recent construction-related ground disturbance unexpectedly exposed and damaged a portion of the vault. VMI determined that the proposed relocation is necessary in order to avoid further damage and to allow ongoing construction of the adjacent Scott Shipp Hall to continue.
The excavation will be monitored by a professionally qualified archaeologist, who will also inspect the reburial location. At no time will the modern concrete vault be opened or the coffin or remains of Col. Crozet exposed. The vault will be re-interred at a location directly in front of the east entrance of completed Scott Shipp Hall, and its monument reinstalled. Comments on this project should be made in writing by close of business, July 10, 2020. Please read or download this announcement (pdf) for more information and where to submit comments.
2020 VBPF Grant Program Manual (pdf)
Revised June 11)
DHR is now accepting applications from organizations that seek to protect battlefield lands with the support of grants from the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund, which the agency administers.
The grants can be applied to protecting acreage affiliated with battles during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War by either fee simple land purchases or protective easement purchases. DHR urges qualified organizations to apply for the grants. The deadline for applications is close of business on August 10.
In response to Governor Northam’s directive to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, many individuals have contacted DHR to ask whether the monument’s designation on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places may prevent or impede its removal.
The question touches on an important aspect of listing properties on the registers, a designation that many people wrongly assume automatically “protects” a property. In fact, designation of a historic site or district to the state and national registers is honorific. Register listing results in no special protection or requirements on what a property owner may do with a property. This is a key attribute of the historic registers, one set in place to protect the property rights of owners of listed historic properties. (Local codes that do place specified protections on historic registered properties, however, may overlay state and federal historic districts.)
Ask an Archaeologist:
The son of Sarah and James Reilly in Powhatan found the points shown in the photo at the top of this post and the family asked what DHR could tell them about the items. Sarah writes:
When we started building our house, we used a trencher to install a silt fence around the lower perimeter of the clearing, digging about 8 inches down in the process. We found three quartz points (Figures 1-a, -b, -c, and -d) in the debris dug out from the trench.
The fourth point, the gray one (Figure 1-d) was found on the surface after the clearing was made [and not] associated with the silt fence trench. . . . We know this entire area was plowed in the past.
Sarah also provided the general long and lat coordinates for the location. She also submitted two photos (below) of an intriguing rock they found.
We will continue to add to this webpost weekly, if not daily. If you have suggestions for additional content that DHR may want to consider adding, please contact Randy Jones (540-578-3031), DHR, public information officer.
Updated with new links frequently.
The Department of Historic Resources has released a new book that features the texts and locations of more than 300 state historical markers highlighting people, places, and events important to African American and Virginia history, ranging from the colonial era through the civil rights movement.
Compiled by program staff at DHR, A Guidebook to Virginia’s African American Historical Markers sells for $12.95 and is available through local bookstores and online book retailers. It is also available from the University of Virginia Press (www.upress.virginia.edu), the book’s distributor.
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.