Virginia State Seal 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


Out of a continued effort to make these public meetings as accessible as possible, in addition to meeting in person, we are also conducting the December 2022 Joint Board of Historic Resources and State Review Board Meeting and the separate Board of Historic Resources and State Review Board meetings using electronic communications. If you choose to attend the meeting(s) virtually …continue reading the story

Virginia Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Historic Preservation (BIPOC) fund grant program survey

As DHR develops the Virginia Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Historic Preservation (BIPOC) fund grant program, we welcome your feedback through our public input survey. The survey was developed to gather comments and recommendations from interested parties about what historic resources and regions of Virginia are important to them as they relate to BIPOC communities. All submissions are anonymous. For more information please visit the BIPOC fund grant program webpage

A Tale of Two Bugeyes

By Patrick Boyle and Brendan Burke

Figure 1
Figure 1. Inset of a woodcut from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Journal in 1879 by Joseph Becker titled “Favorite Bed for Small Boats”. Caption “Illustrator Joseph Becker cut this image in 1879 showing oyster tongers working in the Chesapeake Bay during foul weather. Working in such conditions was not uncommon as the prime oyster months are during cold weather. Note the heavy tongs used to fetch up oysters and the man kneeling in the bilge to cull out undesirables and empty shell. Falling overboard in these conditions often meant death from drowning or hypothermia. It was likely conditions like this that drove oystermen to dream of working on larger, more stable vessels.

The mid-Atlantic oyster industry is one of the oldest fisheries in the United States. Today, it continues today to define the character of the Chesapeake Bay. For millennia, Virginia Indians harvested oysters from shoreline beds as well as deeper waters (Jenkins and Gallivan 2020). During the 17th century, European colonists turned to oysters not only for food but as a key component in lime mortar for masonry structures. Burned oyster shells, slaked with water, literally helped form the foundation for some of Virginia’s earliest historic architecture. As coastal communities developed during the 19th century, oystering became a profitable enterprise throughout the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The development of railroads significantly impacted the oyster industry as did preservation by canning. Shipment of northern ice to the south, and ultimately the ability to manufacture ice at the local level, further stimulated oyster fishing. Fresh and canned oysters were loaded onto trains bound for inland cities with eager consumers. Expansion led to innovation in fishing techniques and vessel types that formed around an emergent commercial industry (Chestnut 1951:142).

Development of commercial oystering was slow to appear during the 17th and 18th centuries yet consumption of oysters was widespread in the Tidewater. Oysters were largely eaten by people living along waterways who had access to oyster grounds. Fishermen supplied fishmongers for urban needs but were more often generalists selling what the net caught. As the oyster industry grew, oyster grounds along and near the shore dwindled. For oystermen, that meant heading to more distant fishing grounds and larger boats with specialized tools such as iron-tipped oyster tongs or a dredge. An oyster dredge was an iron toothed heavy rake with a trailing chain basket. Teeth on the leading edge of the dredge uproot oysters from a ‘rock’, which then fall into the basket for retrieval. …continue reading the story
called A Tale of Two Bugeyes

DHR Announces 2022 Virginia Battlefield Preservation Grants To Protect 252 Acres

–General Assembly allotted $500,000 for battlefield preservation in 2022–

–Targeted tracts are in Henrico and Rockingham Counties-

RICHMOND – The Department of Historic Resources announced today that grants from this year’s Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund will protect 252 acres including tracts affiliated with the actions of the United States Colored Troops. The acreage targeted for preservation is located in Henrico and Rockingham counties.

The General Assembly established the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund (VBPF) in 2010, and authorized the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) to administer the fund by evaluating and disbursing grant awards to eligible recipients. DHR determined this year’s selections through a rigorous evaluation process, after receiving more grant applications than the 2022 fund of $500,000 can support.
…continue reading the story
called DHR Announces 2022 Virginia Battlefield Preservation Grants To Protect 252 Acres


The Department of Historic Resources has received a permit application for archaeological recovery of buried human remains located within the churchyard at Historic Christ Church in Weems, Virginia. Anyone with comments or concerns regarding the proposed recovery is invited to contact the Department and the Historic Christ Church Foundation. Comments must be received by close of business on October 19, 2022. Please see the formal public notice for more information [pdf]

DHR’s Strategic Plan 2022-2024

Download DHR’s Strategic Plan 2022-2024 [pdf]

The New Dominion: Surveying Virginia’s Midcentury Modern Architecture

This month, DHR celebrates Virginia’s rich and often overlooked history of mid-century modern architecture. Over the last several years, DHR staff collaborated with the Virginia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects to carry out a statewide architectural survey of mid-century modern places. The survey focused on documenting buildings, parks, districts, and many other resources constructed between 1945 and 1991 and representative of popular architectural styles from that period. The resulting survey materials expand DHR’s inventory of mid-century modern buildings, build upon the Agency’s long-running New Dominion Virginia Initiative, and increase the Agency’s ability to support the stewardship of Virginia’s recent past. Later this year, DHR will issue a summary report providing more information about the “recent past” survey project. In the meantime, here are a few themes highlighting mid-century modern designs from across the state.

…continue reading the story
called The New Dominion: Surveying Virginia’s Midcentury Modern Architecture


The Department of Historic Resources is pleased to announce the availability of grants for the care and maintenance of historical African American cemeteries and gravesites in Virginia. It is also our pleasure to announce that the General Assembly has amended Code of Virginia §10.1-2211.2 to extend the eligibility date. As of July 1, 2022, any grave, monument, or marker placed in an African American cemetery that is associated with a person buried prior to January 1, 1948 will now be eligible to receive funding. Grants are available to qualified charitable organizations established to care for historical African American cemeteries as well as to persons and local governments that own historical African American cemeteries.
To apply, please visit our Grants page  – please contact Joanna Wilson Green at or 804-482-6098 with any questions.

Preservation Academy Series

On March 9th, Preservation Virginia and DHR launched the “Virginia Preservation Academy,” a series of 4 virtual, educational webinars on the fundamentals of historic preservation.  The Academy featured live evening lectures from preservation professionals with direct interaction between participants and panelists and was designed toward a diverse audience of preservation professionals, volunteers, students, architectural review board members, stewards of historic places, local government staff, community leaders, owners of historic properties, and anyone else who was interested in learning more about historic preservation. …continue reading the story
called Preservation Academy Series

Learn about history across Virginia with DHR’s Places Explorer

A new web app from DHR Archives

A new web app from DHR Archives

Use your mobile device or computer to learn about places listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places, read the text of local historical highway markers, and get a feel for just how much archaeology and architecture surrounds us. …continue reading the story
called Learn about history across Virginia with DHR’s Places Explorer

New Tool: Report a Cemetery to DHR

Grave marker.
A gravestone at Mount Fair slave cemetery in Albemarle Co. (Photo courtesy of John Macfarlane)

Do you know about a cemetery that needs attention?

Make sure that DHR knows about it, too!

Report it to us with our new online map tool and form. Using your mobile device or computer, provide DHR with some basic information about the cemetery and its location. We will check our records and connect a DHR staff member with you for follow up.

And please note: Recording a cemetery using this form will begin the process of adding it to our databases at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, but it does not guarantee protection of the burial ground.

New: Virginia’s Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan, 2022–2027

CoverAs Virginia’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), DHR is mandated to periodically develop and publish a Statewide Comprehensive Preservation Plan (under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended). On November 10, 2021 DHR published Virginia’s Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan, 2022–2027. The plan is far-reaching and intended both to inspire and to represent the work of the diverse stakeholders who benefit and who shape the future of Virginia’s historic landscape. The plan’s goals, objectives, and outlined strategies target DHR’s next six-year planning cycle, 2022 through 2027.

“. . . this plan envisions a time when historic places are more fully valued and recognized as assets for education, tourism, environmental sustainability, and economic vitality. It is built on the premise that everyone’s history has value and that, because historic properties are a source of connection and pride, they play an important role in building stronger communities,” writes DHR Director Julie V. Langan in her message to introduce the plan.

Community Outreach Coordination

Sponsors of marker pose after unveiling
Sponsors of the “Mount Calvary Cemetery Complex” gather after its unveiling in Portsmouth in 2016.

Meaningfully engaging with African Americans and Virginia Indians

(See below for Special Announcements & Opportunities.)

DHR acknowledges that meaningful collaboration with African American and Virginia Indian communities towards the development and implementation of preservation agendas has been regrettably limited. Neglect and a lack of direct engagement has led to the loss of many historic properties of significance to these constituencies. Moreover, many such resources are not represented in the Virginia Cultural Resource Information System (VCRIS).

…continue reading the story
called Community Outreach Coordination

African American Watermen Project

Flyer announcing project.
A postcard announcing the project.

The renowned seafood industry of the Chesapeake Bay would not have been possible without the contributions of generations of African Americans.

Following the Civil War, self-employment in oystering, crabbing, fishing, and boat building provided independence and self-sufficiency for Black watermen. Labor employment opportunities also supported the processing, packing, and shipping of seafood to all parts of the eastern United States.

…continue reading the story
called African American Watermen Project

What Is Meant by “Historic Resource Survey”

In preservation circles and at DHR, people often refer to a “historic resources survey.” In this brief video (5 min.), DHR’s Blake McDonald, manager of the Architectural Survey & Cost Share Grant Program, explains clearly what exactly such a survey is and entails—and why it does not affect property owners or their property (beyond documenting the property’s historic character).

Subscribe to DHR’s Newsletters

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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 us (Choose “General Questions in the Contact Form.“). 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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