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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

Public Event to Focus on Virginia’s Maritime Heritage

An archaeologist recovers musketball casks from the Betsy shipwreck.

Sponsored by DHR and hosted by The Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, the half-day event will highlight how Virginia’s waterways have shaped the state’s history and commerce

On Saturday, August 24, between 9 a.m. and 12 noon, DHR will introduce a series of presentations focusing on how the commonwealth’s extensive network of bays and rivers has influenced and impacted the lives and commerce of Virginia’s citizens for more than 400 years, and how the public can become involved in a statewide effort to locate and protect maritime archaeological sites.

The event, “In Search of Virginia’s Maritime Heritage,” will be hosted by The Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News. It is open to the public and admission is free. Because space is limited pre-registration is encouraged (

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Cost Share and Planning Grant Awards for 2019-2020 Announced

Grants will support projects in the counties of Essex, Fairfax, and Middlesex; the towns of Abingdon (Washington Co.), Chase City (Mecklenburg Co.), and Port Royal (Caroline Co.); and the cities of Norfolk, Salem, and Virginia Beach

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Dr. Elizabeth A. Moore, Virginia’s New State Archaeologist

— Moore joins DHR after serving since 2007 as Curator of Archaeology at the Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville, where she also was assistant director of Research and Collections for two years. —

Elizabeth Moore is no stranger to DHR. Since 2007, she served as chairman of our agency’s State Review Board, before recently stepping down. Under her former position at VMNH, she also oversaw laboratory analysis and investigation of artifact collections recovered during DHR field schools on the Eastern Shore, and participated in, and led volunteers during many of those annual and semi-annual events.

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Va. Historical African American Cemetery & Graves Fund (Revised Documents)

With the new state fiscal year (2019-2020) beginning July 1, DHR announces the availability of funds for the care and maintenance of historical African American cemeteries and graves, defined by Virginia Code (§10.1-2211.2) as “a cemetery that was established prior to January 1, 1900, for the interment of African Americans.”

Please use these revised forms:

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Thirteen New State Historical Highway Markers Approved

—New markers cover topics in the counties of Frederick, Gloucester, Henrico, Loudoun, and Spotsylvania; and the cities of Franklin, Hampton (2), Newport News, Portsmouth, Richmond, Suffolk, Virginia Beach

 [Each marker’s text is reproduced below. Click on images to enlarge.]

Ruins of James River Steam Brewery cellars

Topics covered in thirteen forthcoming historical markers include two “hidden figures” of the nation’s early space program, the life of singer and humanitarian Pearl Bailey, and an extensive one-time underground warehouse in Richmond that cooled kegs of beer in the era before refrigeration.

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Tax Credit Project Profile: Bristol’s Reynolds Arcade

Reynolds Arcade building, circa late 1920s. (Bristol Hotel website)

Bristol (Virginia) native Hardin W. Reynolds—brother to R.S. Reynolds of Reynolds Metals fame—established the Reynolds Land Company development firm in the early 1900s. After launching other earlier enterprises such as a Ford dealership and grocery, Reynolds set out to build a grand hotel to serve a burgeoning Bristol. Instead, he built what would become Bristol’s largest office building, revising his plans once he learned that another large-scale hotel project was already in the works.

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Nine Historic Sites Added to the Virginia Landmarks Register

Photos of buildings for listing in the Virginia Landmarks Register
Some of the buildings listing in the VLR in June.

—New VLR listings are in the counties of Clarke, Isle of Wight (2), King and Queen, Nelson, Westmoreland, and Wise; and the cites of Roanoke and Suffolk—

 —Previously listed Third Street Bethel A.M.E. Church in Richmond has updated and expanded nomination—

 —VLR listings will be forwarded for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places—

On June 20, the Virginia Board of Historic Resources approved nine sites for listing on the Virginia Landmarks Register. Among them, the house of a former chief of the Rappahannock Indian Tribe, a rural historic district along a portion of the James River where it cuts through the Piedmont, an early Cold War missile defense installation, and places wrought by industries in southwest Virginia.

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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.

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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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