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DHR Register Program Updates

November, 2020
In this issue:
*Proposed agenda for Dec. DHR quarterly board meeting
*Pending Rule Changes for National Register program *New NPS Updates for Nominations *Registers-Listed Places in the News *History News from Around Virginia
*Grant & Training Opportunities
We hope this register program update finds you well and planning for a safe and rewarding Thanksgiving Holiday.
--Lena McDonald, Historian, DHR Register Program.

*Consultants, CLG staff, university faculty, students, and anyone interested in Virginia's landmark register programs and history. (Please share this newsletter with others!)

Nominations Proposed, Dec. 2020

Quarterly Joint Board Meeting

Due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, the Virginia Board of Historic Resources and State Review Board will, again, convene online on December 10, 2020. The following nominations will be presented to the Boards:

Eastern Region
  1. Averett Graded School and Wharton Memorial Baptist Church, Mecklenburg County, DHR No. 058-5127
  2. College Terrace Historic District, City of Williamsburg, DHR No. 137-5021
  3. Macmurdo House, Town of Ashland, Hanover County, DHR No. 166-0036
  4. Woodburn, Lunenburg County, DHR No. 055-0040
Northern Region
  1. Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and Cemetery, Prince William County, DHR No. 076-6009
Western Region
  1. Dewitt-Wharton Manufacturing Company Building, City of Lynchburg, DHR No. 118-0103
  2. Glencoe, Botetourt County, DHR No. 011-0034
Preliminary Information Forms: The following Preliminary Information Forms will be presented to the State Review Board at the December 10 meeting.

Western Region
  1. Guthrie Cannery, Franklin County, DHR No. 033-5453
  2. Meads Tavern, Campbell County, DHR No. 015-0120
  3. Scott Zion Church and Cemetery, Amherst County, DHR No. 005-5439
  4. Vaughan Furniture Building, City of Galax, DHR No. 113-5042
Northern Region
  1. Ashburn Historic District Boundary Increase, Loudoun County, DHR No. 053-0013
  2. Brubaker Farm, Page County, DHR No. 069-5306
  3. Quarry Hill, Bath County, DHR No. 008-5036
  4. Whitefield Commons, Arlington County, DHR No. 000-9823
Eastern Region (None scheduled at this time.)

Proposed Federal Rule Changes for the National Register Program
NPS image for National Register
In 2019, the Trump administration announced proposed rule changes for the National Register program. DHR was among the many organizations and stakeholders who commented on the changes in in 2019. DHR’s analysis was as follows:
  1. The Department of Interior (DOI) proposes to allow the person or entity that owns the majority of land within a historic district to veto a nomination. This change would eliminate the principle of one person, one vote from the National Register.
  1. (continued) It also would remove the requirement that a majority of property owners within a proposed district must object in writing to a proposed nomination. Finally, this change subverts the premise of the National Register, as the concept of land ownership does not even appear in the National Historic Preservation Act but now would become a deciding factor in whether a historic district can be listed.
  2. For nominations of federally-owned properties, the proposed changes forbid the Keeper of the National Register from reviewing a nomination unless and until it has been forwarded to the Keeper by the Federal Preservation Officer (FPO) of the agency that manages the property. Currently, any person or organization may nominate federally-owned property, on the principle that federal properties belong to the people of the United States, not to a federal agency.
  3. The DOI asserts that the proposed rule changes would not affect federally-recognized tribes. This overlooks the fact that many places of cultural and historical significance to tribes are located off of tribal land. By limiting consideration of a property's significance only to FPOs and the Keeper, the requirement that the U.S. government engage in consultation with sovereign tribes on a government-to-government basis is greatly endangered, not only in the nomination process but also the Section 106 review process.
  4. Cumulatively, the proposed rule changes have the potential to substantially reduce the number of viable nominations for historic districts and for federally-owned properties that get listed in the National Register. Worse, however, is that such reduction would not be based on the district’s or property’s ability to meet the Register Eligibility Criteria and its integrity. Use of objective criteria has been a core principle of the National Register for decades. It conveys the vital message that significance and integrity are the benchmarks for listing, not political advantage, favoritism, or other subjective measures. Using defensible benchmarks assures that Register-listed and -eligible properties are given due consideration in planning and financing decisions at every level of government, and provides historic preservationists with a vital tool in having a fair say in those decisions.
Since 2019, the rule-changing process has continued slowly with few updates provided by the administration. It appears, however, that the DOI still intends to complete the process prior to January 20, 2021, and has yet to indicate if public comments have been taken into account in crafting the final rules. On November 10, 2020, the Senate Appropriations Committee included language in legislation for fiscal year 2021 that admonishes the administration for failing to heed the Committee’s own concerns about the proposed rule changes, as follows:

The Committee is concerned by the March 1, 2019, proposal by the [National Park] Service to modify the long-standing procedure used to nominate properties for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places (84 Fed. Reg. 6996). The Committee spoke to this concern in the explanatory statement to accompany Public Law 116-94, and directed the Department [of Interior] to complete meaningful government-to-government consultation with Tribes pursuant to Executive Order 13175 and consult with other Federal land management agencies, State and tribal historic preservation officers, or other key stakeholders prior to finalizing or implementing the rule. The Committee is not aware of any subsequent efforts by the Department to comply with the Committee’s directives and expects the Department of comply with the directive from fiscal year 2020 prior to implementation of the rule.

DHR will continue to monitor the situation. At whatever point information becomes available to us about any final rules that are put in place, DHR will provide an update via our website’s homepage.
Dry but important reading for consultants and planning staff:
New Guidance from the National Park Service for Preparing Nominations

In October 2020, the National Park Service provided updated guidance for completing Section 10 of the National Register nomination form. This section captures the location and extent of the property being nominated while also explaining what the historic boundaries are and how they were selected. At least one scaled map that shows the historic boundaries is needed to supplement this section. Section 10 includes three parts: location coordinates; a verbal boundary description; and a verbal boundary justification. The location coordinates are tied to a scaled map that shows the exact location of the nominated property and its historic boundaries. These are used to ensure accuracy of the verbal boundary description, which serves as the legal basis for defining what is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Acceptable methods for conveying this information include citing a legal description based on a survey; including a properly scaled map; providing a tax parcel reference; of using a metes-and-bounds description with a beginning point at a known and permanent location.

Currently, a tax parcel is often considered the simplest means for describing the historic boundaries, but this is not without some caveats. The National Park Service requests that, when using a tax parcel for this purpose, the nomination author include the date that the tax information was accessed and a map showing the parcel’s precise boundaries. The map also should be dated. Inclusion of dates is important because tax parcels may be split without subdividing the land. Furthermore, while the terms “parcel” and “lot” are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between them. Simply stated, a parcel is an identification for taxation purposes, while a lot is a recognized subdivision of property with a written legal description that addresses permissions or constraints upon its development. It is common for a lot and a parcel to share the same space, but this is not always uniform in execution. For example, some county GIS systems do not include the extent of a lot when depicting tax parcels, and taxable boundaries sometimes do not include rights-of-way for roads.

When mapping historic boundaries, attention also must be afforded to specifying the coordinate datum in the map descriptions. Every map that shows a geographic coordinate system such as UTM or Latitude/Longitude with any precision will also identify the datum referenced. Many of today’s electronic mapping software programs and websites use the WGS 84-World Geodetic System of 1984 (the default datum used by the GPS system). For this reason, in Section 10 of the nomination form, applicants are asked to indicate if latitude and longitude coordinates were recorded using a datum other than WGS 84. When submitting maps from private online sources such as Google Earth, nominators should verify the datum and be sure to include it with the map. Latitude and longitude coordinates should be recorded in decimal degrees to six decimal places, such as 37.292350 and -79.978950.

Older location mapping methods for nominations relied primarily on USGS topographic maps. Full-size topographic maps, including scans that can be downloaded, include the coordinate datum used in the map’s creation. The most common datums in use are NAD 27 CONUS-North American Datum of 1927 for the Continental United States (common on older USGS Maps) and NAD 83-North American Datum of 1983 (employed on newer USGS maps). When topographic maps are used to record locations of historic boundaries, UTM coordinates are often used. UTM degree, minute, and second coordinates can be converted to decimal format using this online tool.

For historic boundaries that encompass an area that is less than 10 acres in size, a single point centroid coordinate (point around which a circle is drawn) is usually sufficient. For areas larger than 10 acres, a location coordinate should be recorded at each corner of the boundaries. For irregularly shaped boundaries, it may be simpler to draw a polygon, such as a square or rectangle, that entirely surrounds the irregular boundary and record location coordinates at each corner of the polygon. In some instances, such as linear features or those requiring greater precision for preservation purposes, you may need to consult with DHR on how to record coordinates.

Register-Listed Places in the News

Preservation Virginia
Preservation Virginia’s Preservation Awards Interview Series

Preservation Virginia has made available three new interviews in its Preservation Awards series. The first is with Roanoke-based filmmaker Chloe Shelton, 2020’s Young Preservationists of the Year. Shelton’s films, 'Til I Come Home and Cotton Clouds, demonstrate bringing local history to life and involving young people in preservation.
The second interview is with Dr. Angelita D. Reyes, whose ancestor Patrick Robert “Parker” Sydnor (1854-1950) was one of the only known literate African American tombstone makers in Virginia between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries. Dr. Reyes also researched and prepared the Register nomination for the Patrick Robert Sydnor Log Cabin in Mecklenburg County.

Third, Isabel Thornton, executive director of Restoration Housing, discusses her organization’s focus on preserving neglected architectural resources for the social benefit of low-income communities. Ms. Thornton also researched and prepared the Register nomination for Villa Heights, which Restoration Housing then rehabilitated to create affordable rental spaces for local nonprofit organizations. The Villa Heights projects received the 2019 Gabriella Page Preservation Award for Outstanding Preservation Project by Preservation Virginia and the 2019 Kegley Preservation Award for Historic Rehabilitation by the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation.
Map of trail
An Expanded Driving Tour in Southside Virginia

In this era of social distancing, a driving tour is a great activity to learn more about Virginia’s history and see places directly linked to important events and people who have shaped our world. The recently expanded and updated Civil Rights in Education Trail includes 53 places associated with the advent
and modernization of public education from Appomattox and Buckingham counties down to Mecklenburg, Greensville, and Brunswick counties at the state line. Among the newly added sites is Twin Lakes State Park in Prince Edward County, which originally had the only state park open to Virginia’s African American residents. Charlotte County’s Salem School and Buckingham County’s Buckingham Training School are examples of the lengths to which African American communities went to secure educational facilities for their children. The James Solomon Russell/St. Paul’s College Museum and Archives collects and provides access to archival records, books, photographs, and artifacts related to Russell’s remarkable life as well as the historic school he founded. New signage has been installed at each site that explains the historic events and individuals associated with them.
Aberdeen Gardens, Hampton.
In the Works, Documentary about Aberdeen Gardens

David Barr III, a Chicago playwright and author, is co-producing a documentary about Hampton’s Aberdeen Gardens, a historic district listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. The Historical Foundation of Aberdeen Gardens received a federal grant earlier this year to finance the film.
The 440-acre historic community was among 55 New Deal housing programs during the 1930s established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The planned community launched after Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) received $245,000 in federal funding to build specialized housing for Blacks who worked at Newport News Shipbuilding, rail-yard workers and other professionals. Hampton Institute architects Hilyard R. Robertson and Charles Duke designed the homes for the first 158 families moving in eight decades ago, in 1937. Director Tomeka M. Winborne anticipates that the film will be distributed for education purposes or for use at the Smithsonian Institution
Preserving the Historic Congregation
Beth Ahabah Synagogue in Richmond

Located in the West Franklin Street Historic District, the historic synagogue of Congregation Beth Ahabah has completed a major rehabilitation project funded in part by the National Fund for Sacred Places. Completed in 1904, the synagogue is an imposing Neoclassical design with a massive portico and fluted columns. Important historic features include an original pipe organ with more than 2,000 pipes, 29 stained glass windows (one of which is by Louis C. Tiffany Studios), and a recently restored 1913 painting on the proscenium arch. Heating and air conditions, electrical, and lighting systems were upgraded, the roof repaired, and universal access to the sanctuary created, all of which allow for expanded uses of the historic property and help to assure its continued preservation for future generations.
New River Water Trail Map
New River Water Trail Bolstered with Federal Grant

The New River Valley Regional Commission has been awarded a $32,940 grant for the New River Water Trail expansion strategic plan. The grant is part of more than $3.9 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s federally funded Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization Initiative. The New River project will form a plan to cultivate the natural assets around the regional waterway. The goal will be to increase talent attraction, tourism and job growth with the aid of improvements to river accessibility and trail signage. The project will also provide a market analysis of user groups and potential partners and design a trail marketing plan. Currently, the New River Water Trail extends for 37 miles through Giles County in southwestern Virginia. Recreational activities available along the trail include canoeing, kayaking, rafting, swimming, wildlife viewing, hiking, and fishing.
Mendota Trail
New Section of the Mendota Trail Opens in Southwestern Virginia

The Mendota Trail Conservancy recently celebrated opening of a 5.2-mile trail section that connects Bristol to Benhams. A major feature is the 193-foot-long Trestle No. 3 at Benhams, standing 40 feet above Abrams Creek. Hiking, bicycle riding, and cross-country skiing are permitted on the trail, which extends for a total of 12.5 miles and connects Bristol to Mendota in Washington County. A 3.1-mile section connects Bristol’s Island Road to Washington County’s Reedy Creek Road.

News in Virginia

Naval Museum rendering
A rendering depicts the planned National Museum of the U.S. Navy. NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
U.S. Navy Announces New Museum Plans

In October, the U.S. Navy announced plans to build a new $450 million flagship museum, replacing the out-of-date facility that has been at the Washington Navy Yard for more than 50 years. A site for the new building has not yet been selected. To raise funds, the Navy plans “to partner with a registered 501(c) (3) organization that seeks to preserve, commemorate, and share the history of the U.S. Navy,” while the Naval History and Heritage Command at the Navy Yard will coordinate construction. Groundbreaking is planned for 2023, with completion around 2025. Once completed, the Navy’s museum will join the new National Museum of the U.S. Army, in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and the National Museum of the Marine Corps, in Triangle, Virginia, which opened in 2006.
National Museum of US Army rendering
Exterior of the NMUSA. (National Museum of the United States Army, Duane Lempke)
National Museum of the United States Army Opened Veteran's Day

Located near Washington, DC., the NMUSA opened on November 11. The museum aims to honor America's soldiers, preserve Army history, and educate the public about the Army's role in American history. The museum is located on 84 acres at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, 20 miles south of Washington, D.C. The opening was delayed as some of the gallery finishing work was suspended in response to COVID-19. The main building is approximately 185,000 square feet surrounded by a park with gardens and a parade ground. Virginian-Pilot op-ed columnist Gordon C. Morse wrote about the museum's importance in advance of its opening.
survey appomattox river
The Clementown Mill dam and locks on the Appomattox River. (Brendan Burke)
Maritime Archaeology, Appomattox River

The Maritime Heritage Chapter of the Archeological Society of Virginia recently conducted field survey on a portion of the Upper Appomattox River. The work was supported by a $10,000 grant from DHR, using funds appropriated for threatened archaeological sites. Flooding and erosion can threaten sites associated with navigation on Virginia waterways. Mills, dams, locks, turning basins, and bridge abutments are among the manmade resources that can illuminate historic travel methods and routes. Many of these are visible only from the river itself, but this presents opportunities for paddlers to learn more about this history through recreation programs.
VAM logo
Virginia Association of Museums Receives Federal Grant
The Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) recently was awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for a partnership with the Virginia Department of Education and the Hanover History and Culture Museum. The project, entitled “Virginia Museums Expanding Online,” is designed to help museums build their capacity for sharing stories and their content virtually. In addition to increasing access to museum collections and stories during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this project will help museums steward their collections long term in a new environment, and employ simple digital tools to reduce barriers and enable discovery, as well as create a long-term infrastructure for online collections. Hanover County, a diverse community with urban and rural areas and several museums, will implement a pilot program to test selected digital platforms, training modules, and guidelines before the resources are broadly distributed.
rassawek John Smith map
John Smith depicted Rassawek on his Map of Virginia in 1624.
Rassawek Featured by National Trust for Historic Preservation

A recent article by the National Trust for Historic Preservation provides an introduction to Rassawek, the capital of the Monacan Indian Nation. The settlement’s history goes back at least 4,730 years ago, based on carbon dating. Consisting of bark-covered houses, workshops, religious buildings, and more, Rassawek also served as a cultural touchstone for about 15,000 Monacans living in smaller towns close by. Numerous burials are known to have occurred here. As Euro-American settlement pushed farther into Virginia, the Monacans were forced to abandon Rassawek. Some chose to resettle at Augusta County’s Bear Mountain, which by the 1880s had become the new center of the Monacan Nation. Rassawek has been threatened by incompatible development, including construction of a gas pipeline in the 1980s and a proposed water pumping station now, prompting the National Trust to name the site among America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2020.
Richmond’s The Valentine Initiates Survey

The Valentine plans to reinterpret sculptor Edward Valentine’s studio, where many Lost Cause art pieces were created. “The ‘Lost Cause’ is a concept adopted by former Confederates in the post-Civil War era, representing a romanticized and inaccurate portrayal of Antebellum life,” a museum release stated. “The newly reimagined studio will provide visitors a space to confront and reckon with our painful past and its ongoing repercussions.” The survey can be completed online. The questions were developed by a committee of historians, activists and local leaders.

Training Opportunities

Death and Rebirth Ryan Smith book cover
Webinar by the American Civil War Museum

On December 3, 2020, the American Civil War Museum will host a webinar and discussion about historian Ryan K. Smith’s new book, Death and Rebirth in an American City: Richmond’s Historic Cemeteries. A history professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, Smith examines how issues of race and war have shaped Richmond’s identity and that of its cemeteries in profound ways. A companion website, allows users to explore the research findings of Smith and his undergraduate students. The webinar takes place on Thursday, December 3, at 6:30 p.m. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required.
Call for Proposals: 2021 Conference of the American Association for State and Local History
The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) will host its 2021 Annual Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, on September 22-25. The conference theme will be centered around justice. Historic sites, museums, and archives help bring complexity and nuance to questions of right and wrong, helps to establish relevant facts, provides access to evidence, and weighs competing claims for rights, freedoms, access, ownership, and our duty to one another. The program committee seeks proposals that follow a three-part framework: doing justice TO history, AS history, and IN history. To learn more about next year’s theme and about submitting a proposal for sessions and workshops, visit https://aaslh.org/2021-call-for-proposals-now-open/. The deadline for submitting proposals is December 18, 2020.
National Preservation Institute’s New Online Courses

The National Preservation Institute continues to add to its catalog of online courses, each of which is available for a fee.
Recent additions concern regulatory compliance under the National Historic Preservation Act. Commonly known as “Section 106 review,” after the section of the original legislation that created the process, new regulatory compliance training includes an overview of Section 106 for planners, project managers, and developers, resource identification methodologies, and the meaning of “effects” identified through Section 106 review. Other training modules cover topics such as using GIS to map cultural resources, streetscape design for historic districts, and an introduction to Native American history and the framework of treaties and laws that affect cultural resources management.
ASV logo
Archaeological Society of Virginia Annual Meeting Recordings Available Online

The Archeological Society of Virginia has posted recordings of its 2020 annual meeting online. The recordings can be viewed at no charge. Topics include historic archaeological investigations at Fort Eustis and Fort Germanna, maritime archaeology at Whittle’s Mill Dam, and sites associated with Virginia Indians (scroll to bottom of page).