Quarterly Newsletter, March 2021


In this issue:
*New Listings, Virginia Landmarks Register *New Historical Markers *Ask an Archaeologist *Sessions Hotel RTC Profile *Other News & Announcements
Four buildings to be nominated to VLR and NRHP in March.
New VLR listings are in the counties of Amherst, Arlington, Bath, Henry, Patrick, and Shenandoah; and the cites of Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach

Nine Historic Sites Added,
Virginia Landmarks Register

Among nine places listed in March on the Virginia Landmarks Register are a 1960s motel in Virginia Beach that signaled a new era of family vacationing, a Pentecostal church in Richmond where a nationally-acclaimed preacher began his career, a 1950s school built when the Southside region experienced unprecedented prosperity, and a high-style “French country house” in the Allegheny Mountains.
Read more and view photos. . .
Thumbnails for March markers
Markers cover topics in the counties of Albemarle, Alleghany, Chesterfield, Goochland, Highland, Loudoun, Pittsylvania, and Tazewell; and the cities of Alexandria, Bristol, Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Martinsville, Petersburg, and Staunton.

16 Historical Highway Markers Approved

Sixteen proposed historical markers recentlly approved for manufacture recall people, places or events from Virginia’s colonial era to the 1960s, with topics drawing on Virginia’s African American, political, educational, and social history, among other threads.

The Virginia Board of Historic Resources approved the marker texts during a March 18 public quarterly meeting hosted virtually by the Department of Historic Resources (DHR).
Read about markers, their texts and view related photos. . .
screenshot survey 3
A new video from DHR:
What's the first step in preservation?
A Historic Resource Survey.”
In this brief video, DHR’s Blake McDonald, manager of the Architectural Survey & Cost Share Grant Program, explains what these surveys entail—and why they do not affect property owners or their property (beyond documenting the property’s historic character).
Overall context after
The Sessions Hotel complex, composed of three historic buildings, in downtown Bristol.
Rehabilitation Tax Credits, Project Profile:
Sessions Hotel, Bristol
The Sessions Hotel consists of three historic buildings in downtown Bristol. Using state rehabilitation tax credits, local developers, working closely with DHR staff, converted the buildings into the Sessions Hotel. The “Sessions” name honors the two weeks in the summer of 1927 when the RCA Victor Talking Machine Company of New Jersey sent Mr. Ralph Peer to Bristol to make among the earliest recordings of the largely untapped sound called “hillbilly music” (later dubbed “country” music). Read more & see photos (before and after).
Older and newer VLR photos for the John Beaver House in Page Co.
DHR Archives News:
Updates to the VLR Online
(Virginia Landmarks Register Listings)
In the past year, Calder Loth, DHR’s and Virginia’s eminent architectural historian, has volunteered to lead a comprehensive update of the VLRs’ photographs. The goal is to replace what has been largely a collection of black-and-white photos, some upwards of 30 or 40 years old, with color photographs. The project has evolved into an online “Fifth Edition” of the book Calder edited and shepherded into publication in 1999, The Virginia Landmarks Register (Fourth Edition), published by the University of Virginia Press.
Read more and see a sampling of the new photos.
image and question mark
Ask an Archaeologist:
DHR archaeologist Mike Clem turns the tables and asks us, “What is this object?”
We have an item that has us stumped. It came from a friend on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He found it in his usual, top secret, fishing spot on the barrier islands south of Chincoteague. He often finds other items washing up on shore there, likely the remnants of a site that long ago eroded away. Read more . . .
cover Reston report w border
New Survey Report:
Reston, A Planned Community, Fairfax Co.
Striking examples of modern architecture are found throughout the Commonwealth, but the community of Reston stands apart as a sprawling and cohesive collection of mid-20th century design. In 2019, Fairfax County received a DHR Cost Share Survey and Planning grant to conduct an architectural survey in Reston to better document the community’s key buildings and spaces. The scope of the project included reconnaissance-level survey on 51 individual properties and eight potential historic districts to produce a report, now in hand, that offers historical context, survey findings, and suggestions for further study.
Welcome to a New DHR Staff Member:
Chelsea Jeffries joined DHR in late January as our Project Review Architectural Historian within the Review & Compliance Division. Chelsea grew up in western Massachusetts and received her Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Tech and a Bachelor of Arts in Historic Preservation from the University of Mary Washington. She has experience working in community and economic development, and urban and preservation planning. Before coming to Virginia, she served for two years as a planner in a rural county in Pennsylvania. There, she explored her interests in historic preservation and economic development in Gettysburg. Jeffries moved to the Richmond area six years ago and previously worked with the City of Richmond’s Commission of Architectural Review. At home Chelsea spends time with her two sons and husband, and enjoys crafting and reading.
Pepmeier Tract low-res
Pepmeier Tract, Henrico Co.
ColdHarbor Road lower res
Cold Harbor Road Tract, Hanover Co.
Cold Harbor Road Tract lower res
Cold Harbor Road Tract, Hanover Co.
DHR Easement Program:
Two New Easements Recorded in 2021
The American Battlefield Trust (ABT) conveyed a preservation / open-space easement over the Pepmeier Tract in Henrico Co. Recorded on January 25, the easement protects 93.796 acres of historic landscape, the site of four battles of the American Civil War:
  • Approx. 82.80 acres within the core area of the Deep Bottom II Battlefield, specifically the August 16, 1864 engagement during the Fussell’s Mill phase of the battle;
  • Approx. 52.72 acres within the study area of the Deep Bottom I Battlefield (fought July 27-28, 1864).
  • Portions of the property are also within the study area of the Glendale (June 30, 1862) and Fair Oaks ( May 31 and June 1, 1862) and Darbytown Road (Oct. 2, 1864) Battlefields.
Associated conservation values for the Pepmeier Tract include about 5 acres of non-tidal freshwater / forested shrub and riverine wetland habitat, and 591.76 linear feet of frontage on an unnamed intermittent stream.
ABT also conveyed a historic preservation / open-space easement over the Cold Harbor Road Tract in Hanover Co. Recorded on March 3, the easement protects 50.041 acres associated with three Civil War battles:
  • Cold Harbor (May 31-June 12, 1864): During the battle, the Union positioned cannons on the property and entrenched soldiers there as part of its offensive. Ultimately, the battle was a disastrous defeat for the Union.
  • Gaines Mill (June 27, 1862): The property is also entirely within the study area of this battle.
  • Savage's Station (June 29, 1862): And 8.9 acres are within the study area of this battle.
ABT acquired the Pepmeier Tract in 2018 and the Cold Harbor Road Tract in 2019. For both parcels, American Battlefield Protection Program and Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund grants supported the acquisitions. Conveyance by ABT of the easements is a condition of the grants. The easements are donated to the Virginia Board of Historic Resources and DHR staff administer them.

Other Announcements:

  • In addition to Facebook, you can now find DHR on Twitter, and Instagram. Please join us there!
  • DHR will launch a new newsletter in late April: Grave Matters: Cemeteries in Virginia. The newsletter will report on cemetery news in Virginia and highlight stewardship issues, iconography, and routinely profile a historic cemetery, among other topics. Please sign up at this DHR webpage (where you must scroll down to find the signup form for subscribing to Grave Matters).
  • Chelsea Blake, a conservator with DHR, has published an article on her recently completed NPS-Maritime Heritage grant–funded project to re-conserve artifacts recovered in the late 1980s from Betsy, a ship the British scuttled prior to the Revolutionary War's Battle of Yorktown. Blake's article focuses largely on what conservators have learned in the past 30 years about treating waterlogged organic artifacts. The project has resulted as well in boosting the number of available artifacts from the Betsy collection that can be exhibited or used for research. Her piece appears (pg. 2) in the WOAM Newsletter No. 59, published by the International Council of Museums–Committee for Conservation.
  • DHR’s James Hare participated in a virtual African American Read-In hosted by the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in partnership with the Stafford NAACP Youth Council. The program featured community leaders sharing literature and music in celebration of African American history. Hare presented about DHR’s A Guidebook to Virginia’s African American Historical Markers. View Hare’s presentation using this password: Va%%1607