New Listings, March 2014
From Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay to caverns in the central Shenandoah Valley, eleven sites approved for listing in the Virginia Landmarks Register represent important threads in the tapestry of Virginia history from the colonial to the post-World War II eras. The new listings cover sites in the counties of Accomack, Fauquier, Frederick, Gloucester, Rockingham, and Warren, and the cities of Danville, Richmond, and Virginia Beach.
To view photos and read a summary of each site, use the arrows (top and bottom) to scroll through the slides or select a site from the drop-down menu above.
Covering about 4,400 acres of scenic landscape, Carter's Run Rural Historic District contains estates, farm and tenant houses, and barns, silos, and other agricultural buildings. The earliest standing building in the district dates from around 1790. The district’s development during the course of 200 years reflects its farming and agricultural land use and history. The Carter’s Run district is also associated with the activities of Confederate raider Col. John Singleton Mosby.
Overlooking the Virginia Beach oceanfront since 1927, The Cavalier Hotel is the most iconic building in the city, representing its development from a sleepy seaside town to a nationally known beach resort.
An excellent example of Jeffersonian inspired Classical Revival architecture, it is the last of the pre-World War II beachfront hotels in the city. Embodying the “Roaring Twenties” era of luxury and an elite clientele, The Cavalier Hotel distinguished itself from other grand hotels of its day through its prominent perch overlooking the Atlantic and its dominance over the then-small town of Virginia Beach.
During World War II the Navy used the hotel as a radar training school. After the war, it re-opened as a resort hotel.
The Hermitage Road Warehouse Historic District is associated with Richmond’s industrial growth and history from 1913 through 1958. The district captures a cohesive group of early-to-mid-20th century warehouse buildings exhibiting unadorned architecture and engineering trends of the period and representing some of the city's most prominent businesses including Export Leaf Tobacco (the purchasing arm of British American Tobacco), J. P. Taylor Co. (a subsidiary of Universal Leaf), Miller & Rhoads, and the A. H. Robins Company.
An elegant Italianate-style brick house, Lackawanna was built in 1869 on a 1.75-acre site overlooking the South Fork of the Shenandoah River in the Riverton area of Front Royal in Warren County. The house was built for Dorastus Cone who came to the Shenandoah Valley from the Lackawanna Valley of Pennsylvania to operate a large merchant mill and other businesses. Unusual for its time, the house was constructed with a bathroom with running water and walk-in closets. In 1904 a Classical Revival-style front porch was added to the house. Now operating as the Lackawanna Bed and Breakfast, the house was rehabilitated beginning in the late 1990s.
The Mechanicsville Historic District emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a distinctive, ethnically mixed neighborhood of tradesmen, educators, skilled workmen, and laborers associated with Danville’s textile and tobacco industries.
The district’s oldest surviving building is a former tobacco prizery built around 1880, a vestige of the tobacco industry that was once prominent in the area. As Mechanicsville grew, churches and social halls were built to serve residents. The churches and fraternal organizations located along High Street were anchors of the African-American community.
Built in 1901, the High Street Baptist Church, an excellent example of the Romanesque Revival style, was constructed for an African-American congregation and has ties to the Civil Rights Movement. Its former pastor Reverend Lendell W. Chase was a civil rights activist and president of the Danville Christian Progressive Association. The church served as the headquarters for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee while it helped to organize protests in Danville. In 1963, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made a speech at High Street Baptist Church, tying Mechanicsville to a pivotal era in American history.
In the central Shenandoah Valley, the Melrose Caverns and Harrison Farmstead is a 142-acre property in Rockingham County along U.S. Route 11. Visited by both Union and Confederate soldiers – some of whom left their names on its walls – during military campaigns through the area during the Civil War, Melrose Caverns was opened in 1929 as a roadside tourist attraction for travelers along the Valley Pike, which had recently been improved for auto travel as U.S. Route 11.
Originally named the Blue Grottoes of Virginia and Civil War Museum, Melrose Caverns closed in 1967 after business declined in large part due to the opening of Interstate 81, which diverted tourists and travelers away from U.S. 11.
Today’s property retains a 1929 filling station constructed of limestone (“bluestone”) and a rustic bluestone lodge that was part of the caverns business complex. The property also features a vernacular circa-1859 Greek Revival-style farmhouse and agricultural buildings associated with the Harrison Farmstead, including a log summer kitchen which dates to around 1820.
Located on nearly three acres in Frederick County, Millbank is one of the few remaining antebellum buildings in an area affiliated with the Third Battle of Winchester, which occurred September 19-23, 1864. The large house and surrounding fields provided ample space for essential medical care of wounded and dying Union soldiers until the Sheridan Field Hospital could be assembled near Shawnee Springs on the 22nd and 23rd of September. During the war, Millbank’s owner Daniel T. Wood joined other Quakers in the area as a Union sympathizer, as evidenced by a protection order issued for his property in 1863 by Union Gen. Robert H. Milroy. Wood’s loyalties exemplify a trend among Quakers, who often broke vows of pacifism to support the Union and fight for the abolition of slavery. Abandoned and in disrepair today, the house is owned by the Fort Collier Civil War Center in Winchester, which plans to rehabilitate the building and use it for office space for preservation/history organizations.
Situated on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River
in Rockingham County, Plains Mill is a merchant mill that evolved to reflect changes
in milling technology from its original construction in 1847-49 through the 1950s. A boldly
flowing spring that powered the mill’s wheel first attracted millers to the site
as early as the colonial period.
Built by Dr. Solomon Henkel and his son, Siram, the timber-frame, five-story mill replaced an earlier mill. Many original features survive today including Dutch doors hung on decorative strap hinges and a massive husk frame that supported the gearing.
In the early 20th century, the mill was converted to the roller milling process and it preserves a wealth of specialized equipment from the period. Construction of terra-cotta block grain bins ca. 1923, and of cinder block and frame feed mill, machine shop, and warehouse additions and a separate office in the 1940s and 1950s, round out the mill site’s evolution.
[Note: No photos are shown of this site in order to protect its archaeological resources.]
A rural Euro-American domestic site, Point Lookout Archaeological Site is located on Robins Neck in Gloucester County and dates to the period 1642-1859. The primary archaeological resource at the center of the property is a mid-17th- to mid-18th-century domestic site, which are the remains of John Robins' circa-1642 dwelling, one of the earliest documented historic dwellings in Gloucester County, for which the Robins Neck peninsula was named. A contributing secondary archaeological resource is late 17th- to early 18th-century trash pit and a 19th-century ash/refuse area associated with a standing smokehouse. Point Lookout has been documented to be the surviving centerpiece of a historically larger property that encompassed the northeastern tip of Robins Neck from the mid-18th through mid-20th centuries.
The Tangier Island Historic District encompasses architectural and archaeological resources on this tiny island in the Chesapeake Bay that is a traditional watermen’s community and part of Accomack County.
Prior to the arrival of Europeans successive groups of indigenous people harvested marine life and other resources on the island for millennia, a tradition maintained through contact with European explorers during the 17th century. While livestock overseers may have resided on the island as early as the 17th century, the first recorded settlement occurred in 1778. Island settlers emigrated from England’s Cornwall and Devon areas, possibly the origin of the unique spoken accent shared by today’s Tangierians. Fort Albion on a part of the island now submerged beneath the bay's waters. Starting in the 1840s, harvesting oysters and fish became islanders’ primary economic activity. By the late 19th century, oysters and blue crabs emerged as the primary commercial export to mostly northern markets, especially in Baltimore and New York City.
By 1900, over 1,000 people lived on the Island. Today, it remains Virginia’s only watermen community largely dependent on seafood commerce, with about 60-to-70 watermen using traditional Deadrise boats (the official boat of Virginia).
Surrounded by a scenic Piedmont landscape, The Plains Historic District in Fauquier County covers about 130 acres. The area was first identified as “The Plains” or “White Plains” on maps as early as the 1820s, and in 1831 a post office was established there. The arrival of the Manassas Gap Railroad in the early 1850s spurred its emergence as a commercial center and hub for surrounding agricultural estates.
Along with its surviving residences, the community features several well-preserved institutional, commercial, and transportation-related buildings, and a rare Masonic lodge building and four churches. During the first three decades of the 20th century, The Plains was reinvigorated and transformed by the relocation of the fox hunting operation the Orange County (New York) Hunt to Fauquier County. The district’s historic buildings reflect its growth from 1850 through the early 1960s.