Nine Historic Sites Pending Nomination to the Va. Landmarks Register
—Pending VLR listings are in the counties of Bath, Hanover, Page, Rockbridge, and Rockingham; and the cites of Lynchburg, Newport News, Roanoke, and Williamsburg—
—Sites are associated with the history of African Americans, education, railroads, and 20th-century architecture and commerce—
A former plantation cemetery for enslaved African Americans, and a one-time rural town hall and a Pennsylvania-style barn in the Shenandoah Valley are among nine sites pending nomination to the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
Staff members of DHR were to present the nine nominations to the Virginia Board of Historic Resources and the State Review Board during their combined quarterly meetings in March. However, DHR postponed that meeting due to the public health threat stemming from the coronavirus.
The Pending Nominations:
In Hanover County, the Hickory Hill Slave and African American Cemetery is important for its direct association with the historical experience of blacks in Virginia during slavery and through the Civil War, Reconstruction, and into the mid-20th century. Known burials span from around 1820 to about 1938.
Exceptionally well-documented, rare historical records deepen the cemetery’s significance. W. F. Wickham’s “Plantation Diaries,” penned between September 1828 into January 1864, record the names and death dates of enslaved persons, and frequently indicate kinship and, in some cases, the age of individuals. A descendants’ community of those directly related to the persons buried at the Hickory Hill cemetery has maintained ties to the burial ground to the present day.
The Wickham family resided at Hickory Hill for multiple generations through the 20th century. Their relationships with African Americans who lived at and nearby Hickory Hill continued until the family sold the property in the early 2000s. Due to the length and stability of these relationships, additional documentation survives concerning the freedmen’s communities established near Hickory Hill during Reconstruction, the 1870s founding of Providence Baptist Church by emancipated blacks, and the establishment of a school for African American students during the era of segregation.
In Rockingham County, Deering Hall was Broadway’s town hall from the time of its construction around 1890 until 1933, when the town leased it to a motor company, which purchased it in 1940. Its design and wood-frame construction conforms to town halls erected elsewhere in Rockingham County and the Shenandoah Valley during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The two-story building featured a first-floor commercial space and open second floor, where town officials conducted government meetings.
Built during a boom era made possible by the proliferation of railroads, the building stood at the center of Broadway, between Main Street and the tracks of the Baltimore & Ohio Railway. With easy access to the railroad at the building’s rear for shipping and receiving goods and a prominent facade fronting Main Street, a mercantile store originally occupied the first floor. It sold fertilizer and William Deering & Co. farm goods and machinery, which likely explains how the building got its name.
During its early decades, the second floor, in addition to providing space for town government, variously housed a public school, opera company, Masonic Temple Hall, silent movie theater, and an auction hall. From 1940 to 1983, various owners used the building mostly for warehouse storage, and from 1983 until 2015, an automotive electric service occupied it.
The Brown-Swisher Barn, in Rockbridge County’s Walkers Creek Valley, embodies the distinctive characteristics of bank barn (or Pennsylvania barn) construction, a form of Swiss origins that German settlers brought to the Shenandoah Valley. A local barn builder erected the pegged mortise-and-tenon, timber-frame structure around 1918, during a nationwide agricultural boom in farm values sparked by World War I.
The Brown-Swisher Barn’s character-defining aspects include its placement against a bank to provide wheeled access to its upper level haymow, threshing floor, hay drops and forebay; the latter created by an overshoot or overhang of the lower level and foundation, resulting in one of the most distinctive elements of the bank barn form. The lower level consists of animal stalls with Dutch doors and slatted vents and an interior lane or run for livestock. The current owner is restoring the barn.
Built in 1890, pre-dating the restoration and building campaigns of the 1920s that established Colonial Williamsburg, the Victorian period Dora Armistead House once stood on Duke of Gloucester Street—in the heart of the colonial restoration, where its Queen Anne–style architecture made it increasingly incompatible with surrounding buildings. It also stood on the footprint and utilized part of the foundation of a colonial-era coffeehouse that the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (CWF) desired to reconstruct.
One of Williamsburg’s best surviving illustrations of late Queen Anne style, the house remained in the Armistead family until the mid-1990s when heir Judge Robert T. Armistead and his wife, Sarah, donated it to CWF on the condition it be relocated to other land owned by the foundation, a move accomplished in 1995.
Between 1985 and 1993, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (now Preservation Virginia) operated Armistead House, which the Laura Ashley company decorated, as a museum showcasing residential 19th-century architecture and interior design. Today the house stands on North Henry Street.
Just north of the Town of Luray in Page County, around 1858 prominent county resident Joseph Rhodes Almond built the Almond-Winslow House, a fusing of Greek Revival style and Italianate detailing in its well-crafted brick construction. Italianate elements are found in the house’s symmetrically placed brackets with drop pendants, arched double door with arched windows, all of which are combined with Greek Revival-style features such as a one-bay porch supported by columns and corner brick pilasters. The house is one of the best examples of early transitional Greek Revival to Italianate architecture in the Page Valley. With the exception of a bathroom added to its west side, the dwelling largely retains its original exterior and interior appearance. The property also includes an historic circa-1858 meat house with connected summer kitchen.
Established in 1903 as Virginia Christian College, the second-oldest co-educational institution in Virginia, the University of Lynchburg (previously known as Lynchburg College) completed construction of Carnegie Hall in 1909. A prominent campus building, it served as a men’s dormitory with its own dining room, achieving the college founders’ goal of creating separate spheres for men and women in a co-educational setting—a controversial notion at the time. Carnegie Hall helped the college limit contact between the sexes to the chapel, classroom, and carefully chaperoned social events.
The second-oldest academic building at the university, Carnegie Hall is a Colonial Revival-style building, named for benefactor Andrew Carnegie, consisting of three separate housing units. In 1918, the college removed the dorm’s dining area to encourage dialogue and consensus among male students by providing space for the Men’s Dormitory Government. Over the next half-century, the student experience at Carnegie Hall evolved along with the modernization of the college, making the building locally important for its role in the history of higher education in Virginia.
The Salvation Army Citadel on Salem Avenue in Roanoke operated from its construction in 1941 until 2018, although the organization’s presence in Roanoke began in 1884. Offering charitable and religious services to the surrounding community, the Salvation Army adhered to the practice of racial equality during an era of rigid racial segregation. Roanoke’s Salvation Army Citadel fulfilled an important institutional role by improving the lives of many people in the area through its social service initiatives. Local government, business, and religious leaders supported the Salvation Army and its mission in the Roanoke Valley. The building is also important as an example of Colonial Revival architecture in Roanoke.
Designed by the noted local architecture firm Eubank & Caldwell, Salvation Army Citadel’s Colonial Revival features include its three-part, highly symmetrical façade, with cut stone pilasters flanking the central entrance. Colonial Revival styling in the entrance is expressed in its half-circle fanlight transom, recessed in a cut stone arch-top surround with a keystone, surmounted by a triple window. The exterior of red brick veneer laid in a variant of Flemish bond has brick quoins at the outside corners, cut stone at the water table, a molded cornice, and jack arches spanning the windows. The rear gymnasium echoes the Colonial Revival design with its large round-arched windows, brick pilasters with stone cap, and brick pediment with stone coping.
Constructed between 1929 and 1930 in Bath County on acreage where an earlier school for African Americans stood, the T. C. Walker School is one of two schools constructed in the county with assistance from the Rosenwald Fund, one of the most successful initiatives to provide universal schooling for black students during the era of segregation. Conceived by Booker T. Washington, president of the Tuskegee Institute, and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Company, the fund provided money to leverage other private and public funds to construct more than 5,000 schools for African Americans throughout the South, with more than 380 constructed in Virginia.
For the Walker school, the Rosenwald Fund contributed $500 toward its construction, the county $3,595, and the black community $505. Based on plans the Rosenwald fund supplied, the building was a two-classroom school with banks of large windows and a movable partition. It operated until 1965, when the county integrated its public schools. Afterwards, the building sat vacant for a number of years before its conversion to apartments. By turns, it has also housed a hat and pocketbook factory, a photography studio, and accounting office.
Among the few remaining structures along Newport News’ once thriving 23rd Street “warehouse row,” the Walker-Wilkins-Bloxom Warehouse Historic District consists of three Industrial Commercial-style buildings constructed in 1906. All three served for the storage and distribution of goods into and out of the region from a once-prosperous downtown commercial center. Home to several locally prominent wholesale produce companies including H. B. Walker & Sons, Wilkins Provisions & Company, and the Bloxom Bros & Company, the three warehouses stood historically adjacent the tracks and spurs of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway on the edge of downtown.
During Urban Renewal activities of the 1960s, the city destroyed most of its once numerous Industrial Commercial warehouses including along 23rd Street. As a result, Walker-Wilkins-Bloxom Warehouse Historic District preserves a sampling of the city’s once prevalent Industrial Commercial warehouses in its large, two- to three-story masonry rectangular, flat-roof buildings. With few windows and minimal exterior brickwork ornament, the buildings are utilitarian in form, and their interiors feature cork-lined walls, a freezer door, loading doors, a conveyor belt, and freight elevators that convey their historic uses and functions.
The nomination forms and additional photographs for each of these sites are available on the DHR website's Boards' Activities webpage. DHR has yet to determine but will announce when the cancelled quarterly meetings of the Board of Historic Resources and State Review Board will convene to formally consider these nine nominations to the state and national registers.