Each year individuals, historical societies, civic groups, businesses, and local governments sponsor the creation of new historical highway markers. Since 1976, the Commonwealth of Virginia has required that a sponsor pay for the manufacture of an approved highway marker. Today that cost is about $1,770, as determined by the Ohio-based foundry (Sewah Studios) that manufactures the markers. In some jurisdictions, the sponsor also may be responsible for payment of expenses associated with installation of the sign.
The first step in proposing a new marker, however, costs nothing. It simply requires that a sponsor submit an application to DHR.
If you have an idea for a potential marker highlighting an historical person, place, event, or institution in Virginia, be sure that the topic meets the first criterion: It must have significance beyond the local level and extend, at the very least, to a regional level within the state (e.g. the Shenandoah Valley, Northern Virginia, Tidewater, etc.). For additional guidance and information about topic eligibility, see “Marker Criteria” in the application form and directions (at top of page).
Once an application is received by DHR for a proposed marker, DHR staff will determine if the marker fulfills the required eligibility. If the topic qualifies, the proposed marker’s text likely will be edited by DHR staff in consultation with our external advisory and editorial committee and with the sponsor to create a mutually agreed upon text. The goal during this process is to write a concise, polished, and historically accurate marker. After this phase is completed, DHR staff must then present the proposed marker to the Virginia Board of Historic Resources, which is authorized to approve state historical highway markers.
Department staff present proposed markers to the Virginia Board of Historic Resources during each of the board’s quarterly meetings, held in March, June, September, and December. For staff to place a proposed marker on the agenda of a slated board meeting, the sponsor must deliver a marker application to the department several months in advance. The application deadlines shown below allow time for DHR staff to evaluate each marker in consultation with the editorial and advisory committee and revise the marker text, as necessary, prior to submitting the proposed marker text to the Board of Historic Resources. (Please note that the schedule for presenting a marker to the board also is affected by variable factors such as staff work load, other agency projects, and the number of markers under consideration at any one time.)
Here is the schedule of deadlines for each board meeting:
Once a marker is approved by the board, a district representative from the Virginia Department of Transportation (or a local public works department, if the marker is to be placed in an independent town or city outside of VDOT’s authority) will meet with the sponsor to determine a suitable roadside site for placing the marker in the public right-of-way.
For a more detailed description of the marker application process, refer to the marker application form above.
If you have any questions about the application process after reviewing the marker criteria and procedures, please contact Jennifer R. Loux at (804) 482-6089.
Updated August 11, 2020