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The Virginia Department of Historic Resources is the State Historic Preservation Office.
Our mission is to foster, encourage, and support the stewardship of Virginia's significant historic architectural, archaeological, and cultural resources.
 

Programs and Services

Archaeology: Learn how to encourage and support the identification, stewardship, and use of Virginia’s archaeological resources. (See Collections.)
Archival Research: DHR maintains an in-person and large online research library including Special Collections, and survey and CRM reports.
Certified Local Government: Learn how communities strengthen and expand their local preservation programs through CLG designation.
Collections: State archaeological collections are housed at DHR’s Richmond HQ. See about conservation and technical advice, curation, and loans to qualified institutions for research and exhibit.
Community Outreach: DHR engages with African American and Virginia Indian communities to identify, document, and preserve history and historic resources.
Easements: Property owners can protect historic sites in perpetuity and retain ownership, use, and enjoyment of the property.
Educational Resources: For teachers and students, information about Virginia places, history, and First Peoples.
Events and Board Meetings: See about forthcoming public meetings and events.
Environmental Review: Find Section 106 info and how we can assist government agencies and proponents engaged in projects that may affect cultural resources.
Forms & Permits: Search by programs for specific documents.
Grants: DHR manages five state-funded grant programs, and several federally funded ones.
Highway Markers: Virginia markers highlight facts about persons, events, and places of national, state, or regional significance. Search an online database or learn how to apply for a marker.
Historic Registers: Learn about the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
Reports & Publications: Access online publications across a variety of programs, and learn about DHR- sponsored books.
Stewardship of State-Owned Historic Properties: Properties: Access DHR’s biennium report about historic state- owned properties; stewardship tools and practices; and the review process for state-owned property.
Survey & Planning: DHR’s survey program and our Cost Share grants support localities with preserving their historic assets.
Tax Credits for Historic Rehabilitations: Federal and state tax credits offer property owners incentives for preserving historic buildings. DHR administers both tax credit programs.
VCRIS:  DHR’s online cultural resources (GIS) database has info about historic properties and districts and archaeological sites.
VLR Online: Read about places listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places.

News

Virginia Archaeology Month 2022

Every October, Virginia celebrates archaeology through special events and programs at libraries, museums, historical societies, clubs, and at active archaeological sites. This year, DHR partnered with Jamestown Rediscovery to develop our Archaeology Month poster. The theme of the 2022 Archaeology Month poster is “Jamestown in the Land of Tsenacommacah” and it features a photograph of a small fraction of the Virginia Indian pottery recovered from pre-1610 contexts at Jamestown.

 

 

 

…continue reading the story
called Virginia Archaeology Month 2022

PERMIT APPLICATION – ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECOVERY OF HUMAN REMAINS – HISTORIC CHRIST CHURCH, LANCASTER COUNTY

The Department of Historic Resources has received a permit application for archaeological recovery of buried human remains located within the churchyard at Historic Christ Church in Weems, Virginia. Anyone with comments or concerns regarding the proposed recovery is invited to contact the Department and the Historic Christ Church Foundation. Comments must be received by close of business on October 19, 2022. Please see the formal public notice for more information [pdf]

DHR’s Strategic Plan 2022-2024

Download DHR’s Strategic Plan 2022-2024 [pdf]

Cornerstone Contributions: The Missing Masonic Connection

Washington as a Mason. , ca. 1868. Published by Currier Ives. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Washington as a Mason circa 1868. Published by Currier Ives. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Much has already been written on the history of dismantling and opening the cornerstone box recovered from the pedestal section of this monument, however, of particular significance to some, were the Masonic artifacts contained therein.  From my initial conversations, with the very kind people of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, it became apparent that the terms “Masonic” and “Freemasonry” were recognized, but were not well understood.  

With this article, I hope to clarify these terms, as a cursory search of the internet will present one with a host of misinformation.  To know what Freemasonry truly is, will help my explanation, later in this commentary, of the artifacts discovered in the copper cornerstone box.
…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: The Missing Masonic Connection

The New Dominion: Surveying Virginia’s Midcentury Modern Architecture

This month, DHR celebrates Virginia’s rich and often overlooked history of mid-century modern architecture. Over the last several years, DHR staff collaborated with the Virginia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects to carry out a statewide architectural survey of mid-century modern places. The survey focused on documenting buildings, parks, districts, and many other resources constructed between 1945 and 1991 and representative of popular architectural styles from that period. The resulting survey materials expand DHR’s inventory of mid-century modern buildings, build upon the Agency’s long-running New Dominion Virginia Initiative, and increase the Agency’s ability to support the stewardship of Virginia’s recent past. Later this year, DHR will issue a summary report providing more information about the “recent past” survey project. In the meantime, here are a few themes highlighting mid-century modern designs from across the state.

…continue reading the story
called The New Dominion: Surveying Virginia’s Midcentury Modern Architecture

FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR THE CARE OF HISTORICAL AFRICAN AMERICAN CEMETERIES AND GRAVES

The Department of Historic Resources is pleased to announce the availability of grants for the care and maintenance of historical African American cemeteries and gravesites in Virginia. It is also our pleasure to announce that the General Assembly has amended Code of Virginia §10.1-2211.2 to extend the eligibility date. As of July 1, 2022, any grave, monument, or marker placed in an African American cemetery that is associated with a person buried prior to January 1, 1948 will now be eligible to receive funding. Grants are available to qualified charitable organizations established to care for historical African American cemeteries as well as to persons and local governments that own historical African American cemeteries.
To apply, please visit our Grants page  – please contact Joanna Wilson Green at joanna.wilson@dhr.virginia.gov or 804-482-6098 with any questions.

Preservation Academy Series

On March 9th, Preservation Virginia and DHR launched the “Virginia Preservation Academy,” a series of 4 virtual, educational webinars on the fundamentals of historic preservation.  The Academy featured live evening lectures from preservation professionals with direct interaction between participants and panelists and was designed toward a diverse audience of preservation professionals, volunteers, students, architectural review board members, stewards of historic places, local government staff, community leaders, owners of historic properties, and anyone else who was interested in learning more about historic preservation. …continue reading the story
called Preservation Academy Series

Learn about history across Virginia with DHR’s Places Explorer

A new web app from DHR Archives

A new web app from DHR Archives

https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/PlacesExplorer

Use your mobile device or computer to learn about places listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places, read the text of local historical highway markers, and get a feel for just how much archaeology and architecture surrounds us. …continue reading the story
called Learn about history across Virginia with DHR’s Places Explorer

New Tool: Report a Cemetery to DHR

Grave marker.
A gravestone at Mount Fair slave cemetery in Albemarle Co. (Photo courtesy of John Macfarlane)

Do you know about a cemetery that needs attention?

Make sure that DHR knows about it, too!

Report it to us with our new online map tool and form. Using your mobile device or computer, provide DHR with some basic information about the cemetery and its location. We will check our records and connect a DHR staff member with you for follow up.

And please note: Recording a cemetery using this form will begin the process of adding it to our databases at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, but it does not guarantee protection of the burial ground.

New: Virginia’s Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan, 2022–2027

CoverAs Virginia’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), DHR is mandated to periodically develop and publish a Statewide Comprehensive Preservation Plan (under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended). On November 10, 2021 DHR published Virginia’s Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan, 2022–2027. The plan is far-reaching and intended both to inspire and to represent the work of the diverse stakeholders who benefit and who shape the future of Virginia’s historic landscape. The plan’s goals, objectives, and outlined strategies target DHR’s next six-year planning cycle, 2022 through 2027.

“. . . this plan envisions a time when historic places are more fully valued and recognized as assets for education, tourism, environmental sustainability, and economic vitality. It is built on the premise that everyone’s history has value and that, because historic properties are a source of connection and pride, they play an important role in building stronger communities,” writes DHR Director Julie V. Langan in her message to introduce the plan.

Community Outreach Coordination

Sponsors of marker pose after unveiling
Sponsors of the “Mount Calvary Cemetery Complex” gather after its unveiling in Portsmouth in 2016.

Meaningfully engaging with African Americans and Virginia Indians

(See below for Special Announcements & Opportunities.)

DHR acknowledges that meaningful collaboration with African American and Virginia Indian communities towards the development and implementation of preservation agendas has been regrettably limited. Neglect and a lack of direct engagement has led to the loss of many historic properties of significance to these constituencies. Moreover, many such resources are not represented in the Virginia Cultural Resource Information System (VCRIS).

…continue reading the story
called Community Outreach Coordination

African American Watermen Project

Flyer announcing project.
A postcard announcing the project.

The renowned seafood industry of the Chesapeake Bay would not have been possible without the contributions of generations of African Americans.

Following the Civil War, self-employment in oystering, crabbing, fishing, and boat building provided independence and self-sufficiency for Black watermen. Labor employment opportunities also supported the processing, packing, and shipping of seafood to all parts of the eastern United States.

…continue reading the story
called African American Watermen Project

What Is Meant by “Historic Resource Survey”

In preservation circles and at DHR, people often refer to a “historic resources survey.” In this brief video (5 min.), DHR’s Blake McDonald, manager of the Architectural Survey & Cost Share Grant Program, explains clearly what exactly such a survey is and entails—and why it does not affect property owners or their property (beyond documenting the property’s historic character).

Subscribe to DHR’s Newsletters

DHR Newsletter Banner

DHR now has two newsletters: a DHR Quarterly Newsletter, and a newsletter for Register Program Updates. We invite you to subscribe to our newsletters.  Once you have signed, you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Any questions or problems, please contact us (Choose “General Questions in the Contact Form.“). We look forward to hearing from you and keeping you up to date with DHR’s register programs and other preservation news and Virginia history.

 

Blogs

Virginia Archaeology Month 2022

Every October, Virginia celebrates archaeology through special events and programs at libraries, museums, historical societies, clubs, and at active archaeological sites. This year, DHR partnered with Jamestown Rediscovery to develop our Archaeology Month poster. The theme of the 2022 Archaeology Month poster is “Jamestown in the Land of Tsenacommacah” and it features a photograph of a small fraction of the Virginia Indian pottery recovered from pre-1610 contexts at Jamestown.

 

 

 

…continue reading the story
called Virginia Archaeology Month 2022

Cornerstone Contributions: The Missing Masonic Connection

Washington as a Mason. , ca. 1868. Published by Currier Ives. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Washington as a Mason circa 1868. Published by Currier Ives. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Much has already been written on the history of dismantling and opening the cornerstone box recovered from the pedestal section of this monument, however, of particular significance to some, were the Masonic artifacts contained therein.  From my initial conversations, with the very kind people of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, it became apparent that the terms “Masonic” and “Freemasonry” were recognized, but were not well understood.  

With this article, I hope to clarify these terms, as a cursory search of the internet will present one with a host of misinformation.  To know what Freemasonry truly is, will help my explanation, later in this commentary, of the artifacts discovered in the copper cornerstone box.
…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: The Missing Masonic Connection

History on the James, Batteaux From the 18th to the 21st Centuries

History on the James, Batteaux From the 18th to the 21st Centuries

A peeled sapling, roughly eighteen feet long, plunges into the water and strikes bottom with a gravelly ‘thunk’. You are now connected with the riverbed and lean forward, putting a shoulder to the pole to bear your weight. At the same time, you start walking forward – pushing. Below you, wooden planks polished by sandy feet glide by like some prehistoric treadmill. Look down and count the ribs, eight will pass under you before the short walk is over. The boat moves forward, a small wake vees out from the bow and heads towards the bank line marking your progress. Turn, lift the pole, and walk back to do it again. Plant the pole and stamp, plant and stamp, plant and stamp. This is the rhythm of the boatman and an ancient human connection to our rivers.
…continue reading the story
called History on the James, Batteaux From the 18th to the 21st Centuries

Cornerstone Contributions: Black Richmonders, the Lee Monument, and the Lost Cause Redux

John Mitchell’s Richmond Planet prophecy on the Lee Monument, June 7, 1890. Public Domain
John Mitchell’s Richmond Planet prophecy on the Lee Monument, June 7, 1890. Public Domain

Throughout America’s long history, someone’s heroes are often someone else’s villains. This guest blog is an historical overview of Black Richmonders’ reactions to the Lee Monument’s 1890 dedication ceremonies in the context of the racial times and the Lost Cause as a sociopolitical force. At the intersection of the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries, as communities reassess who and what they memorialize, Confederate monuments require meaningful forms of redress to old grievances. Efforts to banish such monuments from public spaces reflect conflicted memories of what some historians characterize as “The War that Never Ended.”

…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: Black Richmonders, the Lee Monument, and the Lost Cause Redux

Cornerstone Contributions: 12 Copper Coins from Two Little Boys

Coins, individual wrappings, group wrapping, note, and twine donated to the Lee cornerstone box by the Harwoods, image courtesy of DHR
Coins, individual wrappings, group wrapping, note, and twine donated to the Lee cornerstone box by the Harwoods, image courtesy of DHR

Could there be a more appropriate thing to place in a cornerstone or time capsule than a thoughtfully chosen coin?  Not in my opinion.  They are almost always dated and are a cultural reflection of those who selected them for inclusion.  The fact that coins were included in the time capsule entombed in the Massachusetts State House in 1795 by Samuel Adams and Paul Revere shows they thought so too.[1]  No one should have been surprised to see American coins when the contents of the copper box found in the Lee Monument were revealed after 134 years.

 

 

…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: 12 Copper Coins from Two Little Boys

Cornerstone Contributions: Muster at High Tide: The June 30th Muster Roll of the Petersburg Old Grays, Co. B, 12th Virginia Infantry

Colonel D.A. Weisiger on left with Lieutenant Leoferick Marks on the right. Both are wearing Virginia State Militia uniforms, 1860, image courtesy of William D. Henderson via Wikimedia Commons
Colonel D.A. Weisiger on left with Lieutenant Leoferick Marks on the right, is photographed here prior to the Civil War in his militia uniform, 1860, image courtesy of William D. Henderson via Wikimedia Commons

The American Civil War has often been described as a “rich man’s war – poor man’s fight”, a perspective borne out by disproportionate suffering of the lower and middle-class compared to an educated, wealthy elite. Wealth frequently allowed men the ability to buy their way out of service by hiring a substitute or to be exempted from service in the South by owning more than twenty slaves. Most regiments, both north and south, were filled with poorer farmers or industrial laborers. As the war drew on, and the armies more hungry for soldiers, more and more farms and factories were emptied of their labor to feed the blood baths that were Antietam, Cold Harbor, Chickamauga, and many more battles. Many were conscripts, immigrants who stepped off the boat and into a foreign war, or volunteers who simply had no other choice but to fight. The 12th Virginia Regiment of Virginia Infantry was a bit different.

…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: Muster at High Tide: The June 30th Muster Roll of the Petersburg Old Grays, Co. B, 12th Virginia Infantry

Cornerstone Contributions: Creating Monument Avenue

Postcard of Monument Avenue and the Lee Monument, Richmond VA, mid-20th century, image courtesy of Virginia Commonwealth University Archives
Postcard of Monument Avenue and the Lee Monument, Richmond VA, mid-20th century, image courtesy of Virginia Commonwealth University Archives

The story of the creation of Monument Avenue consists of several intertwined subplots: how the avenue came to exist, how it became an avenue both of monuments and of houses, and how mythmaking influenced which Confederates deserved monuments.  Although this story is closely connected to the Civil War, the street evolved amid efforts to expand the city in the decades after the war.  Making it an avenue of Confederate monuments between 1890 and 1929 was part of a deliberate reinterpretation of Southern history half a generation after the conflict ended.

 

 

…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: Creating Monument Avenue

Cornerstone Contributions: The Richmond Sharpshooters, Company H, 23rd Virginia Infantry Confederate Veteran’s Muster Roll

The Donor

Who deposited this item in the cornerstone box? Why did he deposit it? George T. Mattern, a private in Company H of the 23rd Virginia

Muster-Roll of the Richmond Sharpshooters (image courtesy of DHR)
Muster-Roll of the Richmond Sharpshooters (image courtesy of DHR)

Regiment, placed the muster roll in the cornerstone box.  His service records indicate he enlisted in May 1861, was captured in 1864, and released from confinement at Fort Delaware after taking an oath to not take up arms against the US government in May of 1865 (https://www.fold3.com/ ).  He does not appear to have been involved with Confederate Veteran organizations but it is known that he served as a police officer during the unveiling of the Lee Monument (SHSP 1889:257). Only George Mattern knows the reasons why he deposited his unit muster roll in the cornerstone box, but perhaps he thought it fitting since his unit was part of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: The Richmond Sharpshooters, Company H, 23rd Virginia Infantry Confederate Veteran’s Muster Roll

Cornerstone Contributions: Buttoning on a Navy in Haste

Confederate Naval Recruiting Poster, Issued at New Berne, North Carolina, 1863
Confederate Naval Recruiting Poster, Issued at New Berne, North Carolina, 1863 (Image courtesy of the National Archives)

A small, brass lapel pin made from a button was found in the cornerstone box from the Lee Monument. It comes from a Confederate naval officer’s uniform and bears the seal of the Confederate States Navy. When we think of the Civil War, the navies of both sides are frequently forgotten, but the Civil War at sea was an important part of the struggle. Blue and gray sailors fought on the high seas as well as in muddy rivers to control territory and keep vital supply lines open. This little button highlights the importance of naval conflict during the Civil War. …continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: Buttoning on a Navy in Haste

Cornerstone Contributions: In Other News … Stories from the Daily Times, October 23, 1887

Event organizers included several newspapers featuring stories related to the dedication of the cornerstone in the Lee Monument’s cornerstone box. One such paper, listed in an inventory of the cornerstone box, was the October 23, 1887, issue of the Daily Times. One half-page article of the eight-page paper discussed the upcoming dedication of the Lee Monument’s cornerstone. By exploring the other seven-and-a-half pages of the paper, a light can be shined on trends and oddities of local, state, and national politics and culture.

The Daily Times

The Civil War caused a huge demand for information across the nation. Even after the war ended, demand remained high, and cities all over the U.S. saw an explosion of new publications. High circulation numbers also led to political influence and large profits for publishers, encouraging even more opportunistic entrepreneurs into the business. As Virginia’s capital, Richmond was an especially rich newspaper market. Post-war demand resulted in the Daily Times being one of more than twenty papers published in the city by 1887.[1]

Masthead, The Daily Times October 23, 1887 (DHR)
Masthead, The Daily Times October 23, 1887 (DHR)

…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: In Other News … Stories from the Daily Times, October 23, 1887

Cornerstone Contributions: Where Are the Women?

Jubal Early, portrait in civilian clothes
Jubal Early, portrait in civilian clothes.

White women served a critical role in the planning, fundraising, and design of the Lee monument yet none of the objects in the cornerstone box reflect their work. The only items related to women are a report of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (a group never involved in the Lee Monument) and several items women donated, all of which focused on veterans.

Among the myriad objects placed in the cornerstone box, it is curious that none reflects the central role Confederate women played in the Lee Monument’s creation. The only items related to women are a report of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (a group never involved in the Lee Monument) and several items women donated, all of which focused on veterans. Despite Confederate veterans’ near constant adulation of Confederate women at Memorial Day speeches and other occasions, perhaps the two-decade long battle they had endured with Richmond’s women over the monument had driven them to conveniently forget the critical role white women had served in the planning, fundraising, and design of the Lee Monument.
…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: Where Are the Women?

Cornerstone Contributions: Biography of a Contribution: the Nolting Note

Cornerstone inventory published in the October 26, 1887 The Richmond Dispatch
Cornerstone inventory published in the October 26, 1887 The Richmond Dispatch

How many of you contributed to a time capsule as a kid? The 1877 Lee Monument Cornerstone inventory included a listing of a “Master Nolting – $10 Confederate note.[1]” However, it didn’t mention the letter included with the currency, an image and transcription of which can be seen below.

…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: Biography of a Contribution: the Nolting Note

Cornerstone Contributions: Analyzing the Past: Analysis of Carlton McCarthy’s Army of Northern Virginia Badge

Carlton McCarthy’s Army of Northern Virginia Badge from cornerstone box
Carlton McCarthy’s Army of Northern Virginia Badge from cornerstone box, dated “1861-1865”. Photo: Hannah Sanner

The author describes the challenges inherent in the preservation of artifacts composed of different materials, and in the specific identification of each of those materials.  The particular example discussed in this post is an Army of Northern Virginia Badge included in the Lee Monument cornerstone by Carlton McCarthy, mayor of Richmond from 1904-1908.

Nestled among the belongings of Richmond Mayor Carlton McCarthy, the cornerstone box revealed a small medal suspended on a ribbon. This object is one of only three textile-based artifacts found within the box. On first glance, the medal appears to be an enamel Confederate flag attached to a red and white striped ribbon that is missing the pin. The placard is the Army of Northern Virginia Battle Flag inscribed with “A.N.V” at the bottom [1]. Other iterations of this medal are marked with the respective soldier’s division or engraved on the back, but McCarthy’s award is not personalized.
…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: Analyzing the Past: Analysis of Carlton McCarthy’s Army of Northern Virginia Badge

Cornerstone Contributions: Annual Reunion Pegram Battalion Association

 

Overall side one of R.E. Lee Monument copper container item. Photo: DHR
Overall side one of R.E. Lee Monument copper container item. Photo: DHR

The author examines the growth of Confederate veterans’ organizations in the late 19th century, with a focus on the association of those who had fought under the command of Col. William Pegram in the 3rd Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia.
…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: Annual Reunion Pegram Battalion Association