Department of Historic Resources
For Immediate Release
March 22, 2017

Randy Jones
Department of Historic Resources
540.578-3031 (cell)


—New listings cover historic sites in the counties of Chesterfield, Culpeper, Fairfax, Franklin, Giles (2), Lancaster, Loudoun, Roanoke, and Rockingham; and the cities of Alexandria, Harrisonburg, Petersburg, Richmond, Salem, and Williamsburg—

—VLR listings will be forwarded for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places—

RICHMOND – A mid-20th century church in Williamsburg associated with the oldest continuously active African American congregation in the United States, a post-World War II planned village in Fairfax County, and two Confederate Civil War memorials are among the 16 sites added to the Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) by the Department of Historic Resources this month.

Constructed in 1956, the two-story Colonial Revival-style First Baptist Church in Williamsburg is nationally important as home to country’s oldest and continuously active black congregation, a religious community that has endured for some 250 years while overcoming religious prejudices and oppression.

Prior to the American Revolution, the nondenominational colonial congregation faced restrictions imposed by the British, which mandated state support for the Anglican Church and limited the religious rights of dissenting denominations to worship and proselytize. The Revolutionary War led to the disestablishment of the Anglican Church and the advent of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786. All the same, throughout the antebellum period First Baptist’s African American congregation endured interference in its church organization as well as imposed oversight of worship practices by white ministers. Church congregants also had to meet special conditions for membership in the Dover Baptist Association that derived from centuries of legislation and custom that severely restricted the rights of free African Americans and protected the institution of slavery.

After the Civil War, the congregation and the clergy promoted general and theological education for African Americans in Williamsburg and surrounding areas, and during Reconstruction in the 1870s the church’s minister was elected to statewide office. During the 1960s the church clergy and congregation also participated in organizations and activities of the Civil Rights Movement.

The First Baptist Church building is one of two known examples of ecclesiastical architecture designed by Bernard Spigel, a prominent Virginia architect. His design deftly interprets the Colonial Revival-style, heavily influenced by the nearby restoration architecture of Colonial Williamsburg.

 In Fairfax County, the Lake Anne Village Center, constructed between 1963 and 1967, was the first village of the planned community of Reston, and as such is part of the nation’s first zoned planned unit community. The Village Center articulates the seven goals of Reston founder, Robert E. Simon Jr., and illustrates his insistence on an open, pedestrian-friendly, and integrated community prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Lake Anne Village Center’s influences derive from the English Garden City movement, as well as European plazas, and townhouses of the urban areas of the northeastern U.S. The complex, consisting of retail spaces, restaurants, an open court, and residential units, features Brutalist-influenced architecture tempered by its human scale and medieval elements. For its era, the complex presented a shockingly modern design in an area where single-family Colonial Revival homes dominated.

Lake Anne Village Center showcased the new town movement, with social, architectural, and land-use development innovations—elements internationally recognized today for influencing subsequent planned developments in the U.S. and around the world.

Two Confederate memorials—one in Alexandria, another in Harrisonburg—were individually listed on the historic registers based on criteria for exceptional significance established by Virginia’s Board of Historic Resources and State Review Board, and the National Park Service. Both memorials exhibit qualities that uniquely distinguish each one from other public Confederate memorials in Virginia.

Unlike many mass-produced or stock statues that present soldiers armed or in the midst of battle, the Appomattox Statue in Alexandria, dedicated in 1889, depicts an unarmed private. His head is downcast, his uniform rumpled, and his expression is pensive as he faces south. The statue was sponsored by the men of the Virginia-based R. E. Lee Camp Confederate Veterans, who wished to erect a monument to their fallen comrades. The statue was not intended to glorify an ideology, but to remember those who sacrificed all.

The work resulted from the collaboration of several masters in their fields. Fredericksburg-based painter John Adams Elder submitted a proposal to the R. E. Lee Camp based on the central figure in his painting “Appomattox.” Sculptor M. Casper Buberl translated Elder’s work into a three-dimensional figure, and the Henry Bonnard Bronze Company of New York cast Buberl’s statue. The granite base of the memorial contains the names of Alexandrians who never returned from war and a quotation of Robert E. Lee.

Harrisonburg’s Turner Ashby Monument, made of stone and surrounded by an iron fence, is the only known Confederate monument in Virginia to commemorate through its placement the site where a Confederate soldier was mortally wounded in battle. The monument is locally significant as well for its association with the “Lost Cause”—a movement that spread across the former Confederacy closely associated with Southern whites, especially women, who sought to preserve in a tangible way the Confederacy’s legacy in a positive light, an effort that continued well into the 20th century. Recognition of southern military leaders became a significant part of the second phase of the “Lost Cause” movement by the late 1800s.

The June 6, 1898, dedication of the Ashby Monument—on the 36th anniversary of the cavalry officer’s death—was among the largest such gatherings in the Shenandoah Valley at the time, with an estimated 5,000 people in attendance. The ceremony opened with a mile-long procession from the Rockingham County courthouse in Harrisonburg to the one-plus acre memorial site.

The modest granite monument, placed at the site of Ashby’s mortal wounding during the Battle of Harrisonburg—which coincided with General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s renowned Valley Campaign between March and June 1862—was paid for by citizens of Rockingham County and Harrisonburg. A local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy spearheaded the drive to support the monument’s creation.

Twelve additional sites, representing the full spectrum of Virginia history, were approved for listing on the Virginia Landmarks Register by DHR’s Board of Historic Resources during its quarterly meeting on March 16:

Complete nomination forms and photographs for each of these sites can be accessed on the DHR website at

The new VLRs will be forwarded to the National Park Service for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

 Listing a property in the state or national registers is honorific and sets no restrictions on what a property owner may do with his or her property. The designation is, first and foremost, an invitation to learn about and experience authentic and significant places in Virginia’s history.

Designating a property to the state or national registers—either individually or as a contributing building in a historic district—provides an owner the opportunity to pursue historic rehabilitation tax credit improvements to the building. Tax credit projects must comply with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The tax credit program is voluntary and not a requirement when owners work on their listed properties.

Virginia is a national leader among states in listing historic sites and districts in the National Register of Historic Places. The state is also a national leader for the number of federal tax credit rehabilitation projects proposed and completed each year. Together the register and tax credit rehabilitation programs play significant roles in promoting Virginia’s heritage and the preservation of the Commonwealth’s historic places and in spurring economic revitalization and tourism in many towns and communities.

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