13 Historic Sites Added to the Virginia Landmarks Register
Published June 18, 2020
—New VLRs in the counties of Bath, Greene, Hanover, Madison, Page, Pittsylvania, Rockbridge, and Rockingham; and the cites of Lynchburg, Newport News, Norfolk, Roanoke, and Williamsburg—
A water-powered gristmill in the Blue Ridge Mountains, four places connected to African American history, and two barns are among 13 sites added to the Virginia Landmarks Register in June.
The VLR listings were approved during a quarterly meeting of the Virginia Board of Historic Resources. In a historic first, the Department of Historic Resources conducted the board’s public meeting remotely and online due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Greene County, the A. J. Long Mill offers a good example of an evolved, small mid-19th century water powered gristmill, and one of the few known extant mills in the county. The two-story frame building constructed around 1835 replaced an earlier mill in the Blue Ridge community of Shifflet Hollow. Rehabilitated with a one-and-a-half story office addition in 1895, along with the introduction of new milling technology, Long Mill is one of the few surviving commercial buildings in the area. It served farmers and area residents until around 1939. More details.
The four African American sites important to Virginia history are these:
In Hanover County, the Hickory Hill Slave and African American Cemetery is significant 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. A descendants’ community of those directly related to the persons buried at the Hickory Hill Slave and African American Cemetery has maintained ties to the burial ground to the present day. More details.
Southside High School was southern Pittsylvania County’s only public secondary school for African American students during the mid-20th century. The school opened at another site in 1948, and in 1953, it continued operations in a new two-story brick building constructed in the Blairs community. Southside offered academic and vocational courses to a large student body and boasted high graduation rates. Its agriculture department taught a variety of subjects critically important to Pittsylvania’s agriculture-based economy. During the 1960s, the county added classrooms and an auditorium, and operated Southside High until 1969, when it desegregated Pittsylvania’s schools. More details.
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 county schools constructed with support from the Julius Rosenwald Fund. The county closed the two-classroom school in 1965, when Bath integrated its public schools. More details.
The Diggs Residence in Norfolk is significant for its association with African American attorney J. Eugene Diggs whose forceful civil rights activism and legal work secured social justice for people of color throughout the Hampton Roads area during four decades of Jim Crow segregation. Built between 1919 and 1923, the Diggs Residence’s Georgian Revival-style design is attributed to African American architect Harvey N. Johnson, who in addition to other houses and churches of African Americans, designed Norfolk’s Crispus Attucks Theater. More details.
The Virginia Board of Historic Resources also approved listing two barns on the Virginia Landmarks Register:
In Madison County, the Coates Barn is a cinder-block structure built in 1949 on broad pastureland at the foot of Old Rag Mountain (Shenandoah National Park). Its dominant feature is a lancet-profile, Gothic-style roof. It is supported on the interior by a tall, lightly framed system of wood construction that incorporates extra bracing for enhanced stability against the heavy winds that Old Rag can raise. Coates Barn is Madison County’s best-preserved representative of the once nationally popular Gothic barn style. More details.
The Brown-Swisher Barn in Rockbridge County 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 local farm values sparked by World War I. More details
The following (listed alphabetically by name) are the other six sites added to the VLR:
The Almond House, constructed around 1858 in Page County near Luray, fuses Greek Revival style and Italianate detailing in its well-crafted brick construction, making it one of the best examples of early transitional Greek Revival to Italianate architecture in the Page Valley. More details.
Built in 1890 in Williamsburg, prior to the restoration and building campaigns of the 1920s that established Colonial Williamsburg, the Dora Armistead House originally stood on Duke of Gloucester Street, where its Queen Anne style architecture made it increasingly incompatible with surrounding buildings. In the 1990s, after the house was donated to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, CWF relocated it to its present location. More details.
Carnegie Hall is the second-oldest academic building at the University of Lynchburg, established in 1903 as Virginia Christian College, the second-oldest co-educational institution in Virginia. When completed in 1909, the Colonial Revival-style Carnegie Hall housed a men’s dormitory and dining room, helping the college achieve its goal of creating separate spheres for men and women in a co-educational setting—a controversial notion at the time. More details.
Deering Hall in Rockingham County’s Town of Broadway served as the town hall from the time of its construction around 1890 until 1933, when the town leased it to a motor company. The two-story building’s design and wood-frame construction conforms to town halls erected elsewhere in the Shenandoah Valley around the turn of the 20th century. It featured retail space on the lower level and a civic space in the second story. More details.
The Salvation Army Citadel in Roanoke operated from its construction in 1941 until 2018. An important example of Colonial Revival architecture in Roanoke, the building enabled the Salvation Army to fulfill its mission to improve people’s lives through local social services and outreach in the Roanoke Valley. More details.
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 and historically adjacent to the tracks and spurs of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway on the edge of downtown. More details.
DHR will forward the documentation for these newly listed VLR sites to the National Park Service for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
Listing a property in the state or national registers is honorary and sets no restrictions on what property owners may do with their property. The designation is 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.
Virginia is a national leader among states in listing historic sites and districts on 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.