Virginia Receives More Than $176,000 in Save America’s Treasures Grant Funds from National Park Service and Partner Agencies

Published October 25, 2023

Virginia Department of Historic Resources
For Immediate Release
October 25, 2023

Ivy Tan
Department of Historic Resources
Marketing & Communications Manager

—DHR will administer the funds to be used toward the conservation of artifacts associated with enslaved communities at the Kingsmill Plantation in James City County—

RICHMOND – The Department of Historic Resources (DHR) announced today that the National Park Service (NPS), in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), has awarded the Commonwealth of Virginia $176,176 in Save America’s Treasures grant funds. This award will be used for the conservation and curation of artifacts associated with enslaved people at the Kingsmill Plantation in James City County.

Located along the James River on the property of the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, the Kingsmill Plantation is composed of a series of archaeological sites that include several plantations from the 17th and 18th centuries containing multiple quarters for enslaved people. State archaeologists led excavations at Kingsmill starting in 1972, the year the Plantation achieved listing on the National Register of Historic Places, through 1976. The artifacts recovered from the sites at Kingsmill have provided historians and researchers the opportunity to study the lives of the enslaved individuals who lived and worked on the Kingsmill plantations during Virginia’s colonial era. DHR gained ownership of the Kingsmill collection in 2018 and will use the funds from the Save America’s Treasures grant to catalogue, rehouse, and conserve the artifacts, many of which have been in a deteriorating state since their transfer to a commercial storage facility.

“The collections we will be conserving using our Save America’s Treasures grant contain important pieces of Virginia's past that will be used to expand our understanding of the lives of people who are often missing from the written historical record,” said Dr. Elizabeth Moore, State Archaeologist at DHR. “This work will make these collections accessible to researchers, museums, and community members who wish to learn more about Virginia’s colonial era.”

DHR’s Save America’s Treasures award will supplement previous funding from The Conservation Fund (TCF) for the care, upkeep, and curation of the Kingsmill collection; extend and increase the employment of staff who oversee conservation of the Kingsmill artifacts; expand our research and knowledge on Colonial Virginia and its enslaved communities; and increase public access to the Kingsmill collection through historical exhibitions nationwide. Since the Save America’s Treasures program requires grant recipients to provide matching funds for their awards, the Commonwealth will provide a match totaling $281,871, which will consist of $102,189 from TCF funds and DHR resources valued at $179,682.

Established in 1998, the Save America’s Treasures grant program allocates funding for the preservation and conservation of the nation’s cultural and historic resources to tell a more complete history of the United States for future generations. According to the NPS, which oversees the program, $25.7 million in Save America’s Treasures grants have been awarded in the current grant cycle to support 58 projects in 26 states, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. Save America’s Treasures grants are derived from the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), which was established in 1977 under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 to provide funding for projects and activities related to the preservation of the nation’s cultural resources and heritage. Since its inception, the HPF has provided more than $2 billion in historic preservation grants to states, Tribes, local governments, and nonprofit organizations.

About the Kingsmill Plantation

The large Kingsmill Plantation tract along the James River boasts a series of colonial archaeological sites excavated between 1972 and 1976 under the sponsorship of Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC. The principal site, marked by a pair of brick dependencies, is of the ca. 1736 mansion of Lewis Burwell (d. 1743), a member of the prominent Burwell family in the Colony of Virginia. Excavations showed the house had a formal plan, elaborate paved forecourt, terraced gardens, and numerous outbuildings. Burwell’s Landing nearby contains an 18th-century warehouse and tavern site as well as Revolutionary War and Civil War fortifications. In addition, three 17th-century sites provided information on the material culture in the early colonial period. These and various other sites have been preserved and incorporated into the landscaping scheme of Kingsmill on the James, a residential community developed by Busch Properties, Inc. To learn more, visit here.


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