Our mission is to inspire and engage the public in fostering, supporting and sustaining Virginia’s historic places through leadership in advocacy, education, revitalization and stewardship.
We envision a future in which people seek a more complete understanding of the past, value the connections between people and place and support the protection of places where history happened.
Who we are and what we do
Preservation Virginia, a privately-funded, statewide historic preservation leader founded more than 100 years ago, works to ensure the relevancy of the Commonwealth’s historic places. The multifaceted and impactful nature of our advocacy programs, six historic sites and partnerships with other organizations has allowed us to create a holistic approach to saving the places that connect us to our diverse, complex history.
This approach underscores our belief in the power of community engagement and embracing the places of our past as vital resources for present and future generations. The results can be seen in the rural towns that now have thriving Main Streets, the success stories of endangered historic places revitalized with Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits and our studies that show the positive economic impact of historic preservation on Virginia’s economy.
We’re stewards of six locations open to the public, including Bacon’s Castle, Cape Henry Lighthouse, Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown, Historic Jamestowne, the John Marshall House and Smith’s Fort.
Preserving and adapting historic places contributes significantly to the health of our communities and economies. The oldest statewide preservation organization in the nation, Preservation Virginia has evolved to help tell the full story of history and recognize the contributions of all Americans while preserving the places that make us unique.
Over the last 25 years, our mission has grown significantly, fully embracing the belief that by examining our history from all perspectives, we can develop more comprehensive understandings of our past and how the legacies of the past still affect us today.
In the early 1990s the future of the organization was less clear. Visionaries on the board and staff undertook serious analysis of the organizational structure and financial underpinnings. They concluded without radical change and a galvanizing project, APVA (Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities) as it was known then, had an uncertain future. Careful and deliberate steps were taken to ensure organization sustainability and make our programs and historic sites more relevant. These included:
- Launching the Jamestown Rediscovery project to find the archaeological remains of 1607 James Fort was at once a ground-breaking research project and an opportunity to grow the capacity of the organization to raise philanthropic and earned revenue support
- Engaging in master planning with the National Park Service for a seamless visitor experience at Historic Jamestowne and with local, state and national organizations towards the planning for the 2007 anniversary helped sharpen partnership skills
- Re-envisioning the organizational structure and reducing the portfolio of historic sites by transferring more than 20, with perpetual and protective easements, to local groups and helped make Preservation Virginia more nimble and sustainable
- Combining with Preservation Alliance of Virginia to engage in community preservation and public policy initiatives to strengthen the tools for historic preservation and historic places
- Becoming the steward of Virginia’s Historic Revolving Fund activities to realize the goal of preserving more places without taking on ownership responsibilities.
And most importantly, we are ensuring that our programs reflect the diversity of Virginia’s history and its people. Preservation Virginia believes that the resources of our past offer vital lessons to present and future generations about all facets of our complex history. Such lessons may be sobering, inspiring, or/and troubling, and preservation efforts must strive to capture, and not gloss over, the complexities of our history. Through the interpretation and programs at our sites to the listings on our Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places, we strive to reflect this history from multiple perspectives and engaging communities to tell their history in various ways.
As a result, we’ve worked to preserve nearly 500 locations around the Commonwealth of Virginia. As you explore our website, engage in our public programming and receive our regular communications, join us and help ensure the vitality of Virginia’s historic places.