Virginia's Most Endangered Historic Places List

Virginia’s

Most Endangered Historic Places List 2024

RICHMOND, Va. (May 14, 2024) – Each May, Preservation Virginia releases a list of historic places across the Commonwealth facing imminent or sustained threats. The list, which has brought attention to more than 180 sites in Virginia, encourages individuals, organizations and local and state governments to advocate for their preservation and find solutions that will save these unique locations for future generations. The program has a track record of success. Only 10% of the sites listed so far were lost to demolition or neglect.

Nearly every region in Virginia is represented in this year’s list, with historic places often facing development pressures and neglect. “These historic sites represent important spaces in communities throughout the Commonwealth. All are under threat, all irreplaceable and all propose solutions to ensure a viable future,” said Elizabeth S. Kostelny, Preservation Virginia CEO. “From Hampton to Roanoke, Loudoun County to Brunswick County, these historic sites are in need of awareness and assistance to ensure they are preserved for future generations.”

Click here to see a map of all of the sites on the list. More information, images, and updates on the individual listings can be found by zooming in on the map and clicking the icons.

Click the map to see all of Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places.

Richmond Community Hospital – City of Richmond

Located on the Northside of Richmond in the historic Frederick Douglass Court neighborhood, the African American community raised the funds to establish Richmond Community Hospital to provide equitable and adequate healthcare, medical training and spiritual guidance to the African American residents. The original hospital was located in Jackson Ward and named for Dr. Sarah Garland Boyd Jones, the first woman to pass the medical exam in 1893. Needing improved facilities, hospital organizers negotiated the purchase of 2 1/2 acres from Virginia Union University (VUU) to build the Art Deco, two-story building in 1932. They engaged Edward F. Sinnott, Sr. to design the hospital. Construction was undertaken by the John T. Wilson Company. Although this small hospital served thousands of African Americans living in Richmond, its construction, during the height of the Depression, was a point of pride for the Black community. In the 1980s, the building was transferred to VUU when the hospital moved to Church Hill and more modern facilities. While VUU used the facility for housing for a short period of time, the property has mostly been unoccupied since the 1980s. The site is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Threat:

Richmond Community Hospital sits vacant, neglected and unmaintained. The structure faces an uncertain future as VUU and its development partner, Steinbridge Group, plan to develop University holdings with 120-200 market rate and affordable residential homes. To date, planning documents do not explicitly describe rehabilitation plans for Richmond Community Hospital. Former doctors, nurses, alumni of the hospital and community members are concerned that Richmond Community Hospital will be inappropriately developed or demolished.

 

Solution:

This historic structure reflects the resiliency and persistence of Richmond’s African American citizens who sought adequate and equitable healthcare. Richmond Community Hospital plays a role in the stability of the historic Frederick Douglass Court neighborhood. Community advocates, historic preservation organizations and others have demonstrated their willingness to bring thoughtful solutions that would allow for VUU’s plans and retention and reuse of the historic Richmond Community Hospital. VUU should be encouraged by the volume of supporters and should engage these groups to adapt and retain Richmond Community Hospital.  Further the residents of FDC should explore the opportunity to list the neighborhood as a historic district to provide further awareness and engagement.

 

For more information: Viola Baskerville, vbaskerville@comcast.net, (804) 690-5279

Grand Contraband Camp – City of Hampton

The Grand Contraband Camp in Hampton Roads serves as a pivotal chapter in the narrative of Emancipation during the American Civil War. Established in 1861 following the Union Army’s occupation of Fort Monroe, it provided a sanctuary for thousands of enslaved individuals seeking refuge behind Union lines. As the first of its kind in the county, the Grand Contraband Camp offered basic necessities such as shelter, food, and employment opportunities, marking a significant step towards liberation.

It’s also the site of Old Point Comfort, where the first African landed in 1619. In 2011, the Obama Administration designated the portions of the site as a National Historic Site. Additionally, the Commonwealth established the Fort Monroe Authority to protect other areas of the Fort.

The Elemerton and Basset cemeteries as well as the site of the Contraband Camp are rich in archaeological and genealogical research potential. As one example of many, Elmerton is the resting place of Mary S. Peake, the first teacher of freedmen and others at Fort Monroe in 1861.

The Grand Contraband Camp and Fort Monroe reveal the origins of Black life and land ownership in the United States. Liza Rodman, a key leader in the Contraband Historical Society in unearthing this history, describes the project’s scope as an “American Origin Story,” focused on uncovering and preserving the forgotten history of Contrabands and other Africans in Hampton Roads.

 

Threat:

I-64 and its expansions are encroaching on the cemetery borders, resulting in an inability for descendants and researchers to reach and identify some of the older gravesites. Overgrowth in these regions has led to some graves being lost entirely. As Hampton Roads expands, development pressures, particularly in the descendant neighborhoods adjacent to the cemeteries, are imminent. Some of the only remaining architectural assets to the African-American descendant community near the cemeteries are also in danger of being damaged or neglected beyond repair.

 

Solution:

The Contraband Historical Society, the Fort Monroe Authority and their partners are initiating a long-term project that will utilize current technologies to identify and archive unmarked or neglected gravesites. Elmerton and Basset Cemeteries are among the first to be addressed. This survey should be conducted by a professional with access to ground penetrating radar and findings should be nationally archived.

Long-term, the mission extends beyond preservation; it aims to promote a comprehensive understanding of Hampton’s history by amplifying post-Emancipation African American life. This involves strengthening existing relationships between advocacy groups and local government, cultivating new advocacy networks with the Fort Monroe Authority and Contraband Historical Society at the center, and addressing historical injustices faced by living descendants through selective rehabilitation projects overseen by the two organizations.

In the coming years, they will develop a virtual world which combines archived data and architectural reproduction expertise, depicting Grand Contraband descendant life–since many of the original structures are now demolished. This endeavor signifies a commitment to rectifying past wrongs, honoring the legacy of those who sought freedom at the Grand Contraband Camp, and amplifying the stories of descendants that have achieved so much following the Emancipation of their ancestors.

 

For more information: Liza Rodman, lizarodman@gmail.com, (617) 733-5244

Mt. Carmel Baptist Church – Albemarle County

Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, established in 1879 by African American descendants of the community, stands as a testament to resilience and faith in the face of adversity. The church, initially located across Doyle’s Creek at the “Golden Place,” eventually settled on its present two-acre tract of land acquired from descendants of Williamson Brown in 1887. Over the decades, it has served as a cornerstone of the community, providing spiritual nourishment and a sense of belonging for generations. The church still holds an active congregation over a century later. Folks drive up to an hour to attend Sunday service.

While regular community events are still being held, many of the elders no longer have the capacity to care for the church as they once did. Their relatives have usually handled repairs themselves because there are many notable local craftsmen in the family–like George Jones. Mt. Carmel faces challenges that imminently threaten their ability to operate and thrive. Like many historic churches with aging congregations and limited financial resources, it requires urgent repairs to ensure its structural integrity and functionality for future generations. The stabilization of the foundation and repairs to exposed areas are among the most pressing concerns. A cemetery cleanup and improvement where original community descendants are buried will also be part of the project.

 

Threat:

Development is quickly and aggressively reaching this portion of Albemarle County. Since the nomination process began, the Thompson’s original pre-1850 homeplace was demolished. The original Black schoolhouse across the street from Mt. Carmel is up for sale. The church plays a vital role in preserving the cultural heritage of the African American descendant community in Brown’s Cove. As the only remaining community-serving entity from this vibrant past, its significance cannot be overstated.

 

Solution:

The broader community needs to be engaged in supporting Mt. Carmel Baptist Church. The trustees and a growing number of community partners will grow their public presence in order to reach private donors for funding support and apply for grants specific to their unique cultural significance for the work. Documenting this process will allow for a model of handling the challenges of preserving structures and stories associated with aging congregations.

Beyond broadening their organizational capacity to successfully secure financial assistance for repairs and maintenance, the trustees and community partners should look for more permanent ways to ensure the church continues to be a spiritual center for the community, in addition to being protected against future development. Placing the property under easement should be considered.

 

For more information: Darrell Howard, dlatengo17@gmail.com, (434) 964-8742

Massies Mill Odd Fellows Hall – Nelson County

The Odd Fellows Hall in Massies Mill carries a significant historical legacy, serving as a vibrant center for the International Order of Odd Fellows until its closure in 2014. During the height of activity, the Hall evolved into a hub that primarily served the descendant African American community in Pharsalia and Massies Mill, offering not only a space for gatherings but also serving as a store for essential goods and services.

In recent years, under the stewardship of Vanessa Hale, the hall has undergone a transformative journey. Now operating as the headquarters and meeting space for the Central Virginia Farm Workers Initiative (CVFWI), it has become a lifeline for the Hispanic farm working community in the region. Ms. Hale’s leadership has seen the hall transition into a dynamic community center, providing crucial resources such as business and tech training, tax assistance and medical services. It has emerged as a focal point for the Hispanic community, fostering connections and support networks amidst the challenges of agricultural labor.

 

Threat:

The Odd Fellows Hall faces an uncertain future. The wave of commercial development sweeping through the pristine mountain towns of Western Nelson County poses a real threat to its existence. Neglected repairs have left the building in dire need of attention, with its roof and foundation requiring urgent maintenance. Without intervention, there is a real risk of losing this invaluable community space, along with the vital services it provides to the Hispanic farm working population in the region.

 

Solution:

CVFWI and its community partners intend to gain this support through expanding their regional presence in a way that attracts donations or more permanent commitments from private donors. Pursuing grant opportunities for repairs may be a successful avenue, but a powerful local campaign–partnering with philanthropically-minded developers from the area–will likely be the most successful avenue to gather funds and sustain support for Hispanic farmwork programming in the future.

 

For more information: Vanessa Hale, vhale@cvfwi.org, (434) 964-7005

Lower Surry Church – Surry County

The Lower Surry Church is known by various names: Old Brick Church, Lawnes Creek Parish Church and Lower Church Southwark Parrish. The parish was first established on Hogg Island and later moved to the current location, near Bacon’s Castle, as populations shifted. The ruins of the church represent the second church constructed on this site in 1754. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The rectangular brick church was constructed in the typical vernacular style of similar period places of worship and utilized brick walls laid in irregular English and Flemish bond patterns with some glazed headers. The Allen family of nearby Bacon’s Castle had a long association with the church. After the American Revolution, the church was used by various denominations before being abandoned soon after 1847. In 1868, the church was destroyed by a fire reportedly set by recently emancipated Freedman who were using the ancient cemetery as burial grounds. In 2003, winds from Hurricane Isabel destroyed some of the brick walls as well.

 

Threat:

The repairs made soon after the 2003 hurricane may be causing further damage to the historic fabric.

 

Solution:

Consultation with experts is needed to determine the best course of action. With a treatment plan in hand, the Bacon’s Castle Memorial Association will have a plan to be able to make the case to raise the funds and preserve the original brick fabric.

 

For more information: Dianna Keen, dbsmfd@aol.com, (757) 371-3031

Suffolk African American Waterman Villages – City of Suffolk

Two historic villages, Oakland and neighboring Hobson, stand as testaments to the resilience and heritage of African American and Nansemond Indian communities. United in their struggles and shared history, residents from both villages have joined forces, forming advocacy groups to preserve their legacies and fight against the encroachment of modern developments.

Oakland Village, established in the 1800s, flourished as a haven for families seeking sustenance from the land and waterways. Among them were the Halls, whose lineage intertwined with the essence of the village. Central to its identity was the Little Bethel Baptist Church, founded in 1866 by freemen–serving as a beacon of faith and fellowship.

Meanwhile, neighboring Hobson Village boasts its own rich history. Named after prominent African American educator Booker T. Washington’s grandfather, Henry Hobson, this community emerged as a hub of African American culture in the area. They can trace their ancestors back to the 1600s. The village developed its own system of wells and have always had farmers and oystermen to serve the needs of the village, in addition to providing quality food to neighboring villages.

 

Threat:

Despite their distinct histories, both villages face similar threats from modern developments. Encroaching development disrupts the natural flow of water, causing flooding that endangers homes and residents’ well-being. Open ditches become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, newly-built elevated concrete slabs alter the landscape, exacerbating flooding and damaging historic homes. In both villages, these concrete slabs are built above historic home elevations. Above-ground septic systems are being installed with new developments and are flooding into historic infrastructure as well. In Oakland, the clamor of machinery and the rumble of trucks from nearby sand pits further disrupt the community. Dust settling over homes is a constant reminder of the toll exacted by unchecked development. Yet, amidst these challenges, residents from Oakland and Hobson Villages stand united, advocating for the preservation of their shared heritage and the restoration of their neighborhoods’ infrastructure.

 

Solution:

Both neighborhoods have strong community associations that have built networks and coalitions to advocate for appropriate planning strategies to support mitigation approaches. They are led by Mary Hill, an oysterwoman and descendant. They aim to secure commitments from local officials to address flooding issues, restore neglected infrastructure and protect the integrity of their historic neighborhoods. Strengthening their relationship with the City of Suffolk will be core to the success of their regional advocacy efforts as their platform expands.

As development pressures continue to mount, assessing existing historic nomination documents to determine eligible historic sites, and other sites in the village that are being impacted by recurrent flooding will be a first step. Connecting to the African American Watermen of the Virginia Chesapeake Bay Survey and the creation of a Multi-Property Document (MPD) highlighted in the 2023 Most Endangered listing would be a way to evaluate sites eligible for the National Register. Since both villages have very rich and documented African American and Native American histories, pursuing grants specific to these previously underrepresented cultures will be productive. Applying for subgrant programs that administer money under a single scope to multiple projects could be another useful route.

 

For more information: Mary Hill, hlovethyneighbor@aol.com, (757) 685-1730

Jackson Blacksmith Shop – Goochland County

The Jackson Blacksmith Shop is a testament to resilience and ingenuity, a symbol of African American heritage and entrepreneurship in Goochland County, Virginia. Built around 1880 by Henry Jackson and his father, the shop provided essential blacksmithing services to residents of Goochland County and neighboring counties. Born into slavery and later sold from Louisa to Goochland, Henry Jackson purchased land at the corner of Route 607 and U.S. 522, where he established the shop.

With its 16′ x 24′ rectangular pole structure and earthen foundation, the Jackson Blacksmith Shop stands as a rare relic of history, the last of its kind in usable shape in the County. Its walls, constructed with vertically attached boards, enclose a space steeped in tradition and heritage. The shop’s centerpiece, an anvil over 130 years old, carries a storied past, belonging to George Jackson’s maternal grandfather and surviving the fires that engulfed Richmond at the fall of the Confederacy.

 

Threat:

Proximity to the roadway and ground erosion pose risks to the site’s integrity, prompting efforts to address erosion issues and secure the structure from further compromise. As one of only two known remaining Black-owned blacksmith shops in Virginia, the Jackson Blacksmith Shop holds immense historical significance. Preservation Virginia highlighted Samuel D. Outlaw Blacksmith Shop in Onancock as part of the 2023 listing of African American Waterman of Virginia’s Chesapeake.

 

Solution:

Mitigating the damage and preventing future damage of the Shop itself will require consultation with engineering and architectural experts in order to determine the best course of action. Stabilizing and ensuring the preservation of this structure should be the first priority given how incredibly rare Black-owned businesses of this age are in the state.

Blacksmithing traditions persist under Mr. Jerome Jackson’s stewardship, with an annual event commemorating the shop’s legacy and regular committee meetings with all members of the family. Jerome hopes to inspire the younger generation in his family, who are eager to help ensure that the Jackson Family of Goochland County has a living and breathing legacy. The family will increase its involvement and voice beyond Goochland and gather support and potential funding streams from neighboring counties and cities.

Part of this journey will be modernizing their museum storage capacity. They intend to, and should partner with, interested universities and state or federal level archives to digitize many of the invaluable artifacts they have collected from their families checkered array of achievements over the years. Digitizing would be a good first step since building and re-interpreting the artifacts in a new space will be a longer project.

 

For more information: Jerome Jackson Jr., jmjjrlcs@gmail.com, (804) 629-7987

Waterford Historic District – Loudoun County

The Historic Village of Waterford, sitting in the Catoctin Valley, was once a thriving agricultural and industrial community in Loudoun County. It was settled in 1733 by Quaker farmers, notably the Janney, Mead, Hague and Hough families, who took advantage of what this portion of the Catoctin Valley could offer. Once flour trade to the British West Indies opened up for the American Colonies, Waterford grew into a well-known area for its mills along the Kittoctan Creek.

Beginning in 1943, the Waterford Foundation and associated efforts have been involved in the preservation of the village’s historical and cultural assets. Additionally, they were instrumental in helping preserve Descendant assets. Due to over a century of emphasis on formal preservation efforts, the Waterford village and surrounding farm easements are some of the most meticulously preserved assets in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Waterford remains a living village. Protective easements help ensure preservation of original fabric while allowing for adaptation. The Waterford Foundation provides educational tours, sponsors events and highlights local businesses in support of the heritage tourism-based economy.

 

Threat:

The urbanizing development that has taken place over the last decades in Loudoun has pressured the Town of Waterford. Now the County is or has considered multiple proposals for data centers which comes with associated infrastructure development including substations and transmission lines.

In late 2023, NextEra Energy released a proposal to construct 500 kV transmission lines through the Waterford Historic District. These lines range from 80 to 200 feet tall, and are proposed to run through several western Loudoun County properties under conservation easements. PJM Interconnection, the regional transmission organization that requested and reviewed the NextEra proposal, recently approved the proposal to move forward despite receiving countless letters of opposition from residents and organizations.

The proposed transmission lines challenge many existing assumptions about the reality of easement protections and would mar the viewshed from much of the Waterford Historic District.

 

Solution:

NextEra will submit a proposal by the end of the year. Before Spring ends, they will have completed a routing study. The Waterford Leadership Summit will be active in public outreach during that time to prepare a strong opposition to the proposal being delivered to the Virginia SCC. Having a larger platform to amplify their voice in the coming months will be crucial so they can reach the parties they need to oppose NextEra’s proposal and define alternatives before the end of the year. The Waterford Leadership Summit should actively reach out to other partners in the Loudoun area seeking alternatives to the impacts of data centers and related industrial infrastructure development named in 2019 Most Endangered listing.

 

For more information: Abigail Zurfluh, azurfluh@waterfordfoundation.org, (540) 882-3018 ext. 116

Blick Plantation – Brunswick County

The Blick family was active in politics and military operations beginning in the late 17th century. When descendant George Richard Blick passed away in 1919, the home, land and all of his assets were auctioned off. After seven decades of searching, the Blick family rediscovered and purchased their ancestral home just North of Lawrenceville.

The Blick Plantation is one of the few remaining undocumented 18th century plantation homes in Central Virginia. Many of the artfully-crafted structural components and finishings date back to the early 19th and even 18th century. Some of the oldest details are in remarkable condition. Many of the architectural components were made possible by a millseat the family had on-site. The structure is post and beam, mortise and tenon and peg construction, using oversized heart pine timbers, including two extra vertical timber support beams on each side of the house. Robust hand-hewn pine beams on a sturdy foundation have allowed the home to live for centuries.

During the early 19th century, the property appeared to contain around 1,000 acres where fertile soils allowed for an active tobacco and crop operations. The parcel originally stretched to the village of Smoky Ordinary at what is now Reedy Creek Road. Given this property was a working farm dating back to the 1770’s, the use of enslaved labor by the Blick family was certain. There are residual clues on the property of African American life. Hundreds of unmarked graves–many lacking even rocks to mark specific sites- remnants of quarters and scattered artifacts exist behind the primary house.

Likely last names of early African American descendants include: Jones, Dennis, Elder, Macklin, Mays and Wilkins. Many are buried at the Wilson Chapel, which is the Black church adjacent to the Blick plantation property. Mary Jane Jones Dennis is the earliest-born marked grave in the cemetery. She was born June 15, 1875, having children that would take root locally and create new lives in Delaware and New York. Oris P. Jones, a mortician who began multiple practices in the region, also helped spearhead the effort to build the first High School for Black students in Brunswick County, just two miles from the Blick Plantation. James S. Russell High School offered accredited academic tracks and trade programs to Black students from 1950 to 1969.

 

Threat:

Years of neglect and lack of maintenance are taking a toll on the original fabric of Blick Plantation. The front porch roof and side porch have recently collapsed. Without stabilization, a corner of the main residential structure will likely fail in the next couple of years. The brick foundation is in need of repair before the damage becomes irreversible. Many interior details and partitions need attention as well.

 

Solution:

Richard Blick, descendant and owner of the current home and parcel, has established the Historic Blick Plantation nonprofit to fund the restoration of the structure. With the awareness raised by this nomination and the growing social media presence that has been developed, we encourage the Foundation to continue outreach to form local partnerships with organizations, Descendant groups and restoration experts to develop a comprehensive plan. The plan could expand the historical narrative of the site, create a restoration strategy that adheres to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and identifies specialized craftsman who can undertake the rehabilitation of the project.

 

For more information: Richard Blick, blickplantation23@gmail.com, (703) 401-7980

Washington Park Caretaker’s Cottage – City of Roanoke

The Washington Park Caretaker’s House is one of the oldest surviving structures in Roanoke City. Jeremiah Whitten built the one-story, brick structure on land first associated with a mill established by Mark Evans in the mid-18th century and later operated as a dairy by Peyton Terry in the late 19th century.

Following the sale of the property to the City by the Charles Lukens family in 1922, the land became a public park for the Black community during the Jim Crow era of segregation. The caretakers of the park lived in the cottage. For a century, the park has grown, changed and served the nearby African American community. The cottage has remained a deeply important part of Roanoke’s history.

 

Threat:

Last year, the City announced plans to rebuild the swimming pool at Washington Park. Due to soil restrictions, they had to choose another site in the park. They slated the deteriorating Evans House for demolition to make way for the new pool. The community has been active in its opposition to the demolition of the site. From the beginning, they have repeatedly asked why the City was not considering an intentional reuse of the project instead of tearing it down. In the last year, the City has begun listening to their concerns through the advocacy of The Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation and The Friends of Washington Park. This has resulted in the early-stage development of a plan for rehabilitation–likely to be undertaken by a private investor. The cottage is also part of a larger preservation issue, the Evans Spring tract, which is threatened by commercial development. Many neighbors are descendants of individuals pushed out through urban renewal, and they’re concerned similar projects will happen again.

 

Solution:

The Friends of Washington Park, Hill Studio and others involved are pursuing a private investor to make a long-term commitment to rehabbing and adapting the Washington Caretaker’s Cottage for a community center with event and food service space. However, that investor needs to be identified before year’s end. Success in preserving the Washington Caretaker’s Cottage can also raise awareness as to ensure that the adjacent open space is developed in a way that complements the Washington Park neighborhood and community spaces. Roanoke has applied for a grant to stabilize the property and are meeting with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources about next steps.

 

For more information: Alison Blanton, ablanton@hillstudio.com, (540) 765-7154

Most Endangered Historic Places Archive

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