Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places Program
2022 LIST OF VIRGINIA’S MOST ENDANGERED HISTORIC PLACES ANNOUNCED
Eleven historic sites facing insensitive development or neglect were named to this year’s list
Each May, National Historic Preservation Month, Preservation Virginia works with community advocates to release a list of threatened historic sites in an effort to raise awareness and boost public support for their preservation, and encourage individuals, organizations, and governmental entities to advocate for and find collaborative solutions for preserving these places important to Virginia’s communities.
For more than 20 years, Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places list has advocated for Virginia’s endangered historic places. Started by the Preservation Alliance of Virginia, the most endangered list became a Preservation Virginia program when APVA and the Preservation Alliance merged in 2004. One-hundred-seventy-one endangered places across Virginia facing imminent or sustained threats have made the list since 2000.
Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places list has a track record of success. Since the program began, more than 50% of sites listed have been saved, 10% have been lost, and the remaining 40% are still being monitored. Recent success stories of places on the endangered places which have been saved from insensitive development and neglect include Rassawek, the historic capital of the Monacan Indian Nation; River Farm, headquarters of the American Horticultural Society; and the Warm Springs Bathhouses, the oldest spa site in the United States.
This year’s list reflects the resilience of the Commonwealth’s many historic places that have persisted through generations of support from their communities. The dedication of organizations, local governments, and individuals currently working to preserve these places reflects the very nature of the historic preservation movement–the ability to adapt to challenges and retain relevance in an ever changing world.
“Inclusion on the Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places list can have a profound influence on bringing organizations and individuals together to forward solutions and solve threats,” said Elizabeth S. Kostelny, CEO. “This year is no exception.”
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.
2022 MOST ENDANGERED HISTORIC PLACES
William Fox Elementary School, Richmond
The William Fox Elementary School, built in 1911, is a beloved, local public school located in Richmond’s Historic Fan District. Designed by Charles M. Robinson, a prolific and admired architect of his time, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, the school has welcomed students from the community for decades.
In February 2022, a three-alarm fire caused significant damage to the 110 year-old structure. The Richmond School Board has pledged to renovate the school, rather than demolish and rebuild it, and the community has rallied to maintain the public’s support for its full renovation, but the school’s final outcome remains in the balance as historic schools are particularly vulnerable as budgets tighten for public school funding.
The efforts to renovate the William Fox Elementary School highlights how a historic institutional building with its personal connections and shared history can help anchor a neighborhood for decades, and provide a sense of continuity and permanency to a community. However, funding to maintain and build public school buildings is usually an ongoing challenge. Currently public schools are unable to use historic rehabilitation tax credits to finance critical infrastructure projects to educational facilities, but in recent years, support has increased for expanding the use of federal and state historic tax credits for Virginia’s historic schools. Listing the William Fox School to Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places List will hopefully help sustain the public’s attention and support to renovate the school.
Kathryn Oti, (804) 467-8901, oldhouserva@gmail
Images courtesy of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources
Slave Dwellings: Ivy Cliff Slave Dwelling, Bedford County; and Parker Sydnor Cabin, Mecklenburg County
The Parker Sydnor log cabin was originally located within one of the outlying “quarters” of Prestwould, the Skipwith family plantation. In 1888, Lovice (Vicey) Skipwith, a former enslaved cook at Prestwould, purchased the cabin and used the cabin to provide housing to family members including Patrick Robert Sydnor (1854 – 1950). Sydnor was a well-known gravestone carver for many African American residents in the region.
The slave dwelling at Ivy Cliff, also known as Otter Mills Plantation, was built by enslaved people for Captain Henry Brown circa 1772. The one standing slave dwelling at Ivy Cliff is a dogtrot or saddlebag-type log dwelling, with two sides or “pens” connected by an open breezeway. While not much is known of the enslaved people at Ivy Cliff, some of the Brown family letters and financial records reveal the names of a few individuals including Sarah, Mimy, Martha Ann, Judy and Joshua. When Brown died in 1841, he mentioned several slaves in his will: Dick, Bill, John, George, Charles, Christian, Harry, Wilson, Eliza, Nancy, Mary Ann, Anna, Martha, and Manda.
Extant dwellings of enslaved people are rare and often overlooked. Time, weather, and deferred maintenance makes these structures especially vulnerable. Many buildings are in the hands of private property owners with limited access to resources and expertise to preserve these important structures. The owners of many of these buildings, such as at Ivy Cliff, are keenly aware of the rarity and importance of the structure and its needs for preservation, but more resources and support are needed to preserve these important structures, as well as outreach to the descendant communities.
While a local preservation organization, Literacy Interactives, Inc. currently owns the Parker Sydnor cabin, considerable resources are needed for the dwelling’s full preservation. For more information see Literacy InterActives, Inc.
While experts and organizations including Jobi Hill and the Saving Slave Houses Project, Joseph McGill and the Slave Dwelling Project, and the Virginia Slave Housing Project, work tirelessly to record and preserve slave houses, more educational and financial resources are needed to help private individuals and nonprofits preserve these important buildings. Funding can be a huge obstacle for individuals and small local organizations seeking to preserve slave dwellings and other historic sites of historically marginalized and underrepresented communities.
The Virginia General Assembly has recently made commendable and long overdue efforts by the passing of the Virginia Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Historic Preservation Fund, a fund to cover eligible costs to acquire, preserve, and interpret historic structures, cultural landscapes and archaeological sites important to the history of Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities.
Parker Sydnor Cabin: Dr. Angelita D. Reyes, (434) 738-5788, firstname.lastname@example.org
Images courtesy Paul Saunier, Virginia Department of Historic Resources
Ivy Cliff: Sophie Taylor, (407) 701-5984, email@example.com
Preston-Crockett House, Smyth County
Located On the Middle Fork of the Holston River at Seven Mile Ford in Smyth County, the brick, two-story Preston-Crockett House was built in the 1840s as a tavern or stagecoach inn along the Wilderness Road. For some years prior to the building of the house, a log tavern had stood on the site. The new inn served travelers for over twenty until 1864 when John Montgomery Preston and his wife, Mary Preston Lewis Cochran converted the inn into a private residence.
Until 2002, the writer and artist, Lucy Herndon Crockett resided in the house. Crockett served in World War II with the Red Cross, spending five years in New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, the Philippines, Japan, and Korea. Her best-known novel, The Magnificent Bastards was made into an Academy Award-nominated movie in 1956.
Considerable support for saving the house has been shown by many local residents, as well as a large number of people who pass the house as they travel through Smyth County along Interstate 81.
The house is under threat of possible demolition due to a new truck stop proposed to be built off of I81 in its location. A rezoning permit was recently approved for the truck stop, however, the new owners have shown interest in discussing options other than demolition.
Local advocates hope to leverage the listing to the Most Endangered Places List to raise awareness and support for the house, its history, and the opportunities to use it to support heritage and environmental tourism in Smyth County and the region. Its high visibility on Interstate 81 could make it a regional destination, and its preservation could add value to any new developments in the area.
For more information see https://www.facebook.com/Save-and-Restore-The-Preston-Crockett-House-251050318267660/
Images courtesy the Virginia Department of Historic Resources
Battlefields Threatened by Data Centers: Manassas National Battlefield Park and Brandy Station Battlefield, Manassas and Culpeper
Manassas National Battlefield Park is the site of two major battles of the Civil War, totaling nearly 28,000 casualties to include 4,000 dead. It is one of 423 nationally significant sites in the National Park system. Brandy Station Battlefield, part of the proposed Culpeper Battlefields State Park, was the largest chiefly cavalry campaign fought on American soil. The site of a Union encampment at Hansbrough’s Ridge and Salubria (circa 1757), listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are located nearby.
Local county governments passed separate rezoning actions to allow for construction of mega data center complexes and associated substations and powerlines, which would irreparably alter the adjacent historic landscapes associated with these battlefields, as well as local farmland, and the areas’ rural character.
Should the developments be approved, the damage to the wartime landscapes will be devastating to residents and visitors. Being immersed in a historic landscape allows visitors to make connections across time to help understand the significant events that occurred at the locations.
Each year, almost a million people visit Manassas National Battlefield and Prince William Forest Park. The battlefields state park in Culpeper is expected to generate $5 million in tourism revenue its first year and $36 million in the first five years.
In each case, the county comprehensive plans offer opportunities for the location of data centers within designated technology corridors and zones, away from sensitive areas and cultural resources. Locating data centers within technology corridors and away from culturally sensitive areas would convey how local governments value and support the preservation of their irreplaceable historic resources.
The Manassas Battlefields National, Park, The American Battlefield Trust, Piedmont Environmental Council, Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, Friends of Culpeper Battlefields. Germanna Foundation, and Brandy Station Foundation all submitted comments and spoke against the data centers proposed.
Christy Forman, (240) 313-5167, firstname.lastname@example.org
Images courtesy Kimball Brace
Grand Order of Odd Fellows Lodge/ African American School, Reedville, Northumberland County
The original uses and history of this two-story framed building in Reedville are currently unclear, but it was later converted for use as Tranquility Lodge No. 4218 for the Grand Order of the Odd Fellows, the African American offshoot group of the International Order of the Odd Fellows.
The building was possibly built for use as a school or a church, and likely has ties to the deep history of the African-American watermen of the Chesapeake Bay, and the menhaden industry that employed many Black fishermen and laborers in Reedville. Social and fraternal organizations were often led by prominent African American watermen who were connected to the local farmers and other leaders in the communities.
We are hoping the listing will raise awareness on the history of African American fraternal organizations, and the building’s possible ties with the African-American watermen of the Chesapeake Bay.
The structure suffers from neglect and deferred maintenance. While largely intact and stable, action needs to be taken soon to ensure the building’s preservation.
Working with the local African American community, the Grand Order of Odd Fellows, the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum, and the Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society to gather more information on the building’s history is paramount. The building is located not far from Reedville historic harbor, so rehabilitation and reusing it as a community center or rest stop on the bicycle route would be a welcomed addition to the area.
For more information see the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum,
Thomas Ennen, (407) 474-8211, email@example.com
Green Valley Pharmacy, Arlington
Green Valley Pharmacy is the longest-operating African American pharmacy in Arlington, and likely the first African American-owned pharmacy in the area. Dr. Leonard Muse, opened the pharmacy in the Black community of Nauck. The pharmacy and the food counter were hubs for social life and wellness in the community.
The threats to the pharmacy relate to development pressures and options as to how the building can be reused. The family still owns the building, but their options for reuse are limited, and challenges continue to arise on the upgrades and alterations for a successful new business in the space. The family wants as much of the original historic fabric to remain as possible so the memory of the pharmacy and of Mr. Muse and all that he did in developing and helping shape the community will not be forgotten.
Working closely with the local government, the family, the community, and all local stakeholders is key to determining a creative solution to develop the pharmacy appropriately so it continues to meet the development needs of the community, but also maintain the history of the building and the family, which were so significant to the community.
Portia Clark, (703) 489-2671, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dunnington Mansion, Farmville
Dunnington Mansion, and the surrounding land were part of what was originally known as the Poplar Hill farm. A 4-room house was first built here in the 18th century, but as the property changed owners over the years, the house was expanded. In 1897, the house was greatly enlarged by its then owner, tobacco tycoon Walter Dunnington who added the house’s impressive architectural details and ornate interior woodwork. Other structures were built on the property, but have mostly been demolished. These buildings, however, could prove to contain important archaeological deposits.
The house was bought by developers in 2000 with the intent to make it part of the Manor Golf Course. Unfortunately, those plans went awry during the housing crisis of the early 2000’s. Over the last 20 years the house has been open to the weather and exposed to vandalism. Recently, however, an investment group has purchased the mansion and surrounding acres. They have stabilized the structure and replaced parts of the roof with the intention of selling the house to an appropriate buyer to preserve the mansion.
The Dunnington Mansion Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of Poplar Hill and the Dunnington mansion, is partnering with the new owners to market Dunnington Mansion to a buyer willing to undertake the restoration of this remarkable piece of Farmville history. To learn more and to support these efforts, see the Dunnington Mansion Foundation.
Heather Beech, email@example.com
Photo courtesy Michelle Bowers
Looking back on previous listings of historic schools: the Havelock School in Warsaw, and the Saint Paul’s Chapel Rosenwald School in Brunswick County.
Historic schools of all types and descriptions have been included on previous Virginia’s Most Endangered lists. These places of memory and education fall into disrepair for a variety of reasons including disuse, abandonment, neglect and development pressures. Many historic schools face an unknown future. As with many historic preservation projects, the most pressing need is securing funding for rehabilitation and reuse, but other issues including obtaining ownership of the properties can be obstacles.
Preservation Virginia has included Historic African American Schools and Rosenwald Schools as category listings to the Most Endangered Historic Places List to elevate the awareness of the unique challenges faced in trying to preserve these places, and we continue to support the creation of financial resources including the expansion of the federal tax credit program and the creation of Virginia’s BIPOC Fund to solve some of the funding hurdles faced by public and private organizations to preserve these places.
This year we highlight two historic African American schools––the Havelock School in Richmond County and the Saint Paul’s Chapel Rosenwald School in Brunswick County.
Havelock School, Warsaw (Richmond County)
The Havelock School in Warsaw is a two- room schoolhouse established for the education of African American students in Richmond County. Like some historic African American schools, the building is currently owned by the historically-connected New Zion Baptist Church. The building has withstood many years; but in order to preserve this legacy, immediate repairs are needed.
Saint Paul’s Chapel Rosenwald School, Brunswick County
Saint Paul’s Chapel School is a one-teacher Rosenwald School built in 1920 in Brunswick County for the education of African American students. The Rosenwald fund, a partnership between Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald, supported the construction of nearly 5,000 rural schoolhouses, and associated buildings, which served thousands of Black children in the south for over four decades. Saint Paul’s Chapel School is closely associated with the nearby St. Paul’s AME Zion Church, but the school’s ownership remains unclear.
Both of the school buildings have stood unused for years. In order to preserve the rich history of the schools, as well as the history of the surrounding communities, immediate repairs are needed.
Ownership issues surrounding historic African American schools, and other historic sites, have been an ongoing obstacle for many preservation efforts. Before work can begin to preserve these important historic places, owners have to give consent, but while this is being worked out, these places often continue to suffered from vandalism and neglect.
In both of these examples, plans for the school’s preservation and reuse in the community are needed, as well as additional community support to see the projects to fruition.
Havelock School: Arnita Bryant, (804) 761-7593, firstname.lastname@example.org
Saint Paul’s Chapel Rosenwald School: Lenora Wright, (914) 300-3911, email@example.com