Most Endangered Historic Places
Virginia’s long and rich history persists in a large number of historic sites that continue to survive the march of time. Many of these sites are vulnerable to neglect and deterioration due to insufficient funds, inappropriate development and/or insensitive public policy.
In an effort to advocate for these sites, the Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places list has been presented for nearly 20 years. It continues to raise awareness of Virginia’s historic sites, encouraging citizens, localities and organizations to continue to advocate for the protection and preservation of these places. The list has featured buildings, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes across the state that face imminent or sustained threats to their integrity or survival.
For the 15th year, Preservation Virginia presents a list of historic places across the state that face imminent or sustained threats to their integrity, or in some cases their very survival. The intent is not to shame or punish the current owners of these places, but to bring attention to the threats described and to encourage citizens and organizations to continue to advocate for their protection and preservation.
While we face these quickly changing and challenging times, this year’s list of Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places illustrates how some long-standing issues still need to be addressed and can’t be forgotten during times of crises. Of particular importance, while previous listings highlighted historic places important to underrepresented communities, four of this year’s seven listings remind us that these historic places continue to be threatened at alarming rates. In no particular order of significance, these seven Virginia places are considered as endangered for the year 2020.
Rassawek, the historic capital and sacred site of the Monacan Indian Nation, located at the confluence of the Rivanna and James River in Fluvanna County, is in danger of destruction by a water intake system proposed by the James River Water Authority. While Preservation Virginia does not oppose Louisa and Fluvanna Counties’ needs for a new water source, alternative locations exist for the water intake project.
Alexandria Elks Lodge #48
The Alexandria Elks Lodge #48 has been an anchor for residents in the Parker Gray Historic District for over 115 years. The brick Elks Lodge building is sound, but serious roof, foundation and window deterioration has allowed moisture into the building. These repairs are greatly needed, as well as a feasibility study to determine how the interior could be configured to better serve the community.
Halifax Roller Mill
The Halifax Roller Mill, a three-story, frame flour and feed mill constructed in 1915 in the Town of Halifax, was a thriving operation and a social center for Halifax residents until the 1990s. Funding for immediate stabilization and an updated feasibility study are necessary to preserve and reuse the mill, which would complement the Town of Halifax’s award-winning downtown revitalization, adaptive reuse and recreational efforts.
Historic Metal Truss Bridges Statewide
In 1975, Virginia had approximately 620 metal truss bridges. Today, approximately five percent of those bridges remain. A dedicated fund to provide for continual preventative maintenance, effective long-term planning and improved collaboration with VDOT and other entities are all solutions that could help preserve Virginia’s remaining metal truss bridges.
James Street Holiness Church
The James Street Holiness Church, founded in 1891 by the Holiness preacher Bettie Thompson, illustrates the rich but little studied history of the African American community in north Danville, the history of African American women religious leaders and the history of 19th century Protestant religious groups. The roof is in poor shape and the basement has flood damage. Immediate repairs are needed to prevent further deterioration of the building so it can be reused as a potential community center.
Loudoun County’s Rural Road Network
Bordered by trees and punctuated by stone walls, sunken lanes, cemeteries, mills and other historic sites, western Loudoun County’s network of rural roads is a largely unchanged, a living museum of 300 miles of gravel roadways that traverse the Loudoun Valley. The changing lifestyle of parts of the county from agrarian to commuter need not be an obstacle to protecting the historic road network, the scenic and environmental resources and disappearing agrarian traditions.
Photo Credit: Doug Graham, America’s Routes
Pine Grove School Community
The Pine Grove School Community, a rural community of businesses, churches, cemeteries and homes of students and teachers who attended the Pine Grove Rosenwald School in Cumberland County, is under threat from a proposed 1,200-acre landfill that, if approved, will fundamentally change the historic character of this 100-year old community and put residents at risk from major environmental hazards. The threat to the Pine Grove School Community is symbolic of the continual and systematic failure to adequately protect Virginia’s historic African American historic sites.
Nominate an Endangered Historic Place
Submit a nomination for the 2020 Most Endangered Historic Places list.