April 29, 2014
RICHMOND, VA – Preservation Virginia presents its tenth consecutive list of Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Sites to raise awareness of places that face imminent or sustained threats to their integrity or survival. The statewide preservation organization creates the annual listing to bring attention to these properties at risk and to encourage individuals and organizations to advocate for the protection and preservation of Virginia’s historic places. Click here for the complete 2014 list and media advisory, images are available upon request.
Each of 2014’s 11 sites is listed below, in no particular order, with its significance, a description of how it is threatened, and a recommended solution.
Virginia’s Civil War Battlefields
(Bristoe Station Battlefield and Williamsburg Battlefield)
Significance: The Bristoe Station and Williamsburg Battlefields are just two of the most recent examples of Virginia’s oft-threatened Civil War landscapes, the threats to which are especially worthy of attention during the ongoing Civil War sesquicentennial. The Bristoe Station Battlefield is the site of two significant battles: the August 27, 1862, Battle of Kettle Run, and the October 14, 1863, Battle of Bristoe Station. Various winter encampments took place in this same area, and various cemeteries exist, most still unidentified. Both battlefields have been recognized as among the Civil War’s most significant sites by the Congressionally-appointed Civil War Sites Advisory Commission (CWSAC) and its Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields. Bristoe Station Battlefield is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources holds a historic easement on the 133 acres that incorporate the Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park. Locally, Prince William County identifies the current Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park as a County Registered Historical Site.
In 2009, the Update to Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report showed that just three percent of the site of the Battle of Williamsburg was protected; the report also reclassified it as a Level 3 priority, indicating that additional protection was needed. The 2009 study also identified more than 1,000 acres eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Since the early 1990s, more than 2,000 acres of the Williamsburg Battlefield have disappeared, which promoted the Civil War Trust to list the site as “at risk” in 2010. The Battle of Williamsburg was the first major land battle of the Civil War’s Peninsula Campaign. Beginning in spring 1862, this campaign tested the two armies, setting a pace for the remainder of the conflict. By dusk on May 5, 1862, close to 4,000 Americans were dead, wounded or missing. Seven Medals of Honor were awarded to Union soldiers for their actions on this day, also the day the first Confederate battle flag was captured in the War.
Threat: Both battlefield sites are threatened by encroaching development, both immediate and longer term.
Solution: Revisiting the zoning contexts in which these cultural landscapes appear may help to more effectively align the goals of local governments, citizenry, the development community, and historically-minded organizations. Bristoe Station Battlefield has already been identified as the Bristoe Station Historical Area in Prince William County’s Comprehensive Plan; such recognition of the cultural landscape’s importance should inform planning and development decisions to allow for smart development while protecting assets. Likewise, the historical significance of the Williamsburg Battlefield could be addressed through local zoning overlays and comprehensive planning. At Bristoe Station, a proposed cemetery development of approximately 51 acres threatens to destroy a significant portion of unprotected battlefield. The local community should continue to work together toward a solution that will allow for development without destroying this hallowed ground. Overall, community-based solutions are needed to adequately balance landscape preservation with modern development.
Southside Roller Mill, Chase City
Significance: The mill is a rare surviving example of an early 20th-century commercial/industrial building with all of its functional interior elements intact, including: millstones, chutes, sifters, presses, and engines. For three quarters of a century, the mill played a key role in the life of Chase City, stimulating the local economy by providing agricultural milling services and employment. The main section of the mill was built in 1912 of timber-frame construction with a three-story east-end gable of brick painted with the words “Southside Roller Mills” and “Wide Awake Flour.” The mill, which is not located in a designated historic district, was in use until 1986, and is zoned industrial.
Threat: The Southside Roller Mill’s private owner struggles to maintain and shield the structure from the ravages of time and weather, but, as in many rural towns, funds are generally insufficient for feasibility planning and rehabilitating the structure for a new community use.
Solution: The Southside Roller Mill, if determined eligible for the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places and subsequently listed, could then be eligible for historic rehabilitation tax credits. Such tax credits (up to 45% of eligible expense), when used in the rehabilitation of an income-producing commercial structure, might provide the economic incentive needed to successfully finance the project, as they have in many other Virginia communities. Local supporters for the repurposing of the mill should begin by studying the costs associated with new uses for it, in order to determine a long-range, sustainable business plan.
Virginia’s “Sidestepped” Towns: Columbia and Pamplin City
Significance: Over the course of Virginia’s history, various modes of transportation and routes of trade and commerce have affected settlement patterns and the growth and decline of towns and communities. From waterway travel and trade on rivers and canals, to the railroad network, to the major roadways of the 20th century, towns reliant on agricultural or industrial commerce have faced declining employment and populations due to the shifts in greater patterns of circulation.
The Town of Pamplin City was once a thriving center of commerce located at the confluence of two major rail lines at the Appomattox and Prince Edward county line, and once home to the Pamplin Pipe Factory, the largest manufacturer of clay pipes in the United States at the time (now an abandoned site). The historic resources of Pamplin City include ten brick buildings located along Main Street, built after a fire swept through the town in 1909, and the vacant Park Hotel, located nearby.
The area near the fork of the James and Rivanna Rivers, now the Town of Columbia, was part of the Monacan Nation when explored by Captain John Smith as early as 1608. Called Point of Fork by early English settlers, then Point of Fork Arsenal prior to the Revolutionary War, the area was home to the first tobacco inspection station west of Richmond in 1785. Columbia was chartered as a town in 1788, and the first post office established in 1793. From the opening of the James River and Kanawha Canal in 1836 until the start of the Civil War in 1861, Columbia experienced its most successful economic period. The development of the railroad and historic floods in 1880 and 1887 contributed to Columbia’s slow decline, followed by the filling in of the canals by late 1888. The 20th century brought two more large floods and the cessation of rail service.
Threat: The towns of Columbia and Pamplin City are similar in that their historic periods of greatest prosperity are behind them, as a result of evolving patterns of circulation and modes of transportation, but their immediate threats and opportunities for renewed success are divergent.
The buildings along Pamplin’s Main Street are currently used mainly for storage. Together with the nearby Park Hotel, the historic fabric suffers from deferred maintenance or neglect, having been uninhabited for years. Property owners in the area support the rehabilitation of this Main Street, but as is the case in many small towns whose industries have left, funding such projects is difficult.
The historic structures along Columbia’s St. James Street are sited in a federally-recognized flood plain and remain in poor condition, the result of many years of neglect. The lack of adequate sewer system infrastructure and general uncertainty about a pending Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant further complicates the situation, making investment in the structures difficult to justify. This once-thriving but now neglected town with multiple intact historic resources (that at one time constituted a register-eligible district) illustrates the multiple forces at work that combine and contribute to the decline of small, historic towns across the Commonwealth.
Solution: The Town of Pamplin City has refurbished the former Norfolk-Southern train depot, now the home of the Pamplin Town Office and a branch of the Jameson Memorial Library. Pamplin’s Mayor, Appomattox County, and other supporters are working to make Pamplin the terminus for the 31-mile High Bridge Trail, the Virginia Historic Landmark and National Recreation Trail that runs through Farmville almost to Burkeville. Expanding the trail end in Pamplin would increase visitation to the area and encourage further heritage tourism activities. Both the Main Street storefronts and the Park Hotel could be rehabilitated to provide essential services for those accessing the trail and other attractions in the area. Listing these structures on the National Register of Historic Places would then make them eligible for the utilization of historic preservation tax credits.
As for Columbia, a federal process related to FEMA is underway, and Preservation Virginia is a consulting party. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to consider the effects of projects they carry out, approve, or fund on historic properties, ensuring that preservation values are factored into federal agency planning and decisions. We urge all parties involved to continue following and integrating federal Section 106 protocol while advocating for the most sensitive treatment of the historic resources that remain. At the very least, if the structures cannot be rehabilitated, relocated or otherwise utilized, a thorough documentation of the town and its historic buildings is needed.
(Learn more about Section 106 here: https://www.achp.gov/docs/CitizenGuide.pdf)
James River Viewshed
Significance: The Historic Triangle, which includes Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, encompasses 175 years of our nation’s formative history and attracts more than six million national and international travelers annually. Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement, was founded along the banks of the James River in 1607. Today, visitors trace early American history and the exploration route of Captain John Smith on the only historic National Park Service water trail, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Historic Jamestowne, the Colonial Parkway, the John Smith Water Trail and Carter’s Grove Plantation all provide visitors with a unique experience of the area’s history. The environmental landscape and waterway of the James River remains as evocative of the Colonial era now as it did hundreds of years ago.
Threat: A proposed Dominion Virginia Power transmission line project would cross 4.1 miles of the river atop as many as 17 towers ranging in height from 160 feet to 295 feet, compromising the scenic integrity of the historic cultural areas that comprise the James River. The towers and power lines would intrude on the public vantage points from the Historic Triangle, which includes the Colonial Parkway, Jamestown Island’s Black Point and Carter’s Grove Plantation, as well as water routes on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Trail. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named the resource to its 2013 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
Solution: Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to consider the effects of projects they carry out, approve, or fund on historic properties, ensuring that preservation values are factored into federal agency planning and decisions. In this case, the Section 106 process with the Army Corps of Engineers should proceed properly and in a timely manner in order to find a suitable alternative by either burying the line or using an existing crossing further down river. An alternative that balances the need for more electrical service to the region and the unique historic, scenic, and natural assets of the region would save the James River. While a solution that avoids harm to historic places may be more costly than the proposed project, it will help to ensure the sustainability of the area’s historic landscape, environment, and tourism economy. A strong coalition of groups supports this effort and includes Preservation Virginia, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Parks Conservation Association, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Scenic Virginia, Chesapeake Conservancy, Virginia Conservation Network, James River Association, and the Save the James Alliance.
(Learn more about Section 106 here: https://www.achp.gov/docs/CitizenGuide.pdf)
Significance: The Hook-Powell-Moorman Farm complex is an intact 18th-19th century agricultural homestead located on a 40-acre historic core site with multiple buildings, including John Hook’s store, built circa 1784 and one of Virginia’s few remaining 18th-century mercantile structures. The Hook-Powell-Moorman Farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register, with architecture, commerce, and health/medicine as the categories of significance, and John Hook (1746-1808) named as a person of significance. John Hook’s store received Preservation Virginia’s first Preservation Pitch mini-grant in 2012.
Threat: Much like the Booker T. Washington National Monument, located three miles away and listed as a Most Endangered Site in 2009, the Hook-Powell-Moorman farmstead is threatened by encroaching development along Route 122 and nearby Smith Mountain Lake.
Solution: Rental of the onsite dwelling to the Friends of the Booker T. Washington National Monument and involvement in discussions about the development of heritage tourism opportunities are tangible ways to make the site relevant and useful in the community. In order to maintain and make the descendent-owned complex more economically sustainable, the use of land conservation easement strategies and the tax benefits that result with placing a portion of the site under easement could be explored. Such easements would help avoid purchase for development and generate funds to use for the ongoing maintenance of the multiple historic structures.
Historic Schools In Virginia
Significance: Since the Most Endangered Historic Sites program began more than a decade ago, school buildings of all types from across the state have been individually listed, indicating an ongoing issue with how localities deal with this type of resource. Approximately 800 historic school buildings (generally defined as being more than 50 years old) exist throughout the Commonwealth, an inventory of existing building stock often threatened by the general trend of housing students in new, large, centrally-located schools. With the continued disuse and abandonment of historic, community-based school buildings, this resource faces an unknown future.
Threat: As budgets tighten and populations increase, increasingly there are frequent calls for the closure or demolition of historic school buildings across the state. Several specific examples in Loudoun County illustrate the range of threats faced by historic schools: Aldie Elementary and Middleburg Elementary have been under threat of closure for decades, caught in the debate between supporting new schools with economies of scale versus supporting older, community-anchoring schools with their alleged higher maintenance and operational costs. Arcola School, a 2008 Most Endangered Site listing, is still threatened with demolition by neglect; built in 1939 as a Public Works Administration project, it was an active school until 1972, and then served as a community center from 1977-2006. In 2013, it was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, but still faces an uncertain future. Similar situations exist in Norfolk, Richmond, Suffolk, the Eastern Shore, and other communities across the Commonwealth.
Solution: Such an expansive range of resources requires multiple solutions. More frank discussions at the level of localities and school boards should address the benefits of adaptive re-use of historic school properties or the rehabilitation of existing, historic school structures versus the cost of transporting students greater distances, public acquisition of additional properties, and new construction. The first step is identifying the possible eligibility of schools. In 2014, Virginia Delegate Scott Surovell offered legislation that would create an inventory of buildings over 50 years old that would be used to determine, in consultation with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR), the eligibility of the buildings and possible alternatives prior to demolition or transfer. The bill was deferred in committee. Preservation Virginia supports the reintroduction of this bill with appropriate funding for DHR to undertake the inventory and evaluation that would give local school systems and communities tools for these decisions.
The Old Concrete Road
Significance: The Old Concrete Road (Prospect Road) is the original access to the top of Roanoke’s Mill Mountain, where the Mill Mountain Zoo, Mill Mountain Star (a National Historic Landmark and a Most Endangered Site listing in 2008), Parks and Recreation Discovery Center and Mill Mountain Garden Club Wildflower Garden are now located. The road is currently closed to vehicular traffic and is used as a greenway, hiking/cycling, and walking path. The Old Concrete Road was originally a graded road connecting the town of Roanoke (Big Lick) to the mountaintop, long a symbol of the City of Roanoke. In 1910, an incline was opened and provided a safe, quick trip to the mountaintop, which was successful until the proliferation of the automobile. Brothers William and John Henritze paved the road with concrete in 1922-24 at the cost of $90,000. At that time, it was the longest continuous concrete road built on a 6-10-percent grade. It featured a “loop-the-loop” bridge, the only one east of the Rocky Mountains and the only one in the world built entirely of concrete, as well as a stone toll booth (recently restored by a public/private partnership; it was honored with a Roanoke Valley Preservation Award in 2010 and a FLITE Award from the First Lady of Virginia).
Threat: While the mountain is under conservation easement, and is well-loved by both Roanoke citizens and its caretakers, the City of Roanoke’s Department of Parks and Recreation, it is recognized that the “rubble” retaining walls lining the road are suffering from deterioration and damage in multiple spots, due to root intrusion and normal freeze/thaw cycles and general wear and tear.
Solution: We encourage park users and local partners like the Mill Mountain Advisory Committee to continue to work with the City of Roanoke to develop a proactive approach to a sustainable maintenance plan for this iconic landscape before deferred maintenance takes its toll on the stone walls lining the road.
Pocahontas Island Historic District
Significance: Pocahontas Island is recognized for having two verifiable stops on the Underground Railroad, the banks of the Appomattox thus serving as the last point of bondage for many enslaved individuals before they liberated themselves and began new lives above the Mason-Dixon Line. The house at 213-215 Witten Street on Pocahontas Island was the subject of what the press called the Keziah Affair, whereby a white ship owner, Captain William Bayliss, had been caught with five enslaved individuals hiding on his vessel, the Keziah, bound for Philadelphia. The oldest house on the island, located at 808-810 Logan Street and built circa 1820, known as the Jarratt House, is associated with and was built by a free Black family. In 2006, the entire parcel known as Pocahontas Island Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Petersburg’s Pocahontas Island is one of the earliest free African-American communities in the U.S. and the earliest known in Virginia. It was initially given to the grandson of Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan. Over time, free African Americans settled here, especially during the early to mid 19th century. Due to its location in the middle of the Appomattox River, Pocahontas Island was a thriving economic center and a prosperous community for generations until the railroad made river commerce obsolete.
Threat: Residents and stewards of Pocahontas Island’s history have been unable to generate the necessary funds to fully interpret the site’s Underground Railroad narrative. The privately-owned house on Witten Street and the City of Petersburg-owned Jarratt House both suffer from years of neglect as a result of a lack of funding and need stabilization and repair. While some repairs have been made to the Jarratt House in the past decade, a portion of the rear wall collapsed several years ago.
Solution: This year is the 150th anniversary of the siege of Petersburg, which is focusing attention on the City’s history. We encourage those working on the commemorations to include Pocahontas Island in their plans to help tell the story of Petersburg and the Underground Railroad. The island may well be eligible for inclusion on an Underground Railroad trail, and ought to be permanently recognized with markers and permanent interpretive signage. The poignant history of the island’s role in the Underground Railroad should be fully studied and promoted as a site for education and heritage tourism.
Phlegar Building (Old Clerk’s Office)
Significance: Listed in the National Register, the Phlegar Building is perhaps Montgomery County’s best surviving late-19th-century law office and a rare example of a late-19th-century building in downtown Christiansburg. Demonstrating its evolution over time, the Phlegar Building incorporates both its original one-story, two-room Montgomery County Clerk of Court Office built in 1812, as well as its second-floor, Eastlake-style double porch and rear section that were added around 1898. Significant individuals associated with the Phlegar Building include William Ballard Preston, who served in the Virginia Senate, House of Delegates, U.S. Congress, and as Secretary of the Navy under President Zachary Taylor; Waller Staples, who was a Virginia Supreme Court Justice (1870-1882); and Judge Archer Phlegar who was responsible for the late 1890s additions to the building, and who served as Commonwealth Attorney (1870-1877), state senator (1877-79; 1903-07), as a justice on the Supreme Court of Virginia (1900-1901), and who was a founder of the Bank of Christiansburg.
Threat: Deferred maintenance has taken its toll on the exterior of the building and the lack of a preservation plan makes its future uncertain.
Solution: We encourage Montgomery County and potentially-interested purchasers to pursue ways of adaptively re-using the structure. As a commercial structure, the use of historic rehabilitation tax credits could help with financing its restoration. The Montgomery Museum and Lewis Miller Regional Arts Center, who have expressed interest in the building, should be encouraged to pursue the feasibility and funding for its re-use.
Significance: Shockoe Bottom is likely the most archaeologically-rich slave-related site in the state, and significant as the site of the center of the domestic commercial wholesale slave trade circa 1830 to 1865, which acted as a major facilitator of the domestic retail slave trade south of Virginia. The area bounded by Broad, Franklin, 18th and 16th Streets is also significant as the center of the original city of Richmond, and the governmental seat of Henrico, once it moved from its original location at Henricus. This was the epicenter of political thought in Virginia during the Revolutionary and Federal period, serving as the common meeting place of the greatest thinkers of the early Republic, including Jefferson, Marshall, Madison, Monroe, Mason, Wythe (who lived not far from the site), and Randolph, among others.
Threat: The public-private Revitalize RVA Plan contemplates intensive construction and redevelopment within the Shockoe Bottom flood plain, including a stadium, hotel, grocery store, retail space, office buildings, apartment buildings, parking garages, highway off-ramp modifications, and storm water flood-control infrastructure. These activities are likely to adversely impact historic and archaeological resources that are listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (including those located within the Shockoe Valley & Tobacco Row Historic District and those identified in a multiple-property listing entitled The Slave Trade as a Commercial Enterprise in Richmond, Virginia).
Solution: We urge the City of Richmond and its development partners to avoid taking any action for the Revitalize RVA project that may disturb or harm historic and archaeological resources before the federal Section 106 review and consultation process is complete. An announced plan that will identify and review associated historic resources is a first step. Following through with Section 106 will allow for analyzing alternatives and ensuring a plan for appropriate development and preservation of the historic assets.
Significance: The Waterloo Bridge’s history is deeply entwined with its setting as a Rappahannock River crossing between Culpeper and Fauquier Counties. Efforts to make the Rappahannock River navigable began in 1816, and planning and construction of the river canal lasted until it was deemed complete in 1849. Beginning in 1853, a series of wooden bridges were constructed near the site of the current Waterloo Bridge. In addition to flooding, the Civil War was a destructive force affecting Waterloo Landing and its bridge, as the Rappahannock River was a defensive front for both armies; the bridge changed hands and was rebuilt many times. In 1878, the new, durable metal-truss bridge was installed that is still standing today. A significant engineered work, the bridge was manufactured by the Pittsburgh Bridge Company. Waterloo Bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Hedgeman-Rappahannock Rural Historic District nomination that has been submitted to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Threat: Waterloo Bridge was used for vehicular traffic until January 2014 when it was closed for reasons of safety; the wear and tear of sustained use and structural deficiencies in its iron material were no longer able to sustain a practical weight limit.
Solution: Citizen groups and organizations such as the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) are advocating for recognition of the bridge’s significance to the region and for the rehabilitation rather than the replacement of the bridge. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is aware of the bridge’s contribution to the rural character of the area, and is working with Culpeper and Fauquier Counties to determine the most cost effective option for balancing road access with preservation of the historic structure. Options under consideration include short and longer term rehabilitation and stabilization alternatives that would allow vehicular traffic to use the bridge again, demolition and replacement of the bridge, or repurposing or moving the structure for non-vehicular, recreational uses. VDOT, PEC, supporters of the historic structure, and local governments are encouraged to continue evaluating alternatives to rehabilitate the bridge in order to safely meet transportation needs while ensuring the bridge’s stewardship. Waterloo Bridge, one of the last remaining metal Pratt through-truss bridges in the state, along with other aging bridges found across Virginia, will require creative solutions for balancing preservation with modern transportation needs. VDOT is currently updating its Management Plan for Historic Bridges in Virginia, last revised in 2001, to better address the needs of this type of resource.
Additional site-specific media contacts:
1. Virginia’s Civil War Battlefields
Contacts: (Bristoe Station Battlefield): Mark Trbovich, Bull Run Civil War Roundtable
(Williamsburg Battlefield): Drew Gruber, Williamsburg Battlefield Association
(732) 600-6498; Drewagruber@gmail.com
2. Southside Roller Mill, Chase City
Contacts: P.K. Pettus, Diana Ramsey, or Liz Lowrance, MacCallum More Museum and Gardens
(434) 372-0502; email@example.com
3. Virginia’s “Sidestepped” Towns: Columbia and Pamplin City
Contacts: (Columbia): Justin Sarafin, Preservation Virginia, firstname.lastname@example.org; (Pamplin): Robert Mitchell, Mayor, and Paulie Johnson, (434) 248-6514; email@example.com
4. James River Viewshed
Contact: Elizabeth Kostelny, Executive Director, Preservation Virginia,
(804) 648-1889; firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Hook-Powell-Moorman Farm
Contact: Virginia Gotlieb, (818)-635-5764; email@example.com
6. Historic Schools in Virginia
Contact: Laura Tekrony (Aldie Elementary), (703) 327-9167; firstname.lastname@example.org; Jane Covington (Arcola School), email@example.com; Dave Quanbeck (Middleburg Elementary), firstname.lastname@example.org
and Justin Sarafin, Preservation Virginia, (434) 260-1804; email@example.com
7. The Old Concrete Road
Contact: Nancy Dye, Chairman of Mill Mountain Advisory Committee
(540) 798-4620; firstname.lastname@example.org
9. Phlegar Building (Old Clerk’s Office)
Contact: Sherry Wyatt, Montgomery Museum and Lewis Miller Regional Art Center
(540) 382-5644; email@example.com
11. Waterloo Bridge
Contact: Maggi MacQuilliam, Piedmont Environmental Council, (540) 454-9599; firstname.lastname@example.org