Many of Virginia’s historic sites are in jeopardy

April 29

Dominion Power has proposed installing towers across the James River that would be visible from College Creek Beach, seen here on Oct. 18, 2012. (Scott Neville/For The Washington Post)

The commonwealth’s rich history includes land where the English first settled in the New World and enslaved people sought rest on their way to freedom. But many of those places are in jeopardy from decay and development, weather and lack of resources, according to Preservation Virginia, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting historic locales.

The group’s annual list of endangered historic sites was released Tuesday:

Bristoe Station Battlefield and Williamsburg Battlefield

The Battle of Williamsburg in 1862 was the first major contest between the Union and the Confederacy in the Peninsula Campaign, according to Preservation Virginia. Bristoe Station played host to the Battle of Kettle Run in 1862 and Battle of Bristoe Station in 1863.

Both sites are threatened by “encroaching development,” according to Preservation Virginia; 2,000 acres of Williamsburg Battlefield has been developed. At Bristoe, unprotected battlefield could soon be occupied by 80 acres of cemetery.

Pocahontas Island Historic District

Jarratt House on Petersburg's Pocahontas Island suffers from years of neglect as a result of a lack of funding. (Courtesy of Preservation Virginia)

Pocahontas Island is home to two verifiable stops on the Underground Railroad. (Courtesy of Preservation Virginia)

Situated in the middle of Appomattox River, Pocahontas Island was one of the earliest free African American communities in the country, due in part to the presence of two stops on the Underground Railroad that former slaves used to head north.

The site is also home to what became the Keziah Affair, where aboard an eponymous schooner, a white ship owner was caught smuggling five slaves to freedom in Philadelphia.

Historic houses on Petersburg’s Witten Street and Logan Street on the island are in disrepair, according to Preservation Virginia.

Shockoe Bottom

Virginia Del. Delores L. McQuinn, chairwoman of the Richmond Slave Trail Commission, walks to the Old Negro Burial Ground along the Slave Trail on Nov. 18, 2013, in Richmond, Va. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

The city of Richmond is looking to redevelop Shockoe Bottom, which used to serve as the center of the state’s capital and was a common meeting place for Founding Fathers such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John Marshall.

It was also once the “center of domestic commercial wholesale slave trade,” according to Preservation Virginia. One redevelopment proposal includes a plan for a slavery heritage site, which has drawn the interest of former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder (D), the nation’s first black elected governor. .

James River Viewshed

Dominion Power has proposed installing towers across the James River that would be visible from Black Point on Jamestown Island. Local history buffs and nature lovers are trying to protect the scenic beauty of the area, seen here on Oct. 18, 2012. (Scott Neville/For The Washington Post)

Six million people from across the world visit Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown every year. In their travels, they sometimes head to the James River Viewshed to take in the Historic Triangle.

A proposed Dominion Virginia Power line would cut across that vista with 17 towers as high as 296 feet.

Columbia

Historic structures on Columbia’s St. James Street are in need of repair, according to Preservation Virginia.

Columbia was explored by Captain John Smith as early as 1608. The transportation hub’s industrial luck ran dry after historic floods in the 19th and 20th centuries. As canals were filled in and railroad lines grew, the decline continued.

Historic schools in Virginia

Communities across Virginia are constantly debating the fate of about 800 historic school buildings, all older than 50 years. Smaller, community-based schools are losing support, both in terms of use and preservation, according to Preservation Virginia.

Phlegar Building

The decaying Old Clerk’s Office is Montgomery County’s best example of a late 19th-century law office. Lawyers who worked there went on to serve in the Virginia legislature, the U.S. Congress and Virginia’s Supreme Court.

The Old Concrete Road on Mill Mountain

Roanoke's Old Concrete Road, the original access to the top of Roanoke's Mill Mountain, is used as a greenway, hiking/cycling, and walking path. (Courtesy of Preservation Virginia)

Also known as Prospect Road, the concrete road was the original access to the top of Mill Mountain, which has long been a symbol of Roanoke.

The retaining walls on either side have fallen by the wayside as the rest of the mountain is conserved, according to Preservation Virginia.

Hook-Powell-Moorman Farm

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, which was built circa 1784 and is one of Virginia’s few remaining 18th-century mercantile structures. (Courtesy of Preservation Virginia)

This agricultural homestead is one of Virginia’s few remaining 18th-century mercantile structures.

By renting the building to supporters of nearby Booker T. Washington National Monument, Preservation Virginia said the site could attract tourism business.

Pamplin City

Pamplin City’s historic buildings on Main Street are used for storage. According to Preservation Virginia, the town and county governments are working to make Pamplin the end of the 31-mile High Bridge Trail in hope of attracting tourists. That would provide a purpose to Pamplin’s oldest buildings that date back to the city’s boom time as a transportation hub.

Waterloo Bridge

The Waterloo Bridge crosses the Rappahannock River between Culpeper and Fauquier Counties and until January 2014 was used as a bridge for vehicular traffic. A significant engineered work, Waterloo Bridge’s design relies on the Pratt truss, patented in 1844 by the father-and-son team of Caleb and Thomas Pratt of Boston. (Courtesy of Preservation Virginia)

The Civil War-era bridge over Rappahannock River between Culpeper and Fauquier counties was active until January. The Virginia Department of Transportation wants to replace the structure rather than repair it.

Southside Roller Mill, Chase City

A 1912 mill played a key role in the early life of Chase City and is an example of an early 20th-century building, complete with millstones and engines.

Today, the owner struggles with upkeep costs, according to Preservation Virginia.

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