Endangered: 2 Va. battlefields and historic slave-trade site

 


Activists hold up a banner in front of City Hall in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 13, 2013, to protest plans to build a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom. Historians and community activists argue that a section of Richmond that was home to the city’s once-thriving slave-trading center is no place to build a minor league ballpark. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

Preservation Virginia, a statewide preservation organization, has released its annual most endangered list of historic properties deemed at risk and threatened by neglect or development. The purpose of the list, now in its 10th year, is to call attention to the properties and encourage individuals and organizations to rally for their preservation.

Included in the 2014 list are two Civil War-related properties. Bristow Station and Williamsburg Battlefields are listed as one entry, and the other is Shockoe Bottom in Richmond, the site of a wholesale slave market before and during the war.

According to Preservation Virginia, the battlefields are “just two of the most recent examples of Virginia’s oft-threatened Civil War landscapes.” Bristoe Station in Prince William County is the site of two battles: the Battle of Kettle Run  on Aug. 27, 1862, and the Battle of Bristoe Station  on Oct. 13, 1863. In addition, the sites include cemeteries, most still unidentified, and winter encampments.

The second part of the listing is the site of the Battle of Williamsburg in York County, which took place May 5, 1862. Preservation Virginia identifies the threat to these battlefields as “encroaching development, both immediate and longer term.”

Shockoe Bottom, roughly an eight-square-block neighborhood in Richmond, was the site of several slave trading businesses that included a jail where the enslaved people were held awaiting auction. Those buildings are long gone, but archaeologists have discovered traces of the jail, which was owned by one of the most notorious of the traders, Robert Lumpkin.

The neighborhood, included in the Richmond Slave Trail, has developed in recent years into a vibrant commercial area with  bars and restaurants. However, Preservation Virginia is concerned about development plans in the area that call for “intensive construction and redevelopment … including a [baseball] stadium, hotel, grocery store, office buildings, apartment buildings, parking garages, highway off-ramp modifications and storm water flood-control infrastructure.”

In a related development, former Virginia governor Doug Wilder announced Friday  that he wants to locate a new national slavery museum in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood.

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Linda Wheeler · May 7, 2014

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