In Virginia, the term "historic architecture" conjures up visions of Colonial Williamsburg or the Confederate White House in Richmond, not the sleek, streamlined look of the late 1920s and 1930s.
The architecture of the Art Deco period, which emerged from the 1925 Paris exposition of the decorative arts, generally has been overlooked in the state.
"Some people think history stops with the Civil War," said Richard Striner, president and founder of the Art Deco Society of Washington.
Art deco is "overlooked, definitely," said Richard G. Wilson, professor of architectural history at the University of Virginia. "Not that there's that much of it. Virginia architecture has always been inherently conservative. But there is some around."
Calder Loth, senior architectural historian for the Virginia Division of Historic Landmarks, said he believes the interest is in proportion with the amount of Art Deco found in Virginia.
"The popular image of Virginia historic landmarks tends to 18th century places," said Loth. But the landmarks division has made an effort to include the most important examples of Deco architecture on both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
Two Deco-period buildings in Virginia are listed on the registers: the Allied Arts building in Lynchburg and the former Central National Bank, now the Central Fidelity Bank, in Richmond.
The Allied Arts building is a "very good example of a setback skyscraper from the period -- a unified base, shaft and top, tiered buttress, low relief ornamental detail, modernistic type of style," Wilson said. "One of the finest examples in the state."
The Central National Bank building also has tiered buttresses and "elaborate decoration without any reference to classical ornamentation," Loth said. The building features a zigzag, almost Aztec-derived pattern associated with Deco architecture.
The bank building is a "nationally important building, and extremely fine example" of Art Deco, said Striner, coauthor of "Washington Deco: Art Deco in the Nation's Capital."
Striner called the bank building "a major example . . . of skyscraper-style architecture by a nationally important architect" who specialized in designing movie theaters. The building was designed by New York architect John Eberson. "He certainly ranks with the best," Loth said.
Wilson said he thinks two other Deco buildings in Virginia should be included on the registers: the Norfolk & Southern Railroad office in Roanoke and a Medical College of Virginia building in Richmond.
Designers of Deco buildings relied on building materials such as glass blocks, aluminum, terra cotta panels and Vitrolite, a decorative plate glass.
Deco architecture was not limited to skyscrapers and movie theaters. It can be found in diners, small shops, service stations, apartment buildings and schools.
The Tastee Diner in Fairfax County and the Frost Diner in Warrenton are excellent examples, even though the Frost Diner was built in 1946, said Wilson.
Striner said his group wants to have the Lee Garden Apartments in Arlington County, another example of Art Deco and slated for renovation, designated under the county's preservation ordinance.
Thomas Jefferson High School in Richmond and George Washington Junior High School in Alexandria are also good examples of Deco architecture, Striner said.