Posts tagged "blog entry"

Tobacco Barns Preliminary Survey Adventures

This fall we plan to begin the full survey of tobacco barns inPittsylvania County. While most of the tobacco barns were built using rough cut logs with clay daubing between, the barns also display many differences.    

 


The barn above has two diamond-shaped vents cut in the top planks and an abandoned VW Beetle guarded by cows

 
 


Old fingerprints in the clay daubing

 
 


Tobacco packhouse with donkey in background

 
 


Later stone foundation repair with donkey on guard behind trees

 
 


Two tobacco barns in a field of new tobacco plants

 
 


Caused by lightning?

 
 


Mr. Mahan standing beside a tobacco stringer under one of his barns

 

If you or anyone you know is interested in helping out with the survey, please contact us!

Hillwood Square Endangered

Architects Heaton and Greely


Embassy Building Designed by Arthur Heaton

Arthur B. Heaton designed over a thousand structures in theWashington D.C. area including lavish apartment buildings, commercial buildings, theaters and private mansions. Examples of his work include the Altamont apartment building on Wyoming Avenue, the Embassy building on Connecticut Avenue, the National Geographic Society building, the Washington Loan and Trust Company building and what is considered the first planned neighborhood shopping center in the country, the 1930s Park and Shop Complex in the Cleveland Park Neighborhood

Heaton was also the first supervising architect on the construction of the Washington Cathedral from 1908 to 1928.

In the late 1930′s and early 1940′s, Heaton designed four D.C. area housing projects for the federal government including Hillwood Square, a small planned community for WWII program workers.

Another famous landscape architect, Rose Greely, also worked on Hillwood Square. Rose was the daughter of General Adolphus W. Greely, Army officer, Arctic explorer and the first president of The Explorers Club

In 1925, Rose Greely became Washington’s first female licensed architect and was also the only woman to work on the Advisory Committee of the Williamsburg Restoration Project.

In her forty-year career, Greely designed more than 500 landscapes, specializing in residential design and focusing on the integration of house and garden. Because she insisted on the highest quality of workmanship, Greely’s extremely well built projects have enjoyed exceptional longevity.

Hillwood Square


The Federal Works Agency Housing Authority (USHA) built Hillwood Square to provide housing for war program workers and their families moving into the Washington D.C. area during World War II. After the War, Hillwood Square was sold as a non-profit cooperative.

Architects Heaton and Greely paid careful attention to community site planning when designing Hillwood Square. Today Hillwood Square remains largely as it was during the 1940s-1950s. The approximately 20-acre park-like development contains forty-one original row houses and duplexes surrounded by walkways and green spaces. 

Parking was restricted to areas behind the units. A community building, a large recreational space, two playgrounds and the original WWII victory garden still exist. Hillwood Square was added to the Fairfax County Historic Register in 2009.

Housing at Hillwood Square has long been among the most affordable in the Washington, DC area because residents purchase an equal share in the community when they move in and pay monthly fees into a fund that covers all maintenance costs as well as most utilities. Hillwood Square is now a diverse neighborhood that includes government employees, young families, seniors, Vietnamese and Latinos.
Endangered

Tree-lined walkway at Hillwood Square

Currently all of the mostly low-income families residing at Hillwood Square face mass evacuation after Hillwood Square was sold to a developer who plans to demolish the original buildings and build luxury high-end apartments. The land has a current estimated value of $85 million to $106 million because it is the largest singly-owned piece of property inside the Capital Beltway. 

Resident Tabi Yothers is Fighting to Save Hillwood Square from Demolition

Many of the long-time residents are stunned by the sale and some are fighting to save Hillwood Square from demolition, stating that Hillwood is not only historic but it is also their home and that the original charter opposes land speculators and focuses on a close-knit community intended to be sustained in perpetuity. A website about Hillwood Square has been created for those who want more information.

The iconic Cape Henry Lighthouse has implemented a new strategy to raise money for the protection of its exposed and eroded limestone foundation. In partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation, Preservation Virginia is raising the money necessary to replenish the sand on the top of the dune, to once again protect the foundation of the lighthouse.




 Yours for a $5 donation!!!
Cape Henry’s Bucket Brigade provides visitors a tangible way to help the lighthouse in this endeavor. Sand pails with the “Bucket Brigade” logo are available as a keepsake for a $5 donation. Visitors can fill the bucket with sand (located right before the ascent up the dune). New signs explaining the history of Bucket Brigades dot the ascent to the top of the dune. Once they reach the top, there is an allocated sand dumping spot. We are hoping that this “preservation in action” approach will move the lighthouse quickly, in the direction of having a completed dune restoration with in the next two years.



Local interest about the topic has been peaked, as is evident by the Tidewater Newspaper, the Virginian-Pilot: http://hamptonroads.com/2012/04/cape-henry-lighthouse-get-erosion-protection


Cape Henry Lighthouse Site Coordinator, Charles Morgan shows some of the wear around the base of the lighthouseSo come out to Cape Henry Lighthouse during your summer trip to Virginia Beach, buy a bucket, and be part of preservation history!
The iconic Cape Henry Lighthouse has implemented a new strategy to raise money for the protection of its exposed and eroded limestone foundation. In partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation, Preservation Virginia is raising the money necessary to replenish the sand on the top of the dune, to once again protect the foundation of the lighthouse.
 Yours for a $5 donation!!!
Cape Henry’s Bucket Brigade provides visitors a tangible way to help the lighthouse in this endeavor. Sand pails with the “Bucket Brigade” logo are available as a keepsake for a $5 donation. Visitors can fill the bucket with sand (located right before the ascent up the dune). New signs explaining the history of Bucket Brigades dot the ascent to the top of the dune. Once they reach the top, there is an allocated sand dumping spot. We are hoping that this “preservation in action” approach will move the lighthouse quickly, in the direction of having a completed dune restoration with in the next two years.
Local interest about the topic has been peaked, as is evident by the Tidewater Newspaper, the Virginian-Pilot: http://hamptonroads.com/2012/04/cape-henry-lighthouse-get-erosion-protection

Cape Henry Lighthouse Site Coordinator, Charles Morgan shows some of the wear around the base of the lighthouseSo come out to Cape Henry Lighthouse during your summer trip to Virginia Beach, buy a bucket, and be part of preservation history!

Revisiting Most Endangered Sites: Historic Cemeteries

In 2010, Preservation Virginia listed abandoned cemeteries to our Endangered Sites list. Since then, we have had many people contact us for assistance with abandoned, neglected and vandalized cemeteries. 

A few weeks ago I visited two cemeteries in Chesterfield County. One was in a wooded area across from a local school. The cemetery had a partially standing rock wall surrounding several grave markers. Every marker was vandalized in some fashion including several large obelisks that had been pushed over and broken. 



Virginia cemetery lawsprevent the desecration and vandalism of cemeteries; but unfortunately people continue to get away with it. And it is not only bored teenagers, last year I visited a church–owned cemetery that had been scraped by a backhoe, presumably so that room could be made for new burials. 

A broken crypt and several older grave markers were in a jumbled pile in the tree line. What shocked me was that it appears that the church may have actually arranged for the backhoe work! 

Preservation Virginia hopes that listing cemeteries to our Endangered Sites list has made people more aware of this issue and reminded people that cemeteries contain essential historical and genealogical information and —not to mention— the remains of someone’s deceased family member. 

In order to provide cemetery preservation education, Preservation Virginia in partnership with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR) is offering a series of Cemetery Conservation & Documentation Workshops. The next workshop will be held May 18-19, 2012 at the historic Christ Episcopal Church at 16304 Courthouse Road, Eastville, VA, located on the Eastern Shore. 

On Friday, May 18th the workshop will run from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on Saturday it will run from 9:30 a.m. to noon. The first day’s presentations will cover topics ranging from funerary symbolism to training in the appropriate care and maintenance of grave yards, to genealogy, mortuary archaeology and Virginia burial law. 

The second day, May 19th, will feature on-location training sessions in Christ Church’s cemetery focusing on stewardship issues for cemeteries, including techinques for photographing historic funerary markers, and identification of symbols used on grave markers, among other topics. 

Early registration is encouraged as the workshop has limited space. The fee for both days in $60 and $40 for just Friday. Participants must attend Friday’s session in order to attend the Saturday workshop. Both days of the workshop are held rain or shine. 

For registration information, please contact Dee DeRoche at VDHR by email at dee.deroche@dhr.virginia.gov or by phone at 804-482-6441. 

In addition to the workshops, more information about issues relating to historic cemeteries is available through a blog established by VDHR’s Jolene Smith, Archaeology Inventory Manager in the agency’s Archives. The blog is available online here. 

PRESERVATION VIRGINIA IS NOW SEEKING APPLICATIONS TO OUR 2012 ENDANGERED SITES LIST. THE DEADLINE IS APRIL 13TH. SEELINK FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Bacon’s Castle Stair Tower Half-Plastered

The stair tower restoration at Bacon’s Castle is a classic example of the enigma of historic structure repair. What started out as a simple replaster job mushroomed into so much more. Close examination showed the existing plaster loose, the bricks behind it crumbling, and the hewn white oak beam that was inset four inches into an eight inch wall, severely decomposed. Plaster removal revealed that the pavers, identical to the early pavers that made up the kitchen floor, had been used to make up the brick bond under the beam. The brick bond under the beam was Flemish, while English bond was employed above the beam. The brick used was very similar to the brick in the whole of the 1665 section of the house, and the mortar contained shell and charcoal. Visible at the lower left of the exposed brick photos is the infill to the early semi-circular window arch, later replaced by the only jack-arch in the entire house. Approximately 50 bricks, and of course a new white oak beam, had to be replaced to stabilize the wall and provide a good surface to plaster to. The interior of the brick wall was so uneven that 1.5 inches of scratch and brown coat had to be used to bring the wall flush. The crew will have to reset their scaffold to plaster the area above the beam.

Falmouth’s Union Church: Making a Comeback from Endangered

For this blog post we are glad to welcome our first guest blogger. This post was written by T. Logan Metesh. Logan is Co-Chair of Fundraising and the Social Media Coordinator for the Union Church Preservation Project. He can be reached at LMetesh@gmail.com. 

Since being listed on Preservation Virginia’s list of Most Endangered Historic Sites in 2006, great strides have been made to ensure the Union Church’s preservation. In 2008, the church was designated as a Virginia State Landmark and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Then, in 2009, “Trustees of the Union Church Historic Site” was formed as a 501(c)3 to care for the church. The Trustees have done a great job spearheading the preservation efforts, but it became clear that the effort needed to expand if it was going to succeed. 

A more specific fundraising arm, “Union Church Preservation Project,” was created in 2010. The Union Church Preservation Project has been actively pursuing preservation funds and spreading awareness since the moment of inception. A website and Facebook page soon followed to help spread the word. 
In the summer of 2011, a grant from Stafford County, Virginia, was secured to repair the holes in the roof to prevent further damage from rain and snow. A series of clean-up days were held in 2011 to scrape and repaint the church doors, improve drainage at the rear of the structure, remove dead vines from the back wall, and clean up general clutter. In June 2011, the group held its first fundraiser and had over 40 people attend – a big crowd for such a new organization! It was clear that the community still cares deeply about the endangered Union Church. 



A group of volunteers lowered the historic 1868 bell from the belfry in December 2011 to make the structure safe for roof repair work to begin. The bell will be returned to its original location once the work is completed. A roofing contractor has been selected and the project began last week! 

2011 was a big year for the Union Church Preservation Project. However, 2012 promises to be even bigger! Our first clean-up of the year is scheduled for March 24 and our second annual fundraiser is scheduled for April 21. Other events this year include a bus tour in May, an open house and bake sale in June, raffles, and more! 

Even though the preservation project is off to a strong start, we are always looking for more volunteers and, frankly, donations. If you would like to know more about this extraordinary structure, its history, and how you can help us preserve it, please visit our website,http://www.falmouthunionchurch.org/, and be sure to “like” us on Facebook by searching for “Falmouth Union Church Preservation Project.” We also offer t-shirts, coffee mugs, and more atwww.cafepress.com/ucpp

Together, we can help remove the Falmouth Union Church from Preservation Virginia’s list of Most Endangered Historic Sites!

Never Forget Martinsville

When I recently visited Deborah Hall, the Director of the Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society, I was planning on talking about endangered historic sites and tobacco barns. I had no idea of the experience I was about to have.

The Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society is located in the newly restored historic Henry County Courthouse. The historical society offers many exhibits inside the courthouse relating to local history, but they recently added a new exhibit—Never Forget— co-sponsored by Laurel Hill Publishing Company and Tom Hill, that is completely amazing.
 


Never Forget is an exhibit honoring the men from Martinsville and Henry and Patrick Counties who served or lost their lives during the Vietnam War.

When describing why they decided on the exhibit, Ms. Hall explained that one day she was reading the markers outside the courthouse that commemorates residents from the region who had died in various conflicts and she realized that the men who died in Vietnam had not received much recognition.

She had no idea that the exhibit they would produce to honor the local Vietnam War veterans would be so successful and would, as Deborah said, “Take on a life of itself.” 

Once they announced that they were looking for information and memorabilia they began to get inundated with people bringing photographs, uniforms, weapons, medals, books, maps that were actually used during the war and all types of memorabilia that service members and families of service members had from the war.

The grand opening of the exhibit attracted hundreds of people and many more continue to come to see the exhibit.

Historical society members also undertook an oral history project where they recorded service member’s stories from the war. They set up a portable DVD player with a small screen so visitors can see and hear the interviews.

A large screen television was donated to the historical society for the project so that the many photographs— ranging from every day life of service members in Vietnam to war ravaged fields —could be easilyviewed.

In June of 2011 Tom Perry, a local author and historian, visited the 
Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D. C. and collected rubbings of the names of each man from Martinsville and Henry County engraved on the Wall. These rubbings are also now part of the exhibit.

Maybe it is because it is such a recent part of our past, so recent (less than 50 years old) that some people would not consider it “historic.” But, the only other times I have been so affected by an exhibit was when I visited theUnited States Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. and the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina.

And consider that Martinsville created this exhibit all on their own, with only local donations and volunteers. I would highly recommend this exhibit to everyone. But hurry, unfortunately it will be gone come April 1st.

New book by Preservation Virginia’s Curator


We’re pleased to announce the publication of a new book by Preservation Virginia’s own Curator of Collections, Catherine Dean!Jamestown: Postcard History Series features nearly 200 historic images, primarily from the Preservation Virginia archives and many of them never published before.

Copies can be purchased from the Historic Jamestowne museum store or at Preservation Virginia events. Or look for it on Amazon.com!

Join Catherine for a book signing at Historic Jamestown on April 7 from 11am-2pm!

Rootball Archaeology at Smith’s Fort Plantation

Ms. Vancko preparing the site

Thank goodness for volunteers! Lex Vancko, is using her off season archaeology skills to help excavate the rootball of a downed walnut tree close to the house. The tree fell during Hurricane Irene, and is getting ready to be removed in time for our March 2nd reopening.






Screening for artifacts


Some of the neat finds include a few early patent medicine bottles, lots of pottery fragments and more!
 





 

Once Lex finishes the artifact analysis I’ll post a few pictures of the artifacts from our walnut tree rootball at Smith’s Fort Plantation.
Preservation Virginia’s restoration crew has been given the opportunity to spruce-up Bacon’s Castle’s interior during the winter months of 2012, in preparation for it’s reopening on March the 2nd. The last time the the interior was extensively refreshed was in the mid-80’s, about 25 years ago. Needless to say, it could use a fresh coat of paint. 
The crew started in the front half of the 1854 wing. There were countless many plaster cracks that needed patching, but the time consuming job was the windows. The paint on the sashes had alligatored and flaked to the point where they had to be scraped down to bare wood and then primed, before a new topcoat could be applied. In performing this task, the crew discovered that the sashes had Roman numerals cut into them. The numbers started at what is now an interior doorway in the gift, then progressed clockwise around the building. That was the “neat” discovery. 
The crew also discovered old, but extensive, termite damage to the front window in the hallway, requiring consolidation of the trim and window seat, plus replacement of nailers for the seat, the trim on the right side, and the nailers for the lower wainscot. That was the “bummer”.The crew used Sherwin-Williams alkyd primer and then “Pro-Mar” for the trim topcoat. The Pro-Mar” paint coats well and dries harder then most latex paints, making it ideal for windows. Sherwin-Williams “Duration” paint, in a matte finish, was applied to the plaster. It’s a thick paint that helps hide hairline plaster cracks. The fresh paint really made the rooms “pop”. The are so much more bright and cheery, it’s difficult to believe they are the same rooms. (Hey, if you can’t brag on yourself once in a while, what’s the point of blogging?)

Preservation Virginia’s restoration crew has been given the opportunity to spruce-up Bacon’s Castle’s interior during the winter months of 2012, in preparation for it’s reopening on March the 2nd. The last time the the interior was extensively refreshed was in the mid-80’s, about 25 years ago. Needless to say, it could use a fresh coat of paint.

The crew started in the front half of the 1854 wing. There were countless many plaster cracks that needed patching, but the time consuming job was the windows. The paint on the sashes had alligatored and flaked to the point where they had to be scraped down to bare wood and then primed, before a new topcoat could be applied. In performing this task, the crew discovered that the sashes had Roman numerals cut into them. The numbers started at what is now an interior doorway in the gift, then progressed clockwise around the building. That was the “neat” discovery.

The crew also discovered old, but extensive, termite damage to the front window in the hallway, requiring consolidation of the trim and window seat, plus replacement of nailers for the seat, the trim on the right side, and the nailers for the lower wainscot. That was the “bummer”.
The crew used Sherwin-Williams alkyd primer and then “Pro-Mar” for the trim topcoat. The Pro-Mar” paint coats well and dries harder then most latex paints, making it ideal for windows. Sherwin-Williams “Duration” paint, in a matte finish, was applied to the plaster. It’s a thick paint that helps hide hairline plaster cracks. The fresh paint really made the rooms “pop”. The are so much more bright and cheery, it’s difficult to believe they are the same rooms. (Hey, if you can’t brag on yourself once in a while, what’s the point of blogging?)

The Ferrell Building in Danville, Virginia is a real survivor. The three-story brick building was built on Main Street from 1877 to 1886 by tobacconist S. H. Holland. Housing numerous businesses over the years including the Gravely-Holland Insurance & Real Estate Company, the Empire Café, the Tuxedo Restaurant and the Ferrell Furniture retailer, the building did not fare well after the decline of downtown in the 1950s.By 1991, the Danville Historical Society learned that the building’s owner was preparing to raze it for a parking lot. The Historical Society advanced $3,000 to secure it from destruction in hopes that the Commonwealth of Virginia would take possession of it under its revolving fund. After several years, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources turned over the Revolving Fund Program and all associated structures, including the Ferrell Building, to Preservation Virginia.The building was eventually sold twice to well-intentioned buyers; however, both rehabilitation endeavors faltered and the building was becoming more and more in need of stabilization.Even though the Ferrell Building is a contributing structure in the Downtown Danville Historic District, which is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, the city was not pleased with the building’s appearance and by 2010 began to hint at demolition. Fortunately, the building was under aprotective easementwith the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that prevented demolition of the building. The easement also limited how the building’s exterior could be altered.In 2010, the Winston-Salem based historic redevelopment firm,Rehab Builders, acquired the Ferrell Building and, with the assistance of the city, has turned an eyesore into one of downtown Danville’s brightest spots. Retail stores will eventually occupy the street level with apartments upstairs.Recently, the City of Danville and the Danville Downtown Associationhosted amixer to allow the public to tour the Ferrell Historic Lofts. Everyone including City Council members and staff, the Mayor, the Chief of Police and people in the preservation and economic development communities were present to view the transformation.“We believe this project is generating much of its public interest because the Ferrell building is truly a piece of the heart and history of downtown Danville.”“The unique living spaces, attractive lease rates and location in the burgeoning River District create a fabulous downtown living environment,” said Patrick Reilly, co-owner of Ferrell Historic Lofts and project manager.

The Ferrell Building in Danville, Virginia is a real survivor. The three-story brick building was built on Main Street from 1877 to 1886 by tobacconist S. H. Holland. Housing numerous businesses over the years including the Gravely-Holland Insurance & Real Estate Company, the Empire Café, the Tuxedo Restaurant and the Ferrell Furniture retailer, the building did not fare well after the decline of downtown in the 1950s.

By 1991, the Danville Historical Society learned that the building’s owner was preparing to raze it for a parking lot. The Historical Society advanced $3,000 to secure it from destruction in hopes that the Commonwealth of Virginia would take possession of it under its revolving fund. After several years, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources turned over the Revolving Fund Program and all associated structures, including the Ferrell Building, to Preservation Virginia.

The building was eventually sold twice to well-intentioned buyers; however, both rehabilitation endeavors faltered and the building was becoming more and more in need of stabilization.

Even though the Ferrell Building is a contributing structure in the Downtown Danville Historic District, which is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, the city was not pleased with the building’s appearance and by 2010 began to hint at demolition

Fortunately, the building was under aprotective easementwith the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that prevented demolition of the building. The easement also limited how the building’s exterior could be altered.

In 2010, the Winston-Salem based historic redevelopment firm,Rehab Builders, acquired the Ferrell Building and, with the assistance of the city, has turned an eyesore into one of downtown Danville’s brightest spots. Retail stores will eventually occupy the street level with apartments upstairs.

Recently, the City of Danville and the Danville Downtown Associationhosted amixer to allow the public to tour the Ferrell Historic Lofts. Everyone including City Council members and staff, the Mayor, the Chief of Police and people in the preservation and economic development communities were present to view the transformation.

“We believe this project is generating much of its public interest because the Ferrell building is truly a piece of the heart and history of downtown Danville.”

“The unique living spaces, attractive lease rates and location in the burgeoning River District create a fabulous downtown living environment,” said Patrick Reilly, co-owner of Ferrell Historic Lofts and project manager.

Preservation Virginia’s Historic Site Review 2011

2011 saw many changes within our historic properties. From natural disasters to reinterpretation and changing of the guard, our historic properties have reinvented and continue to work towards innovative and relevant interpretations.

Cape Henry Lighthouse saw the passing of the torch from light keeper to light keeper, as well as a minor upset from what Chuck Morgan, the new site coordinator at Cape Henry deemed the “hurri-quake”, a rare 6.8 earthquake back in late August, immediately followed Hurricane Irene! After being closed for a month following these natural disasters, we reopened, and without missing a beat, have the lighthouse operating better than ever!
A piece of the lighthouse from the epic Hurri-quake”!




The John Marshall House celebrated 100 years of historic preservation this year, having been saved from demolition in 1911 by what was then known as APVA. This year we also brought on a new site coordinator, Bobbie LeVinnes. She has done a fabulous job bringing in school groups, helping to create new programming, and in general, bringing enthusiasm to the site. We also put in a brand new HVAC system, restored the house to it’s original 1790’s paint colors and reinstalled period wall paper n the family dinning room!
The Marshall House with our celebration banner
Bacon’s Castle was closed to the public in 2011. During this year we have asked the community what they want. They responded, and together we will be reopening the site in March 2012 while we continue to reinterpret the site. Every person that visits Bacon’s Castle in 2012 will be part of our reinterpretation. The visitor experience will be analyzed as we move forward. In this way, Bacon’s Castle’s story will reflect what our visitors want to know, rather than what us stodgy preservationist think visitors want to know!
College students taking a special fieldtrip to see Bacon’s Castle

Scotchtown excelled at programming and engaging the local community. Ann Reid, our site coordinator brought in so many local youngin’s to help care for the site. 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, high school volunteers and local residents all helped paint out buildings, clear nature trails, care for a colonial kitchen garden and much more. Scotchtown continues to be our most family friendly and engaging site.
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Kids taking part in the hands on colonial crafts at Scotchtown

 In 2012 we are keeping this momentum going, so keep up with our website, and visit our sites! Welcome to 2012 and Preservation Virginia’s historic properties!

Revisiting Previous Most Endangered Sites: The Battle of Mt. Zion, Loudoun County

This is the second blog article in a series of articles that will provide updates on sites previously listed to Preservation Virginia’s Most Endangered Sites list.


Preservationists oftentimes personify buildings but when I read about Mt. Zion Church near Gilbert’s Corner in Loudoun County my personification intensified until I actually wanted to be the church and witness the history that surrounds it.

Mt. Zion Church, built in 1851, stood witness to two Civil War battles— the 1863 Battle of Aldie and the Battle of Mt. Zion which took place in 1864. Both battles were the scenes of artillery and cavalry duels and fierce hand-to-hand fighting. 

Mt. Zion Church was used as a hospital for wounded Union troops. Graffiti still exists on the church walls, left behind by Union soldiers. Pews were converted to hospital beds and some were used to make coffins for those that did not survive. 

The Church burial grounds are the final resting place for twelve Union cavalrymen, thirteen Confederates who died after the War, and sixty-three African-Americans who were slaves or freed men buried prior to 1865.

The church is also where Colonel John Mosby, or the Gray Ghost, first met with locals to form the 
Mosby Rangers, a ranger unit noted for its lightning quick raids and its ability to elude Union Army pursuers and disappear, blending in with local farmers and townspeople.

Another interesting historical fact is Mosby was almost killed during the Battle of Aldie when he was attacked by a Union soldier with a saber. He was saved when Thomas Richards, one of his Rangers, jumped in front of the blade and was stabbed in the shoulder himself. 


This rich history was threatened by a proposed residential development in 2006 which prompted the 
Mt. Zion Church Preservation Association to nominate the Battle of Mt. Zion to Preservation Virginia’s Endangered Sites List in 2006.

The development of dense housing on the battlefield would have destroyed the integrity of the battlefield as well as of Mt. Zion Church.

Luckily, the 
Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, working closely with the Commonwealth of Virginia, Loudoun County, Piedmont Environmental Council and the Mt. Zion Church Preservation Association, was able to purchase the site in 2009 and protect it from development.

The Battles of Aldie and Mt. Zion as well as Mt. Zion Church are now part of the 
Gilbert’s Corner Regional Park, a 155-acre public recreational park.

The Park Authority owns and operates many historic and recreational sites in Northern Virginia including the Aldie Mill Historic Park, very close to Gilbert’s Corner, which contains a beautiful four-storybrick mill with metal waterwheels.

Tracy Gillespie, the Historic Site Supervisor of Gilbert’s Corner Regional Park and Aldie Mills Historic Park, agrees that, while it didn’t happen overnight, this Endangered Site Program listing is one that has had a very positive outcome.

New Gutters for the Historic Jamestowne Church

Jamestowne Gutters

The Restoration Department has started the process of rain gutter installation on the Memorial Church on Historic Jamestowne Island. After scaffold set up, the crew scraped loose paint from the wood cornice,then washed it with TSP to remove dirt and oxidized paint. After a day of drying, the cornice was painted with an alkyd primer. The next step will be caulk and a latex top coat. Only after proper cornice preparation will the gutter installation begin. While the crew waits for paint to dry, it has several broken slate shingles to replace. We are also adding “snow catchers” just above the newly to be installed gutters, because we do not wish to revisit this job after it is done. 132 snow catchers were required to do both sides of the 55 foot long church. Since stainless steel snow catchers were half the price of copper, they were ordered. The crew will paint them black before they are installed. The catchers are for a “retrofit” roof, meaning they have long straps with downward sloping grooves in their sides, designed to slide under slates and hook onto their nails. The gutters themselves are 6 inch, half-round aluminum, factory finished in a “Mansard Brown” color, to mimic the look of weathered copper. They will be hung from stainless steel straps attached to the roof sheathing, which necessitates the removal and re-installation of the lower shingle courses. We estimate the job will require three technicians about two weeks per side, if the weather is kind.

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