Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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State adds historic sites to the Virginia Landmarks Register
Among a dozen places added Thursday to the Virginia Landmarks Register are the first school in Pulaski County to integrate following Brown v. Board of Education, an expansion of the city of Lynchburg’s historic industrial center, and a mid-1880s flour mill in Floyd County.
The state’s Board of Historic Resources approved the listings during its quarterly public meeting, according to a news release from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The register is the commonwealth’s official list of places of historic, architectural, archaeological and cultural significance.
The additions to the register, with historical details from the news release:
- Pulaski High School was the first school in Pulaski County to racially desegregate, beginning with 14 Black students gaining access through the federal court system in the fall of 1960. The two-story Georgian Revival building was constructed in 1937 as a smaller elementary school known as the Pico Terrace School. Several additions were added to the main building during the 1950s to support its conversion to a high school and to accommodate an expanded student population. After being replaced by a new consolidated county high school in 1974, Pulaski High School was converted to a middle school and remained open until 2020.
- The Roberson Mill, located on the West Fork of Dodd Creek in Floyd County, was built in the mid-1880s. It was one of the last two commercial mills to operate under water power in the county and one of only two existing flour mills that was neither designed to incorporate a roller mill nor modified afterward to accommodate one. The Roberson Mill represents, therefore, the county’s most authentic picture of flour milling as it was done in the United States through most of the 19th century. The mill was last in operation around 1988 and is being restored by the nonprofit Friends of Roberson Mill.
- Previously listed on the historic registers, the Lower Basin Historic District defines the city of Lynchburg’s historic wholesale and industrial center. The district’s 2023 Boundary Increase is on a low terrace that extends between the south bank of the James River and a parallel ridge, and it stretches to a length of Main Street south and east of the current historic district. The history of the Boundary Increase area is tied to the historic development of the original historic district and Lynchburg as a whole. The Lynchburg riverfront had historically been industrially focused, with businesses using first the river and then the James River-Kanawha Canal to ship materials and products east.
- The two-story Greek Revival mansion of the Clarkton estate stands atop a promontory near the Staunton River in rural Halifax County. Built between 1844 and 1848, the house’s brick exterior is rough-coated and scored to simulate granite or marble blocks, and features a two-story Doric portico with paired columns. The house represents one of the finest examples of the Greek Revival style of architecture in Halifax County. The grounds include rows of Osage orange trees, American holly trees and oak trees, as well as a grouping of mid-19th century dependencies behind and flanking the main house, which are significant for both their age, historic functions and architectural interest.
- The Samuel D. Outlaw Blacksmith Shop is located on a suburban lot in Accomack County. The shop has an open, one-room plan, with unfinished walls exposing the building’s wood framing. According to local residents, Samuel D. Outlaw, an African American blacksmith from North Carolina, constructed the shop where he began his business about a year after moving to the town of Onancock in 1926. Today, the shop serves as a museum preserving the legacy of Outlaw’s contributions to the Eastern Shore’s communities.
- In rural Northumberland County, the 221-acre estate of Gascony encompasses a Greek Revival-style main house built around 1856, a guest house and numerous agricultural outbuildings. The property was first settled in the mid-17th century by the Gaskins family, members of which held prominent roles in the Northumberland County community.
- In Fairfax County, Drover’s Rest was constructed around 1757 to 1785 by landowner Bryan Fairfax in support of an 18th-century mill complex on Difficult Run. Situated southwest of the Potomac River, the present property on which the dwelling stands once formed a portion of Fairfax’s larger estate, Towlston Manor.
- The Montross Historic District comprises approximately 170 acres and encompasses a significant concentration of historic architectural resources along Virginia 3/Kings Highway in Westmoreland County. The heart of the district consists of the early 20th-century courthouse and court green, which stand on the site of the former colonial-era courthouse erected circa 1685.
- The Philomont Historic District is a rural village in western Loudoun County. The general store, community center and fire station anchor the village, which spans approximately 43 acres and includes buildings made of native materials, such as log and stone. Many Philomont houses, the earliest of which were built in the late 18th century, include full or remnants of porches, an architectural feature that was once common in the village and likely the hallmark of local carpenters and woodworkers. Philomont and its sister communities, Airmont and Mountville, share settlement patterns derived from the growth and decline of commerce along the Snickersville Turnpike.
- In the 1950s, the city of Norfolk and the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority carried out a series of urban renewal and redevelopment programs to reshape downtown. These programs resulted in the development of the Downtown Norfolk Financial Historic District, a 19-acre commercial sector located in the heart of downtown. The district consists of a collection of high-rise buildings, parking decks, plazas and pedestrian walkways designed in International, Brutalist, New Formalism and other modernist styles.
- Located within the southern end of the city of Newport News, the Newport News Downtown Historic District exemplifies nearly 100 years of historical change and growth during the urban renewal movement. Evolution of the 91-acre district began in the late 19th century and continued for the next 60-plus years as the city attempted to reverse the impacts of rapid suburbanization, aiming to retain residents and businesses downtown through redevelopment and federal programs. The district encompasses a wide variety of architectural designs, from the International, Brutalist and New Formalism styles to more traditional types, such as the Romanesque and Gothic and Colonial Revival.
- African American Watermen of the Virginia Chesapeake Bay multiple property development was created as part of a three-state effort involving Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania to recognize the contributions of African American watermen to the seafood industries of the Chesapeake Bay. The development provides the historic context for African American watermen within a portion of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay watershed.
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New River Trail bridges to undergo series of repairs
The 31 bridges of New River Trail State Park, a 57-mile rails-to-trails linear park, will experience closures as a series of repairs are made over the next 18 months.
While portions of the trail will be closed intermittently as work takes place, the park remains open, according to a news release from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The first bridges affected are the Dalton and Sammy Brown bridges near the southern end of the trail at Galax (mile marker 51), as well as the Big Reed Island Bridge near Allisonia at mile marker 13. Beginning in April, visitors traveling north on the trail may park at Cliffview just above Galax while the Dalton and Sammy Brown bridges are closed. To avoid Big Reed Island Bridge, visitors can park at and travel north from Allisonia or park at Foster Falls to travel south on the trail, or north the several miles below the closed bridge.
Specific dates for any bridge closures will depend on contractor schedules. Updates will be posted at www.virginiastateparks.gov/new-river-trail and on social media. A trail guide map is also available on the website.
Other bridges that are scheduled to be repaired in the first phase of the project include Brush Creek, Cat Hole, Double Shoals 1, Fenders Curve and Fries School House bridges on the southern end of the trail between Fries and Byllesby Dam. A second phase addresses six additional bridges along the central section of trail, and the project wraps up with a final three northern bridges in the third phase.
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Appalachia Visitor Center project gets boost through VCEDA grant
A grant of up to $30,000 from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority will help the town of Appalachia develop a visitor center, according to a news release from VCEDA.
The grant, which was given to the Industrial Development Authority of Wise County, was approved last month and was closed recently.
The town is in the process of developing a visitor center that also will become the new home of the Lonesome Pine Model Railroad Club, said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA’s executive director/general counsel.
The new visitor center will be located in the downtown Main Street area on property owned by the town of Appalachia, which has already acquired a preowned manufactured building for the project. Funding from the grant will be used for site development, building improvements, construction and renovations.
According to the IDA’s application, the project is the focal point of the town’s downtown revitalization efforts and the goal is to provide a central point of information for visitors who may be visiting the area and local attractions.
The Town of Appalachia has committed to expenses of at least $37,000 for the project.
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