Two Civil War Sites Are Included among Top 10 at Risk in Virginia

By Dinan, Stephen | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 18, 2000 | Go to article overview

Two Civil War Sites Are Included among Top 10 at Risk in Virginia


Dinan, Stephen, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Two Civil War sites west of Washington - including part of where "Stonewall" Jackson suffered his only defeat - are among the 10 most-endangered historic places in Virginia, according to a list released yesterday.

The list, compiled by the Preservation Alliance of Virginia and presented at a Richmond ceremony yesterday, includes the farm that was the center of the two Kernstown battles in the Shenandoah Valley and nine other places the alliance says are in danger of being lost to development or neglect.

"I think we wanted to make Virginians aware that while we have many great treasures - more than many other states - we, too, have issues where buildings are being threatened," said W. Douglas Gilpin Jr., president of the alliance.

The 10 sites were narrowed down from an original list of 50 nominations.

None of the sites are in Northern Virginia.

Those on the list aren't necessarily the most endangered, Mr. Gilpin said, but they represent the types of threats facing buildings and sites in Virginia.

One is James Blair Middle School in Norfolk. The four-story school, built in 1922, is an example of Beaux Arts design and one of the state's first junior high schools, which were part of educational reform at the time.

The Norfolk School Board is debating whether to restore the building or rebuild it into a windowless monolith like many of today's other modern schools, Mr. Gilpin said.

Another problem that puts buildings in danger is that sometimes even those who live next door to a historic site don't know the significance of it. The Ebony Club in Roanoke, for instance, is threatened by uncoordinated development that is part of the city's urban renewal.

The vacant building, the city's only black movie theater in the early part of the century when they were still segregated, was the center of a vibrant black community that included Oscar Micheaux, who ran one of the country's first black American film production companies.

There's no money attached to the list - just attention, Mr. Gilpin said. But it could bolster local preservationists' efforts to convince county and city officials to preserve the sites.

The list includes a vista in Fauquier County - Ashby's Gap - that is threatened by traffic and development, and the central business district in Petersburg, which the alliance says suffers from neglect and the natural progression of investment and attention to the suburbs.

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