Few states boast more historical sites than Virginia, but not all of them are as well loved and protected as Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Such is the case with many neglected sites throughout the Commonwealth.
But now a few architects with vision and an organization known as Preservation Virginia hope to revitalize and restore at least some of the landmarks that once had purpose and more than a little dignity.
Preservation Virginia Isn’t a New Kid on the Block
The non-profit Preservation Virginia organization has its roots planted in 1889. At a time when many American towns were still being built up, they recognized the importance of earlier American architecture and preserving it for future generations.
They’ve championed the cause of over 200 historic sites throughout the Commonwealth, and it’s by their efforts that those places still exist today. Preservation Virginia regularly takes on the cause of neglected sites, and this year several more have been added to the list.
Some Endangered Properties are Public, Others are Private
Endangered historic property doesn’t have to qualify as public or private. Both types of structures are worthy of the efforts. In 2015, Sweetbriar College in Central Virginia, the Taylor-Whittle House in the Tidewater area, the Abija Thomas Octagon House in Smyth County, and a handful of others made the list, according to Carolyn Massie for Architect magazine.
The preservation approaches for these structures vary, and include conservation easements, legal restrictions regarding future development, conversion for alternate use, and even landscape conservation to protect and enhance the buildings.
One Entire Virginia Town Made the List
While some Virginia towns can breathe easy knowing that historic property is on the way to being saved, Massie explains that one entire town merited the attention of Preservation Virginia. Port Royal is about as neglected a town as there is in the Commonwealth. It’s regarded as a “bypassed town,” because development has routed traffic away from, not toward it.
Port Royal’s past is woven through the American Revolution and the Civil War, which makes it relevant and vital to not just the Commonwealth’s history, but to that of the whole country. In addition to typical preservation actions, one of the main goals with Port Royal is to drive people back through tourism and by making the whole town a more appealing place to live.
Historic preservation might not be what the average person thinks about when they consider an architect’s job, but it can be one of the most important. What use is any beautiful building if one day it falls into neglect, and ultimately meets with the wrecking ball?
No building is ever created as a temporary structure. But times change, and so do the needs of the community. The restoration and preservation efforts of architects cannot just keep history alive, but they can also help restore an abandoned structure to either its former use or one that’s more fitting in today’s culture.
Architecture has so many different facets, most of which require ongoing training through professional development hours. When your next credits are due, check out our courses and see how simple PDH Academy makes your job of staying current.
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