Today, Preservation Virginia—a nonprofit organization dedicated to the revitalization of the state's cultural, architectural, and historic heritage—released its 11th consecutive list of endangered historic sites in an effort to raise public awareness. The list includes Sweet Briar College's campus, the Abijah Thomas Octagon House, Gibson Cottage, the Jamestown Road houses, the Taylor-Whittle House, the town of Port Royal, and several courthouses and courthouse squares throughout the state.
In designing Sweet Briar College, architect Ralph Adams Cram "took his cues from Virginian tradition and produced a picturesque campus in the Neo-Georgian style," wrote Amanda Kolson Hurley in a recent ARCHITECT article. Founded in 1901, the women's college in Amherst, Va., is planning to close at the end of August amid financial challenges. Preservation Virginia recommends conservation easements, legal restrictions placed on a property that limit certain uses or prevent development, for the campus's historic and natural resources to protect its buildings and surrounding landscapes in the event of a sale or change of purpose.
Among the endangered sites are several houses, built as early as the 18th century that are deteriorating or face demolition. Some of Preservation Virginia's recommendations for these residences include: restoration, conversion into buildings for alternate uses, and the creation of a pro forma financial plan that involves historic preservation tax credits.
The list also includes courthouses and courthouse squares throughout the state, which have historically served as the grounds for public announcements, marketplaces, weddings, and even duels. But as judicial systems across Virginia require more space and security, historic courthouses face abandonment and demolition. To preserve these historic structures while accommodating the modern needs of county courts, the organization suggests a comprehensive survey of historic courthouses to consider public input and promote transparency.
Preservation Virginia's list even includes an entire town. Established in 1744, the town of Port Royal contains over 35 18- and 19th-century buildings, whose storied pasts are integral to the American Revolution and the Civil War. The organization identifies it as one of the state's "bypassed towns" due to its increasing isolation that results from changing transportation patterns. Its recommendation for the town and the surrounding Caroline County is to increase its visibility as a tourist destination and as an enticing place to live. "Deterioration will continue if a solution is not found," says the organization in its announcement today.