National Historic Preservation Month

05/01/2019

WHEREAS, Virginians are justly proud of the Commonwealth’s rich, diverse history and a prehistory that extends into the past roughly 16,000 years (or more); and

WHEREAS, that legacy gave rise to one of the earliest state historical societies in 1831; the first national preservation movement in the 1850s; one of the earliest statewide private preservation organizations in 1889; and the nation’s first historical highway marker program in 1927; and

WHEREAS, that legacy also propelled creation of the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission in 1966, predecessor of today’s Department of Historic Resources (DHR), and the Commonwealth’s innovative Preservation Easements and the Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) that same year; and

WHEREAS, since 1966, property owners, local groups, and jurisdictions have partnered with DHR or its predecessor agencies to list more than 3,100 individual sites and nearly 600 districts on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, with an emphasis in recent decades on listing sites associated with the history of Virginia Indians, African Americans, women, and other groups, thereby highlighting the significant contributions these populations have made to the storied tapestry of the Commonwealth’s and the nation’s history; and

WHEREAS, since 1966, Virginia property owners have donated to the Commonwealth more than 645 preservation easements, and preserving more than 41,000 acres in Virginia affiliated with historic houses, buildings, archaeological sites, and battlefields, while keeping these lands in private ownership; and

WHEREAS, interest in the Commonwealth’s archaeology has resulted in its unique Threatened Sites program and an innovative certification program to train avocational archaeologists; and annual and semi-annual fields schools co-sponsored by DHR, the Archeological Society of Virginia, and Council of Virginia Archaeologists, that attract dozens of volunteers annually –initiatives that facilitate, in a race against time, investigations along Virginia’s extensive shorelines where sea level rise is destroying prehistoric and Contact-era and Colonial-era archaeology; and  

WHEREAS, scholars, historians, archaeologists, and others routinely use DHR’s Archeological Collections of more than six million artifacts, and the DHR Conservation Lab to research Virginia history and prehistory; and

WHEREAS, heritage tourism adds more than $7.5 billion annually to Virginia’s economy, and tax credit rehabilitations of Virginia’s historic buildings have leveraged more than $4.5 billion in private investment, resulting in tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in rehabilitation and post-rehabilitation spending rippling across the state’s economy; and 

WHEREAS, it is important to celebrate all of Virginia’s history, especially in 2019, which marks the 400th anniversary of the first representative legislative assembly in the New World and the arrival of the first recorded Africans to English North America; and

WHEREAS, DHR is commemorating this anniversary with the publication of A Guidebook to Virginia’s African American Historical Markers that reproduces the texts of more than 300 signs;

THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize May 2019 as NATIONAL HISTORIC PRESERVATION MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.