Virginia's Most Endangered Historic Places List 2021
The 2021 list of Virginia's Most Endangered Historic Places reflects immediate threats to historic places that represent the complexity of our history, issues of equity, climate change and environmental justice, and the meaningful and intrinsic value that places of history provide in our communities.
The 2021 Virginia's Most Endangered Historic Places include 5 African American Historic Sites:
- Civil War Battlefields in which United States Colored Troops Fought
- Green Book Sites
- Mount Calvary Cemetery Complex
- Mount Pleasant Baptist Church
- Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground
Click here to see a map of all of the sites on the list.
Artistine Lang was president of a neighborhood association on the Peninsula. She put that on the back burner more than a decade ago, she said, and started focusing on caring for Pleasant Shade cemetery with her husband Rev. Darnell Lang.
They did fundraisers and organized volunteer cleanups of park, but it was a daunting task - to clean up and care for 20 acres of overgrown, marshy territory. Over the years, volunteers have come and gone, but the park is still in need of upkeep.
"We are trying, and hopefully things will change," Rev. Lang said. "But as it stands right now, it looks kind of bleak, I must admit."
Virginia has a program that funds maintenance for historic Black cemeteries, allotting $5 per grave. But as a private cemetery, Pleasant Shade doesn't qualify, even though it was the main cemetery for Black people across the Peninsula for decades.
Long-lost church in Williamsburg was once under a parking lot.
Archaeologists, blessed by community prayers and a reading from scripture, began to excavate graves this week at the long-lost site of the original First Baptist Church in Colonial Williamsburg, one of the oldest Black churches in the country.
Forty-one grave shafts have now been discovered at the site of the church, which was torn down in 1955 and covered by a parking lot because it didn't fit the town's Colonial motif.
On July 19, 2022, the National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded $3 million in grants to 33 sites and organizations through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.The grants will fuel the protection and preservation of historic sites representing African American history, across four categories: building capital, increasing organizational capacity, project planning and development, and programming and education. These often-overlooked places hold aspects of history that must be protected—and used to draw inspiration and wisdom for the benefit of all Americans.