Preservation Virginia has added Loudoun County’s extensive network of 18th and 19th century unpaved rural roads to the list of the commonwealth’s most endangered historic sites.
Each May, during National Historic Preservation Month, the nonprofit releases a list of historic places across the state that face imminent or sustained threats to their integrity to encourage individual citizens, organizations, and local and state government to continue protect them.
This week, western Loudoun County’s rural road network, cited as “a living museum of 300 miles of gravel roadways that traverse the Loudoun Valley,” was added to the list.
The designation is the latest achievement for a group of historians, educators and journalists who have been working over the past two years to record history of Loudoun’s gravel roads and highlight their historical importance as part of the America’s Routes project.
“Our rural roads authentically reflect our early settlement and agricultural history, have been the scene of major struggles during wars, capture our complex history of slavery and freedom and are still a valuable and essential element of our thriving agricultural and hospitality industries,” project leaders wrote in the announcement of the Preservation Virginia action.
Through their work, project leaders hope to preserve the corridors in their historic setting even in the face of the county’s development.
“Unfortunately, the forces of rapid growth, increased traffic, suburbanization and calls for widening, straightening and paving severely threaten this unique and authentic historic resource, the largest such network in Virginia and possibly in the nation,” they wrote. “We believe that proper maintenance of the old roads can provide safe and useful transportation while preserving their value, their history and their charm for future generations, but poor care and misguided decisions could lead to their loss forever.”
“We understand we are living through quickly evolving times during this pandemic. Life has changed, and our mission to protect and reuse historic places has become more challenging,” stated Preservation Virginia CEO Elizabeth S. Kostelny about the latest updates to the organization’s endangered places list. “While we continue to see historic places of all types remaining resilient across the state, our list highlights longstanding issues that need to be addressed and cannot be forgotten during times of crisis.”
Learn more about the America’s Routes project athttps://americasroutes.com.
Preservation Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places list for 2020 also includes:
● Rassawek, the historic capital and sacred site of the Monacan Indian Nation, located at the confluence of the Rivanna River and James River in Fluvanna County.
● Alexandria Elks Lodge #48, a community hub for African American Elks and residents in the Parker Gray Historic District for over 115 years.
● James Street Holiness Church, founded in 1891 in north Danville by African American preacher Bettie Thompson.
● Pine Grove School Community, a rural African American community of businesses, churches, cemeteries and homes of students who attended the Pine Grove Rosenwald School in Cumberland County.
● Historic Metal Truss Bridges statewide. In 1975, Virginia had approximately 620 metal truss bridges; only about five percent remain today.
● Halifax Roller Mill, a three-story, flour and feed mill built in 1915 to use electric power rather than water in the Town of Halifax.
Learn more about the America’s Routes project at https://americasroutes.com.