Home Historic preservation projects across Virginia receive nearly $400K infusion through grants
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Historic preservation projects across Virginia receive nearly $400K infusion through grants

Crystal Graham
virginia politics
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Nearly $400,000 in grants were awarded to 14 organizations to support history preservation and education projects throughout Virginia.

The 2024 Commonwealth History Fund grants were awarded from the Virginia Museum of History & Culture in partnership with Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources.

There are several key selection criteria to be considered for a Commonwealth History Fund grant, including the significance of the project or resource, its impact on its community and the Commonwealth, the focus on historically underrepresented topics and communities, the need for funding and the urgency of the project.

“The Commonwealth History Fund continues to exceed our expectations in supporting a wide range of historic preservation projects and initiatives across the state,” said Jamie Bosket, VMHC president and CEO. “We remain committed to reaching more Virginians with this wonderful program to invest in and lift up all Virginia history.”

Established in 2021, the Commonwealth History Fund remains one of the largest initiatives of its kind and is expected to award up to $2 million in its first five years. To date, the VMHC has awarded $1.2 million to fellow history organizations.

Funds may be used for a variety of purposes including preservation, publications, artifact acquisition, research, conservation of artifacts and educational programming.

Eligible recipients include Virginia non-profits, educational institutions and state- recognized Virginia Indian tribes.

The VMHC will receive applications for funding for its fourth annual grant cycle Sept. 1-30. Awards will be announced in early 2025.

More information on The Commonwealth History Fund can be found at VirginiaHistory.org/HistoryFund.

2024 Commonwealth History Fund grant recipients

  • Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia (Richmond): Funding will enable the BHMVA to better preserve their collections through an extensive organization and improvement project at the museum’s artifact storage facility. This timely project will empower the museum to continue the work of cataloging, rehousing and digitizing its holdings.
  • Gloucester Country Parks, Recreation & Tourism – Museum of History (Gloucester): Funding from the Commonwealth History Fund will provide for the development and installation of dynamic new exhibitions, applying best practices and community engagement, to present a dynamic and engaging museum experience.
  • Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest (Forest): Funding will help to support the restoration of a historic two-story brick structure that housed enslaved and free African Americans at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest. This will include the structural engineering, architectural documentation and architectural design plans.
  • Historic Germanna (Orange): The Rediscovering Katina through Indigenous Voices: Siouan Slavery in Early 1700s Virginia project will support historic Germanna’s efforts to better represent indigenous voices. This effort will result in new tribal consultation guidelines, research led by Monacan Indian Nation citizen Kaleigh Pollak, and new, co-curated public history programming. A new online exhibition will also be created to share the story of Katina, a Siouan-speaking woman, enslaved by Alexander Spotswood.
  • Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation (Jamestown): The Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation will develop several new programs and initiatives that address Jamestown’s pivotal role in establishing the rule of law and legalized chattel slavery in U.S. society. As part of this project, new onsite and virtual educational resources will be produced and made widely available.
  • Preservation Virginia (Richmond): As part of an organization-wide effort to better interpret their historic properties, Preservation Virginia will design, produce and install new interpretive signage on the grounds of the John Marshall House. This site enhancement will utilize new research, which has revealed more details of the many people who lived and worked on the property.
  • Radford Heritage Foundation/Glencoe Mansion, Museum & Gallery (Radford): As part of restoration and re-interpretation work being done by The Radford Heritage Foundation, accessibility and preservation enhancements will be undertaken to Glencoe Mansion. New interpretation will focus on the story of Reconstruction with focus on those individuals who were “Building a New Life” after the Civil War.
  • Norfolk Historical Society (Norfolk): With support from the Commonwealth History Fund, Norfolk Historical Society will research Fort Norfolk’s use as a Civil War prison camp. NHS will identify the prisoners housed, guards stationed and conditions experienced at the fort during the Civil War.
  • Science Museum of Virginia Foundation (Richmond): This extensive research project will help the Science Museum of Virginia to better document and interpret the history of its historic building and campus. Union Station/Broad Street Station was designed by John Russell Pope and was in service from 1917 until 1975.
  • Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc. (Blacksburg): The Tribal Truths Podcast, produced by Radio IQ WVTF, is a public platform for Indigenous people in Virginia to tell their history, debunk myths and legends with fact, teach tribal heritages, cultures, histories and address current issues through sound and place. Funding will support a second season that will be produced with tribal representatives of the Patawomeck, Upper Mattaponi, Pamunkey, as well as military veterans of all 11 state recognized tribes.
  • Hear2Hear, LLC (Richmond): Funding will help Here2Hear expand their work in telling inspiring Black history that incorporates deaf and hard of hearing individuals. A new mobile exhibition will be produced as well as new accessible enhancements to the Richmond slave trail.
  • Belle Grove Plantation (Middletown): With help from the Commonwealth History Fund, the largely unknown story of Eleanor “Nelly” Conway Madison Hite, sister of James Madison and wife of Isaac Hite Jr., of Belle Grove (the Madison-Hite Plantation) will be better told. Historical documents will help share insight into Nelly’s role as a mother, wife, sister, daughter and owner of enslaved people.
  • Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology (Petersburg): With support from the Commonwealth History Fund, students at Appomattox Regional Governor’s School will gain hands-on public history experience by facilitating oral history and collections management projects to preserve history related to the original Petersburg High School. Recording and digital assents will be made available via a searchable database.
  • Orange County Historical Society (Orange): The research project will allow the Orange County Historical Society to expand on the names in the extant free Black register (1734-1864) with information from primary and secondary sources.  Missing portions of the Orange County register of free black people have been recently identified which has allowed for the transcription of entries from 1803 to mid-1850.

Recipients of the Commonwealth History Fund have utilized funds to conduct historic preservation work that has not only resulted in the documentation and celebration of local heritage but has also fostered a sense of community pride and identity. Their work has uncovered hidden stories, restored landmark structures and created educational initiatives that will engage and inspire future generations, making a lasting impact on Virginia communities.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.