Henrico County VA

Preservation Heroes Receive HPAC Awards

The Henrico Theatre, a recently restored jewel from the Art Deco period, made a fitting backdrop Oct. 20 as the 2010 Awards of Merit were presented to six champions of preservation.

Awarded by the Henrico Historic Preservation Advisory Committee (HPAC), the honors went to individuals and organizations that have excelled at efforts ranging from creating a website to clearing cemeteries.

Dr. Jearald D. Cable received his award for the preservation of the Curle’s Neck Farm Plantation. The farm is significant for its long history as one of the oldest, largest and most productive agricultural operations on the banks of the James River. It features a 19th-century Colonial Revival mansion, a century-old stable, a stallion barn, and a blacksmith and carpentry shop. In 2009, Cable succeeded in listing a 156-acre portion of the farm on the National Register of Historic Properties.

Hilda Cosby also received an award for preservation of a farm, one located in the opposite corner of the county from Curles Neck. The Cosby Farm in northwestern Henrico County has remained in the hands of one African-American family since the late 19th century, passing from a tobacco farmer to his son, William Darl Cosby, Sr., a World War II veteran and prominent educator who served as curator of the Virginia Randolph Museum.

William D. Cosby, Jr. recalled recently that his father put in long, full days between his job as school principal and all the tasks of running a farm.

"We had cows, chicken and pigs – and he still maintained the garden," said Cosby. "[My father] used to say to the superintendent, 'I don't need a full day off; just give me a half day off. I can't cut hay [until afternoon] because it's still wet from the dew.'"

After determining that the original structure of the farmhouse could not be saved, Hilda Cosby had a reproduction of it built on the old foundation. According to her son, the restoration was so faithful and carefully done that passers-by on Pouncey Tract Road may have barely noticed.

"It looks," Cosby said, "like the house had a facelift instead of a restoration."

High-Tech and Low
Award of Merit recipient Terri Trembeth was recognized for her creation of the Henrico County Historical Society website, which provides information on genealogy, preservation, news and events, and membership. Beverly Cocke, the HPAC member who nominated Cocke, noted that the site highlights services provided by the Society as well as links to historical resources in a particularly user-friendly way.

John Shuck and his colleagues Vicki and John Stephens received their award for their efforts to spruce up Evergreen Cemetery.

Shuck, who began visiting cemeteries while pursuing his interest in genealogical research, recalls being overwhelmed at his first visit to Evergreen.

"I thought, 'This can't be too hard. I'll clear a plot – any plot,'" he said.

"I got half a plot done, and I was pooped."

The cemetery, which sprawls along the city-county border in eastern Henrico, was used as an illegal dump for decades. Shuck and his fellow volunteers – of which he says there are never enough – once pulled enough tires from the site to fill a large dumpster in only two hours. Because the cemetery is completely overgrown and laden with tombstones, vegetation and trash must be removed tediously by hand.

But Shuck and a core group of volunteers, together with teams of students from Virginia Commonwealth and Virginia Union universities, continue to return for regular work sessions. He's been rewarded by seeing at least one family locate the once-overgrown grave of an ancestor, and he is hopeful that their work will reveal more.

One of the elder members in the Henrico Historical Society, in fact, has told Shuck of hunting Easter eggs around the graves in Evergreen Cemetery as a child. The vegetation that took over in the ensuing 70 years, however, has made it impossible for Welford Williams to get his bearings at the cemetery -- and to find the long-lost grave of his mother. To Shuck, who believes they are close to uncovering the Williams plot, that's just one more reason to keep plugging.

Organizations Also Honored
Among the organizations honored with awards were the Henrico County Board of Supervisors and the Richmond Battlefields Association.

The association, a nonprofit organization of historic Civil War sites surrounding Richmond, earned its award for acquiring and protecting the Fussell’s Mill property associated with the Second Deep Bottom/Fussell’s Mill Civil War battlefield. The property features a historic house, ruins of an antebellum mill, and a series of Confederate entrenchments that figure into the fighting that took place in Aug. 1864.

Recently, the County of Henrico supported the proposal by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to place the property on a historic preservation and open-space easement in perpetuity.

The Board of Supervisors earned an Award of Merit for funding the restoration and renovation of Dabbs House in eastern Henrico County, which opened in September as a tourist information center and resource for the traveling public.

Named for Josiah Dabbs, who purchased the property in 1859, the museum and tourist center served as the field headquarters of Confederate General Robert E. Lee during the summer of 1862, and was later purchased by the county and used as an alms house and county police headquarters.

The museum not only showcases relics of the county's Civil War history and rooms furnished as they were in Robert E. Lee’s time, but also features a bomb shelter built in the basement during the 1960s cold war period.

Contact Patty Kruszewski at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Brews and bites done right

Urban Tavern’s big, bold themes impress

The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.

Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.

On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar. > Read more.

A terrible, horrible movie. . . that’s actually pretty good

‘Alexander’ provides uncomplicated family fun
It’s not surprising in the least that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day doesn’t much resemble the book it’s based upon.

Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book isn’t exactly overflowing with movie-worthy material. Boy has bad day. Boy is informed that everyone has bad days sometimes. Then, the back cover.

In the film, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-ness is blown up to more extreme size. Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bum day every day, while the rest of his family (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) exist in a constant bubble of perfection and cheery optimism – to the point that the family is so wrapped up in their own success that Alexander’s being ignored.

So on the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish: just once, he’d like his family to see things from his perspective; to experience the crushing disappointment of one of those no good, very bad days. Once he has blown out the candle on his pre-birthday ice cream sundae, his family’s fate is sealed: one full day of crippling disasters for all of them. > Read more.

Deep Run HS plans fall musical

Tickets for Deep Run High School’s fall musical production – Aida – will go on sale Nov. 3. The Elton John-Tim Rice pop opera, inspired by Verdi’s classic opera, tells the story of enslaved Nubian princess Aida, who falls for captain of the guard Radames, who is betrothed to the Egyptian princess.

Performances will be held Nov. 13-15 at 7 p.m. each day. > Read more.

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