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A renewed look at historic structures in the rural reaches of Virginia Beach

BY JANE BLOODWORTH ROWE

COURTHOUSE – A city-backed architectural survey of southern Virginia Beach will focus upon identifying structures that are at least 50 years old, including beach houses in the residential resort of Sandbridge and traditional agricultural buildings such as potato barns in the rural reaches.

The survey will include the portion of Virginia Beach that lies south of Sandbridge and North Landing roads, as well as all of Sandbridge Beach, said Mark Reed, Virginia Beach’s historic preservation planner. 

The city has commissioned Cultural Resource Analysis, a national company, to help with the survey at a cost of $47,313. The work is being spearheaded by the city planning department and the Historic Preservation Commission.

A meeting is scheduled for this evening, Wednesday, August 14 at 6 p.m. at Creeds Ruritan Barn, 1057 Princess Anne Road, to gain input from the public. 

Reed hopes that local residents can help identify old buildings that would be of interest. 

Surveyors also were scheduled two meet with citizens at a local history session at 1 p.m. at the Senior Resource Center, Inc., earlier today. Local citizens meet twice a month at the Senior Resource Center at 912 Princess Anne Road to discuss local history.  

Southern Virginia Beach residents are very knowledgeable about their communities, said City Councilmember Barbara Henley, who represents the Princess Anne District. Henley said they can probably provide invaluable help to the surveyors.

“The residents down here pretty well know where the old houses are,” Henley said.

The focus, Reed said, isn’t so much on identifying buildings that are valuable as historical artifacts, but instead on finding and documenting building styles that are representative of a particular period of southern Virginia Beach culture – such as the flat top beach houses that were built in Sandbridge during the 1950s and 1960s

The goal is to identify and document these resources so that a record of them can be preserved for posterity.  

“It’s more a matter of recording what we have,” Reed said. “The sweet potato barn is a rapidly-disappearing resource, and we want to survey as many of them as we can before they all disappear.”

The survey will also focus on identifying communities or business hubs – including Pungo and Creeds – as well as smaller, rural communities. 

Reed expects to survey 250 properties, but he added that additional properties may be identified that are of interest. Reed said the survey could uncover some structures that could be eligible for the National Historic Register.  

In that case, property owners will be contacted, and it is up to individual owners to decide if they want to apply for inclusion to that register.

Henley said that she expects that the survey will identify buildings eligible for Virginia Beach Historical Register, and added that the Anthony Fentress House, built in the 1760s and located on Princess Anne Road just south of Pleasant Ridge Road, is of particular interest.  

The city just completed a similar survey of the northern half of the city in December 2018. The target date for completion of the survey of the southern half of Virginia Beach is May 2020.

A similar survey was conducted in 1993. Then, some properties were identified that were not yet old enough to fit within the 50-year time frame, Reed said.

In 2016, the city was designated by the National Park Service as a “certified local government.” Through this program, local governments and the park service work together to encourage preservation. 

At that time, the city agreed to update some records of historical buildings, which is one reason why this survey is being conducted at this time, Reed said.


© 2019 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

The Independent News

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