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Preservation group names Rassawek among most endangered historic sites in Va.
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Preservation group names Rassawek among most endangered historic sites in Va.

James River Water Authority - Rassawek


Linzie Evans, 10, Little Miss Haliwa from the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe, voices her opposition to the James River Water Authority’s efforts to construct a water intake and pump station on Rassawek, the historic capital of the Monacan Indian Nation, in August 2019 in Fluvanna County. The Monacan Indian Nation says the proposed project would disturb the burials of its ancestors and destroy Rassawek, first recorded by Capt. John Smith in 1612.

A sacred Monacan Indian Nation site in Fluvanna County is among one of Virginia’s most endangered historic places for 2020, according to the group Preservation Virginia.

Each year, the organization releases a list of sites it believes are under “imminent or sustained threats to their integrity,” according to a news release.

The sites making this year’s list are:

» Rassawek, the historic capital and sacred site of the Monacan Indian Nation, located at the confluence of the Rivanna and James rivers in Fluvanna.

» 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.

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» Western Loudoun County’s rural road network, 300 miles of gravel roadways that traverse the Loudoun Valley.

» Historic metal truss bridges statewide. In 1975, Virginia had approximately 620 metal truss bridges; only about 5% of those 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.

“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,” said Preservation Virginia CEO Elizabeth S. Kostelny, in the release. “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.”

For example, Kostelny said four of the seven historic places cited this year are connected to underrepresented communities.

One is Rassawek. A water intake station is proposed on the site, which the Monacans oppose.

“Our capital city was a contemporary of Jamestown, but much larger and more complex, and it lasted as a community far longer,” said Monacan Tribal Chief Kenneth Branham. “It is for us a sacred place of great cultural significance, and it is for all Americans a place of historical importance.”

Two of this year’s listings are transportation related, reflecting the rate at which Virginia is losing bridges and roads important to its historic landscape, with significant efforts needed to foster these places before they are lost, according to the organization.

More information can be found at preservation

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