City selected, funding six historic projects by residents

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Earlier this year, the City asked residents to dig into local history and the preliminary results are in.

The Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission is awarding $10,000 in grants for six research projects proposed by Virginia Beach historians. The commission sent a request in February to local history teachers and historians asking them to come up with research projects that would benefit the city. The commission announced Friday the six projects selected for the $500 to $2,500 grants. They range from roadside signs to a pilot course on local history for elementary-school children.

“Virginia Beach has a lot of history that’s not well researched or well known,” Mark Reed, a historic preservation planner with the City, said in a phone interview. “That was part of the goal, to encourage more scholarship, more research about Virginia Beach history.”

The grants were created this year to create tangible resources for the public. According to the release, the funds will support the following projects:

  • Research, graphic design, production and installation of an informational sign on the history of the 1878 and 1903 Seatack/Virginia Beach Life-Saving Service/Coast Guard Stations and the men who served there
  • Research paper on the origins and development of African-American communities in Princess Anne County/Virginia Beach
  • Transcription of primary source documents related to Col. John Thoroughgood Jr., who fought in the Revolutionary War, and research and installation of a historic roadside marker about him
  • Research on the Cape Henry Rail Line and Station and installation of a historic roadside marker on the subject
  • Development of learning plans for a pilot program on local history between the Civil War and the civil-rights era to provide to public elementary students in the the city
  • Research paper on the history of the Seatack African-American community

The commission left the topics relatively open to applicants, allowing them to decide which issues could use more inquiry. 

“We were happy with the applications that we got,” Reed said. “We left basic topics open to what they were interested in, what they thought would be something worth researching and investigating.”

The pilot program on local history will have a direct effect on Virginia Beach City Public Schools students, Reed said.

Local history was eradicated from the district’s Standard of Learning (SOL) requirements a few years ago, according to Reed. The local-history pilot program, covering the period between the Civil War and the civil-rights era, will be introduced in some classrooms in about a year, Reed said.

The Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission is a City Council-appointed body that advises the Council on historic-preservation issues, according to the release. The commission meets the first Wednesday evening of the month at 2101 Parks Ave., Suite 500, unless announced otherwise.

“This locality of Virginia Beach, Princess Anne County, has been through a lot of changes,” Reed said. “It’s been a diverse community for a long time and knowing the history I think helps us keep in mind how unique Virginia Beach is.”

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