Virginia Beach seeks researchers to tell stories of its roots

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The historic Old Coast Guard Station at the Oceanfront. (Justin Belichis/SouthsideDaily)
The historic Old Coast Guard Station at the Oceanfront. (Justin Belichis/SouthsideDaily)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The city wants to tell more stories about its roots with historic markers and signs, and it’s looking for people willing to research them.

The Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission’s research grant program aims to award researchers up to $2,500 for historic projects that focus on people, places and significant events related to the city’s past.

The program will award a maximum of $10,000 in grant money for projects. Applications are due Thursday, April 27 at 5 p.m.

“There’s a lot of history here, but it’s not that well-known,” Mark Reed, historic preservation planner, said. “There isn’t a lot of research done on it.”

The grant would cover the time to research the historic subject and the creation of the final product.

An interperative sign at the Old Coast Guard Station, which was partially funded by the commission's grant program last year. (Photo courtesy of Mark Reed)
An interperative sign at the Old Coast Guard Station, which was partially funded by the commission’s grant program last year. (Photo courtesy of Mark Reed)

Eligible grant applicants must be undergraduate or graduate students attending a two-year or four-year Commonwealth college or university, social studies or American history professors or teachers, workers at museums, libraries and historic societies or be at least 18 with a demonstrated ability of historic research, according to the guidelines.

Applicants must have a sponsor sign the project proposal, too.

An application should be mailed or delivered to the commission — Building 2, 2405 Courthouse Drive, Room 191, Virginia Beach, VA 23456 — before the deadline.

Reed said compared to other Commonwealth cities, Virginia Beach’s history is more accessible.

“For Virginia Beach, we’re so fortunate that we have such good records,” Reed said. “A lot of Virginia communities had their records destroyed during the Civil War, but the Princess Anne County records survived.”

The city’s records even document Virginia Beach when it was known as Lower Norfolk County, before it was called Princess Anne County.

Reed said the commission gave six grants to researchers last year, which paved the way for an interpretative sign at the Old Coast Guard Station at the Oceanfront, a historic marker that will distinguish the Cape Henry Railway at Fort Story, a research paper about the Seatack community and more.

“For whatever reason, not a lot of research has really been done,” Reed said. “We think there are a lot of opportunities and fertile ground that hasn’t been plowed so far.”

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