Wilderness Wal-Mart: Celebrating Small Victories

It was announced today that the Wal-Mart company has withdrawn their special use permit to build the proposed 240,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter near Wilderness Battlefield. The fight to stop its construction has been long and drawn out, where preservationists, Civil War enthusiasts, and local business owners have banded together to bring national awareness. The Wilderness Battlefield in Orange County, VA was the site of one of the most significant Civil War battles. The proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter would have been located a quarter mile away from the main entrance to the Battlefield National Park, and is well in sight of the Battlefield itself. The fight to relocate the store has been a major focus of the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield and other support organizations for almost two full years. Earlier in the week an update article was written for the Richmond Times Dispatch, and our own Professor Smith was quoted, “this case is pretty heart-wrenching for everybody.” … [Read more...]

Julia Costello Lecture

Dr. Julia Costello, co-author of the 2010 Historic Preservation Book Prize winner The California Missions, gave a talk on her book November 3rd. Dr. Costello introduced her talk by mentioning her late collaborator, Edna E. Kimbro, and the work she did on the book before her death in 2005.  The California Missions was originally intended to be a text on conservation, but evolved with the help of Dr. Costello into a history of the 21 Mission settlements in California. Dr. Costello gave an affecting history of the Missions, discussing their development and daily life. The Spanish settled California in the late eighteenth century and built sprawling ranchos to house and convert the Native Peoples of the area. The missions were self-sufficient and were generally four separate buildings formed into a rectangle with a courtyard in the middle. Under a score of Europeans inhabited these missions, but over 1,200 Native Americans lived in and around each mission settlement. The agreement was … [Read more...]

Small group but loud opinions when it comes to planning…

The Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (FAMPO) has been conducting a study on the future land use of the George Washington Region—the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, Stafford and the city of Fredericksburg.  In order to gain public opinion on the planning matters, FAMPO has been holding meetings open to the public in each county and in downtown Fredericksburg.  I attended the meeting for Spotsylvania County on September 23, and even though there was a small showing (due to the wrong address printed on the invitations) there was no lack in feedback from the opinionated/concerned group of five. Our group was an interesting mix—an older man who had grown up and still lives in the area and longed for the original transit option, pre-Fred, another older man who had moved down here from New Jersey to be close with his grandchildren and is concerned for their upbringing and how the area will shape their growth, a Fredericksburg GIS employee with the same … [Read more...]

Historic Preservation and LEED: Time for Review?

Dr. Chris Pyke, vice president of research for the U.S. Green Building Council, met skepticism when he spoke to UMW students and teachers on Sept. 14 about the design challenges and opportunities associated with the LEED building program. The Green Building Council, based in D.C., introduced LEED in 1998 to encourage the public to adopt responsible building practices with is competitive rating system. During the question and answer period, several people raised concerns with the LEED point system. Professor Michael Spencer, from the historic preservation department, mentioned how the system rewards developers who opt to destroy buildings rather than renovate them. He said LEED gives projects a higher score when builders demolish a building but reuse the old materials. Pyke agreed there are some unintended consequences, but they are trying to fix them. Others discussed the Monroe Hall renovation project and mentioned how LEED influenced builders to throw away materials rather than … [Read more...]