• Help Mayor’s New Alliance Shape Shockoe Bottom’s Future

    April 11, 2019

    On April 15, 2019, the new group Mayor Stoney created to lead the design and implementation for Shockoe Bottom will hold its first community meeting. The public is invited to attend.

    The Shockoe Alliance consists of City of Richmond staff, preservation experts, and community members. The group is tasked with ensuring a collaborative approach to reimagining Shockoe Bottom as an “innovative space [for] memorialization, learning, and transformation—all while protecting the area’s cultural and historic heritage.”

    This is welcome news, as this vision complements our long-held support for the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park plan—a collaborative, community-centered approach to balancing sensitive memorialization of the area’s difficult history with equitable economic development that especially benefits Richmond’s African American residents.

    To further that end, monies from the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF) were awarded to Preservation Virginia to convene a resource panel of experts and practitioners—with our partner, the Sacred Ground Project—to identify best practices in creating opportunities for equitable economic development and to consider their application to Shockoe Bottom.

    The panelists, with expertise including community development, neighborhood revitalization, city planning, workforce development, sustainability, and design, met last week in Richmond to begin formulating ideas about how to best provide opportunities for education, training, and prosperity in a district that has long struggled economically.

    Preservation Virginia is also using the Action Fund grant to commission Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis to research the economic impacts of African American cultural heritage destinations nationally, and to quantify the economic benefits of transforming Shockoe Bottom into a memorial park. They will release the full report this summer and include focus groups with local residents, community leaders, and business owners.

    On April 15, help us tell the Shockoe Alliance that the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park plan, with its spaces for reflection, education, and equitable economic development, is a vital framework for reimagining this landscape.

    Full meeting details:

    When: April 15, 2019, 6:00 p.m.

    Where: Main Street Station, 1500 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA

    No registration needed. We hope to see you at the meeting!

    Members of the Shockoe Bottom Resource Group

  • Rose Center Experts Make Recommendations for Shockoe Valley Visioning and Planning

    February 13, 2018

    Last week, a team of national experts organized by the Rose Center for Public Leadership gathered in Richmond to tour Shockoe Valley and brainstorm solutions to bring about Richmond Mayor Stoney’s vision for both equitable economic development and memorialization of the area’s past as the nation’s second-largest slave trading center. Mayor Stoney was one of four U.S. mayors to be selected for this year-long partnership. The National Trust’s Graham Gund architect, Ashley Wilson was invited to participate on the panel, joining a host of professionals from the planning, civil engineering, and commercial real estate development fields.

    The Rose Center group shared their initial recommendations and laid out next steps at a press event on Thursday, February 8. The National Trust for Historic Preservation released a statement reaffirming its position on the key elements of any development in Shockoe Bottom. Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Michael Paul Williams wrote a thoughtful piece, echoing the panel’s insistence on investigating, understanding, and telling the truth of the full, and yes painful, history that transpired on this sacred ground in order to bring about true healing and reconciliation.

    The full presentation may be viewed on YouTube.

    The National Trust will remain engaged and active on the work to properly commemorate and activate this site of conscience and will keep the public informed of opportunities to join the conversation and help shape Shockoe Bottom’s future.

  • Mayor Stoney, Make Shockoe Bottom park a reality

    November 8, 2017

    Our call to make the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park a reality got a nice publicity boost recently with the publication of a letter to the editor from Rob Nieweg, our Shockoe Bottom National Treasure program manager. In it, Rob describes the important opportunity at hand to go beyond Mayor Stoney’s proposal to create a small traditional museum at the Devil’s Half-Acre/Lumpkin’s Jail site and embrace the community-generated proposal for a nine-acre Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park.

    Below is an excerpt. Please see here for the entire piece.

    “To realize the full potential of Shockoe Bottom, bear witness to the painful past, and embrace a more hopeful future, we strongly support this nine-acre memorial park proposal. In the midst of a national conversation about the ways our collective past is represented in our public spaces, Richmond can lead boldly and bravely on a national stage by making the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park concept a reality.”

    Let’s not let Rob’s voice stand alone! We encourage all of our supporters to add their voices to our call for the creation of a Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park. We will keep you posted of strategic opportunities to do so!

  • National Trust Urges High Speed Rail in Shockoe Bottom Proceed with Utmost Caution

    November 7, 2017

    In recent weeks, a proposal to link Washington, D.C. and Richmond through a high speed rail system has been gaining steam. This proposal includes construction of a new railroad facility at Main Street Station in Shockoe Bottom. Construction of a high-speed railroad facility and the real estate development that is likely to follow have the potential to impact the hallowed place we seek to commemorate through creation of a Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park. In the long-term, the impacts could be positive and could be negative. It is indisputable, however, that the federal review process for the railroad facility will substantially influence the City’s promised master planning for Shockoe.

    Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Michael Paul Williams captured the concerns of National Trust’s Senior Field Director and Attorney, Rob Nieweg and our local partner Ana Edwards in a column that ran today entitled, Environmental impact of rail project on Shockoe slave heritage is concerning.”

    As Rob points out in the column, as the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) evaluates the potential environmental impacts of the facility at Main Street Station, it is essential that the FRA pay close attention to the archaeological, historical, and cultural values that are embedded in Shockoe Bottom.

    In a draft environmental impact study, there is scant attention paid to the deeply significant slave history of Shockoe Bottom and authors dismiss any direct impacts on historical sites like Lumpkin’s Jail and the African burial ground. According to Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, the Lumpkin’s Jail site is about 125 feet from the closest area of potential disturbance; the burial ground, about 200 feet.

    The public is invited to participate in the federal review process by providing a comment at http://dc2rvarail.com/contact-us no later than November 7th. Please join the National Trust and our allies in telling the FRA that Shockoe Bottom is a significant historic place. That the proposed railroad facility has the potential to harm Shockoe. And, that FRA should fully explore ways to “avoid, minimize, or mitigate” any future harm to Shockoe.

    Additional messages to consider when formulating your comments to FRA include:

    • The African Burial Ground, Devil’s Half Acre (Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site), and other buried remains throughout Shockoe Bottom are extraordinarily significant archaeological, historical, and cultural resources because of their association with the nation’s enslavement history. This National Treasure merits protection against harm.
    • Only one archaeological site in Shockoe Bottom has been investigated and documented – the Devil’s Half Acre. Archival research has indicated a high likelihood that additional archaeological remains survive in Shockoe. Therefore, the Federal Railroad Administration should commission a thorough study of the archaeological, historical, and cultural resources in Shockoe Bottom – before making any decision about the proposed high-speed rail facility. As part of this study, it is essential that Shockoe is fully evaluated for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
    • To protect Shockoe, the Federal Railroad Administration needs to expand the so-called “Area of Potential Effects” to encompass Shockoe’s archaeological, historical, and cultural resources, pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act. In addition, the FRA must consider the full range of potential impacts – “direct, indirect and cumulative” -- to these surviving resources. Importantly, the FRA must also consider various ways to “avoid, minimize, or mitigate” potential harm from the railroad facility, and any reasonably foreseeable real estate development.
    • The archaeological remains in Shockoe Bottom are not the kind of typical archaeological site that is valuable primarily for “data recovery,” but these resources have extraordinary importance and should be preserved, interpreted, and commemorated in place.
    • Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act prohibits the “use” of any historic property or park land in connection with a transportation project, unless there is “no feasible and prudent alternative” to doing so. The African Burial Ground, Devil’s Half Acre, and the proposed Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park are all historic sites and/or parks that could be “substantially impaired” by the proximity of the high-speed railroad project, thus triggering the prohibition of Section 4(f). In addition to the mandatory preference for alternatives, Section 4(f) also requires that the Federal Railroad Administration’s Main Street Station project incorporate “all possible planning to minimize harm.”

    Thank you in advance for providing your comments about Shockoe Bottom to the Federal Railroad Administration by November 7th.

    Comments may be submitted:

  • Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park Public Comment Opportunity

    September 18, 2017

    Our campaign to fully preserve and interpret Shockoe Bottom continues!

    Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is extending the process begun by former Mayor Dwight Jones to erect a traditional museum atop the Devil’s Half-Acre/Lumpkin’s Jail site in Shockoe Bottom.

    The museum planners are collecting public comment on the museum’s Statement of Purpose until September 20, 2017. Join us today in sending the message that the deep and complex history of Shockoe Bottom is better served by a nine-acre Memorial Park.

    The time is right for the City to move forward with a more expansive and inclusive vision for what was once the second largest slave trading center in the U.S. Mayor Stoney’s Monument Avenue Commission seeks community input in how best to offer context to the Confederate history on display on Monument Avenue.

    The Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park plan does exactly that. Expanding the Lumpkin’s museum project to create a Memorial Park would provide areas for contemplation, healing, and reflection while fully honoring the people and events of this essential but often ignored part of Richmond’s heritage.

    Richmond can lead the nation by creating a memorial park that will provide needed balance and perspective in promoting reconciliation and telling a more complete story of slavery and the Civil War in Richmond. Adopting the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park is the blueprint to do so.

    More information about the Devil’s Half-Acre/Lumpkin’s Jail museum project is available at http://www.lumpkinsjail.org.

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