December 2, 2010

Coming Together for Historic Preservation

Sixth Annual Fairfax History Conference a success.

By Lynne Garvey-Hodge
Wednesday, December 01, 2010

With more than 100 attendees, the Sixth Annual Fairfax County History Conference, Preserving Our Paths in History, Nov. 6 was a tremendous success this year.

Dedicated to the memories of local historians Nan and Ross Netherton, event was sponsored by the Fairfax County History Commission, the Fairfax County Park Authority, the Fairfax Museum & Visitors Center and Preservation Virginia.

Conference Committee members were Rob Orisson (Preservation Virginia), Dr. Elizabeth Crowell, Fairfax County Park Authority; Fairfax County History Commissioners Naomi Zeavin, Esther McCullough, Sallie Lyons, Barbara Naef, Anne Barnes, Carole Herrick, Mary Lipsey and Mike Irwin; and Susan Gray, Fairfax Museum & Visitor Center.

Nine authors and nine exhibitors participated as well and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova (D-At-large) kicked off the conference reminiscing about the importance of historic preservation, by sharing the story of Ilda, an early 20th century interracial community enclave near the site of the Jewish Community Center on Route 236. The community had been long forgotten and then rediscovered when the Virginia Department of Transportation began to expand the roads at that intersection.

Bulova also presented history awards to outstanding citizens which included Lifetime Achievement Awards to Ed Wenzel, for his 22 year work preserving and protecting Ox Hill Battlefield; John McAnaw, for more than 25 years of dedicated service as a Civil War historian and protector of land in the Kings Park area; and Michael Rierson, for more than 33 years of dedicated service with the Fairfax County Park Authority in preserving and protecting numerous county sites from Sully Plantation to Frying Pan Park.

John Browne was presented with the Beth Mitchell award for his work researching the Ravensworth estate, dating back to 1796, the original home of William Fitzhugh and land that once covered nearly an eighth of the county.

Susan Hellman received the Nan Netherton award for her outstanding research and documentation on the property called “Kenmore.”

Cora Foley was not present, but she received the first Cultural Heritage Engagement Award, Maddy McCoy, also not present, received a Distinguished Service award for her assistance on the “Kenmore” paper as well as for her work creating the African-American Slave index of Fairfax County.

Rick Castelli received the Edith Moore Sprouse award for his extensive research on Fenwick Park.

The Hunter Mill Defense League History Committee received the most prestigious award that the Fairfax County History Commission bestows, the Ross Netherton Award, for their work in creating the DVD “Danger Between the Lines,” a documentary relating the story of the people living amid the turmoil along Hunter Mill Road during the Civil War. Tom Evans, Jim Lewis, Charlie Balch, Bob Eldridge and Steve Hull accepted the award.

The Awards committee included Commissioners Naomi Zeavin, Bob Beach, Jack L. Hiller and Lynne Garvey-Hodge, chairwoman.

“We have never received so many awards nominations as we have this year, and we are delighted with the quality of the work done in preserving the county’s history”, said Hiller.

Thomas Jefferson High School students, under the leadership of history teacher Larry Helm, also submitted historic papers.

The keynote speaker was Elizabeth Kostelny, who spoke on the importance of historic preservation, even during economically difficult times. As executive director of Preservation Virginia, she spoke on “Growing Virginia’s Movement – Historic Preservation in the 21st Century” and encouraged Fairfax County to continue doing good work in preserving the rich historic resources of the county and affirmed the conference as evidence of this good work.

Michael C. Rierson gave a lively, animated talk on his time with the Park Authority, “It Docent Matter — The Beginnings of a Museum & Historic Preservation Program.”

Andrea Loewenwarter from the Fairfax Museum & Visitors Center shared the history of preserving the newly renovated and preserved Blenheim Mansion, “Preserving Historic Blenheim” and the county Archaeology staff was on hand to discuss their work in their offices located at the conference site, the James Lee Community Center.

Local railroad historian Ron Beavers spoke with tremendous energy and exuberance on “Fairfax County Railroads — Pre-Civil War & What is Left Today” and the final presentations of the conference reflected preservation of a number of local sites. Chuck Mauro spoke on the preservation and history of Laura Ratcliffe’s home, “Merrybrook,” David Goetz on John Singleton Mosby’s home in Warrenton, “Brentmoor” and Mary Lipsey spoke on the good work of the Fairfax County Cemetery Preservation Association.

The Annandale High School culinary department under the leadership of Christine Gloninger provided attendees with a delicious continental breakfast and colorful, nutritious lunch. With plenty of prizes provided from the Fairfax Museum & Visitor Center for Trivia Question winners, a sunny day, ample parking, good food and excellent presentations, the crowd left well satisfied and anxious for the Seventh Annual Fairfax County History Conference already in the planning for 2011.

Maddy McCoy
Fairfax County, Virginia
Slavery Inventory Database

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