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history’s stories


Tapestry of Arts

preserving our city’s history

Fall FLAR is Full of Features

Interview by kevin brown

By A.E. Bayne

ST. JAMES HOUSE By Ralph “Tuffy” Hicks





Q. Why is historic preservation important to Fredericksburg?

It was a rainy Saturday morning with the hurricane stirring off of the coast of North Carolina when Anne said, “let’s go see the Saint James house”. Now you would think after living in Fredericksburg for well over half a century I would have said “been there”. Actually the answer is no I have not been there, probably because it has been a private residence since it was built sometime around 1768. It is said to be one of the older original homes in the city as I had owned and restored one built in the 1760’s on Caroline Street.

We arrived at the home located at 1300 Charles Street with a steady rain falling and were greeted by Anne Haley and Joyce Childress two ladies that I have known for many years. They both are very knowledgeable of Fredericksburg and its history and volunteer for the Washington Heritage Museums. The organization a non-profit 501 c-3 maintains and operates the Saint James house along with Hugh Mercer Apothecary, Rising Sun Tavern and the Mary Washington House with donations and income from the visitors. The St. James home, however, unlike the others is open during Garden Week and the first week in October or by special appointment. The home was built by Fredericksburg attorney James Mercer (no relation to General Hugh Mercer) on property once owned by Fielding Lewis as part of the Kenmore plantation. Fielding Lewis was the brother in law of George Washington. James Mercer is known to have done the will of Mary Washington along with being the first judge of the Fredericksburg General Court and he went on to be in the House of Burgesses. William Tolerton along with Daniel Breslin purchased and restored the home and furnished it with antique furniture of the period. The property was bequeathed along with an endowment for perpetual maintenance to Preservation Virginia. In 2013 Washington Heritage Museums assumed control of the properties. The Saint in the name, there is no explanation other than he signed a letter to his father Saint James. Rain or shine I encourage you to visit this jewel within our city. Thanks Joyce and Ann for a wonderful tour of this historic property. Dedicate to the memory of Joyce Kain, Herbert Cooper, Carol Boyer Lmore, Curtis Brann and Norman Chenault Tuffy Hicks brings us little known facts about FXBG each month in this space.

Central Rappahannock Heritage Center

A: Fredericksburg’s historic character is what makes it a unique city with a distinctive sense of place. The built environment and the stories embodied there are how you can tell that you’re not in anywhere America. These physical places tie us to memories and the unique history of the city. Cities are constantly evolving—in fact, the centuries of change you see in Fredericksburg’s buildings are one of the city’s defining features—but it’s vital to balance past and future. This is the primary role that preservation plays, not freezing a place in time, but balancing and managing change. Q. What are the biggest challenges Fredericksburg faces in historic preservation? A: The challenge is certainly not unique to Fredericksburg, but there is a clear desire for development in our downtown. There is a growing desire to live in interesting, pedestrian-friendly, vibrant places. But if development comes at the cost of the historic character here, then we end up sacrificing those exact qualities that make the city attractive to existing and new residents alike. It’s not unusual to hear development and historic preservation pitted against one another, but that’s a false understanding. Historic districts and design review processes exist as tools to help new development projects and changes in historic areas be as compatible as possible with the character there and to enhance the environment. There are many opportunities for new buildings, new businesses, and new residents in the historic area, and through preservation, we can manage those changes to ensure the value, both economic and cultural, of the historic area is not compromised. Q. What do you hope to accomplish during your first year on the job?

Virginia’s only Regional Archive The Heritage Center


Maury Commons 900 Barton St 540-373-3704; crhc@verizon.net

November 2016

Front porch fredericksburg


A: My focus for this first year is learning and understanding all that I can about Fredericksburg’s history, building relationships with a community that is passionate about that history, and facilitating a consistent Architectural Review Board/design review process within our historic district.

One of my priorities is updating the National Register nomination for Fredericksburg’s Historic District. The district was designated at the federal level in 1971, but only buildings fifty years old at that time (built before 1921) were considered historically significant. If we’re looking at buildings that are fifty years old today, that extends the period of significance for our district up to 1966. It’s vital to include these places in the updated nomination to not only recognize broader aspects of our history, but also to allow more property owners to take advantage of valuable tax credits at the state and federal level for rehabilitation of these buildings. Virginia offers a 25% tax credit that can be combined with a 20% federal tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic buildings. I’m also working towards the creation of an archaeological ordinance for the city so that we can protect our buried history. There is so much we can learn from these archaeological resources, but they are lost forever once the ground is disturbed for construction. The challenge is determining what areas are most archaeologically important, where the ordinance should apply, and how to administer it. Community support and education will be important in this project as well.

What a doozy of a year! When public life and times are divisive, I turn to the arts for solace. Like many of you, I cherish a well-turned phrase, a compelling piece of writing, or thoughtful verse. I seek composition and design to refine the rough edges of a topsy-turvy world. The visual, literary and performing arts are woven with brilliant thread, resulting in collaboration and inspiration born of diverse creativity. You will find evidence of this artistic web within the pages of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review’s fall edition, as it reveals the live tapestry of arts that surrounds us in our town, our region, and beyond. With a focus on editing and revision within each feature interview in this edition, regional artists and writers share their experiences of craft and process. Our local, national and international contributors offer thought-provoking pieces that inspire empathy, evoke wisdom and channel kinship between themselves and the reader. We are making connections, people! This is outstanding! Meet the Panels Our panel members work

together to choose quality work that will highlight the rich arc of arts in our area. This fall, our art panel was composed of painter and resin artist Joelle Cathleen, photographer Ruth Golden, dancer and community organizer Alex Harvell, painter Maddie Huddle, and photographer and painter Christopher Thomas Limbrick. Our literary panel included poet and writer Mikaela D’Eigh, blogger and features writer Christina Ferber, writer and president of Riverside Writers, Jim Gaines, poet Tramia Jackson, and writer and editor Shayli Lesser. Featured Writers and Artists We’ve packed this 228 page volume full of featured writers and artists from our region. Our literary features Kristen Green, include author of Something Must be Done About Prince Edward County; Jim Hall, author of The Last Lynching in Northern Virginia; Vicky Jasparro, a blogger and explorer who hiked the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand; Suann Cokal, writer and editor of Broad Street Magazine in Richmond; Beth Spragins, a local poet who writes in the Celtic Bardic tradition; local musicians who share their lyric writing process; and Alaha Ahrar, a

UMW graduate who is an award-winning poet and activist for social justice. O u r featured visual artists include painter Bill Harris, Fall FLAR cover art by Bill Harris Chinese watercolor artist Hsi Mei Yates, painter and sculptor that seems bent on building walls based on Jurgen Brat, painter Sarah Lapp, HAISIX our differences. With so many positive and powerful pieces about the people in our designer, John Williams, fiber artist Lorie area who are engaging with all of us McCown, letterpress artists Susan Carter Morgan and Chris Fritton, video game through the arts, we hope this volume is a designer Grant Ervin, and costume balm to your frazzled nerves, an answer to the daily grind, and that it will leave you designer Nancy Michael. Additionally, we talked with wanting to go out and create something Kenneth and D.D. Lecky of LibertyTown meaningful in the world. You may enjoy Arts for our gallery feature; we got the FLAR free of cost online at our or lowdown on the progress behind a local website fredericksburgwriters.com through a link on our Facebook page woodworking project, The Workshop, LLC; and we say goodbye to Water Street @FredLitArtReview. Many readers have Studio with a feature of their final preferred the print-on-demand feature, show, Verses to Visions, which was held which may be accessed online as well. last spring. Art and literature are important to the fabric of our communities for so many reasons, not least of all being that they highlight our similarities in a world

A.E.Bayne is a writer, visual artist and educator. She is the publisher of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review

Thank you, Kate, for inspiring and educating us about preserving our city’s history. Ms. Schwartz can be reached at ph: ksschwartz@fredericksburgva.gov (540) 372-1179. ~ KB

photo by kevin brown

front porch fredericksburg

November 2016


Profile for Virginia Grogan

Front Porch Fredericksburg - November 2016  

Front Porch Fredericksburg - November 2016