Governor Northam designates May as ‘Historic Preservation Month’


RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Department of Historic Resources announced in a release on Thursday that Governor Ralph Northam has declared May as Historic Preservation Month for the Commonwealth.

“The Governor’s proclamation highlights the pioneering ‘grassroots’ role that women played in historic preservation, beginning at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and continuing statewide with Jamestown during the 1800s,” said VDHR officials.

As this year signifies the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment — which gave women the right to vote — the proclamation for Historic Preservation Month aligns perfectly with our nation’s history.

Additional noteworthy information in the proclamation on historic preservation throughout Virginia:

  • The first national preservation organization.
  • The Mount Vernon Ladies Association, forming in the 1850s.
  • The Association to Preserve Virginia Antiquities (today’s Preservation Virginia) became one of the earliest private statewide preservation organizations in the nation in 1889.
  • Virginia also saw the earliest state historical highway marker program in the U.S. in the 1920s.

The Governor’s proclamation states that “the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened our awareness of how essential our historic legacy is to our economy and our communities, and that rehabilitation of historic buildings will leverage private investment in our communities by helping put Virginians back to work,” as the state re-emerges from the pandemic.

The rich history embedded throughout Virginia drives tourism to the Commonwealth.

In 2017, a Virginia Commonwealth University analysis study found that heritage tourists spend more than $7.7 billion annually in Virginia; over $430 million is spent yearly by heritage tourism sites adding $6.5 billion to the economy and generating $1.3 billion in taxes.

Additionally, the Virginia DHR state historic rehabilitation tax credit program contributes significantly to the Commonwealth’s economy.

In 2018, another VCU study revealed that between 1997 and 2017, $1.2 billion in tax credits as revenue stimulated $4.5 billion in private investment. The program was created in 1997.

“Virginia consistently ranks annually among the top tier of states for the number of individual sites and historic districts listed on National Register of Historic Places,” said DHR Director Julie V. Langan.

“Virginia’s homeowners, businesses, and communities connect with their history and know the tangible and intangible benefits it brings to their lives. DHR’s programs will help Virginians rebound economically through continued investment in our historic resources,” she added. 

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