|The challenge [of historic preservation] is to demonstrate the relationship between material culture – a building, a group of buildings, a landscape, a structure, an archaeological site – with the larger set of intangible social and environmental values we seek to portray and preserve.|
|Robert E. Stipe A Richer Heritage|
Preservation Northern Shenandoah Valley has been an effective advocate for preservation efforts in our community. This advocacy has led to the successful rescue of significant buildings slated for demolition, raised funds for the stabilization of endangered properties, and led to establishing good working relationships with various governments in our 5 county area.
While still a branch of Preservation Virginia, PNSV launched a successful fundraising campaign to secure private donations to match a state grant for emergency stabilization work on the three structures. In all, PNSV raised over $48,000, nearly twice amount needed for the grant match. The excess funding was transferred to the Clarke County Historical Association for continued work on the Greenway Court structures.
Hohenheim is a late 19th century Gothic Revival farmhouse, located on the ridgeline of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Clarke County, near Snicker’s Gap. The house was built in 1893 by Charles G. Smith, Sr., the founder of Potomac Stone Company (later Columbia Granite and Dredging Company). The name “Hohenheim” means “high home” in German.
The survival and restoration of Hohenheim can be attributed directly to PNSV's advocacy efforts at the local government level. In 2005, Georgetown University purchased the 55-acre farm property with the intention of building a student retreat center. In 2008, they submitted plans for this retreat center to Clarke County and those plans included demolition of the house. PNSV officials met with County staff, spoke at the public hearing before the Board of Supervisors, and met with officials from the University. Ultimately, we were successful in convincing the Board of Supervisors of Clarke County to grant approval of the special use permit for the retreat center with the condition that the house would be saved.
In October 2013, Georgetown University’s Calcagnini Contemplative Center was dedicated. The university did move the house on the property, but restored it and, today, the house is one of the students’ favorite features of the retreat center.
Also known as Spout Run, Millbank sits above Opequon Creek and Route 7. It was built in 1836 by Quaker miller Isaac Wood and his son Daniel, who inherited the Greek Revival house in 1855 when Isaac died. Millbank served as a hospital for wounded Union soldiers following the 3rd Battle of Winchester (also the Battle of Opequon) in September 1864. Artist James E. Taylor was traveling with General Philip Sheridan and captured the scene in his Civil War sketches for Leslie’s Illustrated magazine.
The house was occupied until 1984, when the Frederick-Winchester Service Authority (FWSA) acquired the property for the Opequon Water Reclamation Facility. After years of neglect, the FWSA board announced plans to demolish the property in 2009.
PNSV took the lead in forming a coalition of local and regional preservation groups that included the Fort Collier Civil War Center, the Kernstown Battlefield Association, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, the Civil War Preservation Trust, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. This coalition developed a plan to save the building and presented that plan to the FWSA board. The plan called for subdividing a 3-acre parcel of land from the water reclamation facility, limiting use of the building to offices, and limiting public access to the property. In late 2013, the Fort Collier Civil War Center took ownership of Millbank. The house is now awaiting restoration.
In 2013, Page County constructed a new county administration building in the county seat of Luray. The plans for this new building had been approved in 2008, but the economic downturn had put the project on hold for several years. While the new building was under construction, county staff continued to occupy the existing county administration building, the former Luray Graded and High School. Once the new building was complete, the old building would be demolished to make way for a 16-space parking lot.
Built in 1881, the old schoolhouse became the county office building in 1931 when a new high school was constructed. Unfortunately, Page County had neglected the building. A fire damaged the auditorium wing in 1952 and the damage was never fully repaired. County staff hated the building, due to its condition, and were the primary advocates for its demolition. Largely due to the five-year gap between the project’s approval and its actual construction, most of the local residents were unaware that the former schoolhouse was going to be demolished. As the new building neared completion, word got out about the impending demolition. A group of residents formed the Preserve Our Schoolhouse Foundation, Inc. (POSF) and petitioned the Page County Board of Supervisors for a one-year delay to allow them time to come up with a plan to save the building.
PNSV joined this effort and helped to coordinate assistance from Preservation Virginia. Preservation Virginia offered to negotiate an option to purchase the building, using their revolving loan fund. Representatives from PNSV, Preservation Virginia, and two developers familiar with similar restoration projects spoke at a special meeting of the Page County Board of Supervisors in August 2013. The proposal was that Preservation Virginia would market the building to potential developers; Page County would sell the building, thus putting the property back on the tax rolls; and the new owners would restore the building, increasing its value and tax revenue to Page County. An alternate parking location to replace the 16 spaces would have been part of any deal.
Unfortunately, the Page County Board of Supervisors were not convinced that there was a market for the building and were unwilling to deviate from their original plans to demolish the building. POSF filed a request for an injunction to stop the demolition with the Circuit Court, but their request was denied. The Luray Grade and High School Building was razed in November 2013.
The Clowser family were among the earliest white settlers in what is now northwestern Frederick County, at the base of Great North Mountain, arriving in the 1750s. In July 1764, a band of Delaware Indians attacked members of the Clowser family as they tried to make their way to the safety of nearby White’s Fort. The patriarch Henry Clowser, two of his sons, and his youngest daughter were killed. His youngest son survived and his wife and three of his daughters were taken captive. After about six months, Mrs. Clowser and her daughters were released and returned home.
In 1955, Clowser family descendants sold their property to the developer of Shawneeland, a planned resort community. Shawneeland had 3,000 home lots and many recreational amenities including ski slopes, a man-made lake, a swimming pool, tennis courts, and lodge. By the early 1970s, the developer abandoned Shawneeland with only a fraction of the lots sold. In order to provide services to the residents of Shawneeland, Frederick County formed a sanitary district and took over maintenance of the roads in the community. Frederick County also became the owner of the Clowser family farmhouse, built in c. 1830. Although not the original Clowser home, the house is one of the oldest existing structures in that part of Frederick County and is associated with one of the earliest white families to settle there.
In late 2013, the sanitary district board wanted to demolish the Clowser House, due to its deteriorating condition. At that point, the house had been boarded up and used for storage for years. The lack of gutters on the building led to serious water damage on the back wall. Rather than spend money to restore a building for which it had no use, the board voted to demolish. However, a group of Shawneeland residents protested and persuaded the board to create a subcommittee to investigate the house’s history and options for saving it.
PNSV worked first with the sanitary district subcommittee and later with an independent group that included several Clowser family members to convince the Frederick County Board of Supervisors to save the building. We accepted donations for the stabilization and repair of the building and assisted in the formation of the Clowser Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. In June 2017, the Frederick County Board of Supervisors granted the Clowser Foundation a 99-year lease on the house and surrounding land. In December 2017, repairs to the building began.