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This is the archive for February 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I’m going to take the lazy way out and begin this post by excerpting from one that appeared March 29, 2007 under the heading Radar Love In The Heart of Dixie – Part One.

“Richmond is a city proud of its past, yet it seems it’ll rip down a historic building and put up a parking garage or lot in a heart beat. Never fear finding a place to park should you decide to visit.”

I’m happy to report that my recent visit to Richmond totally eradicated any doubts about the city’s commitment to historic preservation and proof positive is found at 200 West Grace Street. It’s here that J.E.B. Stuart was nursed and prayed over during his final hours on earth before going to meet his Maker on May 12, 1864.


Jeb Stuart historic sign outside Richmond Police Headquarters

They took all the trees, put em in a tree museum
And they charged the people, a dollar and a half just to see em
Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
Joni Mitchell

The last sentence and one that was purposely cropped from the picture of the historical marker:
"Dr. Brewer's house was demolished in 1893."

Knowing that you can't preserve everything, what from the past is worth preserving?
I was a week too early for the unveiling last year and thus made a point of re-visiting this site at the corner of East Main and North 15th Streets in Richmond during my recent visit to the city. I’ll let the memorial's own words and pictures speak for themselves.

Slave Trade Reconciliation Triangle

Identical statues in Liverpool, England; Benin, West Africa; and Richmond, Virginia memorialize the British, African, and American Triangular trade, now identified as the Reconciliation Triangle. Traders profited from delivering over 100,000 Africans to Virginia between the 1600’s and the American Revolution – and at least 260,000 to other North American places before 1808. The “triangle” extended between Liverpool and other large British cities, the Republic of Benin, and other West African kingdoms, and Virginia, and other North American colonies. Profits from the sale of enslaved Africans financed major British and North American economic development.

Acknowledge and forgive the past
Embrace the present
Shape a future
of reconciliation and justice.

Statue Sculpture and Design - Stephen Broadbent and Faith Bebbington
Plaza and Fountain Design - Burt Pinnock, BAM Architects
"This installation has been made possible through the generosity and cooperation of the Commonwealth of Virginia and City of Richmond."

The Triangle
Liverpool, England
The Benin Region of West Africa
Richmond, Virginia

During the 18th Century, these three places reflected one of the well-known triangles in the trade of enslaved Africans.
Men, women, and children were captured in West and Central Africa and transported from Benin and other countries. They were shackled, herded, loaded on ships built in England and transported through the unspeakable horrors of the Middle Passage.
They were imported and exported in Richmond, Virginia and sold in other American cities. Their forced labor laid the economic foundation of this nation.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I took a trip to Richmond over the weekend and will be writing a couple of posts, but I thought I’d start with this one.

On Sunday afternoon I made a visit to the Richmond National Battlefield Headquarters, where it was just me and two Park Service rangers. I asked them a couple of questions, wrote down a few of their recommendations for books on topics I was interested in reading about, and generally chewed the fat. I asked both which Civil War National Park they’d most like to work at. One said Antietam, the other said he was right where he wanted to be, in Richmond. Both viewed their choices as the ultimate assignment. Interestingly, neither wanted an assignment at Gettysburg.

Then I asked both to tell me the stupidest question they’d ever been asked, mine excluded of course. The Ranger who answered that Antietam was the ultimate, said she had been asked a lot of stupid questions, however she drew a blank and deferred to her partner. He, who felt Richmond was the epicenter, recalled two.

On a list of the ten most stupid questions, number two was:
Why don't the monuments at Antietam have any bullet holes?

And the stupidest question he had ever been asked?
A woman approached him with all sincerity in her heart. She looked at him with tears welling up in her eyes and asked, “Why, oh why, did they have to fight all those battles in National Parks?”

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Nestled in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Mount Pleasant, a suburb of Charleston, a city in its own right and quite frankly, rather expensive, lies the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site.

For those of you not up on your colonial history of South Carolina, you would not know of his importance during that time – or that he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. If you are someone like that, check this out.

Myself, I love the site, which is really nothing more than a house and a large field. The house holds a nice exhibit on Charles and colonial times in the Charleston area. But I like it because it makes a perfect picnic site for the family, having spent many an afternoon there.

It looks like, I may get a few picnics in, as the staff have set up a wonderful series of events around the Gullah culture with its “Gullah Heritage Saturdays.” Every Saturday in February and March at 2 pm has a different program – from stories to cooking to basket making. Myself, I am really looking forward to master craftsman Philip Simmons talk about his work with Iron making some of the most beautiful gates one could imagine. March 15th will see us there!

For more information, check out this pdf.