There’s an article about me on the front of the Flair section (page E1) today. This is the online version.
State group honors teen for historic preservation
By BILL LOHMANN
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
As a cold rain fell outside, Trevor Dickerson sat in the back pew of the old, unheated church and savored the warmth of success.
“I don’t particularly want to take credit for myself,” Dickerson said of his role in the relocation of the church, Springfield Baptist, that saved it from demolition. “I’m just happy it’s still around for others to see and enjoy and see what Short Pump used to be like back in the day.”
That Dickerson helped spearhead a movement to save the 19th-century church is not surprising. He’s been working in historic preservation for almost half of his life, which is astounding not so much for his years of service but because of when he started.
He was 11.
His efforts caught the attention of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (also known as APVA Preservation Virginia) which today will present Dickerson, 19, with the organization’s first Young Preservationist of the Year Award as part of its annual statewide awards ceremony at the National Theater in Richmond.
“That’s how he got on our radar screen,” APVA Executive Director Elizabeth Kostelny said of Dickerson’s work with Springfield Baptist Church. “But the reason the award panel decided to recognize him in this way was really the body of work. That sounds sort of funny when you’re talking about a 19-year-old, but he developed this passion at such an early age.
“I think we see a growing number of young folks involved in preservation, but I think Trevor hit the high note.”
Dickerson, a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University and a graduate of Deep Run High School, has been actively involved in historical preservation since his family moved to the Wyndham area of Henrico County. He was 11 when he noticed old homes disappearing along Nuckols Road to make way for new developments and thought he should do something about it.
He started making photographs and videos and interviewing longtime residents about their way of life that was going away. He built a Web site (www.henricohistory.com) for his growing collection of pictures and oral history. And he started showing up at county planning and Board of Supervisors meetings to speak on behalf of saving old structures from demolition, keep alive pieces of the county’s past and generally be an irritant to developers.
“It’s always been in my blood,” Dickerson said of his interest in preservation. His mother, Linda, is a vice president of the Henrico County Historical Society. His grandfather, Wallace Allen, was a history buff, and his grandmother, Jean Allen, used to take him to Short Pump Grocery every week as a young boy for a candy bar and soda. When West Broad Street was widened and the grocery was relocated to a site in Goochland County, Dickerson remembers thinking, “That’s pretty interesting.”
The grocery is on the grounds of Field Day of the Past, on Highway 623, between West Broad and Interstate 64, along with other relocated Short Pump buildings, including Springfield Baptist Church. The church was moved there in July from its original location that had become squeezed in by stores and shopping malls. Once a church deep in the country, its more recent neighbors were Best Buy and Kohl’s.
Asked if he ever took any ribbing from his peers for his grown-up hobby, Dickerson said: “I used to. I didn’t really let many people know about it back when I was in middle school. Those are the years when everybody makes fun of you. People think it’s really cool now.”
Dickerson hopes to major in either graphic design or film production with a minor in history. Whatever his major, he plans to use it for historic preservation. He also has ideas about making a documentary on the history of Short Pump, which, as Dickerson put it, “has changed from a real outpost to a real hot spot.”
“You’ve got to preserve the past and present for the future,” he said. “I’m just doing that any way I can.”
Contact Bill Lohmann at (804) 649-6639 or [email protected].
Find out more:
Visit Trevor Dickerson’s new Web site, www.shortpumphistory.org
Other 2008 APVA award winners
Outstanding Public Sector Preser vation Project Award: The Virginia Capitol Restoration and Extension
Outstanding Commercial Project Award: Commonwealth Architects for 1840 W. Broad St.
Outstanding Service in Community Preservation Award: Loudoun County for The Loudoun County Historic District Interactive Web site (www.loudoun.gov/historic) and Mary Jordan and the Spencer-Penn School Preservation Organization for The Spencer-Penn Centre, Spencer
Outstanding Domestic Project Award: Aaron Wunsch and Preservation Piedmont for the James D. Nimmo House, Charlottesville
Outstanding Adaptive Use Award: Warm Springs Investment Company for Old Dairy Community Center, Warm Springs
Outstanding Historic Preservation Research Award: Thomas Finderson, Carrollton