So I went out to a meeting of the Henrico County Historical Society yesterday. I’m one of the youngest members. Most, but not all, are over the age of 60. I really love local history, though, and am trying to recruit some younger members. Either way, I realized something big at yesterday’s meeting.
I was talking for a few minutes to two of the most elderly members, both of whom happen to be 84 years old. They’re two of the most interesting people I’ve met, mainly because they’ve been through and seen so much. I can’t even begin to imagine all the experiences they’ve had. They have lots of wisdom to share.
Anyway, the one thing I heard over and over yesterday was how they don’t feel like they’re as old as they are. They said it feels like they were just my age a short time ago. How scary is that? The common theme seems to be that life is really short. That notion inspired me to make the summer goals list that I posted last night. I’m gonna live it up to the best of my ability while I’m young. It already somewhat panics me that I’ll be 20 in less than a month. Seems like I just became a teenager, and I can only imagine that time goes by faster and faster the older you get.
This next span of years I’m about to head into, the twenties, seems to be the prime years of life, and I’m going to milk them for all they’re worth. Watch out, I’ve got some living to do and a plan to accomplish all I want to. Don’t stand in my way. I’m out to achieve my dreams.
I’ve always been fascinated with local history, but nothing has intrigued me more than Three Chopt Road. Hundreds of years ago, it was an Indian trail, and was then improved in 1730 as a more substantial roadway between Richmond and Charlottesville. Route 250 (Broad Street) replaced the road in the 1930s, but it’s still one of the oldest roads still in service today in Virginia. Thomas Jefferson frequented the road, going between his home in Monticello and the Capitol in Richmond quite often. Many, many other notable individuals have also traversed this roadway.
I’m about to undertake a huge project. I’m going to single-handedly document the entire road from its origin near Powhatan Hill east of Richmond, all the way to Augusta County in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Why? It’s one of the most historic roadways in America, and yet little has ever been done to completely document everything on this rapidly-deteriorating (because of replacement roadways) trail.
I’m going to set out to document interesting buildings and houses, landmarks, and other features of the road, beginning near the city, sometime in the next two or three weeks. Armed with just my GPS, camera, and camcorder, I’ll document anything interesting I see. I hope to somehow export geodata about where videos and pictures were taken onto a custom Google map as the project progresses. Check back on the website I bought for the project, www.threechopt.org, soon. I’m ready to do this!
Am I crazy? Maybe. But this is my passion! Plus, a lot of people I’ve talked to out at the local history exhibition I put on every Fall always ask about the road and its history. Heck, it even runs right through Short Pump, although most of the original portions in this area have been realigned to make way for developments, such as West Broad Village.
Stay tuned, there are many more updates to come! If you or someone you know would like to get involved, I’d love to hear from you.
Better late than never. Here are the photos from the National Theater on Monday night where I accepted my award for Virginia’s 2008 Young Preservationist Of The Year. Governor Tim Kaine as well as other prominent Virginia leaders were in attendance. It was a very nice evening. I was both humbled and honored to be given this award and will continue to do preservation work. To see what I do, visit my history website at www.shortpumphistory.org. These are some pictures from the ceremony. The last one is a scan of my page in the event program.
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].
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
I went to see Charlie Wilson’s War last week (never got around to reviewing it). Tom Hanks stars as Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, who works with the CIA to launch the biggest covert war operation in United States history. It’s based on a true story. The movie revolves around how the operation unfolds and shows Wilson’s lavish life of partying and women, as well. Julia Roberts gives a great performance as well. The movie portrays life in the 1980’s well, and does a nice job showing realistic war scenes. There is also some political humor and satirical lines that balance the serious tone of the film.
So my first semester as a college student was officially over last night after I took my history final. I think I did pretty well on my exams, but I know I still could have done better in terms of grades. Not horrible, but I had a lot on my plate between adjusting to college, working at church, and having a part-time job. I’m going to seriously consider the effect working has on school before I decide where I’m going to work next semester. I need to pick a place with flexible hours and good pay (so I can work fewer hours but make the same amount of money as I would in an average-paying job- does that sentence even make sense?).
Anyway, I’ve come to realize several things this semester. Not having much time to do anything besides what I mentioned above, I realized just how much I value free time. I got so burnt out that once I took a week off, such as I did from the church, I not only saw all of the stuff I had neglected to do for months and decided to get it done, but I also decided to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while and just chill out. Moreover, what I really realized was that I just want to live a little and be a college student. I have the rest of my life to slave away at work (well hopefully I’ll be doing something I like), so I want to live it up while I can. I’m going to seriously consider changing a lot of things next semester.
First off, not seeing many of my friends nearly as often as I did before has caused that area of my life to suffer, and I’m not willing to let that happen. Friendships are an integral part of life and with schedule conflicts caused by all that I did last semester, I lost touch with some people that I’ve been friends with for years.Secondly, I don’t even do anything with several hobbies I had before. I have run a local history website (that I haven’t updated in a year) since 2001. This is the first time I’ve let that slip in seven years. I also have a history exhibition out at Field Day of the Past that I’ve done since 2002. This was the first year I didn’t set up my display because it’s a huge undertaking (the displays take up the whole tailgate area of my Xterra from floor to ceiling) and I just didn’t have the energy after the week I had.
There are plenty more things I haven’t had the time or extra energy to do, like writing, doing some graphic design and video projects I’ve wanted to, and on top of everything else I’m not going to let my school work suffer anymore either. To quote the lyrics of a song by Bruce Hornsby, next semester “there’s gonna be some changes made.” I’ve got to balance things out more. I’m amazed I’ve even kept my blog updated on an (almost) daily basis.
Any of you that know me pretty well know I run a local history website (I’m in the process of revamping it now, and it looks so bad at the moment I don’t even want to link it right now). I’ve watched the development of Short Pump from a tiny rural village eleven years ago to the sprawling suburban hot spot it now is. Sure, it’s great that those of us who live in the Far West End have pretty much everything we could want and need within a few miles of us, but it’s just gotten ridiculous lately.
Take for example the shopping center that’s opening up this weekend, Short Pump Station. It’s the one that was just completed across the street from Target. Next time you’re driving down West Broad Street, take a look at it. Notice how there’s ten or fifteen retail spaces for lease in the center, and only four are leased as of now. Why are developers building these shopping centers when there is no demand? Obviously, as the old saying goes, if you build it, they will come. Yes, this is true, they will eventually fill up the entire place with tenants, but look at what’s there thus far:
1) A Verizon Wireless store. Are you kidding me? There are five (count them… FOUR) Verizon stores within a one mile radius of this new store! There’s one in Best Buy, Circuit City, Short Pump Town Center, and on Broad next to For Eyes. I can somewhat understand when Starbucks puts a store on every corner, but a cell phone store? That’s insane.
2) Petco. I like animals… shoot, I have four cats. But what’s the need? I know we have a PetSmart right down the road, so it’s only natural that their competition would move in, but seriously.
3) Five Below. I’ve been to one of these stores up at Patomac Mills in Northern Virginia. What is it, you ask? Basically take the Made-In-China crap they sell at Dollar Tree and add a few “nicer” items, up to five bucks. There you have it. It’s geared towards teens and young people on a tight budget, but it’s still crap. We already have a Wal-Mart across the street for that.
The empty shopping center trend continues as you go west of the mall to Towne Center West, which opened this summer (pictured at top, left).
Next to Short Pump Station, West Broad Village is now under construction. Despite “planned traffic improvements” that Henrico County talks about all the time, it’s still going to be even more of a nightmare than ever to drive through Short Pump when it’s all completed.
But rest assured, all you Verizon customers, you’ll always have five cell phone stores within walking distance of each other that you can stroll between when you get stuck in gridlock traffic for three hours and abandon your car on Broad Street.
Wow… I haven’t updated in almost two weeks. A lot’s gone on in that time. Let me get everyone up to speed on what’s happening in my life, with a few quick blurbs.First off, last weekend I went to Field Day of the Past out in Goochland. I’m usually an exhibitor out there, taking my history exhibition out there, displaying old pictures of Short Pump and the three-dimensional model and whatnot. I decided to take this year off, however. But I still went out to see everything, and one of the highlights of my visit was getting to see the choir of Springfield Baptist Church perform at their relocated church building on the show grounds. In a joint effort initiated by myself and others in the Henrico Historical Society and officials with the County, Springfield Baptist Church was moved from its original home on Brookriver Drive behind Best Buy in Short Pump, to the Field Day grounds in Goochland. It was really moving to see how incredibly happy the congregation was that their circa 1880 church was saved from the bulldozer and preserved for everyone to see and enjoy. I filmed the entire move from a pickup truck directly in front of the church as it made its way westward on Broad Street. I’ll edit and post it up here someday soon. Here’s a video of the choir’s performance that I filmed last weekend:[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCfeY3coHig]Speaking of music, I also went to the Jon McLaughlin concert at the Canal Club with Megan and Tori. It was amazing. Jon was awesome, but I’ve gotta say, Sara Bareilles stole the show… well at least in my mind. She is absolutely incredible. Her vocal style, unique music composition, and overall aura were just mind-boggling. She is so extremely talented. Here’s a video I took of her song “Long Song” (for the rest of the videos, visit my YouTube site… just click on the link in the video):[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqKwxqNxNX4]This past weekend has been a mixed bag, I guess you could say. It started out great. Friday night, Tori and I worked on video production stuff at church, then went to dinner at Max & Erma’s. It was great to just chill out for once and talk about life. Yesterday, I went to Casa Grande with two of my friends from high school, Sarah and Becca. It was awesome getting to catch up with them because we never really see each other anymore. They’re always a lot of fun to hang with and definitely keep me laughing. The fun kind of got cut short, though, because somehow, while at lunch, I was rewetting the contact lens in my left eye when all of a sudden it felt like I had an eyelash in my eye, or something of that nature. I got up and went to the bathroom to see if I could get my contact out and see what was in my eye. I couldn’t see anything. I even got Becca to look and still nothing. So after lunch, we went cruising in my mom’s new convertible (She just got a new Toyota Solara… it’s pretty fun to drive!). It was a lot of fun, but my eye got increasingly worse.By the time I got back home after dropping them off, I could barely keep it open anymore. So as I laid on the sofa with a cold compress, my best friend Jen called me and asked what time we were going to dinner (we had planned to a couple of days ago). I explained the situation, and said I should probably go to Patient First (the only medical place open on a Saturday afternoon) and get it checked out. At this point it was hurting whether or not I had it open or closed. So she offered to drive me up there, and we had to have been in there an hour or more. It turns out I scratched my cornea. I know that sounds really bad, and I thought it was, but it actually heals within 24 hours in most situations, and now, about 36 hours afterwards, I’m feeling a lot better. But last night, I was in a lot of pain and kept the eye shut for the most part. Jen took really good care of me, though. Not only did she wait patiently with me at Patient First, but (after we grabbed dinner at Tara Thai) she drove me to get my prescription, back home to get the South Side campus hard drive to take to church, and to Blockbuster to get a movie, which we took back and Jen pretty much just watched, seeing that I really felt more like closing my eyes. But I just wanted to post this to let her know just how much taking care of me like that means to me and how much I love her.So it’s been an eventful couple of weeks. I’m chilling out for a little while in preparation for another busy week ahead. I’ve got a lot more to post on, coming in the next couple of days!