Author: RyanSmith

  • Disappearing the enslaved

    How do tens of thousands of people disappear? Authorities in the city of Richmond have honed this process. Today, the second African Burial Ground, also known as the Potters field, is again being edged out. The old graveyard began at the northeastern corner of Fifth and Hospital Streets in 1816, and it received the bodies…

  • East End goes the way things go

    Today I attended the court hearing which ruled on the Enrichmond Foundation‘s request to acquire East End Cemetery. It was a depressing spectacle. We got here because the directors of the East End Burial Association all died out, and its corporation was dissolved by the state, leaving its assets (the 16-acre historic cemetery) in legal…

  • New website from Friends of East End

    The Friends of East End Cemetery have outdone themselves with their recent unveiling of a gorgeous and information-rich website. Jolene Smith worked hard on it as well. It is by far our best public resource on the cemetery to date. I am sure I will be using it again and again with our students. Go…

  • The penitentiary burials

    Local archaeologist Ellen Chapman recently completed a useful dissertation at the College of William and Mary titled “Buried Beneath the River City: Investigating an Archaeological Landscape and its Community Value in Richmond, Virginia.” In it, she detailed the archaeological recovery of a number of burials at the state penitentiary grounds. The penitentiary was built in 1800…

  • Emek Sholom

    On November 11, 2018, organizers at Emek Sholom Holocaust Cemetery in Forest Lawn held their annual commemoration, this year marking the 80th anniversary of Germany’s Kristallnacht. Emek Sholom translates as “valley of peace,” and the memorial was unveiled in 1955 by relatives of those who perished during the Holocaust. It is among the earliest such memorials…

  • Ground penetrating radar at St. John’s churchyard

    Many folks in the preservation community are talking about the possibilities presented by ground penetrating radar, a relatively new technology in which pulses or waves are manipulated by a computer to reveal belowground shapes or features. This week, the St. John’s Church Foundation brought in Brian Whiting, a geologist on the faculty of Seattle University,…

  • The Charlottesville anniversary and the Monument Avenue commission report

    We approach the one-year anniversary of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville which left one dead, over thirty injured, and a nation scarred and seared. The purported prompt to the rally was the city’s decision to remove its Robert E. Lee equestrian monument (erected in 1924) from a public park. The horrifying events of…

  • Shockoe Cemetery’s stewards

    It was a common story – a vandal recently ransacked Shockoe Hill Cemetery, among several others, and stole a number of items — gravestones, interpretive markers, and military insignia. The story took a turn, however, when the Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery noticed that the items were missing in mid-June 2018. The Friends reviewed their…

  • Enrichmond, East End, and Style Weekly

    I got some news recently that I am passing along. The attempt by the Enrichmond Foundation to acquire Richmond’s East End Cemetery has moved along significantly. In legal terms, this notable African American cemetery is abandoned property, as its trustees have all died or disappeared. A legal advertisement of the court proceedings to transfer the property to…

  • Shockoe Hill Cemetery tour, 5/20

    On Sunday, May 20, I will be leading a tour of Shockoe Hill Cemetery at 2:00pm, showcasing the many excellent student projects from this past Spring semester. We have new revelations on Nannie Caskie (the big angel monument) as well as many other stories in the cemetery. Join us there?