9.20.2019 – Jamestown Rededication Trip
In February 2019, CDA announced a Society-wide initiative to raise funds for the restoration of the CDA entrance gates at Jamestown Island. These gates, originally erected in 1907 for the 300th anniversary of colonist’s first arrival to Jamestown in 1607, were in need of restoration after 111 years of being exposed to the elements. The restoration project was undertaken this year to commemorate another important anniversary – the 400th anniversary of the first representational General Assembly by colonists.
CDA met its objective to raise the $38,500 needed for the project, and the restoration work was completed this year. Michael Lavin, Director of Collections & Conservation of Jamestown Rediscovery, worked with world-renowned Monuments Conservator Jonathan Appell and Expert Custom Welder Scott Hederer to complete the conservation efforts. Among the necessary repairs, the team cleaned and repointed the brickwork, replaced missing and corroded ironwork elements , and restored the hinges of the gates, making them fully functional again. The “Gateway to History” is also once again gilded with the Society’s insignia and Latin motto.
To commemorate this important demonstration of the Society’s commitment to history and preservation, all Dames were invited to attend a series of events in Virginia in honor of the gates’ restoration. The trip included events in both Jamestown and Richmond over the course of two days. The response from the Society was enthusiastic and attendance far exceeded expectations, with over 130 Dames and guests representing twenty-three chapters.
On Wednesday, September 18th, a chartered bus departed from the historic Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, where many Dames stayed, to travel to Jamestown. Upon arrival, the Dames assembled in the Jamestown Memorial Church for a special ceremony.
Program participants included President General Brantley Knowles; CDA Gates Campaign Chairman Jocelyn Lance; Dr. James Horn, President and Chief Officer of Jamestown Rediscovery; Dr. William Kelso, Director Emeritus of Archaeology at Jamestown Rediscovery; and Michael Lavin, Director of Collections for Jamestown Rediscovery.
“All of us here at Jamestown Rediscovery sincerely appreciate the generous support from the CDA, without which this restoration would not have been possible,” remarked Dr. James Horn. “We are delighted to welcome the Dames to Jamestown today for the gate rededication and are truly grateful for this enduring friendship.”
President General Brantley Knowles reflected on the speech given in 1907 by then-CDA President General Coralie Livingston Gardiner at the original dedication ceremony of the gates. She also commented on the significance of completing the restoration project in 2019: “Today we commemorate the American Evolution from 1619 to 2019 – the 400th anniversary of the First Representational General Assembly; the arrival of ships of women; and the arrival of the first Africans to Jamestown. The restoration of the gates is our CDA gift to acknowledge these momentous events in our history.”
At the end of the ceremony, Michael Lavin presented a plaque with one of the original ironwork pieces to Brantley Knowles and Jocelyn Lance. “The CDA’s generosity means so much to us,” said Lavin. “Not only has it enabled us to give the gates much-needed attention, but it has also provided us with a wonderful opportunity to share the project with visiting public.”
Dames then exited the Memorial Church and went to the CDA Memorial Gates for a wreath-laying ceremony. A wreath representing CDA was first laid in place by descendants of the Hon. James Alston Cabell, who was President of The Association for the Preservation of VA Antiquities (APVA) in 1907 when gates were first presented. One of Cabell’s great-granddaughters present was Jane Quinn, member of CDA Chapter XXII-Bloomfield Hills, MI.
Jocelyn Lance, Gates Campaign Chairman and President of Chapter XXIII-VA laid a wreath in memory of the CDA colonial ancestors that were at Jamestown. Posters listing the Jamestown ancestors of attending Dames were placed next to the wreaths, and after the ceremony Dames enjoyed viewing the names and connecting with fellow “cousins.”
CDA leadership then presented a large check for $38,500 (with check #1890 to represent the year CDA was founded) to Preservation Virginia for the gates’ restoration work.
After the ceremony, attendees were offered guided tours of the ongoing archaeological work occurring on the Jamestown site and also met with curators at exhibits in the Archaearium. There was a catered lunch on the grounds overlooking the James River, and afterwards Dames were free to wander and enjoy the beauty of the location.
At the end of the afternoon, attendees received beautiful hard cover book favors that were presented on behalf of Preservation Virginia and a souvenir copy of the Hon. James Alston Cabell’s 1907 remarks at the dedication of the gates. The Dames then returned by bus to Richmond in the late afternoon to get ready for the evening’s event, a special gala dinner.
The gala event was held at the exclusive and historic Commonwealth Club in Richmond, which was founded in 1890 by Confederate Officers. The present building designed by Carriere & Hastings was finished in 1891 as a tangible symbol of the “New South.” A cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception began on the outdoor terrace at 6:30 pm, followed by an elegant seated dinner at 7:30 pm. Dr. James Horn, author of the award winning book, 1619: Jamestown and the Forging of American Democracy, delivered the keynote speech.
The following day, Thursday, September 19th, Dames embarked on a tour of historic sites around Richmond. The first stop was the John Marshall House, where Elizabeth Kostelny, President and CEO of Preservation Virginia, greeted attendees. The house was built in 1790 by John Marshall, who is best known as the longest-serving US Supreme Court Chief Justice. Dames enjoyed a tour and a special exhibit on Washington and Marshall.
The second stop of the tour was at the Monumental Church, which was built in 1812 by architect Robert Mills to commemorate 72 Richmonders who died in the Dec. 26, 1811, theatre fire – the first major urban disaster of the young Republic. Cyane Crump, Executive Director of the Historic Richmond Foundation, regaled attendees with a history of the fire, the building, and the extensive renovations to restore the interior back to its early 19th century appearance. Afterwards, attendees were invited to walk around the church and pay a visit to the underground vault.
The third stop of the day was the Wilton House Museum, built around 1753 by the Randolph family and now run by NSCDA-VA. Attendees first enjoyed a lunch at Wilton’s Dependency, followed by a tour of the house.
The final stop of the day was Agecroft Hall, originally built by 1485 in England, and moved to Richmond by TC Williams in the 1920s. The Tudor home is furnished with furniture from the 1400-1600s. Dames and their guests enjoyed tours of the many rooms and a visit to the beautiful English-style gardens on the grounds before heading back to the Jefferson Hotel.
The Jamestown/Richmond trip was a memorable experience, further made enjoyable thanks to lovely weather and a cheerful group of attendees. The events not only served as a special celebration of the Society’s commitment to historic preservation, but also cemented the bonds of friendship that continue to bring Dames together from around the world.
For more on the Jamestown/Richmond trip, read the President General’s Summer 2019 Message here.