Vol. 33 Iss. 19 - May 15, 2017




Importance of the Issue

Building upon the celebration of the 50th anniversary in 2016 of both the National Historic Preservation Act and the establishment of the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission, the predecessor organization to the Department of Historic Resources, the Commonwealth has the opportunity and responsibility to renew and strengthen its commitment to historic preservation.

The Commonwealth's real estate holdings include a rich and diverse collection of properties with historic, architectural, archaeological, and cultural significance—some of national and international importance. The economic and social vitality of communities throughout Virginia is enhanced by the maintenance and renovation of these and other historic resources. Preserving our past is a cornerstone for Virginia's New Economy. Further, reinvestment in the Commonwealth's historic buildings promotes environmental sustainability and energy efficiency, resulting in less waste and lower expenditures of taxpayer dollars.

Meanwhile, new threats to historic resources are emerging. Climate change and impacts such as sea level rise pose significant threats to historic resources, and now is the perfect time for state agencies to assess and address these threats.

Numerous laws and regulations already direct state agencies to consider impacts to historic properties owned by the Commonwealth and to consult with the Department of Historic Resources. This includes provisions dealing with major state projects (§ 10.1-1188), the sale or lease of surplus state property (§ 2.2-1156), and proposed demolition of state property (§ 2.2-2402). Moreover, state agencies are required by the Biennial Budget Bill (§ 4-4.01 (q)) to consider the impact of projects that may directly affect state-owned properties listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR). It is important that we reaffirm these provisions and act to ensure adequate stewardship of our historic resources.

The Department of Historic Resources is directed by law (§ 10.1-2202.3) to prepare a biennial report on the stewardship of state-owned property that identifies significant state-owned properties that are eligible for listing on the VLR but are not yet listed landmarks. The 2015 report lists 13 state-owned properties, including nine associated with institutions of higher education that could and should be listed. Four of those significant properties have since been listed, but a higher success rate would reflect the level of commitment earned by our Commonwealth's storied past.

Accordingly, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor under Article V of the Constitution of Virginia and under the laws of the Commonwealth, and in order to effectuate Article XI, section 1 of Virginia's Constitution and numerous laws of the Commonwealth, I hereby direct all executive branch agencies, authorities, departments, and all institutions of higher education to work with the Director of the Department of Historic Resources to recognize the value of their historic resources, to take steps to preserve and utilize these resources, and to maintain the legacy entrusted to them by the public.

Scope and Guidance

In carrying out this order, the Department of Historic Resources (DHR) shall continue to provide leadership, technical expertise, and guidance to help state agencies, authorities, departments, and institutions of higher learning improve stewardship of historic properties they own or control. In addition, state agencies, authorities, departments, and institutions of higher learning are encouraged to, in coordination with the Director of DHR:

(1) Pursue listing on the VLR historically significant properties they own or control, including conducting the necessary research and analysis to prepare VLR nominations, so that these resources can be recorded for the education and enjoyment of all. This shall be an ongoing responsibility, and special effort should be made to add certain types of properties that are under-represented on the VLR, especially those related to institutions of higher education and the history of African Americans, Virginia Indians, and women;

(2) Celebrate the historic sites in their ownership by using the state's highway marker program, which helps educate the public about Virginia's rich history and promotes tourism in the Commonwealth;

(3) Prepare treatment plans, historic structure reports, and preservation master plans to guide stewardship of historic properties they own or control, and integrate the management of such properties into strategic and master plans, in order to ensure proper maintenance, rehabilitation, and active use of properties listed on or eligible for listing on the VLR;

(4) Explore long term leases and resident curator agreements for vacant state-owned historic buildings or other structures, thereby leveraging private investment in the rehabilitation and maintenance of under-utilized resources;

(5) Proactively pursue energy efficiency measures and address deferred maintenance backlogs as outlined in Executive Order No. 31, with the goal of preservation and conservation.

Effective Date of the Executive Order

This Executive Order shall be effective upon its signing and shall remain in force and effect until rescinded by further executive order.

Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia, this 28th day of April, 20l7.

/s/ Terence R. McAuliffe