Of all the misinformation and unattributed innuendo contained in your recent article, “Civic War” (Cover Story, March 4), the notion that Historic Richmond Foundation has lost its way is perhaps the most foolish. As the executive director of HRF, I can assure you that this organization plays an active, vital role in the preservation field.
A few of HRF's recent activities include its Year of Bottomley series of lectures and tours highlighting Richmond's pre-eminent architect of the 20th century. We work with the city to buy buildings in blight areas in danger of imminent demolition. Two of our preservationists, working with a Standards of Learning expert, have prepared a set of DVDs and lesson plans for teachers on Richmond history, architecture, and preservation. The foundation continues the stabilization efforts to the 1720 Patteson Schutte house and actively monitors and catalogs the hundreds of protective easements and other design controls that HRF maintains on historic structures throughout the city.
HRF has not turned down money from any of the sources alluded to in the article. Such a tactic would be nonsensical. Donations are the life's blood of HRF's ability to carry on our mission to “champion the preservation of [Richmond's] unique historic character …” through preservation, education and advocacy. The statement from a former HRF staffer that we were not involved in saving the Hotel Richmond is equally incongruous. HRF actively engaged with the Department of Historic Resources in an attempt to save both the Murphy Hotel and Hotel Richmond, contributing thousands of dollars to a study that directly lead to the state's decision not to raze the Hotel Richmond.
Protest rallies and negative articles may be one measure of success; however, the quiet and reasoned engagement with developers, homeowners and governmental agencies often is more effective to protect at-risk properties. A wonderful example of our philosophy is the recent opening of the most popular music venue in the city — the National. We held this building for 20 years, at great expense, until the right buyer was found. We did not save the National for ourselves; we saved it for you, your neighbor and the person who is deciding whether or not to move to this city for a job. We saved it because it is a unique Richmond treasure.
Through its educational programs, preservation resources, partnerships with myriad organizations in the metropolitan area, and its positive approach to preservation, Historic Richmond Foundation continues its tradition of saving Richmond's rich architectural history for future generations.
Mary Jane Hogue
Historic Richmond Foundation