New book cel­e­brates cen­ten­nial of Ch­ester­field Court­house

Event planned for Oct. 26 in­cludes cen­ten­nial recog­ni­tion of Fort Lee

The Progress-Index - - LOCAL - Con­trib­uted Re­port

CH­ESTER­FIELD — This fall, Ch­ester­field County will cel­e­brate the 100th an­niver­sary of the his­toric 1917 Court­house. A spe­cial event is planned for Thurs­day, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. to com­mem­o­rate the cen­ten­nial an­niver­sary of the day the corner­stone for the court­house was laid in 1917. The court­house sits on the foot­print of the orig­i­nal 1749 colo­nial court­house, which was de­mol­ished in 1916 and re­placed with the cur­rent court­house.

As part of the com­mem­o­ra­tion, the Ch­ester­field His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety of Vir­ginia, CHSV, has writ­ten a book­let, en­ti­tled “Two Cen­ten­ni­als – A Com­mem­o­ra­tive His­tory of the 1917 Court­house and World War I in Ch­ester­field County, VA”. His­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion was re­searched and com­piled by Ge­orge “Buddy” Cran­ford, and edited by Lies van der Lin­den-Brusse, both vol­un­teers with the CHSV.

Cran­ford, who re­tired from the U.S. Air Force in 1981 and cur­rently serves as a board mem­ber of the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety, un­der­took writ­ing the book to tell the com­mu­nity about the his­tory of the court­house and about the men from Ch­ester­field County who were drafted into WWI.

Cran­ford said that the 1749 court­house bell is the old­est his­toric ar­ti­fact in Ch­ester­field County. The bell hung in the cupola over the court­house un­til it was re­moved last year. It was re­stored and pre­served this spring and will be on per­ma­nent dis­play in the county mu­seum be­gin­ning Oct. 26. A re­place­ment bell, made in 1860, has been in­stalled in the court­house cupola.

“The court­house was a sig­nif­i­cant lo­ca­tion for the WWI draftees,” Cran­ford added. “They camped around it while they were wait­ing for trans­port to U.S. Army train­ing camps. I feel so for­tu­nate to be able to tell their story in the book, and also on Oct. 26, when we will be part­ner­ing with sol­diers from Fort Lee to re­mem­ber the be­gin­ning of WWI.”

Fort Lee also is cel­e­brat­ing its 100th an­niver­sary. Camp Lee was es­tab­lished in 1917 as one of the 32 new can­ton­ments to train the bur­geon­ing Army, fol­low­ing the dec­la­ra­tion of war on April 6, 1917. In June, the Fort Lee Cen­ten­nial Ex­hibit, “Mo­bi­liz­ing for War”, opened in Ch­ester­field County’s his­toric 1892 jail. This ex­hibit com­mem­o­rates the es­tab­lish­ment of Camp Lee, later Fort Lee, as part of the mo­bi­liza­tion efforts of the U.S. Army for World War I, and its cur­rent sta­tus as the cen­ter of lo­gis­ti­cal sus­tain­ment for

“The court­house was a sig­nif­i­cant lo­ca­tion for the WWI draftees, They camped around it while they were wait­ing for trans­port to U.S. Army train­ing camps. I feel so for­tu­nate to be able to tell their story in the book, and also on Oct. 26, when we will be part­ner­ing with sol­diers from Fort Lee to re­mem­ber the be­gin­ning of WWI.” —Ge­orge “Buddy” Cran­ford,

the U.S. Army. The Fort Lee ex­hibit will be on dis­play un­til Novem­ber 2018.

Copies of the book are be­ing sold for $10 at the Ch­ester­field His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety’s head­quar­ters, lo­cated in his­toric Trin­ity Church, 10111 Iron Bridge Road, Ch­ester­field, on­line at www.chester­field­his­tory.com or by call­ing 804-796-7121. All pro­ceeds from the sale of the book­let will go to the 2017-2018 Cen­ten­nial Com­mit­tee, which has been re­spon­si­ble for plan­ning for the com­mem­o­ra­tive event, restor­ing the his­toric 1749 bell and ac­quir­ing the re­place­ment bell, for the in­ter­pre­ta­tive sig­nage, the mu­seum ex­hibit and more.

The His­toric 1917 Court­house is a Ch­ester­field County His­toric Land­mark, a Vir­ginia His­toric Land­mark and on the Na­tional Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places. It is lo­cated at 10011 Iron Bridge Road, Ch­ester­field.

[CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO]

The his­toric 1917 Court­house in Ch­ester­field County stands on the grounds of the orig­i­nal 1749 court­house. The cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion of the corner­stone be­ing laid is set for Oct. 26 at 2 p.m.

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