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February 2021 Archives


VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (Feb. 11, 2021) – In celebration of Black History Month, the Virginia Beach History Museums, Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Alumni and Friends Association (PACTS/UKHS) and Norfolk State University (NSU) are hosting “Lift Me On Up: The Power and Influence of the Black Family,” a FREE virtual panel discussion on February 24 from noon-1:30pm.

Incorporating the 2021 Black History Month theme, “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” this 90-minute panel discussion will focus on the history, politics, and social factors affecting African Americans from a family perspective, and opportunities for positive change. Panelists include:

  • Dr. Colita Fairfax, Professor of Social Work and Honors College Senior Faculty Fellow, Norfolk State University
  • Dr. Robert Perkins, Professor of Sociology, Norfolk State University
  • Mrs. Margie Wilson Coefield, Community Leader and graduate of Union Kempsville High School
  • Mrs. Edna Hawkins-Hendrix, Community Leader and graduate of Union Kempsville High School
  • Ms. Barbara Morgan Robinson, Community Leader, graduate of Princess Anne County Training School and former teacher at Union Kempsville High School
  • Mrs. Joyce Davis Williams, Community Leader
  • Dr. Admon Alexander, Community Relations, Virginia Beach City Public Schools

“This crucial conversation will highlight key themes of identity, representation and diversity,” said Emily Labows, Director of the Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department. “Through this panel discussion, we look forward to bringing together a diverse array of community leaders, historians and advocates to share and explore these important stories.”

The panel, to be moderated by Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander, Dean of the NSU College of Liberal Arts, will cover a broad base of discussion points pertaining to the history and culture of the African American community. Panelists will give historical context, tracing the history of the African American family through the pre- and post-Reconstruction era, segregation, the Civil Rights movement and up until modern times.

“Lift Me on Up: The Power and Influence of the Black Family” seeks to begin an important dialogue about the City of Virginia Beach’s African American communities,” said Dr. Newby-Alexander. “These communities were a bulwark against the most egregious municipal policies that marginalized communities, deprived them of public funds and resources, and limited their political voices. Yet, the power and resilience of the Black family was at the heart of how these communities thrived as centers of businesses and educational excellence.”

Lift Me On Up: The Power and Influence of the Black Family” will stream via Zoom on Wednesday, February 24 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. The panel will be an open discussion format and will allow for public questions or contributions with assistance from the moderator. Visit NSU’s website for more details and to register for the event.

If you have any questions about the panel discussion, please email Hillary Plate, Cultural Programming and Grants Coordinator for the Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department, at


The Cultural Affairs Department engages residents and visitors through meaningful arts, heritage, and cultural experiences to connect and strengthen communities. The Department assists and directs the Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission, coordinates the City's Public Art Program, oversees Virginia Beach History Museums, provides contract management for the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, serves as the liaison with Virginia MOCA and the ViBe Creative District, and serves as a resource to local arts and humanities organizations.


Norfolk State University (NSU) is a comprehensive urban public university committed to offering rigorous academic programs, and a supportive culturally diverse learning environment. As one of the most affordable four-year public institutions of higher education in Virginia, NSU provides opportunity and access to a globally competitive education, preparing students to compete in the 21st century workforce. Our nationally, and internationally, recognized faculty utilize a student-centered teaching philosophy that correlates to student success in unique areas of study such as Cybersecurity, CyberPsychology, Entrepreneurship and a nationally acclaimed Theatre/Drama program.


Dear Museums Friends,

I’m excited to be joining the team as the new History Museums Director! My husband and I just relocated from outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, where I worked as the Executive Director at Historic Latta Plantation. I’ve always had a passion for early American history and historic houses, so joining the Cultural Affairs Department compliments both my passion for preserving history and helping to tell local community stories. I am amazed at the incredible work the Virginia Beach History Museums team has been undertaking to help preserve Virginia Beach’s history, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to get to know you — our donors, volunteers, partners and neighbors.

I appreciate your continued support of the Virginia Beach History Museums and look forward to sharing our stories and news with you.

Here are the latest updates on both of our exciting restoration projects:

Francis Land House Restoration Updates:

• The Contractor and City Personnel worked with the Council of Garden Clubs to develop a plan for the relocation of the boxwoods surrounding the Francis Land House. This work has been completed and the boxwoods are now located near the back of the property near Kings Grant Road.

• The Commonwealth Preservation Group (CPG) performed moisture monitoring in the basement and has provided a report of their findings. Recommendations have been made that require the approval of the State Historic Preservation Office. A letter seeking this approval has been sent to this Office and a response is expected the week of February 1, 2021. Work on other areas within and outside the house can continue.

• The brick flooring has been removed in the basement. Upon removal, the Contractor found an abandoned concrete duct that was used by a heating system. We are currently determining what needs to occur with this duct system.

Lynnhaven House Restoration Updates

• Architectural work has been completed as of January 22. After completion, a walk-through was conducted to determine if any items need to be performed prior to a close-out of the project. Any close-out tasks should be completed by February 28.

• New heating equipment has been installed and is conditioning the house. Digital controls for the heating equipment are being fine-tuned. New ductwork and supply/return air grilles, HVAC wiring, floor joists and electrical and lighting fixtures have been installed.

• City personnel completed a walk-through of the house to identify any outstanding tasks that need to be completed. Most items involve clean up, HVAC controls, air balance of the HVAC system, and some minor ductwork changes. The Contractor is to have these items corrected by February 28, 2021.

Other Museums Updates

• Since our last update, staff has published new episodes of the “Beyond the Passage” podcast, including a highlight of historical holiday traditions and a dive into the world of museum collection maintenance.

• We worked with the City of Virginia Beach Communications Office to complete full virtual tour of the Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Museum so the community can learn about the museum while the Renaissance Academy is closed to the public. We revealed the video on February 1, in honor of the start of Black History Month.

• Alex Dye, Media and Communications Coordinator for Cultural Affairs, did an introductory interview with Annmarie Reiley-Kay, our new Museum Director. Get to know more about her background here.

• Our staff continues to re-shape educational programming and is in the process of creating new seasonal programming. Stay tuned for more exciting news! For more updates from the Virginia Beach History Museums, please sign up for our monthly e-newsletter at the Virginia Beach History Museums website.

Once again, thank you for your continued support and interest in preserving and enhancing the Virginia Beach History Museums. Please do not hesitate to email me at if you have any questions, and we will keep you posted on the next steps in the restoration processes.

My Best Wishes,

Annmarie Reiley-Kay

Director, Virginia Beach History Museums

Click for a PDF version of this update

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