This Memorial Will Be Set in Stone

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By Sally James

Master stonemason Darryl Whidby and his wife Jackie of Madison County endure humid 90 degree days as they begin to bring these old chimney stones to life again.  Darryl’s work is, indeed, a labor of love as he honors his own family members who lived in the mountains. (Photo by Larry Lamb)
Master stonemason Darryl Whidby and his wife Jackie of Madison County endure humid 90 degree days as they begin to bring these old chimney stones to life again. Darryl’s work is, indeed, a labor of love as he honors his own family members who lived in the mountains. (Photo by Larry Lamb)

From what appeared to be only a pile of rubble heaped on a hillside in a quiet corner of Albemarle County, a magnificent chimney is emerging through the hands of a master stonemason.

Darryl Whidby is working his craft with the rock from an old chimney brought from a homestead not far from the site of its new home: Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve Park.

The Albemarle Blue Ridge Heritage Project (ABRHP)—one of eight grassroots sub-groups of the umbrella organization Blue Ridge Heritage Project—has begun construction of Phase I of the Albemarle memorial to remember and honor the families who were displaced by the creation of Shenandoah National Park. Each of the eight counties surrounding the park will erect a chimney—a symbol of the homes and communities that filled the mountains before the Park. Bronze plaques with the surnames of the families displaced within each county will be mounted on their respective chimneys.

Phase II will consist of an open-sided post and beam shelter designed to represent a mountain cabin. There will be informational panels explaining the life and culture of that area of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there will be opportunities for future presentations to share the mountain music, traditions and ways of life.

ABRHP is actively fundraising to make Phase II a reality. (The funds needed for Phase I have been collected to date.) To that end, ABRHP is planning a wonderful and fun evening at The Lodge at Old Trail’s Third Thursday event on Sept 15.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., the evening will kick off with mountain music by Kim and Jimbo Cary, and light refreshments. Over 40 items for a silent auction will be on display at that time, and after a brief presentation with stories about the mountain people and an explanation of the memorial being built, folks will be able to bid fast and furiously until 6:55 when the winners will be announced.

The items offered for auction have been donated from many generous businesses and individuals from our community. Gifts and gift certificates for products and services come from our neighbors at Blue Ridge Builders Supply, Crozet Eye Care, Crozet Running, Great Valu Grocery, Green House Coffee, Innovations for Hair, Modern Barber Shop, MudHouse Coffee, Piedmont Store, Sal’s Pizza, Salon R, Stinson Vineyard, and more. There will be several books by local authors and software relating to history and genealogy; some antique glassware and a scythe; paintings and hand-crafted items from local artisans (D. Masters Kriebel: hand-woven scarves; Kelsey S. Watson: hand-crafted hunting knife; paintings/prints by Dick Carpenter, Larry Lamb, Tim Wright; four pieces of Native American jewelry); five hand looms; a case of local wine; a market cart; even a cello lesson, a load of Currituck Compost, and a ride in The Lodge’s famous Blue Truck! Check out the ABRHP Facebook page and website for more items, and come see for yourself!

Watching the chimney rise up out of the ground is a concrete—really!—reminder of how our present-day community can come together to honor those who came before us.  Certainly some of the best aspects of our present Crozet community exist because of those ancestral neighbors and families, and we hope to honor them well.

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