The Blue Ridge Heritage Project is an effort to have replica chimneys built in eight counties to memorialize the people who were removed from their homes to allow for the creation of the Shenandoah National Park, project founder Bill Henry told the Crozet Community Advisory Committee at its February 17 meeting.
The project is looking for a location in Albemarle to build a stone chimney that will have a plaque mounted on it bearing the names of the Albemarle families who had to give to up their homes.
A chimney was chosen as the memorial symbol because when families left their houses, the dwellings were burned down so that they could not be returned to. Only chimneys would survive and some can still be found in the park.
“The process of acquiring the land was not done very delicately,” Henry said. “Some people were bodily removed from their homes. Some moved willingly. The national park has a two-pronged mandate, to preserve both natural and cultural history.
“The park is supportive of connecting with the relatives [of the displaced]. This wound is not far below the surface and these people have not been recognized. I stood up about it for the first time in 2012,” said Henry, who lives in Dyke. He formed the BRHP as a non-profit and the first monument was finished in November in Criglersville in Madison County. That site cost about $10,000 to complete.
“We want it to be a grassroots project. No bureaucracy,” said Henry.
The project will host a public meeting at Crozet Library March 16 at 1 p.m.
“It can happen quickly and it will be somewhere here in Crozet.” Henry said that a site in Byrom Park in Browns Cove might be a possibility.