Architectural historian tells story of ‘Lost Virginia’

by Charlie Koenig - Posted on Mar 02, 2011 - 04:48 PM

Photo: Architectural historian Calder Loth chats with Will Grant, Reed McGehee and Jenny Powell, from left, following Saturday’s talk on “Lost Virginia” at Ware Episcopal Church. More than 100 people attended the Rosewell Foundation fundraiser. Photo by Charlie Koenig.

Architectural historian Calder Loth chats with Will Grant, Reed McGehee and Jenny Powell, from left, following Saturday’s talk on “Lost Virginia” at Ware Episcopal Church. More than 100 people attended the Rosewell Foundation fundraiser. Photo by Charlie Koenig.

"Lost Virginia: Vanished Landmarks of the Old Dominion" was an all-too-familiar subject for organizers of Saturday night’s lecture at Ware Episcopal Church.

But the members of the Rosewell Foundation learned that they were fortunate in at least having a set of preserved ruins, as architectural historian Calder Loth detailed just a portion of the countless historic Virginia homes and other structures where little remains other than the photographs he has collected in his 40+ years with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

Loth, co-author of "Lost Virginia," has worked for the Department of Historic Resources since its establishment in 1968. Although now "technically retired," he continues to play an active role in a number of organizations dedicated to preserving the state’s architectural heritage, according to Rosewell Foundation board president Jeff Klee, who introduced him at the talk. More than 100 people filled Ware Episcopal Church to hear the lecture.

In his time cataloguing Virginia’s man-made treasures, Loth has seen buildings succumb to fire, neglect, flood and, in the case of aging structures in more urban settings, the developer’s bulldozer.

"It’s a depressing subject," Loth said of the theme both of his book and of Saturday’s slide show presentation, "Lost Virginia." The book contains some 300 mansions, courthouses, churches, mills, etc., that are no longer standing, and Loth said that he could have easily written four or five volumes.