Currently on view in the Capitol Visitor Center through December 2019, “The Great Charter and the General Assembly: Founding a Legacy in 1619” is an exhibition that commemorates the 400th anniversary of the Virginia General Assembly. In 1619 the Virginia Company of London sent a set of instructions to the Virginia Colony’s newly appointed governor, Sir George Yeardley (1587-1627).
These instructions came to be known as the “Great Charter” and resulted in sweeping reforms in the management of the colony. Among the most significant was the establishment of an elected assembly. This assembly first met at Jamestown, Virginia in the summer of 1619. This pivotal event in American history marks the founding of what is today the Virginia General Assembly, the oldest representative legislative assembly in the New World. Virginia’s General Assembly has been meeting annually ever since that first historic gathering 400 years ago. Virginia’s 400 year tradition of representative government and the institution of elections stand as lasting legacies and the foundation on which American government and democracy have been built.
Curated by the Library of Virginia and displayed in the large hall just behind the gift shop inside the Virginia Capitol’s entrance at 10th and Bank streets, the exhibit is to remain until the opening of the 2019 General Assembly session in January.
The exhibit incorporates research undertaken in recent years by academic interns from Virginia Commonwealth University’s History Department, who helped the Capitol Police detail history dating to its formation in 1618 at the first permanent English settlement in Jamestown.
Features from the exhibit include custom uniforms from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries as well as three authentic uniforms from the 19th and 20th centuries, two of which were the actual uniforms of Capt. William A. Seawell, the Capitol Police chief from 1961-70, and Col. Anthony S. Pike, the current chief.
Exhibit Photo Gallery:
The title of the exhibit
The first segment of a showcase in the exhibit, showing some of the earliest uniforms, (front) of Capitol Police uniforms.
Another segment of the exhibit’s showcase, with uniforms from 1778 – present shown
Exhibit showcase overview with past uniforms in the front and modern ones behind
Panel displaying the story of the origins of the Virginia Capitol Police
One of the many panels in the exhibit showing the very special K-9 members of the Capitol Police
Seawell’s uniform was part of an extensive collection of his papers and other memorabilia that was loaned to the division by his widow, Dorothy P. Seawell, who attended the exhibit’s opening.
A visionary Native American chieftain, a brave Jamestown settler, an influential African-American educator and a passionate advocate for woman suffrage and the arts will be the first four bronze statues commissioned for Voices from the Garden: The Virginia Women’s Monument, the nation’s first monument recognizing the full scope of significant but often unrecognized contributions of women.
“These women played important roles in the early years of the Old Dominion’s recorded history and in the 20th century, when our state and country were undergoing seismic social changes,” said Susan Clarke Schaar, Clerk of the Senate and a member of the Virginia Women’s Monument Commission. “Their stories richly deserve to be remembered and told.”
In May of 2017, StudioEIS held a 3-day photo shoot in Brooklyn, N.Y., where female actors in period dress posed as the 12 women who were selected to be recreated as life-size statues in the Virginia Women’s Monument. Experts with 3-D scanners will transform the photos into final models for the sculptures that will eventually find a home within the oval-shaped plaza on Capitol Square in Richmond. Additional images from the photo shoot can be found on the Virginia Capitol Foundation’s Facebook page and a short video of the studio shoots can be seen here.
Construction on the monument’s plaza in Capitol Square began in June 2018.
Virginia Indian Tribute – A monument for Capitol Square Now Complete
Mantle is now complete. Located adjacent to the Bell Tower on Capitol Square, Mantle serves as the first monument to honor the important heritage and history of the Virginia Tribal Communities. Designed by Alan Michelson, a member of the Mohawk Tribe and a renowned New York-based installation artist, this remarkable monument serves as a meditation space where visitors can either walk the labyrinth or sit and contemplate. It is also a gathering spot where groups can formally or informally assemble.
Past Events for Virginia Indian Tribute
On Saturday, June 24, 2017, the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission and the Virginia Capitol Foundation hosted the groundbreaking ceremony for the Virginia Indian Tribute. This monument, entitled “Mantle”, recognizes the lasting legacy and significance of American Indians in the Commonwealth.
The featured speaker at the groundbreaking was Billy Mills, member of the Oglala Lakota (Souix) tribe and the Olympic gold medal winner of the 10,000 meter run in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The groundbreaking ceremony took place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 24 in Capitol Square, located at 1000 Bank Street in Richmond. The public was invited to join in the groundbreaking ceremony.
The groundbreaking celebration was made possible by the Running Strong for American Indian Youth Foundation, co-founded by Billy Mills to help American Indian people with their immediate survival needs and strengthen American Indian communities across the nation.
The total cost for the monument was nearly $900,000. Thanks to our many contributors and sponsors in seeing the project from concept to completion. Important donations to note are; $100,000 matching grant from the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation and a 2:1 matching grant from the Cabell Foundation, plus donations from NewMarket, Dominion, the Windsor Foundation, Titan America, and the Running Strong for American Indian Youth Foundation.
The 2019 Annual Capitol Square Ornament is Available!
The latest ornament in a series, this year’s ornament celebrates the 400th anniversary of representative government and features the Virginia State Capitol’s beautiful interior dome and skylight.
The Capitol dome is the inspiration for the 2019 ornament, as a symbol of the 400th anniversary of the planting of democracy in Virginia and the continued strength of the representative government in America.Ornaments are $24 each or if ordering more than five ornaments, the price is $20 each.
The First Annual Ornament, introduced in 2012, features the Jefferson-designed Capitol.
The Second Annual Virginia Capitol Ornament, introduced in 2013, features the historic Bell Tower.
The Third Annual Ornament introduced in 2014, features a true historic Executive Mansion.
The fifth in the series of ornaments for 2016 was a commemorative tribute to Thomas Jefferson, “Architect of Liberty”.
The fourth Annual Ornament introduced in 2015, features the George Washington Equestrian Monument.
The 2017 ornament, “The Fountain at Monument Walk” ornament represents the fountain location at the base of Monument Walk.
As part of its commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and abolition of slavery in the United States, the Virginia Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission will construct the Emancipation Proclamation and Freedom Monument on Brown’s Island.
The monument, designed by Thomas Jay Warren of Oregon, will feature a 12-foot bronze statue representing newly freed slaves. Dedicated to the contributions of African American Virginians in the centuries-long fight for emancipation and freedom, the monument also will highlight notable African American Virginians who have made significant contributions to the emancipation and freedom of formerly enslaved persons or descendants. The base of the monument will feature the names, images, and brief biographical information about eight African American Virginians whose lives were dedicated to Emancipation and freedom — five individuals from the period before Emancipation through 1865, and five who continued to work for freedom from 1866 to 1970.
Jenna Bush Hager Creates Conversation about Virginia Women’s Monument
The Sept. 7 event supported monument honoring contributions of Virginia women and proceeds help fund sculpture of Adèle Goodman Clark.
Author and television personality Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, will headline a special event hosted by the Virginia Capitol Foundation to raise awareness of and build community support for Voices from the Garden – the Virginia Women’s Monument on Capitol Square. This marks Hager’s first public speaking appearance in Richmond.
“A Conversation with Jenna Bush Hager” took place at St. Catherine’s School on Thursday, September 7. The public was invited to attend. Sponsors for the event were Dominion Energy, Altria and St. Catherine’s School.
More Details on the event
Following an introduction by Susan Allen, former Virginia First Lady and Chair of the Virginia Capitol Foundation, Hager engaged in a lively discussion of the challenges that today’s women face in their efforts to balance the daunting demands of a busy career with a fulfilling personal life. Also, she shared insights about the female role models in her life, along with hopes and dreams for her own daughters, among other topics.
The program was designed as a casual and fun Q&A conversation with Jenna Bush Hager. Kay Coles James, who served in the administrations of President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush and was Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources under Governor George Allen, served as moderator. Currently, James is President and Founder of the Gloucester Institute, a leadership training center for young African-Americans.
Proceeds from the event’s ticket sales will be allocated toward commissioning the life-size bronze sculpture of Adèle Goodman Clark. Clark is one of the 12 female figures selected for the Virginia Women’s Monument, representing women who made significant but often unrecognized contributions to shape the 400-year history of the Commonwealth. She was a founding member of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia, a founder of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and a 1901 graduate of Virginia Randolph Ellett School, the predecessor of St. Catherine’s School.
“The Virginia Women’s Monument will inspire women for generations to come, and I’m delighted to do whatever I can to make it a reality,” said Hager. “As the daughter of an educator, I especially love how visitors to Capitol Square will learn about fascinating women who came from diverse backgrounds and from different centuries, including Adèle Goodman Clark. This is such an exciting initiative to engage audiences in the important role that women have played throughout Virginia history.”
Virginia Capitol Foundation, has been working steadily in raising funds for the Virginia Women’s Monument, when finished and unveiled in two or three years, is intended to be a thought-provoking and interactive experience as visitors walk among the 12 sculptures in an oval-shaped garden. Designed by Ivan Schwartz of StudioEIS, this monument will be the first of its kind in the United States.
In addition to the voices of the featured figures, a Wall of Honor will contain names and narratives about the struggles and accomplishments of many more women. This innovative monument will highlight Virginia women’s accomplishments across four centuries, and beyond.
– National Historic Landmark is highest honor bestowed on a Historic Site –
The United States National Park Service (NPS) announced that is has approved a revised National Historic Landmark designation for Virginia’s Capitol. To more fully reflect the wide array of resources and their abiding national significance, the name and categorization of the Capitol property has been updated by NPS from “The Capitol of the Confederacy” to the “Virginia State Capitol.”
Capitol Square’s nationally-recognized historic landscape is an essential element of the Capitol experience. The monuments throughout Capitol Square represent specific eras and iconic Virginians associated with them. With the completion of an important restoration of the Capitol and the Executive Mansion in the last decade, restoration of the surrounding park is the next logical step, readying the complex for the 2016 bicentennial celebration of Capitol Square. The plan will rehabilitate one of the oldest enclosed public parks in our nation by reclaiming components of early and mid19th-century landscape designs, including the John Notman picturesque style, which predates New York’s Central Park by more than a decade. The Square’s preservation is fundamental to the Capitol’s integrity as an historic resource.