“Mantle” – Virginia Indian Tribute on Virginia’s Capitol Square Completed

Virginia Indian Tribute – A monument for Capitol Square Now Complete

The centerpiece of "Mantle" is a fountain inscribed with the many Virginian native tribes names and the rivers associated with their names.
The centerpiece of “Mantle” is a fountain inscribed with the many Virginian native tribes names and the rivers associated with their names.

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. We hope you will visit soon!

Past Events for Virginia Indian Tribute

Billy Mills addressed attendees at the Virginia State Capitol.
Billy Mills addressed attendees at the Virginia State Capitol.

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.

See the Richmond Times-Dispatch Story.

See the Indian Country Media Network Story.

Read an article from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

See photos from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Download the Press Release for this past Event.

Download the ceremony invite which was open to the public.

Photos from the Groundbreaking ceremony at the new monument site can be seen below.


More about “Mantle”

Native peoples have lived in this land we know as Virginia, for thousands of years. Despite hardships brought about by the loss of their land, language, and civil rights, many Virginia tribes persisted and their members have continued to contribute to the Commonwealth through agriculture, land stewardship, teaching, military and civic service, the arts, and other avenues.

Concept Illustration of the "Mantle" monument ©Alan Michelson
Concept Illustration of the “Mantle” monument ©Alan Michelson

In recognition of their lasting legacy and significance, as well as to ensure that the rich and inspiring stories of our native peoples will endure, the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission was established by the General Assembly and the Governor with the purpose of erecting a permanent monument on Capitol Square. Following a competition that attracted artists from across the country, Alan Michelson’s design, Mantle, was chosen to represent the Virginia Indian Tribes, past and present.

Oriented to the earth and incorporating existing trees in the area, Mantle combines four integrated spiral elements to create the shape of a Nautilus, a shell which represents strength, knowledge of the past, continuous growth, and beauty. The inspiration for the shape originated with the embellishments on a ceremonial robe, or mantle, worn by Powhatan, the paramount chief. A five-foot wide winding footpath following the outline of the monument will serve as a labyrinth which in some Indian cultures represents a sacred path to the home of an ancestor. In addition to the path will be a continuous, smooth stone wall, which also serves as a bench.

slide3In the communal center of the monument in honor of the river culture of the tribes will be a circular waterfall with a shape inspired by the “peak” shells which were highly prized by Virginia Indians. The Indian names of Virginia rivers will be arranged in a spoke pattern radiating from the center. Natural landscaping throughout the monument will consist of a selection of perennial native plant species, including wildflowers.

Mantle's "labyrinth" leads visitors its waterfall centerpiece.
Mantle’s “labyrinth” leads visitors its waterfall centerpiece.

Mantle will serve as a meditation space where visitors can either walk the labyrinth or sit and contemplate. It will also be a gathering spot where groups can formally or informally assemble. As a communal area, Mantle creates a respectful relationship with the surrounding natural world, reflecting the positive values, which set the Indians apart from other cultures. Finally, through state-of-the-art educational programs developed, Mantle will serve as a vehicle to educate the community by bringing awareness of the history and culture of the Virginia Indians.

To see more details about the Monument and please visit the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission Website.

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Virginia Constitutional Convention Exhibit on display through July 2018

Exhibit held in the Virginia Capitol Extension
New exhibit held through July 2018 in the Virginia Capitol Extension

The Virginia General Assembly is showcasing a new exhibition in the gallery of the Capitol Extension called The Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1867-1868. Developed in partnership with the Capitol Square Preservation Council, Library of Virginia, and Virginia’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission, the exhibition celebrates the 150th anniversary of this important convention, which was held in the Old House Chamber of the Capitol from December 3, 1867 to April 17, 1868.

The preamble developed by the Constitutional Convention in Richmond - Imaged at Library of Virginia, Photo & Digital Imaging Services Department August 2014
Click or tap the image above to view the preamble developed by the Constitutional Convention in Richmond – Imaged at Library of Virginia, Photo & Digital Imaging Services Department
August 2014

As a condition of readmission into the United States after the Civil War, the U.S. Congress required Virginia to create a reconstructed government and hold this convention to establish a new constitution. African American men participated in the process, voting for the first time in Virginia’s history by casting votes to choose the convention’s delegates. They also ran for seats, and 24 African American men were elected. The constitution adopted by the convention and later ratified by Virginia voters in July 1869 resulted in universal suffrage for men, the establishment of Virginia’s first statewide system of public schools, veto power for the governor, and the creation of magisterial districts. With the new constitution in place, Congress readmitted Virginia to the Union in 1870 and African Americans entered Virginia politics, with around 100 black Virginians serving in the two houses of the General Assembly during the era of Reconstruction.

Download an exhibition poster for the event.

See a large engraving that appeared in “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper”, courtesy of the Library of Virginia.

Exhibition Related Programming Runs February – May of 2018

  • February 16—February 24, 2018
  • On View: Virginia Constitution of 1868 and the King George County Ballot Box
  • Old House Chamber
  • Virginia State Capitol
  • Free and open to the public

In the Capitol’s Old House Chamber, delegates to the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868 met to debate and approve a new constitution for Virginia. In a special showing this February, courtesy of the Library of Virginia, the original Constitution will be on view in the space where the delegates met and created this revolutionary document 150 years ago. Also on view is a rare, surviving ballot box from King George County, Virginia, used by African Americans to cast ballots on October 22, 1867. This election for delegates to the convention was the first time that African American men had the freedom to exercise their right to vote in Virginia.

  • March 21, 2018
  • Constructing a New Virginia: The Revolutionary Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868
  • Brent Tarter, Independent Scholar and Author
  • Lunchtime Lecture
  • Library of Virginia
  • 12:00—1:00 p.m.
  • Free and open to the public

Much of what we think we know about the Reconstruction Era is a product of mythologies promoted by Southern elites who sabotaged African American voting and citizenship rights and built the Jim Crow system enshrined in the 1902 state constitution. Examining the period and its events with eyes unencumbered by these old myths, we see a dynamic, revolutionary movement that made Virginia, for a time, more democratic and forward thinking. The 1867-1868 constitution improved life for all Virginians, creating, for example, the first comprehensive system of public education in the Commonwealth’s history.

  • April 12, 2018
  • “You Have No Right to Refuse to Register Me!”: Disenfranchisement in Virginia, 1866-1902
  • Greg Crawford, Local Records Program Manager, Library of Virginia
  • Lunchtime Lecture
  • Library of Virginia
  • 12:00—1:00 p.m.
  • Free and open to the public

Following the Civil War, thousands of African American men over the age of 21 received the most cherished right of citizenship—the right to vote. Within a generation, that right would be taken away. Archivist Greg Crawford from the Library of Virginia will share the story of African American disenfranchisement using local and state election records stored at the Library of Virginia. He will also talk about how the public can play a role in telling this story through the Library of Virginia’s innovative “Transcribe” project.

  • May 17, 2018
  • Race and the Right to Vote: Contextualizing African American Suffrage in Virginia
  • Roundtable Discussion with Corinne Field, Julian Hayter, Senator Jennifer McClellan, and Nicole Turner
  • Lunchtime Lecture
  • Library of Virginia
  • 6:00—8:00 p.m.
  • Free and open to the public

Congress required that Virginia and the other former slave states of the Confederacy create reconstructed governments based on new constitutions after the Civil war. In Virginia, the election of delegates to the convention would mark the first time that African Americans voted in the Commonwealth. Twenty-four African American men served as delegates in the convention. Working with their white counterparts, they shaped and approved a new constitution in 1868 giving African American men the right to vote and hold public office. Now, 150 years later, we look back on the legacy of that constitution with a panel of historians, lawmakers, and activists to reflect on the promise and politics of African American suffrage then and now.

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Official Capitol Square Ornaments Available

The new 2017 "The Fountain at Monument Walk" ornament
The new 2017 “The Fountain at Monument Walk” ornament

A Historic Commonwealth Collection

The official Capitol Square ornaments are a series of annual collectible ornaments, featuring the historic treasures of Capitol Square. Finished in brilliant 24K gold, made entirely in the U.S.A, and presented in a handsome gift box, the ornaments are a perfect gift for colleagues and friends. All proceeds support the Virginia Capitol Foundation’s mission to enhance the educational and cultural potential of Capitol Square’s historic treasures through program development and community engagement.

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 fourth Annual Ornament introduced in 2015, features the George Washington Equestrian Monument. The fifth in the series of ornaments for 2016 was a commemorative tribute to Thomas Jefferson, “Architect of Liberty”. For 2017, we are excited to release the sixth in this ornament series at from the ordering options below.

See all prior years’ ornaments available for purchase.

The 2017 Annual Capitol Square Ornament is Available!

“The Fountain at Monument Walk” ornament represents the fountain location at the base of Monument Walk. The Fountain has adorned Capitol Square since 1852. The Fountain was installed as part of John Notman’s redesign of the Square, which sought to improve the landscape after the construction of the Washington Monument in 1850. Notman, a Scottish-born architect and landscape designer based in Philadelphia, was awarded the commission largely due to his success as the designer of Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery in 1848.

The actual location depicted in our new 2017 ornament, "The Fountain at Monument Walk" ornament represents the fountain location at the base of Monument Walk.
The actual location depicted in our new 2017 ornament, “The Fountain at Monument Walk” ornament represents the fountain location at the base of Monument Walk.

Ornaments are available at The Virginia Shop at the Capitol and in the Capitol at the Lower Rotunda reception desk. Ornaments are also available at the Bell Tower by appointment only please call ahead by contacting Andrea Siebentritt, Communications & Development Coordinator at (804) 786-1010.

New this year: lower shipping rates!

Download the Ornament Order form (past years’ ornaments options are available).

Order the 2017 ornament online at Virginia Capitol Foundation’s
Secure giving site..

If you have any questions or concerns regarding ornament orders or other donation opporunities, please contact us.

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“A Conversation with Jenna Bush Hager” about Virginia Women’s Monument

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.

Jenna Bush Hager
Jenna Bush Hager

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.

Download the Press Release for this Event.

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.

Adèle Goodman Clark
Adèle Goodman Clark, Photo Credit: Virginia Historical Society

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.

More About Jenna

In 2008, she married Henry Hager and they have two girls, Mila and Poppy. A graduate of St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Henry Hager is the son of former Virginia Lieutenant Governor John H. Hager and Maggie Hager, who serves on the board of the Virginia Capitol Foundation.

Learn more about the Virginia Women’s Monument and how to donate to the cause.

Artist Rendering of the Virginia Women's Monument - Copyright-StudioEIS-and-The-1717-Design-Group
Artist Rendering of the Virginia Women’s Monument – Copyright-StudioEIS-and-The-1717-Design-Group

About the Virginia Capitol Foundation and Voices from the Garden – the Virginia Women’s Monument:

The Virginia Capitol Foundation is the independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt organization supporting the ongoing restoration, preservation, and interpretation of the Virginia Capitol, Capitol Square and Executive Mansion. To learn more about the monument and the Women’s Monument Commission, to nominate someone for the Wall of Honor or to make a financial gift supporting the monument, click the button below.

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Virginia’s Capitol Receives Updated National Historic Landmark Designation

– National Historic Landmark is highest honor bestowed on a Historic Site –

Virginia’s Capitol Receives Updated National Historic Landmark Designation.
Virginia’s Capitol Receives Updated National Historic Landmark Designation.

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.”

See the full Virginia General Assembly press release here.

Please read the articles from The Washington Post and Richmond Times-Dispatch written about this new designation.

The nomination for the updated National Historic Landmark designation was prepared and submitted jointly by the Capitol Square Preservation Council and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

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Capitol Square Fair a Success!


Virginia Capitol Square Preservation Council was pleased to host the Virginia Capitol Square Fair, a community outreach and education event on Saturday, September 24, 2016. The event was a partnership with non-profit and public educators to offer families and visitors an array of history and conservation learning opportunities and to explore Virginia’s history and the natural environment. This event was free and open to the public and located on the historic grounds of the State Capitol to celebrate the Bicentennial of Capitol Square. Free parking was provided for all visitors.

Partners across the commonwealth highlighted their important work by providing engaging, SOL-based activities for children and families. While this event was focused on the outdoors, the Virginia State Capitol was open for tours and self-guided opportunities. Visitors had the opportunity to talk with Thomas Jefferson on why he designed the Capitol the way he did, hear Patrick Henry’s famous speech, and walk the historic grounds with Maggie Walker. Along with our special guests, visitors participated in a Capitol Police equipment and K9 demonstration, discovered how to maintain a healthy habitat in their own backyard, and searched for artifacts while learning the power of archaeology to uncover our past. We sincerely thank the following organizations for providing exciting activities: The Valentine Museum, National Park Service, Virginia Historical Society, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Department of Historic Resources, Department of Forestry, Children’s Museum of Richmond, John Marshall House, James Monroe Museum, St. John’s, Montpeleier, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Henricus Historical Park, Preservation Virginia, Commonwealth Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, Department of Conservation and Recreation, Wilton House Museum, Fairfield Foundation, Library of Virginia, The Division Capitol Police Commonwealth of Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia Executive Mansion.

We also thank all students, teachers, and visitors who came to enjoy the Virginia Capitol Square Fair.
Please contact the Capitol Square Preservation Council Education Coordinator, Maggie Jackson, with any questions by phone at (804) 225-8051 or by email.

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Capitol Square is part of the Richmond Garden Trail

Among the oldest in the nation, this 12-acre park is home to the National Historic Landmark Virginia State Capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson, the oldest purpose-built U.S executive mansion still serving as a governor’s residence, and many monuments and memorials. Walk winding paths in a landscape that has both seen and shaped American history.


Garden secret: This park has an empty crypt. The George Washington Equestrian Monument was to be the President’s final resting place, but he remains buried at his Mount Vernon home.

Learn more about the Richmond Garden Trail

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Keepers of the Flame

Tens of thousands of Virginia’s students will soon learn more about Virginia’s central role in American history, thanks to a new film, Keepers of the Flame, being produced by the Virginia Capitol Foundation with assistance from actor, filmmaker and Virginia native Tim Reid. Filming is complete, edits are being made, and the 20-minute visually-interactive film is expected to debut at the Virginia Capitol’s Visitor Center in the fall.

Narrated by Thomas Jefferson, portrayed by Bill Barker, the film will enhance student visitors’ experiences by featuring compelling stories of individuals who have made an impact on Virginia history – from well-known figures like Jefferson and George Washington to lesser-known citizens like Barbara Johns who proved that everyone can make a difference. This film coupled with the Capitol’s dynamic educational programs and exhibits hopes to tell the story of Virginia’s representative government, celebrate the Commonwealth’s central role in American history and inspire viewers to appreciate and become involved with public service.

We express our appreciation to these generous donors for funding they provided to produce Keepers of the Flame: Robins Foundation, Parsons Foundation, Dominion, Philip Morris USA, Genworth, MeadWestvaco, Windsor Foundation, Wachovia, Gwathmey Memorial Trust, Gilder Lehrman Institute, & many individuals.



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Jefferson’s State Capitol and Poplar Forest Named as Sites On “U.S. Tentative World Heritage List”

The Virginia State Capitol, recently restored, and Poplar Forest, Jefferson’s rural retreat in Bedford County, are among 14 sites in the U.S. selected for inclusion on a new U.S. World Heritage Tentative List, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced earlier this year. Inclusion on the U.S. list is “the necessary first step” toward being considered for inscription on the United Nations World Heritage List, “the most prestigious international recognition accorded to properties of global importance,” Kempthorne said in his announcement.

Heritage List Press Release


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Civil Rights Memorial Unveiled on Capitol Square

On July 21, 2008, The Virginia Civil Rights Memorial was unveiled on Capitol Square. The Memorial is a privately financed, $2.6 million granite and bronze statue. It is the first statue on the grounds of the historic Capitol to include depictions of blacks and women in prominent roles.

Many citizens and speakers attended the unveiling of the Civil Rights Memorial on Capitol Square.
Many citizens and speakers attended the unveiling of the Civil Rights Memorial on Capitol Square.
The 18-figure sculpture called a “living memorial” by sculptor Stanley Bleifeld is meant to represent a key moment in the history of the civil-rights movement in Virginia. The new Memorial spotlights the African-American students in rural Prince Edward County whose 1951 walkout to protest their run-down school led to a lawsuit that was folded into the challenge that triggered the 1954 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court banning segregated public schools.

Among the figures on the Memorial is Oliver W. Hill, Sr. holding a rumpled legal brief aloft as he stands shoulder to shoulder with law partner Spottswood W. Robinson III. They took on the case of the Prince Edward County students who protested the shabby condition of their school. Barbara Johns was the one who called the school strike in 1951 and she is also featured. The student protests garnered support from the local community, benefiting from the moral leadership of the Rev. L. Francis Griffin, who is also a part of the memorial.


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