Lunenburg Historical Society Secures Donation: The Allen Law Firm Pledges $10,000 To Law Office Restoration

Source: The Kenbridge Victoria Dispatch.

By Brian Nowlin

One of the recent issues that the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors has faced is how to go about finishing the restoration of the two small law offices that sit on the lawn directly beside the Lunenburg County Court House.

The Lunenburg County Historical Society has been heading up this restoration process and spokesperson, Anne Hamlett spoke with the board members several months ago about the possibility of a three-part process to finish the buildings and keep them historically accurate.  The first part of the process would be the stabilization of the buildings and the estimated cost for this part of the process was $10,000.

Mrs. Hamlett addressed the Board of Supervisors again on January 13, to announce that the prestigious Richmond law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen and Allen had committed to donate $10,000 to the project of preserving and making the two law offices useful.

The Allen firm has made this pledge in order to honor the firm’s founder George Allen, who in 1910 began his practice in the village of Lunenburg and later practiced law in Victoria.  Allen also became the youngest mayor of Victoria before moving his firm to Richmond, where he and his sons continued their legal careers.  However, part of the conditions of the donation from the Allen firm is that this restoration project will be seen through to completion.

This means that the process will need to go from a three-phase process over time to a completed process in order to secure the donation.  Because the buildings were moved in 2005 to new and much higher foundations, their entrances stand at over two feet off of the ground and the entrance can only be accessed by ladder.  In addition to stabilizing the exterior of the buildings, there will be other upgrades needed in order to move this project forward.  There are the obvious cosmetic upgrades that include painting and repairing the law offices, and other larger issues that the Historical Society faces, such as making the buildings handicapped accessible so that they will be open to the public.

The Lunenburg County Historical Society has explored the options of building a series of ramps around the two buildings to make it accessible to the public, but as Mrs. Hamlett pointed out, “The ramps certainly do not contribute to the historical accuracy of the buildings.”  It was also pointed out that the original buildings were not set on such high foundations, but were built very closely to the ground.

Mrs. Hamlett then asked the Board of Supervisors for permission to have the Lunenburg Historical Society move forward with exploring other options to help move this project forward.  Other possibilities would include lowering the foundation and digging out the area under the buildings to accommodate heating or cooling systems or possibly landscape solutions.  Supervisor, David Wingold, Sr. commented, “I think we should give Mrs. Hamlett permission to do anything she needs to do, because I know it will be done in good taste.”  Mrs. Hamlett assured the supervisors that the Historical Society would keep them informed of any findings and would come back to them with a plan before any action would be taken.  The Supervisors responded with a unanimous decision to allow the Lunenburg Historical Society to move forward with formulating a plan of action to make these buildings useful and approve their appearance.

There are several possibilities for the buildings once they are renovated and finished, that includes using them as a museum or a small Lunenburg Visitor Center.  The total project will require that the Historical Society raise more money to go with the donation from the Allen law firm, but they have already raised an additional $2,000 and plan to work on more fund raising to help with the project.