Residents work for historic recognition

Published 10:17 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Residents of Eclipse and Crittenden are still collecting stories and working with city and state officials to be included in the National Register of Historic Places, which is managed by the Department of Historic Resources in partnership with the National Park Service for properties in Virginia.

The register recognizes the historic value of these properties and “encourages present and future owners to continue to exercise good stewardship,” according to Owners of registered properties may qualify for state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits, receive technical assistance for maintenance and rehabilitation projects and purchase plaques that mark the significance of their properties.

The list of historic places recognized in Suffolk includes Chuckatuck, Driver, Holland, Somerton, West End and Whaleyville, among others. But neither Eclipse or Crittenden is on that list.

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“We’ve talked to the state (and) looked at a desktop-look, if you will,” Eclipse resident Kelly Hengler said at the Suffolk City Council meeting on Feb. 6. “We’ve got wonderful churches. We have an amazing community. Always welcoming, always doing community events, and somehow, we’re not listed in the historic districts.”

Hengler helped establish the “Crittenden-Eclipse Village Preservation” Facebook page in late August, which has gained hundreds of followers since Eclipse residents were shocked by development that’s still in the works for the watermen community.

The group’s goal is to preserve local wetlands, as well as the rich heritage of watermen that made their living in these waters dating back centuries. Hengler said on Feb. 6 that the city should support the Eclipse and Crittenden communities in their recognition efforts.

“We don’t mind development. We would just like to be able to have a voice, and to do that, at least claim our heritage,” Hengler said.

The process for being listed in the register includes phases of evaluation and nomination. According to, preliminary information about the property is examined during the evaluation phase by the DHR regional office and Register Evaluation Committee, which recommends properties to the State Review Board that appear to meet the criteria.

After this evaluation phase, it’s the property owners that will decide if and when they will proceed with the nomination, and as of Feb. 21, Hengler and others are still going door-to-door to talk to neighbors about their homes and their family histories in the community, along with members of the Crittenden, Eclipse and Hobson Ruritan Club and Ebenezer United Methodist Church.

They’re searching for the most up-to-date information based on texts like “The River Binds Us,” a historical account of the Crittenden, Eclipse and Hobson communities published by Suffolk River Heritage.

“It’s not reinventing the wheel,” Hengler said in a phone interview. “It’s trying to take that information and getting the most up-to-date facts.”

She emphasized that this needed to be an “empowering” and “non-invasive” process. They need to gather more information, speak with owners and count houses to be included in this historic designation before approaching the city about receiving assistance in helping pay the cost.

“It’s (about) keeping tracking of that and simply talking to neighbors, because we are one village,” she said.

Search for “Crittenden-Eclipse Village Preservation” on Facebook for more information.