Y’all. Why didn’t anyone tell me or remind me that I never wrote a post about Sligo being officially listed with the Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) and the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)? I mean, it’s not like our dear, intrepid Dovetail consultant, Katie, didn’t work her butt off for over a year to get us there. It’s not like it’s kind of a big deal…
(Just to be clear, I am sure my take on the process varies wildly from the actual process. I was more of an outsider offering my occasional insight to the history of the house as I knew it and had been passed on to me via the Ferneyhough descendants and others.)
Almost from the beginning (Julyish 2018) Marcus and I started considering the possiblity of getting Sligo on the respective registries. I think it came about mostly because Marcus learned we could apply for tax credits (I mean, is anyone surprised by the fact Marcus was looking for ways to make this a more profitable endeavor?). The scope of work required seemed totally do-able at first. I filled out the Preliminary Information Form (PIF) to the best of my knowledge and submitted it to the Department of Historic Resources (DHR). Surprisingly, and despite the fact I used only the Works Progress Administration (WPA) report (I wrote a post a while back but for a brief synopsis just know they aren’t entirely accurate) as a source of information, it was accepted because the house was deemed eligible for its architecture. However, the DHR was most interested in learning the exact build date and the architect. How hard could that be? It’s not like in the late 19th century there wasn’t documentation and permits issued and a city department in charge of planning that would have housed all of this information (there wasn’t).
I like to think I made a fairly decent attempt at researching the house and when exactly it was built (though to this day the architect is unknown). My mom and I found ourselves driving between both the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania courthouses working through their respective archives (remember that Sligo was annexed from the county of Spotsylvania into the city of Fredericksburg in 1955). To do this we had to start at the most recent owners (ourselves) and work our way back. Eventually, it was at the Spotsylvania courthouse that we found what we had been looking for:
Deed Book CC, Page 53, January 18, 1889 between George Ferneyhough & Lavinia and G.W. Wallace (trustee), containing 42 acres more or less, secure payment of farm bonds of even date with this deed each for the sum of $375.00 paid in 2, 3, 4, 5 years respectively…and it is covenanted and agreed between the parties aforesaid that the said Geo. T. Ferneyhough will keep the dwelling on said farm now being erected insured for not less than $1,000 in case of a sale being necessary by reason of default. (So, basically, huzzah! We had a build date of 1889!)
After this exciting discovery I turned my attention to filling out the second part of the paperwork required by DHR. Looking back, I have an email forwarded from the DHR outlining the requirements and Marcus simply stating in his message “Up to the challenge?” and the answer was “no.” No, I was not up to the challenge. On more than one occasion during the early days of asking around about the house I was told about Dovetail Cultural Resource Group, a woman-owned, small business in Fredericksburg whose services include “National, State, and Local Register Designations.” Me, being a woman, and Marcus, being the progressive and supportive guy that he is, thought it would be well worth it to contact them and inquire about their services.
And so, that was how it came to be that sometime in December 2018, Katie at Dovetail began working on Sligo’s nomination. The nomination included details about the interior and exterior architecture using vernacular that escapes me (an example being “two over two double hung” and which describes the window and the number of panes…I think). Along with the descriptive narrative pertaining to the architecture there is an historical narrative that requires a significant amount of research which Katie undoubtedly had much better insight for where to look and how. Finally, there is an analysis of other similarly constructed buildings in the area (of which there are few Italianate style homes like Sligo in the city) rounding out the nomination.
Once the nomination was submitted in June 2019 we had to wait for the DHR to meet in September to review the submission. Once they approved the nomination in September it was then sent to the National Park Service who approved Sligo’s nomination for the NRHP in November of 2019. And that, as they say, is history! Ha! Please don’t unfollow me.
If you are interested in reading the actual nomination form follow this link which will direct you to a PDF version: https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/historic-registers/111-0097/
From what I can tell Sligo does not have any files scanned into the NRHP’s website so you can look for it but the information is minimal. You will gain more from the DHR link above.