The Alexandria Archaeological Commission (AAC) is proud to announce the winners of the second annual Bernard “Ben” Brenman Archaeology in Alexandria Award. The awards, named in honor of the late Ben Brenman, a longtime Commission chair, were presented on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at the Alexandria City Council meeting.
The Alexandria Archaeological Commission (AAC) established the Brenman Award in 2007 in honor of the late activist and retired U.S. Army colonel. Brenman had devoted himself to finding, preserving and sharing Alexandria’s rich and diverse heritage and was a founding member of the AAC, serving as its chair for 21 years. The AAC, a City of Alexandria commission, was the first of its kind established in the U.S.
The Brenman Award recognizes businesses, organizations, families, professional preservationists, volunteers, students and other individuals who have demonstrated work or efforts in archaeological investigation, research, site protection, education, public interpretation, open-space design, collections or conservation.
The 14-member AAC is appointed by the City Council and develops goals and priorities for Alexandria’s archaeological heritage. The commission works closely with residents, government agencies, developers and teachers to promote archaeology in the City.
AAC’s 2008 honorees are:
Friends of Freedmen’s Cemetery, which was founded in 1987 by Lillie Finklea and Louise Massoud to save and recognize Freedmen’s Cemetery, the once-forgotten 19th-century African-American burial ground. FFC’s efforts were highly successful, resulting in a state historical marker, the purchase of the parcel by the City of Alexandria, and ultimately the Contraband and Freedmen’s Cemetery Memorial Project. The archaeological investigations at the cemetery identified almost 500 graves of freedmen and contrabands, sparking a high level of community interest in the site’s history and in Alexandria archaeology.
T. Michael Miller, the City’s research historian whose part-time Alexandria history hobby evolved into a 30-year career in local history. Miller has produced more publications on Alexandria history than anyone else, and his research has greatly enhanced the archaeological investigations of the Lee-Fendall House, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary, Shuter’s Hill, Lee Street bakery and Civil War sites, Wilkes Street Tunnel, Hooff’s Run Bridge and Freedmen’s Cemetery.
Chan Mahoney, who combined his fascination with the past, volunteer archaeology work and cycling abilities to develop the concept of an archaeological interpretive bike ride. Offering the “Tour de Digs,” Mahoney, a longtime Alexandria Archaeological Commission member, developed the idea of biking to archaeological sites and then discussing the history of those places, and, with the help of others, this idea expanded into the Alexandria Heritage Trail guidebook and into annual trail rides during Virginia Archaeology Month.
Historic Alexandria Foundation, incorporated more than 50 years ago to “preserve, protect and restore structures and sites of historic and archaeological interest in and associated with the City of Alexandria.” HAF is now a major force in preserving Alexandria’s history through its buildings, neighborhoods and unique character. For the past three years, HAF has provided funding to the Alexandria Archaeology Digital Atlas, a system of historic map overlays that are geo-rectified to Alexandria’s contemporary grid and landscape, which is now the primary tool for preservation planning and archaeology code review, ensuring great protection to archaeological resources.