For the past several years, The Cameron Foundation has maintained its office at 24 West Old Street in the Old Towne section of Petersburg. This has been an excellent location, but the office is not large enough to accommodate the needs of the Foundation that have resulted from the expansion of services and programs offered […]
For the past several years, The Cameron Foundation has maintained its office at 24 West Old Street in the Old Towne section of Petersburg. This has been an excellent location, but the office is not large enough to accommodate the needs of the Foundation that have resulted from the expansion of services and programs offered by the Foundation. In particular, there is an urgent need for a conference center, with on-site parking, that can be utilized for meetings, seminars and training sessions.
In February, 2008, the Board of Directors of the Foundation created a special committee, with Cleveland A. Wright as Chairman, to explore alternatives for relocation of the Foundation office. This committee considered a number of different locations and ultimately recommended to the Board that the Foundation purchase the historic Weddell-McCabe-Chisolm house located at 228 South Sycamore Street in the Poplar Lawn section of Petersburg. This recommendation was adopted by the Board, and the building and large lot on which it is located were purchased by the Foundation in December, 2008.
The building has been severely damaged by fire and the weather, and the Board has obtained necessary approvals from the Architectural Review Board of the City of Petersburg and the Historic Petersburg Foundation for substantial restoration. The approvals also include the construction of a 5,000-square-foot addition to the building. This addition will house the conference center, and there will be a parking lot in the rear that will be available for persons using the conference center. It is anticipated that construction will begin around April of this year and be completed in the spring of next year.
The Board has hired the Petersburg-based firm of Enteros Design to provide architectural services relating to this project, and the Board is excited about the plans that already have been prepared. According to Gilery W. Entzminger, who is the President of Enteros Design, the new construction will be compatible with the existing building, while clearly expressing a contemporary vision. The proportions and scale of the Greek Revival architecture of the original building will be represented in the addition by new masonry piers, a standing seam metal roof, a pediment and vertical openings. Large areas of glass will create transparency and a sense of accessibility, while filling the space with natural light. Landscaped terraces will define entry to the addition and provide usable outdoor space.
“The Foundation’s decision to renovate and expand a building for its new headquarters is consistent with its nonprofit capacity-building efforts,” says Mr. Wright. “The meeting space in the conference center will allow us to provide more effective workshops and training sessions for larger numbers of nonprofit staff, boards and volunteers, and the additional office space will enable us to hire two additional members of the Foundation staff whose positions have been approved but have not been filled because of the lack of space.”
“As an organization dedicated to preserving and restoring Petersburg’s historic realty, the Historic Petersburg Foundation was pleased to learn of The Cameron Foundation’s plans for the building,” says Patrick Varga, who is chairman of the real estate committee of the Historic Petersburg Foundation. “The Weddell-McCabe-Chisolm house is an important piece of real estate in one of our targeted areas of the City. Its restoration will encourage others to invest in restoring a property of their own and will result in a dramatic improvement to the neighborhood.”
The Foundation’s soon-to-be new office was built as a private home between 1840 and 1845 by James Weddell, a native of Scotland. After his death in 1865, it was sold to Captain William Gordon McCabe, who ran the University School in Petersburg from 1865 to 1895. It was owned by the Petersburg Bicycle Club from 1895 to 1899, and, during the 20th century and early part of this century, it had a number of owners, including Dr. Julian J. Chisolm, a distinguished surgeon.
“The Weddell-McCabe-Chisolm house is an architectural treasure that has endured much hardship over the past few years,” says Handy L. Lindsey, Jr., who is the President of the Foundation. “I commend the members of the Board on their decision to convert some of the Foundation’s financial assets into returning this property to usable space for the community, for improving the landscape of the historic neighborhood in which it is located, and for restoring an architectural gem that otherwise probably would have continued to sit in disrepair or worse.”
The Cameron Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was organized exclusively for charitable purposes. These purposes include activities benefiting the residents of Petersburg, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Dinwiddie County, Prince George County, Sussex County, and the portion of Chesterfield County lying south of Route 10. The Foundation awards grants to other nonprofit organizations each February, June and October.
More information about the Foundation and its grantmaking process can be found on its website, www.camfound.org, or by telephone at 804-732-8900.