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'Little Sandston' turns 100 and could get a big birthday boost

Posted at 5:08 PM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 18:27:02-04

SANDSTON, Va. -- Hundreds of people turned up to celebrate Sandston's 100th birthday during a parade on Monday. The parade, hosted by the local American Legion Post 242, took the place of the annual Memorial Day parade that was canceled, in 2020 and 2021, due to the pandemic.

"What we have in Sandston is a very tight-knit community," Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas said. "It's been that way for many, many years."

Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas
Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas

One hundred years, to be exact. And while the town celebrated its centennial, some in Sandston also hope for another historic feather in their collective caps -- to get a portion of Sandston listed in the National Register of Historic Places and in the Virginia Landmarks Registry.

The town began as a munitions factory in the First World War. Three-quarters of the factory's workforce was young, single women, according to Rachel Thayer with the Department of Community Revitalization for Henrico County.

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Thayer said the factory was bought by the Richmond-Fairfield Railway Company in 1921. It was originally called Fairfield, but since there a Fairfield in Rockbridge County, they changed the name to Sandston -- after the founder of the community, Oliver Sands.

The application for the historic designation honors both of these names as the Fairfield-Sandston Historic District.

Thayer added that when the land was developed for the munitions plant, around 230 kit houses were built by the Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan and most of them still stand today.

"They were built here in the area after they were shipped down and there's four different types of them," said Thayer. "They're pretty standard. They're six room bungalows, and they all follow the same kind of layout within."

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"It really hasn't changed that much. It's still a friendly little town," Evelyn Clatterbuck, who grew up in Sandston, said.

"I love little Sandston," Mary Avery, who also grew up in Sandston, said.

Little Sandston may get a big boost if it can earn the historic designation.

"It will make available federal and state tax credits to incentivize businesses to invest," David Sacks, with the Henrico Department of Community Revitalization, said. "Tax credits are also available to homeowners for qualified rehabilitation of their properties."

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The state agency that could give approval to this application, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, is scheduled to meet on September 23.

"They will make a determination if it qualifies for listing in the Virginia Landmarks Register," said Sacks. "And also, they will recommend it be forwarded to the National Park Service and once the National Park Service signs off on it, then it will be listed in the National Register. And we expect that to occur before the end of the year."