A Brief History of the Foundation

Monacan Indians and St. James Chapel Sign  

As told by Carson Tucker

The Michaux-St. James Foundation officially incorporated in 1999 as a federally-recognized non-profit, charitable organization. At that time the Foundation was also registered with the Commonwealth of Virginia's State Corporation Committee.

But the "foundation" has a history before officially coming into being as "the Foundation". The residents of Old River Trail had come together repeatedly before 1999 to tackle issues facing the community. These issues included the planned location of a 300-acre City of Richmond landfill on Old River Trail, the location of the so-called Trailer Park Prison, the construction of yet another prison (to be called Medium-Security Correctional Center #1) to add to the 3 corrections facilities already in the neighborhood, the move of the Department of Corrections' Medical & Diagnostic Center to Powhatan, the building of the DOC's BOQ in Powhatan, and more.

All this turmoil and threat to the historical, environmental, and aesthetic integrity of our neighborhood educated us to the need to create a vibrant and vigilant community. Accordingly, we began an ongoing series of events and activities designed to engage residents in the northern part of Powhatan in civic and community efforts, viz:

1. We adopted Old River Trail and are now in our 30th year of litter pick-up.

2. In 1977 we began the initial work on saving St. James Chapel. This 30 year labor-of-love returned the Chapel (and its authentic two-seater outhouse) to its 1890's glory and to usage by the community for various purposes.

3. We were instrumental, along with our friends on Route 711, to get Huguenot Trail and Old River Trail designated by the Commonwealth of Virginia as State Scenic Byways, which recognizes the beauty and historic value of these two roads.

4. We successfully lobbied the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia to transfer the St. James Chapel to our ownership of perpetual care.

5. Through the state of Virginia's Adopt-a-Stream Program, from Maidens Bridge to Hughes Creek. We have participated for years in the James River Advisory Council's annual James River Clean-up.

6. We have crafted and installed 4 historical markers;
A. At Michaux - Pineville/Monacan Indians, recognizing our Native American and Huguenot Ancestors.
B. Shiloh Baptist Church, post-emancipation African-American place of worship and site of Julien Binford's renown mural, "Crossing the River Jordan".
C. Michaux Grant Cemetery, commemorating the French Huguenot's search for religious freedom and burial place of Abraham Michaux (1702) and decendants.
D. Mowhemcho, site of a Monacan village and a village of African-Americans who settled here after the Civil War

7. From the Michaux family we were the recipients of the Michaux Grant Plantation Cemetery and have restored it to a beautiful place of serenity through repairs and plantings.

8. We have acquired the Sallie Michaux House (aka "the parsonage) and are in the process of extensive repairs to return it to its 1880's appearance. It will ultimately become part of the MSJF Community Center.

9. We have crafted and proposed a comprehensive addition to the Powhatan County Zoning Ordinance, titled "Historical Overlays" to give the county the tools to recognize and protect significant historical homes, churches, and neighborhoods.

This description of our history only briefly captures what the Foundation has done "on the ground". What it doesn't capture is the sweat, worry, love, and funding efforts that this entire community, in coming together, has invested in creating beauty and in building a bridge between ourselves and those who have gone before us.