October 10, 2019

Cameron Foundation commits $300,000 towards Save America’s Treasures matching grant for Petersburg Exchange Building

With news of a $350,000 federal grant award to Historic Petersburg Foundation for essential structural repairs to the Petersburg Exchange Building, The Cameron Foundation announces a contingent grant of $300,000 in matching funds. Historic Petersburg Foundation will work in cooperation with Petersburg Preservation Task Force and the City of Petersburg to undertake the work. For The Cameron Foundation to release its funds, Historic Petersburg Foundation will need to secure the remaining $50,000 needed for the $700,000 project and meet other grant contingencies. The federal funding is being made through the National Parks Service’s Save America’s Treasures program.

J. Todd Graham, President of The Cameron Foundation emphasized, “Among the City of Petersburg’s many historical assets, few retain greater importance than the Exchange Building. Believed to be the last unaltered merchant’s exchange in existence in the United States, it holds the distinction of being the only Petersburg historical site that is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. We consider the Exchange Building to be an invaluable asset to our community – and the nation as a whole.”

Prior to announcing this grant commitment, Cameron staff had worked proactively with representatives of both Historic Petersburg Foundation and Petersburg Preservation Task Force for a year to develop an understanding of what was needed to undertake repairs of the Exchange Building and to determine what support was possible from The Cameron Foundation. In February 2019, The Cameron Foundation’s Board of Directors made the commitment to match federal funding if the partner organizations were able to secure a highly competitive Save America’s Treasures grant award for the Phase I repairs and meet other grant contingencies.

Built ca. 1839-1841 by local businessmen, the Exchange Building provided a central place to display and sell locally produced commodities such as tobacco and cotton as well as hold public auctions. The site was more recently known as the Siege Museum, which told the story of civilian life in Petersburg during the longest military siege on United States soil (1864-1865). Following Phase I repairs, Petersburg Preservation Task Force plans to reopen the museum featuring a more comprehensive exhibition that tells the story of Petersburg’s history over nearly 400 years.

Pam Martin Comstock, The Cameron Foundation’s Board Chair, noted the project’s alignment with the Foundation’s mission to transform the Tri-Cities area by strategically leveraging its resources for community impact. Comstock said, “Investing in this project will bring the site closer to reopening as an educational venue, offering a broader interpretation of Petersburg’s rich history over several centuries. The opportunity also draws on federal funding for a nationally significant site that will better serve our region.”

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