Mitchell Map: ‘An investment’ for Urbanna’
by Tom Chillemi
On Monday, October 21, the Urbanna Town Council will consider a resolution to do a “full” restoration of the historic Mitchell Map, which the town owns. The map is more than 200 years old and is a first edition that was printed in 1783. A copy of the Mitchell Map was used to settle treaties.
The map is undergoing restoration, and the total cost for a full restoration is estimated to be $21,000, which would be paid from the town’s historic trust fund.
In addition, the map would need a proper case or frame, said council member Barbara Hartley, who heads the Old Tobacco Warehouse Committee and is coordinating the map restoration.
There are two alternatives for cases, Hartley said. One would have an air-conditioned case made just for the map. The other cheaper display method would be to seal the map’s frame and control the humidity of the room in which it will be displayed at the Old Tobacco Warehouse.
Council member Joe Heyman noted humidity is hard to control in the Old Tobacco Warehouse because the basement walls weep water.
Heyman said he favors restoring and displaying the map correctly. “It’s a huge asset,” he said. “It should be part of our tourism draw.”
The map has been appraised at more than $500,000, based on a complete restoration. The town paid $7,500 for the map in 1979.
Security has been recently upgraded at the Old Tobacco Warehouse, which is a visitor’s center and museum, said interim town administrator Holly Gailey.
Hartley said the Virginia State Library offered to reproduce the map and give Urbanna a copy, allowing the state library to display the original. That offer has been declined.
Hartley said the map could be a way to attract visitors and generate sales in the town visitor’s center. “That’s going to be an investment for us,” she said.
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