*Incorporated in December 1998 and granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization status in April of 1999, the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods **(A.C.O.R.N.)** exists to serve the City of Richmond through the revitalization of its oldest neighborhoods. *
A.C.O.R.N. achieves its goal of service by promoting the purchase and renovation of vacant and abandoned properties and advocates for the preservation of the cultural and historic assets that give these old neighborhoods their unique character. To this end, A.C.O.R.N. serves as an educational entity as well as a clearinghouse for information on how to acquire, finance, and renovate a property. While primarily focused on neglected structures, A.C.O.R.N. also encourages new commercial and residential development consistent with the surrounding historic ambience. By working with other organizations, engaging public support, and leveraging assets, A.C.O.R.N. facilitates the preservation of more buildings and neighborhoods than its own resources might allow. Increasing home ownership while returning neglected or abandoned structures to productive use and occupancy, A.C.O.R.N. works to restore vitality to urban areas and, thereby, improve the quality of life for all.
In addition to its core mission, A.C.O.R.N. educates the public about the history of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Residents learn the history of their own homes, the people who lived in them, and the surrounding communities. A special initiative—/Richmond Roots: African-American Architecture/—examines the city’s African-American history through the lens of the built environment and provides a more complete documentation of the city’s African-American architecture than currently exists. Buildings constructed by and/or for blacks are tangible representatives of the African-American experience. In Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy and a leading center for the slave trade in the years leading up to the Civil War, the story of how African-Americans lived, worked, and are remembered is of particular importance. Yet this story has never been comprehensively examined and made known. A.C.O.R.N. worked to illuminate the subject by documenting buildings, landscapes, and historic assets associated with African-Americans through research, which resulted in a book (_Built By Blacks_, published 2007), lectures, tours, media presentations, a national register of historic places nomination, highway markers, and an archaeological dig.