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Historic Lynchburg

The History of Lynchburg-Part 1

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Point of Honor

Point of Honor, the home of Dr. George Cabell

This month we are going to start a series of blog posts entitled “the History of Lynchburg”.  Each month we will post about the general history of our city, the history of businesses and places found in our city, the different historic districts and some of their houses or the historic churches found in downtown Lynchbburg.  This month we will begin with an overview of Lynchburg, Virginia, from the mid-1750’s until the beginning of the Civil War.

During the mid-1750’s the village of New London, just west of today’s Lynchburg, was an important trading center, however, it was difficult to reach from northern towns due to the necessity of fording the Fluvanna (now James) River, which was 12 miles north of the village.

John Lynch, son of land-owner Charles Lynch and his wife, Quaker, Sarah Clark Lynch, decided to remedy this problem.  In 1757 he established a ferry service on the river.  The ferry service was profitable for many years and by the end of the American Revolution the village at Lynch’s Ferry had become an important center of trade.  Lynch saw the possibilities of establishing a town on the hill overlooking the ferry site, and in late 1784 petitioned the General Assembly of Virginia for a town charter.  The charter was granted in October, 1786, thus founding Lynchburg.

The town of Lynchburg grew slowly between 1786 and 1800, with the addition of tobacco warehouses, a few stores, homes, taverns, a Masonic Lodge and one small church.  The first newspaper was published in 1798.  In 1799 the first efforts to supply the town with water from area springs and wells began.

On January 10, 1805 the town was incorporated.  By 1810 the town now included additional tobacco warehouses, groceries, tanneries, blacksmiths and druggists.  The first church was built in 1806 by the Methodists.

poplar forest

Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest

Also in 1806 Thomas Jefferson began the construction of his home, “Poplar Forest,’ just west of Lynchburg.  The construction continued for several years, during which time Jefferson used the home as a retreat from visitors to Monticello.

In 1815, Dr. George Cabell, who owned a point of land (in then Campbell County) adjoining the city of Lynchburg built his home “Point of Honor” (see blog post 7)/14/14.  This historic district is today known as Daniel’s Hill (see blog post 4/8/14) and is the historic district where The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast is located.

By the early 1800’s tobacco was the city’s major economy, with numerous warehouses processing and then shipping the tobacco to Richmond via river bateaux (see blog post 6/20/10).  The beginning of the Salem Turnpike (today’s Route 460 between Lynchburg and Roanoke) was begun in 1817.  A toll bridge across the James River was also built in 1817 into Amherst County, at the original ferry site at 9th Street.

Post card of the Clay Street Reservoir

Post card of the Clay Street Reservoir

During the 1820’s the town accomplished a major engineering feat with the construction of a water works system which drew water from the river.  A reservoir was constructed at the corner of 7th and Clay Streets (you can still see it today) along with wooded pipes and a pump house at the rivers edge near the bottom of 7th Street.

Post card of old canal and shoe factory-Downtown Lynchburg

Post card of old canal and shoe factory-Downtown Lynchburg

By 1840 the James River and Kanawha Canal was completed, which allowed packet boats to operate between Lynchburg and Richmond.  People, tobacco and other goods were shipped up and down the river.  On March 24, 1848 the city of Lynchburg incorporated the Lynchburg and Tennessee Railroad.  Property at the old ferry site was purchased to build a depot.  Construction began in 1850 and on February 18, 1852 the railroad’s first locomotive, the “Virginia,” was tested.

The 1850’s saw many exciting and new developments in the city.  Telegraph service to Richmond began.  Gas works for lighting and a sewer system enhanced the residents and business owners homes and offices.  A third railroad started running into Lynchburg.  More and more people were moving into Lynchburg, as it was becoming a thriving southern city.

Next month we will continue this series with more history about Lynchburg from the 1860’s until the 1960’s.

 

 

Lynchburg Design House 2016

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Lynchburg Design House

Lynchburg Design House, 2016

Again this year the YWCA is going to showcase local designers, contractors, vendors and small businesses in the YWCA Lynchburg Design House.  The designers and contractors will be redesigning and redecorating rooms, using their skills and the latest design techniques, to transform an ordinary house into an extraordinary one.  Each designer or contractor will utilize paint, fabric, furniture and accessories for a total makeover.  You, as a guest visitor, will be able to see the work and vision of these talented people.  You will see color choices and color schemes, furniture choices and placement along with rugs, artwork and accessories to make the room shine.  Almost everything in the house is for sale!

In addition to touring the magnificent house this year’s special events include a fashion show, a mother-daughter tea and a bridal show.  A preview party provides an opportunity to meet all of the participating designers who will be showing off their room and their work.  In addition to the special events there will be an on-site boutique and Christmas shop, sponsored by the Farm Basket.

All of the proceeds from this event, put on solely by volunteers, directly supports the YWCA mission and programs, with special attention to the Domestic Violence Prevention Center.

This year’s house is located at 1418 Harrison Street, in Diamond Hill.  Known as the Kean-Jackson House it was built in 1855.  The style is Gothic Revival.  R. G. H. Kean was the head of the Bureau of War for the Confederacy and was married to Thomas Jefferson’s great grand-daughter.

The Design House will be open Saturday, November 12 through Sunday, December 4, at various times Thursdays through Sundays.  The special events will be held on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  The house is also available for community groups for events of their own.

For more information contact Caroline Hudson at 434.847.7751 or info@lynchburgdesignhouse.com.

The Quartermaster’s Glanders Stable

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Quartermaster's Glanders Stable

Quartermaster’s Glanders Stable at Old City Cemetery

As you may know we have been posting blogs about Lynchburg, Virginia’s Old City Cemetery since the beginning of the year.  We are almost at the end of highlighting a different part or aspect of this unique, historical and widely visited corner of Lynchburg.

This month we are featuring the Quartermaster’s Glanders Stable.  Although the Quartermaster’s stable, that housed the thousands of horses and mules essential to the operation of the Civil War was actually located at the “fairgrounds” (which included the present E.C.Glass High School campus) it is represented and presented on the grounds of the Old City Cemetery.

Lynchburg was one of the four quartermaster depots for the Confederacy.  The depot’s main function was to supply General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia with the necessary horses and mules needed to conduct the war effort.  Over a 15 month period, of the 6,875 horses stabled in Lynchburg, only 1000 were sent into the field.  Almost 3,000 died, 449 were shot and the remainder were unfit for service.  The great glandes epizootic was affecting the horses, mules and even humans.  The stable allowed for innovative medical research on the disease and how it was affecting the cavalry horses.

What is glanders?  The respiratory disease, which causes major respiratory distress and death, was a virus spread at watering troughs and in unhealthy stable conditions where the horses were prone to nuzzle.  Infected mucus was easily passed from one animal to another as horses use their noses and the sense of smell to identify and communicate with one another.  There was no cure.

Quartermaster's Glanders Stable

Horse Trough at Old City Cemetery

Doctor Terrell and Doctor Page studied 19 horses stricken with glanders, conducting postmortem examinations at various stages of the disease’s progression.  They also intentionally transmitted the disease from a sick horse to a healthy one, sacrificing it 33 days later to study its advanced and terminal symptoms.

Prevention of the disease was the only solution to controlling the epidemic.  Horses and mules were placed in uncrowded, well-ventilated stables, which introduced good sanitation and a healthy diet.  The animals no longer used communal watering troughs.  Any infected animals were destroyed.  The ancient disease known as glanders was not completely eradicated until 1934.

Placed on the cemetery grounds, across the street from the Chapel and Columbarium, is a marker describing this important contribution to veterinary medicine.  Dr. John Jay Terrell, a Quaker, is mentioned.  He helped eradicate smallpox, in humans at the Pest House (blog post 1/12/16), and eradicate the spread of glanders in the animals who served a very important role in the war.

Ghosts of Lynchburg

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Ghosts of Lynchburg

Ghosts of Lynchburg

It’s that time again, time to meet some of the ghosts of Lynchburg during their annual  ghost walk in historic Lynchburg.

This years Ghosts of Historic Lynchburg walk will be held in the historic district known as Federal Hill.  Federal Hill became Lynchburg’s first residential suburb, until it was annexed in 1814 and again in 1819 when it became part of the town’s jurisdiction.  One of the smallest and most compact historic districts the houses range in styles from Federal, Greek Revival, Colonial Revival and Queen Anne, plus a few Second Empire.

Federal Street defines the center of this district.  Because of the topography some of the streets have never opened or surprisingly dead-end at a bluff or cliff and are picked back up a block or two away at a higher or lower elevation.

Federal Hill has always been a popular residential area.  Close enough to downtown for the residents to easily access shops, businesses and restaurants.  Closer still to the churches that line Court Street for Sunday worship.

The tour will be held on October 20, 21 and 22, 2016, starting at 6:30 pm.  Tours begin about every 20 minutes.  Tickets will be sold each evening starting at 6:00 pm, with a limited number of tickets each evening.  Tickets are $10 each.  There will not be any rain dates.  This tour is primarily on sidewalks and streets, but there will be uneven areas and walking up and down hills.  The tour will start and end at 1101 Federal Street, which is also the place to purchase tickets.

Even if you have toured this neighborhood before the stories vary from year to year.  We will see you there!

The event is put on by the Lynchburg Historical Foundation and is sponsored by Whitten Funeral Home.  If you are from out of town and need a place to stay after touring the haunted streets, give us a call.  We would be happy to put you up for the evening at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Bawdy Ladies of Lynchburg, Virginia

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Bawdy Ladies

Graves at Old City Cemetery–Bawdy Ladies Tour

On Sunday, September 25th, between 3:00-4:00 pm the Old City Cemetery will host it’s Bawdy Ladies of Lynchburg tour.

Lynchburg’s Bawdy ladies have been part of Lynchburg’s history since the very beginning of Lynchburg.  Between 1805 until 1910 census and court records state there were at least 535 ladies of ill repute living and working in Lynchburg, VA.

In early Lynchburg the houses of ill repute were primarily located on Jefferson Street, Commerce Street (then known as Lynch Street), Seventh, Eighth and Tenth Streets.  This area was known as Buzzard’ s Roost.  Along with the bordellos there were plenty of bars and gambling houses found in this area of the city.

During the Civil War many of these “ladies” worked in the Confederate hospitals as nurses, cooks and laundresses.  Many of these same “ladies” contributed monetarily to the cause.  Some acted as spies and were said to pass along secrets learned from soldiers they were tending to in the hospitals.

Do you know how the term hooker came to be attributed to ladies of ill repute?  During the Civil War (1861-1865) many women became camp followers in Joseph Hooker’s Union Army brigade.  These women, primarily from Washington, D.C. brothels, became known as “Hooker’s Division” or “Hooker’s Brigade”.

After the war, in the early 1900’s, the “sporting houses” (as the houses of ill repute were called in Lynchburg) moved to Monroe, Jackson and Fourth Streets.  This area was now known as “The Hill”.  Between 1907 until 1910 there were at least 31 sporting houses in this area.  The Hill was active until the mid-60’s.  The last Madam of Fourth Street, Tootsie Clay, was arrested in 1964.  She was sent out of town instead of to jail due to her declining health.  Interestingly enough we have had a guest at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast, from the Tidewater area, who’s father used to travel to Lynchburg, by train, in the late 50′ and early 60’s to visit the sporting houses.  Not sure why the father shared this information with his son, but it does substantiate the fact that Lynchburg was well-known for it’s sporting ladies.

This years’ walking tour will again by led by Nancy Weiland.  Her interest and research into the Bawdy Ladies of Lynchburg began in 1982.  She will be guiding the tour group throughout the cemetery, over uneven ground and up and down hills on Sunday the 25th.  Meet at the Old City Cemetery Gate by 3:00 pm, located at 401 Taylor Street.  This tour is free, advance reservations are not required.  Questions should be directed to the cemetery office, 434.847.1465.

Even if you have attended a Bawdy Ladies tour in the past it is worth your time to attend again this year.  Each year different ladies are discussed and their lives explained.  Mike and I always find it interesting how many of the ladies became prominent citizens of Lynchburg once they retired from the sporting life.  They married former mayors, police chiefs and local politicians.  If you stay with us at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast we will be touring along with you.

Monument Terrace

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Monument Terrace

Monument Terrace, Lynchburg, VA

One of Lynchburg, Virginia’s most impressive architectural landmarks is Monument Terrace.  It is the link between Courthouse Hill and the central business district of Lynchburg.

The business district was originally along the banks of the James River and later the Kanawha Canal, as it’s hills presented building challenges.  In 1813 the first courthouse was built on the hills above.  Originally dirt paths connected Courthouse Hill to Water Street (today’s 9th Street) and Church Street.  In 1882 plans were made by the city to improve the steep access.  City engineer, August Forsberg, designed stone steps, a plaza and a fountain to be placed at Church and 9th Streets.  This early monument was known as the Fireman’s Memorial Fountain dedicated to five firefighters who lost their lives nearby on May 30, 1883.  A statue of a fireman was placed on top of the fountain with water spouting from the nozzle of his hose.  The Fireman’s Fountain stood here until 1924.

Monument Terrace

World War I rally at Monument Terrace, courtesy Lynchburg Museum

Today’s Monument Terrace was designed by Aubrey Chesterman as a memorial to Lynchburg’s World War I dead.  It was completed in 1925.  The decorative Beaux Arts stairway is constructed of granite, with limestone balusters and steps, brick pavers are on the landings.  There are 132 steps, 10 landings, and 11 markers and monuments along the Terrace.  Eight of the markers are devoted to military service while three commemorate civic milestones.  Monument Terrace now honors all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the wars fought by the United States, beginning with the Civil War until the Vietnam War.

Monument Terrace

699th rally at Monument Terrace in support of the troops.

Every Friday, between 12:00-1:00 PM, since 2001 (the beginning of the first Gulf War), Monument Terrace has been the place for current and retired servicemen and women, plus the general public, to gather to demonstrate their support to the men and women who serve in the military services today.

At the top of the terrace is the old courthouse which is now the Lynchburg Museum and it has a great view of the City down to the river and Langley Fountain.