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Historic Lynchburg

The 32nd Annual James River Batteau Festival

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Batteau Festival 2017

On Saturday, June 17, 2017, at 11:00 am, the batteau will push off from Percival’s Island with the booming of a cannon.

The James River Batteau Festival is an 8-day event featuring authentic replicas of the sleek, shallow-draft merchant boats that were used starting in 1747 for commercial navigation.  The original batteau were an adaptation of the Indian dugout canoes.  In 1775 Anthony and Benjamin Rucker, from Amherst County, invented a new type of batteau made of sawn lumber and designed specifically for the shallow, swift waters of the James River.  Thomas Jefferson was present for the launching of the first Rucker batteau.  Within a few years 500 batteau were traveling down the James River with canned tobacco, flour, iron, apple brandy to Richmond and towns along the way.  On the return trip they carried books, millstones, harpsicords and agricultural lime.  The stories of the boatmen are legendary.

The festival is a unique folklife festival uniting the communities along the 120 miles of the James River between Lynchburg and Richmond.  Considered a highway in the 1700’s, the James River was crucial to the settlement of Central Virginia.  Many of the boatmen and women keep the boats as authentic as possible.  They dress in period clothing, meals include organic vegetables and the meals are prepared on the boat.

Each night is spent in a different town along the river.  Most of the towns welcome the participants with a fair-like atmosphere, including music, games, food trucks, maybe fireworks and in general, a very warm welcome. The first night will be spent at Galt’s Mill in Stapleton.  Wednesday evening will find the crews in Scottsville.  Scottsville is one of the favorite stops along the James River as it is a “real city” (population 575) with the chance for a shower and a meal cooked in a restaurant.  Saturday finds everyone at Maiden’s Landing in Richmond.

For an interesting morning on the river head to Percival’s Island between 9:00-1:00 on the 17th.  You will be entertained, amused and learn about this unique form of river running.

 

 

 

 

The Water Dog

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Water Dog

Water Dog

Downtown Lynchburg, Virginia has a new restaurant, The Water Dog.  Located adjacent to Riverfront Park, with it’s large grassy area and splash park, you are minutes away from the Bluffwalk and Main Street in downtown.

The Water Dog likens itself to a taphouse, featuring 36 craft beers on draught, with 16 of them hand-crafted in Virginia.  Their menu consists of tasty artisan beer food served in an awesome environment, inside or out.  Choose from oysters, clams or shrimp–served in a variety of ways.  Appetizers include beer battered pickles and parmesan crusted pretzel bites.  Seasonal soups and salads join tacos, a po’boy, burgers, hot dogs and 6 types of grilled cheese sandwiches.  For dessert they will bake you, fresh, cookies and serve them with milk!  In addition to the beers on tap The Water Dog serves a variety of hand-crafted cocktails that take inspiration from the season of the year.

In addition to a great made-in house menu there are options for entertainment.  TV’s, a 16-foot shuffle board, ping-pong, a chalkboard, a giant movie projector and the latest tunes are heard from their Spotify playlist.

There are two options for private parties.  The “Garage” can host up to 25 people for a sit-down dinner or up to 50 people for a cocktail party.  The private dining room is available, on a first come first served basis.  A small bites menu is available for either of these spaces, in addition to their regular menu.

Located at 1016 Jefferson Street, Lynchburg, VA.  Open Tuesday & Wednesday 11:30-11:00.  Thursday-Saturday 11:30-1:00 and Sunday 11:30-11:00.  for more information call 434.333.4681 or visit www.thewaterdog.com.

The Water Dog is located within walking distance to The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast, on the Riverwalk Trail, about 15 minutes.

 

Old City Cemetery-The Chapel, Columbarium & Scatter Garden

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Old City Cemetery Chapel

Chapel and Columbarium at Old City Cemetery

Last January we started our series about Lynchburg, Virginia’s Old City Cemetery.  We have highlighted it’s buildings and museums, events and activities and what a treasure this unique spot is to Lynchburg.  This post will be our last in this series, but don’t fret, as special events or activities are hosted at Old City Cemetery we will feature them so that you might participate.

The Chapel is the Cemetery’s newest museum.  Completed in 2006 to mark the bicentenary of the Cemetery this unique and beautiful chapel is the perfect setting for weddings, memorial services, recitals, lectures and other special occasions.  The chapel honors religious leaders buried at the Old City Cemetery since 1806.  The building is modeled after two Central Virginia chapels.  Ivy Chapel Union Church has been replicated on the Cemetery grounds using almost all of it’s building materials from the Hermon Methodist Church in Appomattox, which was dismantled and transported to Lynchburg.  The pews, pulpit, piano, preacher’s chair and attendance bowl had been left in the decaying Hermon Methodist Church.  They are now safely housed in the Chapel.  Original light fixtures were reproduced.  A bell tower was added to the building.  The bell was especially cast by Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, who had cast both the Liberty Bell and Big Ben.

On the lower level of the Chapel is the Columbarium.  Providing 288 niches and twelve crypts this very special room is a comfort to many who have a beautiful place to visit with their loved ones.  The focal point of the Columbarium is the terracotta “Peace” medallion set into the stone arch, a floor constructed of historic brick pavers from old sidewalks in inner-city Lynchburg and hand-rubbed German beech niche covers.  Both niches and crypts are available to the general public.

Adjacent to the Chapel and Columbarium you will find the Scatter Garden.  Since 1996 the scattering of cremated remains has been permitted in the natural dell that adjoins the Butterfly Garden and Lotus Pond.  When a beloved pet has died the ashes may be scattered within a garden setting on the bluff overlooking the Lotus Pond, Chapel and dovecote.

To learn more about the fees associated with the use of the Chapel and any of the various final resting places for loved ones please contact the Cemetery Office at 434.847.1465.  These locations are open daily from dawn to dusk, as are all of the Cemetery grounds.

“Nat Turner’s Bones: Reassembling an American Rebel” a lecture

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Nat Turner’s revolt

Lynchburg, Virginia’s Jones Memorial Library is hosting a lecture on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at 5:00 pm.  This lecture will discuss the archaeological search for the remains of a Virginia slave, Nat Turner.

Who was Nat Turner?  Born on October 2, 1800, in South Hampton County, Virginia, Nat Turner made history as the leader of one of the bloodiest slave revolts in America.  He was born on the Virginia plantation of Benjamin Turner, who allowed him to be instructed in reading, writing and religion.  As a small child Nat was thought to have a special talent because he could describe things that happened before he was born.  He was deeply religious and spent much of his time reading the Bible, praying and fasting.  As he grew older he believed he received messages from God through visions and signs in nature.  In 2016, his story was told in the movie, Birth of a Nation.

Nat Turner

Nat Turner in the movie Birth of a Nation in 2016

In 1825 Nat had a vision of a bloody conflict between black and white spirits.  Three years later he had another.  In 1831 Nat interpreted a solar eclipse as a sign that it was time to rise up.  He recruited several other slaves to join his cause.  On August 21, 1831 Nat and his supporters began their revolt against white slave owners with the killing of the Travis family.  He gathered more supporters, growing to a group of over 50 slaves, as he and his men continued their violent killing spree through the county.  Nat fled and hid in the woods.  While he was hiding white mobs took their revenge on the blacks in Southampton County, killing between 150-200 slaves.  Nat was captured and tried.  Although he pled not guilty he was sentenced to death by hanging, which was carried out on November 11, 1831.

The rebellion was one of the bloodiest and most effective in American history.  The incident put fear in the heart of southerners, especially Virginians, ending the organized emancipation movement in that region.  Southern states enacted even harsher laws against slaves instead.  Nat’s actions added fuel to the abolitionist movement in the north.  The rebellion is said to have expedited the coming of the Civil War.

Here are 10 things you may want to know about Nat Turner as shown on the History Chanel.

The lecture will be conducted by Dr. Kelley Fanto Deetz.  He will discuss the life of Nat Turner, the rebellion and the search for Nat Turner’s remains.  This lecture is free and open to the public.  It will take place at Jones Memorial Library, 2311 Memorial Avenue, on the second floor, at 5:00 pm.  For more information contact the library staff at 434.846.0501.

 

Old City Cemetery Art Exhibit

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Painting of the Chapel at Old City Cemetery

Old City Cemetery-Painting of The Chapel

Westminster Canterbury is proud to be hosting a special exhibit of original art of the Old City Cemetery, all by local artists, until January 26, 2017.  This exhibit is placed throughout the Westminster Canterbury complex, ask at the front registration desk and they can direct you to the correct rooms and hallways throughout the two buildings.

The exhibit is comprised of approximately 25 pieces of art.  The art work featured are paintings, pastels, pencil drawings, two dimensional art and a quilt.  When seen together all of the pieces of art tell the story of the Southern Memorial Association and it’s association with Old City Cemetery.  They were created and combined to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Southern Memorial Association in 2016.

Old City Cemetery

Old City Cemetery Artwork

In 1866 the Ladies Memorial Association was founded to beautify and protect the Confederate graves found in the Old City Cemetery.  Between 1904 and 1915 the LMA purchased and installed over 2,000 individual marble headstones for the Confederate graves.  During the time period of 1918 until 1931 they erected several monuments and structures in the Confederate Section, such as the entrance archway, “Speaker’s Belvedere” and the Veteran’s bench.  In 1981 this association became known as the Southern Memorial Association.  Although originally charged with the mission of protecting and preserving the Confederate section of the cemetery the “new” organization gradually assumed responsibility for the preservation of the entire Cemetery.  Today the Southern Memorial Association is tasked with the management and maintenance of the cemetery.

On January 17, 2017 Ted Delany, Associate Director of the Old City Cemetery, will present an illustrated lecture at Westminster Canterbury.  The lecture will describe the various pieces of art, using the actual art, slides and descriptions from the artists to tell the interesting and unique story of the Cemetery and the Southern Memorial  Association.  The lecture will begin at 7:00 pm, the front desk will be able to direct you too the appropriate room.

The History of Lynchburg, Part 2

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Sandusky Plantation

Sandusky Plantation

This month we are continuing with the history of Lynchburg, starting in 1864.

During the Civil War, Lynchburg served primarily as a supply and hospital center, and was spared most of the destruction that befell other Virginia cities and towns.  The Battle of Lynchburg was fought on June 18, 1864 Confederate forces successfully fought off a Union attack.  After inconclusive fighting the Union troops withdrew under the false impression they were fighting a very large Confederate force.  Part of the deception arose from the continuous series of train movements on several rail lines, giving the impression that reinforcements were arriving at a steady pace.

In September 1870, Lynchburg experienced its worst flood in history when the James River rose 26 feet above its banks.  The flood destroyed all bridges across the river, all railroad property in the river basin and on the island, the main gas pipe across Blackwater Creek and the water works pump house, leaving the city without water for months.  A similar flood occurred in 1877, again destroying all bridges over the James River.

Following Reconstruction, Lynchburg entered a period of prosperity.  Iron works, blast furnaces and steel mills fueled the growth.  Railroads eliminated the need for the canal system.  By 1800 the population reached 15,000.  Also in 1880 work began on a street railway system, whose initial purpose was to facilitate transportation from downtown to Miller Park.

By the beginning of the 20th century Lynchburg was well-underway in its evolution from a tobacco-based economy into a manufacturing one.  A large number of factories opened, some of which are still in business today.  In 1882, Lynchburg Foundry-today known as Griffin Pipe.  In 1888 Lynchburg Cotton Mill.  Also in 1888 Craddock-Terry Shoe Company, which became Lynchburg’s largest industry and the largest shoe manufacturer in the south-it was in business until the 1960’s.

Lynchburg’s wealth helped to transform itself into a modern city.  Houses were built in the Diamond Hill and Rivermont areas of the city.  In 1894 the Lynchburg Hill Climbers brought baseball to the city.  In 1907 a 21-mile wooded pipe system was laid to Pedlar Lake, which to this day, serves as the city’s primary water source.

Randolph College, formerly Randolph Macon Women's College

Randolph College, formerly Randolph Macon Women’s College

The arts and education also flourished during this time.  Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (1891), Sweet Briar (1901) and Lynchburg College (1903) were founded.  The Academy of Music opened in 1905, replacing the Lynchburg Opera House as the city’s premiere theater.  The Jones Memorial Library opened as a public library in 1907.

Rendering of the restored 1905 Academy of Fine Arts scheduled to reopen in 2018

Rendering of the restored 1905 Academy of Fine Arts scheduled to reopen in 2018

The First World War saw many of Lynchburg’s men in the military.  The city’s industries supplied the war effort.  A Red Cross-operated canteen served troop trains at the Southern Railroad station, giving the city the nickname Lunchburg.  In 1930 the first radio station started broadcasting, WLVA.  The first airport was constructed in 1931.  Side-by-side football and baseball stadiums were built on a former fair ground.

Since the 1950’s, Lynchburg has evolved from a small, tightly-knit manufacturing city to one with a diverse economy, with most residents living in the surrounding suburbs.  This transformation began in 1955 when Babcock and Wilcox (nuclear technology) and General Electric opened plants in the city, bringing in an influx of new residents.  In the 1960’s the city’s first shopping center, Pittman Plaza, opened.  The new shopping center signaled the end of the original downtown area as a retail center.

Since the early 2000’s downtown Lynchburg has transformed itself again.  Numerous restaurants, shops, commercial businesses and almost 800 residents call downtown home!  If you haven’t dined at a downtown restaurant you are missing out on delicious food.  Shopping with small, local businesses brings unique and oftentimes handmade products.  The Community Market continues to service the city with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and flowers, along with artisan cheeses and an assortment of yummy baked goods.

In the coming months we will concentrate on local businesses and commercial endeavors found in downtown Lynchburg as well as just outside of the official city limits.