The History of Daniels Hill
Beginning this month The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast’s blog will present the history of one of Lynchburg, Virginia’s Historic Districts, Daniels Hill, followed by descriptions and histories of a few of the houses that comprise that historic district.
This month we begin with the history of Daniels Hill, where The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast is located.
Daniels Hill takes its name from William Daniel, Jr., who once owned most of the peninsula of land between the James River, Blackwater Creek and modern-day Hollins Mill Road. Daniel was a prominent antebellum lawyer, legislator and judge on the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia. He lived at Point of Honor and built “Rivermont,” the Greek Revival mansion on F Street.
Daniels Hill was first developed as a residential neighborhood in the late 1840’s, when Judge Daniel began subdividing and selling his plantation. Most of what is now Daniels Hill was within Campbell County until 1870 when it was annexed to the city.
In the mid-1870’s Daniels Hill began a building boom that transformed the neighborhood from largely rural farmland to a bustling residential suburb. Much of the growth of Daniels Hill was fueled by industries in its backyard. The upper basin of the James River and the lower blocks of Cabell Street were major industrial centers from the 1850’s until well into the 20th century. A tobacco factory, lumber yard and foundry are just a few of the businesses that called Daniels Hill home. It was illegal to have duels within the city limits and Daniels Hill up until 1870 was outside the city. Urban myth has many duels being conducted on the grounds of Point of Honor until the neighborhood became part of the City of Lynchburg.
Among Lynchburg’s historic districts Daniels Hill is unique for the diversity of its architecture. Styles range from Federal to Italianate to Georgian Revival and Queen Anne. Types include opulent mansions, modest working-class homes, rowhouses, servant’s quarters, churches, stores and factories. As the wealthy white families moved to “suburbia” starting in the 1930’s wealthy black families (doctors, lawyers and business owners) moved into the neighborhood. After the civil rights movement, these wealthy black families also moved to suburbia and the downtown neighborhoods fell into disrepair as the poor and undesirable elements moved into these downtown neighborhoods. Today, Daniels Hill as well as many of the downtown neighborhoods are being restored and once again becoming the desirable. Over the years dozens of homes were lost due to neglect, but today there is a real sense of pride in the residents of this neighborhood. Many of the smaller homes were built by the owner’s of the larger homes. These homes were for the household staff of the wealthy or for their workers at the foundry. From the beginning, Daniels Hill’s residents were comprised of people from every socio-economic class. Speaking of diversity, there were bootlegers, working girls (and brothels) and speakeasys in the neighborhood during certain periods of our history.
Cabell Street is the main street running through Daniels Hill. Cabell Street was named in 1875 to honor Dr. George Cabell, who built Point of Honor in 1815 and lived there until his death in 1823. Cabell Street was first paved with brick in 1895. Dr. Cabell was Patrick Henry’s personal physician. The city and neighborhood returned the street to its original brick, by removing layers of blacktop, in 2007-2008. Today Point of Honor is part of the Lynchburg Museum and it is open to the public.
The core of Daniels Hill-one block on either side of Cabell Street from A to H Streets-was designated an historic district in 1976.
Next month we will discuss the history and story of our house located at 404 Cabell Street, the Watt’s house.
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