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Lynchburg, Virginia–A City of Seven Hills

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Lynchburg, Virginia is commonly known as the City of Seven Hills.  Due to the prominence of seven “major” hills throughout the region the city was divided into seven hills:  College Hill, Daniel’s Hill, Diamond Hill, Federal Hill, Franklin Hill, Garland Hill and White Rock Hill.  These hills surround the original downtown of Lynchburg.  For the next few months I will be writing about the history and significance of these hills as they relate to Lynchburg’s prominence in early Virginia and to their impact on Lynchburg today.

This month’s blog will begin with Court House Hill.  Court House Hill was the original downtown area that was chartered by John Lynch in 1786.  Court House Hill includes Commerce Street and Church Streets.  It is bounded on the east by 12th Street and on the west by 5th Street.  Originally it contained 45 acres.  Even though it was the original town of Lynchburg, today we are including it as a “hill.”

The Court House (today’s Lynchburg Museum) was completed in 1813.  Court House Hill saw a number of early homes completed in 1826 and 1827.  Most of these houses were built on this hill with front or rear porches, oftentimes two-story, that could overlook the commercial activity below or views of the James River below and the hills of Amherst beyond.  In 1829 an important asset was added to Lynchburg when the town funded a water system that took water from the James River and pumped it to a reservoir at the corner of 7th and Clay Streets.  The wall of the reservoir is still visible today.  By 1830, the town had a population of 4,600 residents and one of the earliest water systems in the country.

In the early 20th century Lynchburg had a surge of new development.  The Academy of Music opened on Main Street.  A new post office, several schools and the neo-classical Lynchburg National Bank (at the corner of 9th and Main Streets) opened.  In 1925 the World War I memorial, Monument Terrace, was completed.  1931 saw the completion of one of the area’s finest examples of Art Deco architecture, the Allied Arts Building on Church Street.