New Listings, September 2016
Historic sites affiliated with milling, mining and other commerce in southwest Virginia and the peanut economy in Suffolk, along with the first public lending-library in Amherst County, and the former headquarters of the Virginia Commission for the Blind are some of the places added to the Virginia Landmarks Register by the Department of Historic Resources.
Blue Ridge Hall stands on a nine-acre parcel in southeastern Botetourt County. A Federal-style, two-story, central-passage frame dwelling, Blue Ridge Hall was built about 1836 at the intersection of a regional turnpike and the Great Road, the main north-south artery of the Valley of Virginia. The house was built for politician George W. Wilson and was afterward owned by Congressman Nathaniel H. Claiborne and, from 1849 to 1890, by businessman and farmer Samuel Obenshain. The building is important for its commercial history as an antebellum-era ordinary and stagecoach stop known as the Blue Ridge Hotel, and for its well-preserved Federal-style mantels and other architectural details. Around 1940 a rear wing was constructed on Blue Ridge Hall and in the late 1950s a Colonial Revival-style porch with square wood columns was added to the front.
Edenetta was the plantation and family seat of two of Essex County’s most prominent and long-established families, the Warings and the Baylors. The property’s antebellum history is represented by its significant number of buildings and structures and agricultural fields. These various features, shaped and used by the enslaved African Americans who worked there for decades, illustrate the wealth and productivity generated by an enslaved workforce. The main house at Edenetta was built around 1800 in a Federal style and renovated about 1850 with Greek Revival–style elements. Architectural features from both building campaigns survive today including well-preserved, undamaged mantels and plasterwork over 150-years old. Edenetta also retains an intact early 19th century domestic complex and historic family cemetery.
The Elon Village Library in Amherst County was constructed in 1917
by Elon community volunteers, using donated materials, as a project of the Elon Civic Betterment League. Situated on a prominent site in the community and built in a simple style, the one-story, 16-by-30 foot frame building, a community landmark, has remained unchanged since 1924, when a rear ell was added for a kitchen.
It was the first dedicated rural public lending-library building in Amherst County and possibly in Virginia. Operating daily from 1918 to 1965, it also functioned also as a community meeting house, classroom, and polling place. It closed only after the county established a branch public library in nearby Madison Heights and created a library within a new 1960s school building on a parcel adjacent to the Elon Village Library.
Today, the library is open only for special occasions and is used for storage but it still retains lighting fixtures and former school benches that were original to its original creation.
Built in 1936 with federal funds from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Hampton National Guard Armory is one of only two extant armories in Hampton Roads that dates from before World War II, and the only one that remains largely unaltered.
The Moderne-style building is also among a small group of surviving WPA-funded armories still standing in Virginia.
The armory was home for Battery D, 111th field artillery, whose commander, Captain H. Clark Thompson, championed its construction. Constructed of brick, the armory features load-bearing walls of 13 inches. The Hampton National Guard Armory served as a social gathering place and musical venue in addition to its military function. During an era of racial segregation, the building was used by both the African American and white communities for separate events.
Built around 1859, the modest, two-story Locustville Academy in Accomack County retains many original interior and exterior elements of its construction, although the belfry is likely a 1907 addition to the building. Still situated in a rural setting, the wooden building, with touches of Greek Revival-style elements, is the only such rural academy schoolhouse known to survive within the Eastern Shore’s Accomack County. The two-room school, with interiors well lit by windows, served the seaside rural community of Locustville from 1859 to 1879 and then reopened to students in 1908. It continued operating into 1926, when Accomack County consolidated its schools. The property also has an early 20th-century water pump.
Mount Calvary Baptist Church was built in 1892 during the era of segregation but its founding congregation dates back decades earlier to the years just after the Civil War and the abolishment of slavery.
Well-preserved, the one-story, wood frame church displays a vernacular adaptation of the Gothic Revival style. Mount Calvary emerged as a focal point of its surrounding community of Nasons, and the building reflects the growth and the need for social, spiritual, and educational self-fulfillment of the community’s members. In this way, it is similar to hundreds of other Reconstruction-era churches in communities throughout Virginia and the South.
Mount Calvary Baptist Church, with a congregation that includes descendants of the original founders, continues to be used today. Located directly across the road from the church is an affiliated cemetery, containing roughly 100 headstones with burials that date from the late 1920s to the present.
Located a mile south of the Wythe County Courthouse, Reed Creek Mill dates to around 1902, when it was known as Stone Mill, replacing a prior Barrett’s Foundry and Mill built in 1858 on the site. In addition to the current mill, other historic structures on the 4.8-acre property are a 350-foot-long mill dam, head race, tail race, and a circa 1950 storage warehouse.
The rectangular-shaped, timber-frame, three-story gristmill rests on a coursed limestone and poured concrete foundation with lower frame side wings. Galvanized corrugated metal siding clads the entire building.
Operating for more than 100 years, the mill was central to the rural Reed Creek community’s economy, and produced flour and buckwheat, and retailed cattle feed and farming supplies. In its early years, Reed Creek Mill also generated electricity for Wytheville’s streetlights until 1911 when Appalachian Power Company took over that role. By 1975, the mill had ceased producing flour for human consumption but it continued milling livestock feed until 2004. The current owner purchased the property in 2012 and rehabilitated the structures.nd its intact and original details.
Named after owner and mid-19th century lime-maker Greenville
Reynolds, the roughly 150-acre Reynolds Property in Botetourt
County features a whitewashed stone house dating to the late
1700s or early 1800s. The house’s interior, originally a
hall-parlor plan, has mud-plastered and whitewashed stone walls,
exposed ceiling beams, a wooden floor, and two fireplaces, one
large enough for cooking food. Other historic resources on the
property include a long-abandoned limestone quarry complex
including a mound that may be a limekiln ruin; a barn and
miscellaneous domestic and agricultural outbuildings; and a
springhead with the remains of a stone springhouse foundation.
Also on the property is a cemetery of uninscribed fieldstone
grave markers that oral tradition suggests was a slave burial
Construction of the James River and Kanawha Canal provided an impetus for a hydraulic cement industry in antebellum Botetourt County and the 1840s appear to have been years of growth in the region’s lime industry, which continues to be an important part of the county’s economy. The Reynolds Property, where quarrying ceased in 1936, stands today as a remarkable survivor of an earlier area.
A two-story residence, constructed around 1820 of brick, laid in Flemish bond on the facade, Springdale, located in northwestern Frederick County, represents a locally important example of a well-preserved Federal-style house.
The Springdale property also includes an 1807 springhouse and smokehouse that illustrate the variation of styles and construction materials popular during their era in the northern Shenandoah Valley.
In 1958, the Springdale property passed out of the Lupton family, Quakers who built Springdale and farmed it continuously during their ownership. Both exterior and interior features of the primary dwelling, springhouse, and smokehouse illustrate the property’s high architectural integrity. A stonewall, built about 1862, fronts the property.
Founded in 1898, the Suffolk Peanut Company—the first successful peanut company in the region—constitutes what is likely the largest and most intact surviving historic peanut processing complex in Virginia. Many of the buildings in the current complex date to within a few years of company’s founding. The warehouses and processing buildings represent the full range of functions historically associated with the site and result in a property with a high degree of historic material and integrity.
The Suffolk Peanut Company complex is significant as it represents the early history of an industry which once dominated the economy of southeast Virginia.
The complex features a two-pronged railroad spur and long loading dock that abuts a historic Norfolk & Western railroad line, revealing the very close relationship between the industry and rail transportation in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The earliest structure in the complex, Warehouse #3, was built in 1903. In 1968, the facility was sold to Goldkist Inc., which ended the property’s link to the historically important Suffolk Peanut Company
The Virginia Commission for the Blind building in Richmond is significant for its close association with Lucian Louis Watts, whose career sought to improve the lives of Virginia’s blind citizens. Watts was acknowledged as a “leader in demonstrating the ability of a state agency to deliver a wide range of services to blind adults and children,” according to historian Frances A. Koestler. Watts helped establish state and national organizations that remain active to this day, in particular, the Virginia Association of Workers for the Blind (now Virginia Industries for the Blind), the Virginia Commission for the Blind (now the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired), and the American Foundation for the Blind.
Completed in 1940 when it opened, the Virginia Commission for the Blind building was designed in the popular Colonial Revival style by J. Binford Walford, a Virginia architect who designed institutional buildings at a number of Virginia universities. His building for the Virginia Commission for the Blind served until 1980 as the principal administrative offices for statewide services for the blind. Additionally, it provided vocational training, an ophthalmological clinic, and a regional Braille and “talking machine books” library. Construction in 1958 of an addition to the building gave it its current form.