17 Historic Sites Added to the Virginia Landmarks Register
New listings cover sites in the counties of Albemarle, Bath, Campbell, Caroline, Fauquier (2), Frederick, Halifax, King George, King William, Nelson, and Rappahannock; and the cities of Fredericksburg (2) and Salem (3):
Among the 17 historic sites added to the Virginia Landmarks Register recently by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources are three historic districts located in Bath and Fauquier counties and the City of Salem, three so-called “Rosenwald” schools in Albemarle, Campbell, and Rappahannock counties, three churches in Fredericksburg, and Caroline and King William counties, and early 20th century buildings in Salem affiliated with a commercial laundry and a meatpacking operation.
Beginning around 1761, Bath County’s Warm Springs and West Warm Springs Historic District arose around and near to the natural thermal springs that drew visitors for recreational, medical and social reasons and gave the communities their name. The district includes 223 contributing historic resources—among them, buildings, estates, cemeteries, and archaeological sites—and covers approximately 720 acres near the center of the county.
The district encompasses the village of Warm Springs and its one-time courthouse and jail (today’s Warm Springs Inn) and various commercial buildings and houses. Extending westward along Virginia Route 39, the district also enfolds West Warm Springs, historically an African American community settled after the Civil War, many of whose residents found work in the local resort industry.
In Fauquier County, the Midland Historic District encompasses a small unincorporated village straddling a Norfolk Southern Railway line today. Midland got its start as a station established in 1873 by the Washington City, Virginia Midland, and Great Southern Railway. Its name likely derives from its position at the mid-point on the company’s rail line between Washington, D.C. and the Town of Orange in Orange County. After purchasing the land, WCVM&GS laid out the town of Midland by dividing it into small lots that it sold.
About half of the surviving historic resources in the district date from between 1880 and 1910. Despite its origins, no railroad structures survive today, although the district features at least four commercial buildings, an Odd Fellows Hall, and a community cemetery established in 1905, all attesting to the town’s importance to the surrounding area. The district includes as well numerous mid-20th century houses.
In Salem, the North Broad Street Historic District evokes the city’s economic prosperity from the 1880s to around 1950, when all the district’s lots were sold. Some of Salem’s wealthiest and most influential community members chose to reside there, and many of its side streets are named for the district’s influential residents. Due to its proximity to Main Street—the commercial, religious, and civic hub of the town—North Broad Street was often the first residential areas to benefit from infrastructure improvements such as paved streets, sidewalks, and electricity.
Comprised primarily of residential properties ranging in date from 1867 to 2000, the North Broad Street district is characterized by substantial houses designed in a variety of popular architectural styles of the time. Despite the diversity of the residential styles such as Second Empire, Italianate, Queen Anne, Stick Style, Folk Victorian, Classical Revival, Craftsman, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, and Minimal Traditional, North Broad Street remains a visually cohesive district with uniform setbacks on spacious rectangular lots. Large rear yards and secondary structures further characterize the properties in the district.
Rosenwald schools refer to those buildings constructed for the education of African American students with financial support and building plans provided by the Julius Rosenwald Fund. The fund was the collaborative brainchild of Booker T. Washington, president of Tuskegee Institute, and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Co. During the years of the Rosenwald Fund’s operation, between 1917 and 1932, more than 5,000 schools were constructed throughout the American South, including more than 380 in Virginia. Less than 100 survive today in the commonwealth, standing reminders of the Rosenwald Fund’s initiatives for the advancement of African-American education during the first half of the 20th century.
The Department of Historic Resources (DHR) is partnering with Preservation Virginia to identify and recognize existing and lost Rosenwalds in the commonwealth, including the three recently approved for listing on the Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) by DHR’s Board of Historic Resources during its quarterly June meeting.
The Campbell County Training School, also known historically as the Rustburg School, is located in the courthouse town of Rustburg. The school began in 1922 with construction of an H-shaped building with two parallel wings each housing two classrooms, a so-called four-teacher school. In the early 1930s, the Rustburg School expanded to become a training school by adding three buildings and for three additional teachers. The first buildings constructed for the complex cost $7,500 of which the local African-American community contributed $800, the county school board, $5,600, and the Rosenwald Fund, $1,100. Standing today on their original sites, the buildings retain most of their historic building materials. The four one-story frame buildings are likely the only surviving four building Rosenwald training complex in Virginia. The training school served students through 1968, when the county began integrating its public schools.
Constructed in 1922 and one of seven Rosenwalds built in Albemarle County, St. John School served African American students in the Cobham and Gordonsville area from its opening in 1923 until it closed in 1954. The school exemplifies the Rosenwald T-shape “Floor Plan No. 20,” a two-room, two-teacher school designed by architect Samuel L. Smith, who served as director of the Rosenwald Fund starting in 1920. The fund contributed $700 and the plan for the St. John School, with the local African American community providing $400, and the white community, $100. The Albemarle County school board matched these donations with another $1,200. Today, the well-preserved school retains most of its historic fabric amid its rural setting.
Washington School Graded School in Rappahannock County was constructed around 1923 as a two-teacher school. Of the Rosenwalds built in 79 localities in Virginia, about 50 percent were similar to the Washington School two-teacher design. The school’s construction cost $3,500, with the African American community contributing $1,200, raised through the efforts of a “Parent Civic League,” and $1,600 from public contributions, supported with $700 from the Rosenwald Fund. The Washington School, which closed in 1963, retains the early look and feel of its rural setting, and exhibits historic integrity of design, workmanship, and materials.
The three church buildings approved for listing on the VLR include Grace Episcopal Church in Caroline County, Lanesville Christadelphian Church in King William County, and St. George’s Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg.
Grace Episcopal Church is an early Caroline County example of Greek Revival architecture applied to an ecclesiastical building. After its initial construction by neighboring planters between 1833-34 in a simple colonial style, in 1853 Greek Revival elements were added—most notably on the exterior front entrance and inside a rear addition built to house a recessed chancel. An upper gallery was installed as well for enslaved and freemen in the area to attend worship services. Those 1850s’ changes reflect resurgence in Episcopal Church worship wherein a central altar focused services emphasizing ceremony and the ritual of communion sacrament over preaching from the pulpit, the more dominate form of worship during the colonial era. Grace Episcopal Church served as a Civil War Confederate hospital and headquarters for Gen. Robert Rodes. After the war, the 1875 painting “The Ascension of Christ” by Arthur Pierson was installed in the chancel behind the altar where it is back lit by a window, a move suggestive of the more decorative religious elements that appeared in churches during the postbellum era.
With its rectangular footprint, simple architectural embellishments and large windows, Lanesville Christadelphian Church in King William County is a fine example of a vernacular rural Virginia church building from the late 1800s. The interior is an open room featuring original wood flooring, wainscoting, window and door trim, lighting fixtures, wood pews, and a gently arched ceiling. The Christadelphian sect arose in the 1840s through the teachings of Englishman Dr. John Thomas who emphasized personal interpretation of biblical scripture. Virginia theologian Dr. Lemuel Edwards led around 16 adherents of Thomas to build a meeting house, Zion, in 1855 at Acquinton. After the Civil War, Thomas visited Virginia, with extended stays at Zion, which grew to upwards of 60 or more members. The Christadelphians built the Lanesville church building around 1875. By 1964, church membership had dissolved.
St. George’s Episcopal Church was constructed in 1849. It was the third church building erected on a lot designated for a church originally on a plat of Fredericksburg that the House of Burgesses approved in 1727. With its tall steeple clock that has operated consistently since 1851, the church, located next to city government buildings and the historic market square, is a landmark building at the center of town. An important example of Romanesque Revival style in Fredericksburg, the church is also the only Romanesque building in Virginia designed by renowned Baltimore architect Robert Cary Long, Jr. During the Civil War, after the First Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862 and the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, the church functioned as a hospital.
In Salem, two individual commercial sites were also listed on the VLR, in addition to the North Broad Street Historic District:
Peacock-Salem Launderers & Cleaners was built in 1916 for Salem Steam Laundry in a commercial architecture style. The building’s numerous additions reflect how the laundry industry expanded and evolved over the course of the 20th century, with the advancement of technology and the introduction of new services. John Lee Logan purchased Salem Steam Laundry in 1934 and renamed it Peacock-Salem Launderers and Cleaners and increased its capacity, adding services and expanding the building several times, including in 1955 with a substantial one-story Modernist addition to house customer call and management offices. The laundry was the largest in Salem and the business remained in the Logan family until 2000, when it was sold to Air-Lee Laundry.
The Valleydale Packers Inc. was the original plant and headquarters for Neuhoff Incorporated (later renamed Valleydale Packers), a major industrial operation in the Southeastern United States. Established in 1936, it became one of the largest employers in Salem and helped launch the city into a new era of industrial prosperity. The plant complex consists of a 1951 International-style office wing at the front, and interconnected one and two-story masonry buildings, constructed between 1936 and 1971, where the various activities of the meat processing operations took place. Founder Lorenz Neuhoff, Jr., a leader in the region’s meat packing industry, was an innovative marketer who capitalized on television advertising as early as the 1950s with ads featuring dancing cartoon pigs and catchy jingles. Lorenz Neuhoff continued to own, operate, and expand the business into the 1980s.
In Fredericksburg, in addition to St. George’s Episcopal Church, the Fredericksburg and Confederate Cemeteries, established in 1844 and 1866, respectively, also earned designation to the VLR.
Fredericksburg Cemetery, the town’s first private cemetery, started with the Fredericksburg Cemetery Company selling plots to the general public. The company placed particular importance on the cemetery’s design and encouraged religious diversity in its clientele. Following the end of the Civil War, the Ladies Memorial Association (LMA) of Fredericksburg established the Confederate Cemetery as a burial ground for Confederate soldiers who had died in area battles during the war. As Confederate casualties, these soldiers could not be buried in Fredericksburg’s National Cemetery, created in 1865 for fallen Union soldiers. The LMA also sold plots to the general public. The Fredericksburg and Confederate Cemeteries depict popular trends in mortuary culture and funerary art and architecture from the mid-1800s through the early 1900s as revealed in a large stone Monument to the Confederate Dead, a Classical Revival mausoleum, ornate entry gates, as well as individual memorials, monuments, grave markers, and each cemetery’s landscape design.
Five other sites were listed on the VLR during the June 21 meeting of the Virginia Board of Historic Resources:
Deerfield, a vernacular example of Federal and Greek Revival styles in Fauquier County, remains almost exactly as constructed around 1844, with a mid-19th century rear ell also largely unchanged. A 221-acre farm today, Deerfield witnessed fighting during the Civil War when part of the Battle of Upperville was fought along a ridgeline marking the property’s east boundary. Two funerary markers erected in memory of fallen Union soldiers remain in the backyard. Deerfield is constructed of brick, distinguishing it from most the area’s contemporary stone residences. The house’s historic integrity is complemented by its setting among agricultural fields that remain largely unaltered by modern intrusions, close in appearance to what they would have looked like around 1860. Today, Deerfield and much of the surrounding farmland are under conservation easements.
Although its current 26.5 acres represent only a fraction of the holdings of its builder, Ryland Rodes, Mill Hill, established around 1840, contains a complex of domestic and agricultural buildings that reflect the changes in agricultural practices in Nelson County, from the antebellum era of enslaved labor to a post-Civil War economy that shifted away from labor intensive crops to apple orchards and, ultimately, in the case of Mill Hill, to a gentleman’s farm. The property includes an altered but rare extant slave dwelling as well as an ice house, poultry house, a school, caretaker’s house, and a circa 1840 bank barn. The evolved main house retains hallmark Greek Revival woodwork and faux finishes. The timber frame construction, brick nogging, and formerly pedimented, two-level porch are similar to a neighboring farmhouse. Mill Hill also shares with yet another house in the county two distinctive features—an oversized, in-wall Lazy Susan serving a basement dining room and a “lobby stair.” Southwest of the main house is a circa-1845 stone building foundation, the likely ruins of a mill.
Reflecting the influence of traditional building forms of the German settlers from Pennsylvania who migrated to the Shenandoah Valley, Rock Hill in Frederick County was constructed around 1780 by or for William Lupton. It exemplifies an evolved vernacular dwelling with subtle details that evoke the Georgian and Federal architectural styles popular during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The dwelling exhibits three separate building phases—stone, log, and timber frame—each one incorporating techniques derived from German, Scotch, and English Quaker cultural traditions and local materials. The Rock Hill property also features a circa 1780 smokehouse and springhouse, the latter in ruins, as well as a circa 1850 bank barn.
Built in 1786,in King George County is a late Georgian, early Federal residence, with restrained mid-20th century Colonial Revival enhancements—three styles central to Virginia architectural history. Aaron Thornley, its first owner, served as Surveyor of King George County and Inspector at Gibson’s Warehouse, later Port Conway, making Thornley a player in the early colonial-era settlement of King George County. The property is also significant for the well-documented work enslaved persons of African descent executed there from the 1780s until the early 1860s. The house’s Colonial Revival elements were added during a restoration in the 1940s, notably carried out with a strong sense of preservation that appears to have “colonialized” relatively little of the existing historic fabric and instead ensured its continued preservation and use.
Built in 1888, the Vaughan House is a prominent Italianate style residence in South Boston, Halifax County’s largest town. The two-story frame house is distinguished by elaborate ornamentation including a bracketed and vented cornice, fringed window heads, intricate ceiling medallions, and fireplaces with brightly hued ceramic tilework. The house was built for Halifax County Clerk of Court Edgar Hopson Vaughan, who lived there with his second wife, Ida Rogers Vaughan, founder of South Boston’s public library in 1915. After Edgar’s death in 1893, Ida married his younger brother, Aaron Haskins Vaughan. Their son, Aaron Hugh Vaughan (known to the family as Hugh), toured the nation as bandmaster for Vaughan’s Virginians, a 1920s dance band. Another son, Page Haskins Vaughan, was the first president of the National Tobacco Festival held in South Boston in the 1930s and early 1940s.
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources will forward the documentation for these 17 newly-listed VLR sites to the National Park Service for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
Complete nomination forms and photographs for each of these sites can be accessed on the DHR website at https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/boards/.
Listing a property in the state or national registers is honorary and sets no restrictions on what a property owner may do with his or her property. The designation is first and foremost an invitation to learn about and experience authentic and significant places in Virginia’s history.
Designating a property to the state or national registers—either individually or as a contributing building in a historic district—provides an owner the opportunity to pursue historic rehabilitation tax credit improvements to the building. Tax credit projects must comply with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The tax credit program is voluntary and not a requirement when owners work on their listed properties.
Virginia is a national leader among states in listing historic sites and districts in the National Register of Historic Places. The state is also a national leader for the number of federal tax credit rehabilitation projects proposed and completed each year.
Together the register and tax credit rehabilitation programs play significant roles in promoting Virginia’s heritage and the preservation of the Commonwealth’s historic places and in spurring economic revitalization and tourism in many towns and communities.