#LOVEstaunton

#LOVEstaunton

Staunton Architecture: Stuart Addition

Stuart Addition Historic District is named for Judge Archibald Stuart, a wealthy, influential resident who deeded the area to the city in 1803. Mary Baldwin University if located within this historic district, as are notable historic churches. Augusta Female Seminary was founded in 1842, but you know it today as Mary Baldwin University. The large … Continue reading Staunton Architecture: Stuart Addition

Stuart Addition Historic District is named for Judge Archibald Stuart, a wealthy, influential resident who deeded the area to the city in 1803. Mary Baldwin University if located within this historic district, as are notable historic churches.

First Presbyterian Church

Augusta Female Seminary was founded in 1842, but you know it today as Mary Baldwin University. The large Greek Revival building on campus dates to 1844 and was built to meet the needs of the growing school. The building is often the backdrop for photos; take one there yourself.

The Presbyterian congregation in Staunton predates the First Presbyterian Church at 100 E. Frederick Street. Fellowship of congregants began in 1804 and their first house of worship was built in 1818. The church you see today is their second: a Romanesque Revival with a tall white spire. It was dedicated in 1872.

An interesting bit of extra history about First Presbyterian: Reverend Joseph Ruggles Wilson was at the pulpit when his son Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in 1856. The basin used to baptize the would-be President of the United States is still in use.

The Catholic Church is at home at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, a commanding Gothic Revival designed by none other than T. J. Collins, a parishioner, and built in 1895. The church was Collins’ first major commission in Staunton. 

Formerly the Old YMCA

In our article about the Beverley Historic District we introduced you to a one-time YMCA the locals refer to as the clock tower. In Stuart Addition Historic District, we have another one-time YMCA for your interest. The Renaissance Revival at 41 N. Augusta was built as a YMCA in 1914. The estate of Cyrus McCormick, the inventor of the mechanical reaper, donated $50,000 toward its completion. Today the Y is a series of quirky lofts – the Old Y Lofts – that include nostalgic pieces of the building’s original use. In one loft, a bed platform is actually the old stage. In another, a fun trap door leads into the old pool, which is now a wine cellar. Fun, huh?!

There are at least 13 more sites within Stuart Addition of historic significance marked in the Historic Staunton Foundation walking tour map. Be sure to pick up a copy from their office at the R. R. Smith Center or check out their Flickr Account for a “virtual tour” of Stuart Addition.

And while you’re here, be sure and visit some of the other historic districts in downtown Staunton:
Beverley District
Wharf District 
Newtown District 

Staunton Architecture: Newtown Historic District

If you suppose that Newtown is so named to distinguish it from what was once known as Oldtown, you’re right. Newtown is Staunton’s oldest residential neighborhood and home to significant landmarks. Staunton’s oldest church is Trinity Episcopal, built in 1855 in Neo-Gothic style. It’s actually the third house of worship on the site; the first … Continue reading Staunton Architecture: Newtown Historic District

If you suppose that Newtown is so named to distinguish it from what was once known as Oldtown, you’re right. Newtown is Staunton’s oldest residential neighborhood and home to significant landmarks.

Trinity Episcopal Church
Trinity Episcopal Church

Staunton’s oldest church is Trinity Episcopal, built in 1855 in Neo-Gothic style. It’s actually the third house of worship on the site; the first was built in 1763. Trinity is a must-see when you’re in Staunton. One dozen Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows grace the space with The Ascension Triptych (dated 1897) believed to be the first installed.

Companion buildings on the Trinity campus include the 1872 Parish House of Gothic Revival style, and the Trinity Rectory (also 1872) in Jacobean Revival style, a rare architectural gem in this area.

From Trinity Church emerged Emmanuel Episcopal Church, an 1894 Gothic Revival designed by T. J. Collins. The interior is no longer exactly what he planned, as church traditions and needs evolved to dictate a shift in floor plan. If you pay a visit, you won’t be able to ignore the soaring vaulted ceiling with its delicate details.

Beverley Street School Studio

Built in 1887, the Stonewall Jackson School was Staunton’s first permanent public school. In 1912, President Woodrow Wilson reviewed a parade in his honor from the front of the school. In 1913, T. J. Collins directed a remodeling of it. Today the school building is a school of a different sort. The Beverley Street Studio School occupies the first floor.

The 1792 Smith Thompson House at 701 W. Beverley Street is an original log home and one of Staunton’s last 18th century structures.  It was built by Revolutionary War soldier, Smith Thompson, a barber who showcased a razor he said he used to shave George Washington. The left side of the house is an addition to the right and sits on a stone foundation. It was appended in 1870.

There are at least 13 more sites of historic significance marked in the Historic Staunton Foundation walking tour map. Be sure to pick up a copy from their office at the R. R. Smith Center or check out their Flickr Account for a “virtual tour” of Newtown Historic District

And while you’re here, be sure and visit some of the other historic districts in downtown Staunton:

Staunton Architecture: The Wharf District

In existence because of the Virginia Central Railroad arrival in 1854, the Wharf Area Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places. Therefore, it’s no surprise to find the 1902 C & O Train Station among one the key architectural prizes in The Wharf. While it’s not the original 1854 depot (rather, it’s the … Continue reading Staunton Architecture: The Wharf District

In existence because of the Virginia Central Railroad arrival in 1854, the Wharf Area Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places. Therefore, it’s no surprise to find the 1902 C & O Train Station among one the key architectural prizes in The Wharf. While it’s not the original 1854 depot (rather, it’s the third), the building’s style is what is unusual. Who would consider Bungalow style for a train depot? T. J. Collins, of course. Today the depot is home to The Depot Grille.

As business boomed when the railroad came to town, The Wharf Warehouses sprung up across from the depot to support the activity. Built between 1870 and 1910, this row of brick warehouses were the place to find the farmers, grocers, and wholesalers engaging in commerce. The buildings now house retailers, offices, and restaurants rather than goods and supplies.

Also adjacent to the train depot is The American Hotel, circa 1855. The Greek Revival structure was built by the railroad and served the traveling public well. A key claim to fame was the 1869 overnight stay by President and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, who emerged from the balcony while being serenaded by the Stonewall Brigade Band outside. Visitors to The American Hotel today are likely there for a special event. The structure has been restored and renovated, keeping the 1950s architecture and details in the Banquet Room.

The Historic Staunton Building at 120 S. Augusta Street was built in 1876. There are two especially unique facts about it: 1) The upper levels of the façade is fluted metal giving the appearance of columns; 2) it’s built over the still-flowing Lewis Creek. Today you’ll find attorneys and other professionals at work within the building.

Continue your virtual “walking tour” of The Wharf District by visiting the Historic Staunton Foundation’s Flickr Account. 

Check out the other historic districts in honor of Virginia Architecture Week and visit:

 

 

 

Staunton: One of the Best Small Towns in Virginia

Cradled by the Blue Ridge and surrounded by massive national forests and vast wilderness areas, the Shenandoah Valley town of Staunton has endless appeal. One of the oldest settlements in the Blue Ridge, the Victorian-era town is a living museum. Staunton was largely spared the destruction unleashed on other locations in the Shenandoah Valley by … Continue reading Staunton: One of the Best Small Towns in Virginia

Crabtree Falls is the highest in the Virginia Blue Ridge, and a very popular hiking destination. Karen Blaha
Crabtree Falls is the highest in the Virginia Blue Ridge, and a very popular hiking destination. Karen Blaha

Cradled by the Blue Ridge and surrounded by massive national forests and vast wilderness areas, the Shenandoah Valley town of Staunton has endless appeal. One of the oldest settlements in the Blue Ridge, the Victorian-era town is a living museum. Staunton was largely spared the destruction unleashed on other locations in the Shenandoah Valley by Union troops during the Civil War—most of the buildings in Staunton’s downtown area are more than a century old, and the town’s residential neighborhoods are still dotted with elegant 18th and 19th century homes. A bustling commercial hub even during the colonial-era, Staunton still lures visitors with its architecturally stunning downtown—now lined with eclectic boutiques, inviting eateries, and cozy tasting rooms pouring locally produced wine and craft beer.

Beyond the proudly preserved architectural wonders, Staunton’s rich past is still evident all over town. Staunton was a stop along the Great Wilderness Road, a southward route used by newly arrived European immigrants as portal to the frontier until the middle of the 19th century—a thoroughfare that later became the Valley Pike, now Route 11. Staunton’s Frontier Culture Museum is a living-history, open-air museum that brings the past to life, demonstrating the daily lifestyles of the Valley’s early settlers through original farmsteads and costumed interpreters.

Marquis Building by Warren Faught
Marquis Building by Warren Faught

One of America’s most influential presidents also called Staunton home: Woodrow Wilson was born in the town in 1865, and the 28th president’s home still adorns a hill in Staunton’s Gospel Historic District, now maintained as the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum.

For outdoor lovers, options in Staunton are almost endless. The strategically placed, mountain-fringed town is the ideal launch pad for a bounty of outdoor adventures. Staunton is flanked by two massive national forests—the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests—long, slender slices of wilderness stretching from one end of Virginia to the other, laden with recreational opportunities. You also have quick access to the spectacular Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, the most scenic drive in the state.

Staunton is surrounded by incredible hiking trails, like this one near Crabtree Falls, that are particularly scenic in the fall. Karen Blaha
Staunton is surrounded by incredible hiking trails, like this one near Crabtree Falls, that are particularly scenic in the fall. Karen Blaha

The town is also ringed by a collection of vast roadless wilderness areas traversed by extensive trail systems. Just about 20-miles west of Staunton, the 19,290-acre Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness is crisscrossed by 37 miles of trails and loaded with craggy peaks and laced with trout-blessed streams. Just south of town, the 10,090-acre Saint Mary’s Wilderness is flush with 27-miles of trails—capped off by high peaks including Cellar, Bald, and Big Spy mountains—and spider-webbed by gushing mountain streams culminating in cascading waterfalls.

Staunton provides easy access to two of the most scenic byways in the state—and arguably, on the East Coast. Just north of town is the entrance to Skyline Drive, the vista-rich, 105-mile thoroughfare bisecting Virginia’s 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park, offering access to the area’s 500 miles of trails. Almost immediately after entering the park’s less-frequented southern section, Skyline Drive also intersects the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail, which rambles through the park for 101 miles.

Staunton, Virginia, is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, serving as the perfect base camp to explore the region. Malee Oot
Staunton, Virginia, is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, serving as the perfect base camp to explore the region. Malee Oot

In Rockfish Gap, 20 miles from Staunton, Skyline Drive also merges into the southbound Blue Ridge Parkway, the iconic byway running 469-miles from the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Some of the most spectacular sites along the entire parkway are in the northernmost section—just minutes from Staunton. First, the Humpback Rocks Recreation Area offers access to a range of hiking trails, with options for quick leg-stretchers or extensive loops. The massive 3,080-foot rock formation known as Humpback Rocks is also touted as one of the parkway’s premier vistas—and one of the most popular.

Just after Humpback Rocks is another treasure: The Sherando Lake Recreation Area is one of the byway’s most inviting detours. The 25-acre, spring-fed lake is edged by hiking trails, leafy campsites, and a sandy swimming beach. Slightly further south, the parkway also offers access to the one of the most stunning waterfalls in the east—and the highest in the Virginia Blue Ridge—Crabtree Falls. Two trailheads just a few miles from the parkway offer hikers intimate access to the cascades plunging 1,800-foot course to the Tye River.

Black Dog Bikes in Staunton is a great resource for cycling in the region. Malee Oot
Black Dog Bikes in Staunton is a great resource for cycling in the region. Malee Oot

The vast tracts of wilderness and extensive byways accessible from Staunton also make the locale a hub for cyclists. Options for bike rides abound—from two-wheeled historical tours of Staunton to longer circuits through the bucolic landscape of the Shenandoah Valley. Find a number of local circuits mapped out by Bike the Valley. In Staunton, local cyclists congregate at Black Dog Bikes in the evenings from spring to early fall for weekly rides, with more leisurely loops on Tuesdays and fast-paced, longer circuits on Thursdays as well as Women on Wheels riding every Wednesday. The town’s cycle culture is also celebrated every October with the Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival, a weekend of rides showcasing the region’s vibrant seasonal color. You’ll find routes suitable for riders of all levels—from lazy, 12-mile loops to century circuits full of brag-worthy climbs.

The Shenandoah Valley isn’t just a playground for cyclists. The verdant valley is also sprinkled with farms, wineries and craft breweries—linked by routes like the Fields of Gold Farm Trail, the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail, and the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. In Staunton, the bounty of the valley is showcased at the Augusta Farmers Market (Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 7 a.m.-noon, April to November) and celebrated by the town’s vibrant farm-to-table restaurant movement.

But, it’s not just local eateries highlighting the abundance of locally sourced, seasonally rotating ingredients—Staunton has also become a hub of craft beer. The town is now home to three different craft breweries—Queen City Brewing, Redbeard Brewing, and the Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company.

Eclectic microbrews, a seasonally evolving and locally inspired food scene, and a charming, historic downtown—all minutes away from vast wilderness areas, national parks, and forests. The next time you find yourself in Staunton, sipping a freshly poured craft brew while recounting backcountry Blue Ridge adventures, you too may wonder, is this the best kept secret in Virginia?

Originally written by RootsRated for Staunton VA.