Staunton

Railroad Stations: Middlebrook Ave. and S.Augusta St. for Chesapeake and Ohio Ry.; Greenville and Waynesboro Aves. for Baltimore & Ohio R.R.

Bus Station: NW. corner Johnson and New Sts. for Atlantic Greyhound, Virginia Stage Lines, and Pan American Lines.

Taxis: Fare $2.50 for 2 passengers, within city limits.

Traffic Regulations: Half hour parking one side of street only in business district.

Accommodations: 4 hotels; tourist homes.

Information Service: Staunton-Augusta Chamber of Commerce, 112 W.Frederick St.; Shenandoah Valley, Inc., Stonewall Jackson Hotel, Market and Johnson Sts.

Motion Picture Houses: 3.

Golf: Gypsy Hill Park, Churchville and Thornrose Aves., 9 holes, greens fee 250; Ston& wall Jackson Tavern, 2.3 m. N. on US 110, 18 holes, greens fee $ 1.00.

Swimming: Gypsy Hill Park, Churchville and Thornrose Aves., free.

Tennis: Gypsy Hill Park, Churchville and Thornrose Aves., 3 courts, open daily, fee loo per hr., children 5 0.

Annual Events: Staunton Motorcycle Hill Climb, July 4; Staunton Fair, 6 days in late summer; Gold Star Mothers'Pilgrimage to birthplace of Woodrow Wilson, autumn.

STAUNTON (pronounced StIn'ton, 1,385 alt., 11,990 pop.), in the Shenandoah Valley, originated the city-manager form of government and is the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson.

The city is set among mountains. Round about are fertile fields, grazing lands, and acres of orchards, in spring snowy with blossoms that distil their fragrance through the countryside and in fall heavy with fruit and pungent with the cidery odor of ripe apples.

Streets in Staunton drop and wind perilously, following trails once used by Indians, stagecoaches, and bell-decked wagon caravans. Old homes of mellowed brick and of clapboard, not too recently painted, stand close to sidewalks and hide gardens tucked behind them. Children's children have lived in these houses, content to remodel but unwilling to destroy.

At the center of the city is the crowded business district. Narrow streets that are laid here at right angles curve and broaden slightly as they climb toward residential sections. Within the circle roughly defining the city limits are a lake around which a race track has been laid; a cemetery, spacious and landscaped; the grounds of the Western State Hospital and of the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind; the small neat campuses of two colleges; a park; and a line of railroad tracks running through unsightly slums.

From September till June youth rules Staunton. Boys from two preparatory schools-confident that brass buttons and uniforms are irresistible and pretty girls who are wise enough to study fashion magazines as well as classical subjects find time to be admired. Undergraduates from men's colleges near by flock to Staunton for delightful-though vigilantly chaperoned-hours with the girls of Mary Baldwin and Stuart Hall.

Negroes, not so numerous here as they are in many other Virginia cities, are a stable element in the population. Sue M. Brown, author, organizer, and leader in racial and interracial work, was born in Staunton.

Local industrial plants manufacture furniture, men's garments, woolens, hosiery, flour, and dairy products. An ingenious woman dresses period dolls so originally as to have won National notice. Staunton is the market for one of the richest agricultural counties in America. The principal farm products-hay, corn, wheat, fruit, milk, butter, and poultry-have an annual value of more than $7,000,000.

In 1736 William Beverley was granted a large tract of land embracing the present city of Staunton, 'in consideration for inducing a large number of settlers to the community.' In 1738, when Augusta County was formed, extending from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Mississippi River and south from the Great Lakes to North Carolina, no provision was made for a county seat. Beverley gave a small stone building at Mill Place, earliest name of the settlement, for use as the county courthouse. In 1761 the general assembly authorized the town of Staunton. Some say the name honored Lady Gooch, wife of Governor William Gooch and a member of the Staunton family, others that the town was named for Staunton, England.

The town was advantageously situated at the crossing of the Valley Pike and the Midland Trail. Travelers westward bound and those journeying southward or northward stopped in Staunton. Here they refreshed themselves at taverns, rested their horses, and replenished their supplies. Through Staunton were shipped luxuries that East sent West, and along the streets of the frontier city great droves of hogs passed on their way to eastern markets. In 1796 Isaac Weld, an Irish traveler, wrote, 'As I passed along the road in the great valley and the village called Staunton, I met with great numbers of people from Kentucky and the new state of Tennessee, going towards Philadelphia and Baltimore and with many others going in a contrary direction, " to explore," as they call it, that is to search for lands conveniently situated for new settlements in the western country. This town called Staunton carries on a considerable trade with the back country and contains nearly two hundred dwellings, mostly built of stone, together with a church. Nowhere, I believe, is there such a superfluity of . . . military personages as in the town of Staunton.' In 1797 the Duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, a French philosopher, visited Staunton on his way to Monticello, and commented in his diary upon the town: 'There are eight Inns, fifteen to eighteen stores and about 800 inhabitants . . . The inhabitants, like the generality of Virginians, were fond of gambling and betting.'

Throughout vast Augusta County Indians gave no end of trouble, for the unreasonable savages resented the white man's thef t of their land. Among the Indian fighters was 'Mad Ann' Bailey, intermittently a resident of Staunton. She came to America from England as an indentured servant, married Richard Trotter, and brought forth a son. After her husband was killed by the Indians, Ann set out to avenge his death. She always carried an ax and an auger and could chop as well as any man.' Dressed in men's clothes, equipped with rifle, tomahawk, and knife, she became a spy, messenger, and scout, killed more than one person's share of Indians, saved stockades, and lived to the creditable age of 83.

Staunton was once the capital of Virginia, though the distinction was unpremeditated and short-lived. In 1781, when the British Colonel Tarleton approached Charlottesville, the general assembly fled to Staunton and continued its sessions in Old Trinity Church.

After the Revolution Dr. Alexander Humphreys, pioneer surgeon and teacher of medical science, who died in 1802, lived in Staunton. Ephraim McDowell, pioneer in the science of ovariotomy, William Wardlaw, Samuel Brown, and other distinguished physicians were pupils of Dr.Humphreys. In 1788, after the disappearance of a visiting Englishman, Dr. Humphreys was suspected of murder when a bag that bore his name and contained the bones of a man was found in a cave. He sued his accuser and received a verdict of 'slander.' Later Dr.McDowell positively identified the hair as that of a Negro whose corpse Dr. Humphreys probably had used for dissection.

The town was chartered in 18oi. The Central Railroad completed its tracks as far west as Staunton in 1854. During the War between the States no battles were fought in the immediate vicinity of Staunton, but both armies used the city as a base for supplies. Staunton became a city in 1887.

It is one of the few cities that have made original contributions to government. In conceiving the city-manager plan, adopted in 1908, it set a pattern that has been followed by about 500 other cities. This wholly American form, based upon methods used in business corporations, has been adopted in several foreign countries. In Staunton a unicameral council of five members, elected by the voters, appoints a city manager, who administers municipal affairs.

Staunton has been visited by many notables, including Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, and Lee. President Coolidge, while spending his summers in Virginia, worshiped in Staunton at the First Presbyterian Church. Since 1936 the Gold Star Mothers of America have held annual conventions here.

POINTS OF INTEREST

CITY HALL, 100 block E. Beverley St., originally a small rectangular frame structure erected in 1871 and known as Grangers Hall, was entirely remodeled in 193 1 and built of red brick. On the second floor is the HEADQUARTERS OF THE STONEWALL BRIGADE BAND (open 9-5 weekdays), organized in 1845 as the Mountain Saxe Horn Band. At the beginning of the War between the States the band was mustered in as the Fifth Virginia Regimental Band, and General Jackson raised its rank to the Stonewall Brigade Band. General Grant at Appomattox allowed members to take home their instruments. When Grant, making his first trip south as President, passed through Staunton, the band serenaded him at the stationthe first welcome he received by a southern organization, he said. At his funeral in New York the band was given the post of honor, and in 1897 it played at the dedication of Grant's Tomb on Riverside Drive. During the summer months the band plays regularly in Gypsy Hill Park. The original instruments, preserved here, are the only complete set known to have been manufactured by Antoine Saxe in Brussels. A bugle in the band's collection was used in the Revolution, the War of 18 12, the Mexican War, and the War between the States, and sounded the call to colors for the SpanishAmerican War and the World War.

MARY BALDWIN COLLEGE, Frederick St. between New and Market Sts., a large group of yellow buildings, brightened by white colonnades and sitting on a terraced hillside, is the second oldest Presbyterian college for women in the United States and the oldest of uninterrupted history in the South. Established in 1842 by the Reverend Rufus W. Bailey as the Augusta Female Seminary, it was kept open during the War between the States and Reconstruction by Miss Mary Julia Baldwin, principal for 34 years. By act of the general assembly in 1895-96 the seminary was named for Miss Baldwin. In 1923 it became a college and now confers the degree of bachelor of arts. The enrollment is more than 300. President Wilson was baptized in Waddell Chapel, in which his father preached before it became part of the college.

WOODROW WILSON'S BIRTHPLACE (open 8:30-5 Mon.-Fri., 8:30-12 Sat.; adm. 250), 24 N.Coalter St., is a square house of gray-painted brick. A flat-roofed portico, somewhat altered and now at the rear, was originally the main entrance. Its two-story columns face the garden, landscaped to conform with the old pattern. The house was built in 1846 as the manse of the First Presbyterian Church. Woodrow Wilson was born here December 28, 1856, while his father, the Reverend Joseph R. Wilson, was pastor of the church. The building was purchased by Mary Baldwin College in 1931, and sold in 1938 to the Commonwealth of Virginia. As a part of the annual convention of Gold Star Mothers a pilgrimage is made to this house.

KALORAMA (private), 16 S.Market St., a large frame house, incorporates the foundations, four rooms, and a hall of Beverley Manor House, built about 173 7. Carter Beverley, a grandson of William Beverley, rented the house from Daniel Sheffey, who bought it in 1805. After Mr. Sheffey's death in 1831, Mrs. Sheffey and her two daughters opened a school for young ladies' here.

AUGUSTA COUNTY COURTHOUSE (open 9-5 Mon.-Fri., 9-1 Sat.), NE. corner Johnson and Augusta Sts., a classic structure in cream brick with large stone columns, is the fifth courthouse on this site. The limestone corner marker planted at the end of the first day's surveying of the Beverley grant in 1736 is in the courtroom. In the same room hang portraits of early justices and judges, including one of Chief justice Marshall-the work of Robert Sully.

STUART HOUSE (private), 120 Church St., is a large, red brick building with plain white portico and fine interior woodwork, perhaps designed by Thomas Jefferson. The house was built in 1791 by Archibald Stuart, member of the Virginia Convention of 1788 and a close friend of Jefferson. Except for a wing added in 1845, the house has not been altered. When the British approached Williamsburg in 78o, judge Stuart's son, Alexander H. H. Stuart, was a student of the College of William and Mary and an officer of the newly founded Phi Beta Kappa Society. Fleeing from the city, he carried with him the seal of the society, which was later found in this house in a secret drawer.

OLD TRINITY CHURCH (open 9-6 weekdays, Sun. services), Beverley St. between Church and Lewis Sts., built in 1855 and third on this site, is of Gothic Rivival style in dull red brick, with a tower half covered with ivy. The interior, except for the brick-lined chancel, has fine walnut woodwork, and some of the stained glass is excellent. The first church of Trinity Parish, organized in Augusta County in 1747, was erected in 176063 on land acquired from William Beverley for $6. The vestry ordered the work done 'in a fashionable and workmanlike manner.' The Virginia assembly met in this building in 1781, after crossing the mountains to escape the British. A bronze tablet near the gate bears the names of assemblymen who took refuge in the church.

SMITH THOMPSON HOUSE (open by arrangement), 701 W.Beverley St., half log and half brick beneath white clapboarding, was built in 1790 by Smith Thompson. All the nails, latches, and locks are hand-wrought. The fireplaces have wide flagstone hearths and high mantels. Thompson, a barber, was a Revolutionary soldier. He boasted of having shaved Washington and displayed the razor he used.

STUART HALL, 325-29 W.Frederick St., a preparatory school for girls, occupies a group of eight cream-painted brick buildings on a small campus. The older buildings have white porticoes with tall square columns. It was founded in 1843 as a small day school in 'Old Main'-a fine example of the Greek Revival-now used as a dormitory and for classrooms. Known first as the Virginia Female Institute, the college was renamed in 1907 to commemorate Mrs. J.E.B. Stuart, widow of Virginia's cavalry leader, who became principal in 188o. Robert E. Lee and Bishop William Meade served on its board. It is owned and operated by the three Episcopal dioceses of Virginia, and had an enrollment in 1938 of about 120 girls.

STAUNTON MILITARY ACADEMY, Prospect St. between Market and N. Coalter Sts., occupies a group of white-trimmed gray stone buildings on a hilltop overlooking the city. It is a private military school founded by Captain William K. Kable in 1859 as the Charles Town Male Academy at Charles Town, now West Virginia. It was moved to Staunton in 1884 and is a unit of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps.

VIRGINIA SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF AND BLIND (open by arrangement), E. Beverley St. at New Hope Rd., is a group of brick and stone buildings on one of Staunton's hills at the edge of 98 farm acres. Construction of the three-story brick central portion of the administrative building, with six fine Doric columns, was begun in 1843. This structure is flanked by two newer buildings, which follow its Greek Revival style. The school was established in 1838. State-supported, it is a coeducational institution with an enrollment Of 350 students who receive general education and vocational training.

WESTERN STATE HOSPITAL (open by arrangement), Greenville Ave. S. of Waynesboro Ave., with a capacity Of 2,438 (including the De Jarnette semiprivate sanatorium, 1. 5 m. E. on US 250), is the largest of three State asylums for white insane. The group of more than a dozen brick buildings is in the corner of 966 acres of farm land, from which the institution derives most of its food. There is a golf course for patients. The hospital was established in 1825 as the Western Lunatic Asylum. By 1866 nearly 2,000 patients had been treated. According to a newspaper report in that year, 'of patients treated during the last ten years, 23 became deranged because of " the war "-from disappointed love 7; from intemperance and dissolate [sic] habits, 30; from religious excitement, 1; from the use of tobacco, 5; jealousy, 4; idleness, 5.' Since 1935 the plant has been improved with Federal funds, and overcrowding eliminated through enlargement.

POINTS OF INTEREST IN ENVIRONS

Beflefont (home and grave of John Lewis), 2.2 m.; Augusta Church, Augusta Military Academy, 8.6 m. (see Tour 5a).

Staunton City HomePage

BACK | FORWARD