Revolving Fund Photos and Walking Tour Planning

Continuing with our work making sure all our baseline photos for the Revolving Fund houses are digitized, we added 33 photos to Flickr this week, including 21 East Germain, 312-314 North Kent, 208-210 North Kent, and the 300 block of South Kent Street. Be sure to catch them at the top of the photostream, or the end of the Revolving Fund album.

301-313 S. Kent St.

Do you have ideas for new walking (or possibly biking or driving) tour themes in Winchester? Let us know what you would like to see covered – themes, areas of town, architectural styles or something else. Through discussions with the PHW Board of Directors, we would like to expand our offerings outside of the core downtown around the Loudoun Street Mall and highlight lesser-known history and architecture. Drop your ideas off at, 540-667-3577, or at 530 Amherst Street, Winchester, VA 22601. We are in very early planning phases, so all brainstorming ideas are appreciated!

Friday Photos from the Revolving Fund Cabinet

This week we added 38 photos to our Flickr account from our ongoing spring cleaning of the Revolving Fund file cabinet. This is likely the last cabinet to have a significant amount of photos that have not yet been digitized – but never fear, we still have at least a few more weeks of Friday Photos featuring older images to come, as we have four 35mm slide trays with old presentations to digitize.

Many of today’s photos are our “baseline documentation,” the images taken shortly before or after PHW purchased the properties, or are pictures of work in progress during the first rehabilitation. This batch covers 124 and 125 E. Clifford, 112-114 E. Cecil (the chicken coop house), 106-108 W. Cecil, 119 S. East Lane (the Gibson house), and 706 South Cameron Street. If you have seen PHW presentations on the Revolving Fund in the past, you might recognize some of these images, but it did not appear that they made the jump from a PowerPoint program to Flickr. You can catch all the new additions at the top of the photostream or at the end of the Revolving Fund album. Happy viewing!
112-114 E. Cecil St.

Around the Internet: FSA Photos, State Budget Worries, and Historic Plaques

Around the InternetHappy Friday! If you survived the wind with your power intact, we have a few things for you to explore and read around the internet:

1. The Shorpy photo archive featured the Texaco station at 819 S. Braddock St. with some great vintage road signs, gas pumps, and cars, and the Handley High School lawn and the smokestack in the background. Many more images from the Farm Security Administration (FSA) are available. Try starting with this narrowed search link at the Library of Congress to explore Winchester circa 1940. I am fond of the image taken at Orndoff’s marble yard, at the intersection of Loudoun and Boscawen Streets.

2. The Valley Conservation Council has put together a list of some land conservation and historic preservation-adjacent items to watch and act against in the state budget. Part of the proposed cut of mitigation funds is aimed at reducing mercury in the Shenandoah River. There is also concern over the Land Preservation Tax Credit. As stated by VCC, “Landowners put their property under easement in 2017 with the understanding that the limit would go back to $50k​ – to change the rules on them now after they have permanently preserved their land is unfair.”​ If you are similarly worried about these and other proposed budget cuts, VCC has compiled the historic data and the contact information for you to reach out and state how important conservation funding is to our area.

3. Similarly, Preservation Virginia has highlighted some additional concerns of budget cuts facing the Department of Historic Resources.

4. We also forgot to congratulate Tom and Deanna Stouffer for 125 E. Clifford becoming one of now 154 houses in the Winchester Historic District to receive the oval plaque. If you were not able to visit them at Holiday House Tour time, you truly missed a special home. You can get a little taste of that in our Flickr album.

Friday Roundup: Photos, Webinars, and Internships

Friday Roundup Happy Friday! This week we have added 41 photos to our Flickr account. These images were in our Revolving Fund file cabinet, which is getting a good spring cleaning. These files were primarily for properties PHW participated in or surveyed as potential purchases. The highlights include a number of houses on South Kent Street, the old B&O train station on East Piccadilly Street, and a number of 8 East Cork Street photos and bits that were recorded when PHW’s office was located there. Catch all of them at the top of the photostream.

124 E. Germain St.

The National Trust is hosting the webinar “Telling Women’s Stories at Historic Sites” on Wednesday, March 14, 3:00–4:00 p.m. The Preservation Leadership Forum’s next webinar focuses on “Including Women in the Sequel: Re-Interpretation and Telling the Full History at Historic Sites.” Panelists from Belle Grove, the Oneida Community Mansion House, and the Pauli Murray House will discuss their work telling women’s stories—including identifying source materials, developing interpretive plans, and building narratives that tell a broader American story. Register for the webinar at the Forum website or see what webinar topics interest you in their archives.

Teachers and students, are you looking for a summer job opportunity in history, architecture, or landscape architecture? Heritage Documentation Programs, NPS seeks applications from qualified students for 2018 summer employment documenting historic sites and structures of architectural, landscape, and technological significance throughout the country. Duties may involve on-site field work and preparation of measured and interpretive drawings and written historical reports for the HABS/HAER/HALS Collections at the Prints and Photographs Division of The Library of Congress. Projects last 12 weeks, beginning in late-May or early-June. Applications are due March 16, 2018. Learn more and find the application instructions at Facebook and NPS.

Friday Round Up: Historic Buildings, Tax Credits, and Demolition

Preservation has been in the news lately. First, you may have seen the Winchester Star article on the latest Historic Tax Credit studies. You can watch the accompanying video interview on YouTube or below:

If you are up for a little light reading on historic tax credits and their impact in Virginia, you can read the full 94 page Preserving the Past, Building the Future or the four-page Executive Summary to hit the highlights. You may also want to read the similar economic analysis Virginia’s Historic Tax Credit Program prepared by Baker Tilly. Both studies back up the assertion of Historic Preservation Tax Credits paying for themselves over time and positively impacting not just buildings but entire communities.

You may also want to read the Winchester Star article on the approval of the demolition of a property on Sharp Street at the Board of Architectural Review last night. PHW President Bruce Downing was present to voice our concerns about the demolition of this property essentially by neglect. Sharp Street as a whole is a very architecturally and historically significant, if often overlooked, area of our Historic District. We hope the proposed changes and new construction, which are scheduled to return at a future meeting, will continue to honor and reflect the unique character of that block.

Preserve Early America in Virginia, Part One

To go with our post last week, a second typed manuscript fell free of a scrapbook during moving. This is a partial transcription of the article “Preserve Early America in Virginia,” written by Lucille Lozier and Chi-Chi Kerns in 1968. The manuscript was sent to six magazines for potential publication. It was divided into three sections, so only the first portion which forms the most cohesive narrative is included today. We may revisit the next two sections in a future blog post.

Preserve Early America in Virginia

“We set out early, then traveled up to Frederick Town,” wrote George Washington in March, 1748, then a lad of 16. “We cleaned ourselves (to get rid of the game we had catched the night before), took a review of the town and thence returned to our lodgings where we had a good dinner…and a good feather bed with clean sheets, which was a very agreeable regale.”

This was the beginning of George Washington’s association with Winchester, then called Frederick Town.

The property on which this same inn rested, which was conveyed by Lord Fairfax to William Cocke, owner of the inn, was designated for preservation October 15, 1967. A fine old stone house, built in 1792, now stands there. This house is the first building in Winchester to be marked for preservation. A bronze plaque was placed on this home at the dedication ceremony, indicating it will be preserved, and the home is so listed by Preservation of Historic Winchester, Inc.

At the time of Washington’s coming here, Winchester was the principal frontier post in the Shenandoah Valley. Washington, whose brother, Lawrence, married a cousin of Lord Fairfax, was sent here by the latter to survey Lord Fairfax’s vast estate of over 5,000,000 acres of unsettled land. He spent the next four years in this activity, and his headquarters attracts many tourists today.
George Washington's Office Museum

There seems to be an almost overwhelming urge, in the name of progress, to demolish and destroy relics of our country’s history and early cultural development. The era of concrete is upon the land, and ruthlessly, buildings of period architecture and antique beauty fall prey to the bulldozer. Feelings of pride in our past heritage seem to be swept aside in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

In the fall of 1963, a group of concerned citizens in Winchester, distressed and alarmed by the demolition of an increasingly large number of antique buildings in the area, assembled with a common desire to find some way to prevent the continuous destruction of their heritage. Winchester is one of the most historical cities of our nation and the oldest town west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a distinction of which they feel every citizen in the community should be justly proud.

Out of such concern grew an organization, the members of which were determined to preserve as many as possible of the old homes and buildings in Winchester which are historically important and architecturally interesting. These citizens formed an active group dedicated to providing a qualified and responsible organization capable of carrying out their objectives.

Those who belong to the organization have been successful in having the City Council pass an ordinance which enables them to proceed with their business of preservation. The name of the organization is “Preservation of Historic Winchester, Inc.”

The members of PHW, Inc. have undertaken a project which will bring to a halt the impetuous tearing down of their historically invaluable buildings which, once gone, can never be replaced. They are trying to preserve as many as possible of the important buildings in Old Winchester which were built before 1860. Under their plan, the owner of a building may request its preservation. If the building qualifies, an attractive bronze marker, or plaque, specially designed, is placed on the structure to indicate that it will always remain a part of Old Winchester.

In recent years there has been some interest among members of garden clubs and other citizens of Winchester in improving the appearance of certain local historic buildings by beautifying their surroundings with appropriate planting of trees, shrubs, flowers, vines and ground covers. Since the preservation of an old building is not authentic without the restoration of the gardens and lawn which enhanced it, the Historic Winchester group would hope to work hand in hand with all those who wish the picture to be complete. It is anticipated that out of growing concern for saving these buildings will develop also a strong desire on the part of Winchester’s citizens to make their town more attractive with beautiful landscape architecture.

Members of the newly-formed organization look forward to the future with great excitement. They expect, as a body, which will be fully qualified for the activity, to solicit and accept money and property in the form of endowments and bequests. These gifts will be classified as charitable and may be listed as such on income tax forms of all donors.

The people of Historic Winchester wish to spread the news of their thrilling adventure to all Virginians, and, indeed, throughout the nation. Anyone interested in the organization can contact us at 540-667-3577,, or at our office Monday-Friday at the Hexagon House, 530 Amherst Street, Winchester, VA 22601.

Remarks on the First Winchester Historic Plaque

The following is a transcript of the remarks said by Stewart Bell, Jr. at the dedication of the first Winchester historic building marker dedication on October 15, 1967. The marker was placed on the home of Miss Lucy Kurtz, 21 South Loudoun Street. The remarks were found when a scrapbook of early PHW mailers and newsletters was being moved and several sheets fell free of their scrapbook pages. The sentiments said fifty years ago still hold true and remain guiding principles of the Winchester Historic District. Every time you see one of the oval plaques on a historic building in downtown, you can remember this is the spirit in which the plaque program was begun, and one we hope it still embodies today.

Remarks by Stewart Bell, Jr., Vice Mayor
Dedication of historical marker on Miss Lucy Kurtz’s House
21 S. Loudoun Street
Sunday, October 15, 1967

Urban progress is voracious. It is often indiscriminate. It has no memory.

Some months ago the Common Council recognized this. They recognized, also, that this is not altogether good for a community. They recognized, as all of us here today recognize, that an old landmark, because of its aesthetic, historic, or cultural significance possesses an amenity value often far beyond and aside from its utilitarian or commercial value. Because this is so, it contributes to the economic vitality and strength of its community. As evidence of this I would point to the fact that Travel is Virginia’s second most lucrative industry and that localities with historic interest and cultural distinction share most generously in its benefits. As evidence of the truth of this statement, I would point to the fact that the level of general retail trade in Williamsburg usually leas that among all the localities of the State.

It seems, therefore, that it is a wise and proper municipal policy to identify some of our older buildings what have cultural significance and architectural integrity and that we endeavor to snatch them from the eager maw of Progress.

To that end, the City has purchased and in various ways preserves three such buildings: Washington’s Office, Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters, and Abram’s Delight. But the City cannot continue to purchase and preserve as public property all its old buildings. Pursued to its conclusion, such a policy would not only be costly but it would ultimately make our city a necropolis, which is a city without life. This is the opposite of our aim.

In view of this, it was the purpose of the Council when it pass the Ordinance, as a result of this this plaque is placed here today, to indicate that the City of Winchester, as a corporate body, does recognize the value to the community of some of its older buildings and that it is our official policy to join with the owners of such properties to identify and to designate them by placing upon them an official bronze marker.

We hope that the presence of such a marker on any building in our community will in the future serve as a reminder to all who pass by, and especially to each future owner, that here is a building of distinction out of our past. It has survived and it is of genuine worth to our community to keep it if possible. It is, therefore, the policy of the community to attempt to preserve it from thoughtless or wanton destruction. This marker will say, “Think carefully and weigh all the values involved before you determine to replace this ancient building.”

As here and now we dedicate ourselves to the preservation of something of value out of our physical and material heritage, I have to express my wish that we likewise dedicate ourselves to the notions of purity, integrity, dignity and self-respect which are typified by such landmarks as this home, and that we seek to honor and observe these values which have come down to us out of the past. They are among the solid verities upon which all that is worthwhile is our past is built. They are among the solid verities upon which to build an enduring future amid the bewildering changes of our days.

This marker bears the official arms of the City of Winchester, but it is placed on any property only upon request of the owner, who thus joins with the City to designate his property as a cultural landmark. For this reason, I request Miss Lucy (Kurtz) and Mrs. (Godfrey) O’Rear, the owners of this handsome stone house that graces our principal street, to join with me in the placement of this first historic marker.

Placement of the first Winchester historic plaque

If you are inspired to have a plaque placed on your building in Winchester Historic District, visit the City’s website for the forms and guideline information. Plaques are discussed and approved by the Board of Architectural Review. Currently over 140 buildings in the historic district have been recognized with the official plaque, but not all recognized buildings have had their plaques installed.

Patricia Zontine

Kurtz Cultural CenterWe were saddened to learn yesterday that one of our honorary council members and guiding lights at PHW, Pat Zontine, has passed away. Pat became involved in PHW during the early Jennings Revolving Fund years and helped to shape the program into the effective preservation tool PHW used to save houses in the Potato Hill neighborhood and South Kent Street. She is also well-remembered inside PHW for her work connecting Shenandoah University to the Old John Kerr building and helping to save that school from demolition as well. Her crowning achievement will always be the Kurtz Cultural Center, saving an “ugly” warehouse from demolition and transforming it into a hub of downtown activities in the 1990s. You may find her obituary at the Winchester Star, including information on the celebration of her life event at 124 W. Boscawen St. on February 3 at 5 PM. If you would prefer to hear her voice one more time, we were fortunate enough to have her as a lecturer with Gene Fisher talking about SU’s relationship to preservation. You may watch the video on YouTube.

Around the Internet: Deadly Wallpaper

With the repainting and interior spruce up at the Hexagon House, wallpaper has been a decorating topic of speculation. The quick and low-tech paint analysis revealed very few paint layers in most rooms, further fueling the suspicions the Hexagon House was likely wallpapered in almost every room for most of its history – as you would expect from a house built during the wallpaper boom of the 1870s. While having a bit of fun daydreaming about what patterns might have adorned the walls once upon a time, an article on a deadly book of wallpaper samples, appropriately titled Shadows from the Walls of Death popped up in my news feed.

This beguiling pattern would be right at home in the Hexagon House – but it could kill you.

The wallpaper samples are all genuine papers that were printed in the 1870s, and their deadly reputation comes from the arsenic used to produce the green hues in the patterns. The arsenic would flake off when brushed or be released when the paper became damp and spread microscopic amounts of the poison into the home. Healthy adults may not have noticed any ill-effects, but children could be killed from even a small amount of the particulate. Many people of the time dismissed the fear over green pigments as hysteria, and the exact cause of the poisoning took well over one hundred years to solve.

You can read more about the origin and spread of the vivid green, arsenic-laden paints and dyes from Europe to the United States at Jane Austen’s World blog and

Once you have had your fill of the verified deadly wallpaper, you might also want to page through the trade catalogs on to see more wallpaper samples and color plates of suggested room designs from 1900-1960. You may also enjoy some window shopping of other vintage patterns at Those patterns probably won’t kill you, at least from arsenic.

Friday Roundup: Newspapers, Photos, Grants, and More!

Friday Roundup First, an addendum to last week’s post on newspaper archives. We missed one provided through the Handley Library, Advantage Digital Archive. This archive provides OCR searchable text and full page images of some of Winchester’s more obscure historical newspapers, including:
Virginia Gazette (1787-1796)
Winchester Gazette (1798-1824)
Republican Constellation (1814-1814)
Daily Item (1896-1897)
Morning News Item (1906-1907)
Daily Independent (1923-1925).

The search functions are similar to the other newspaper archives covered last week, and browsing is available for those looking for a surprise or coverage on a certain day. We are happy to report a quick test search for “Burgess” turned up a new tidbit on the first owner of the Hexagon House, James W. Burgess, that we had not previously seen. It corroborated other accounts of his furniture business in 1870 (about the time construction started at the Hexagon House.) His furniture was used in the newly built home of John M. Miller near Middletown. The residence in question is likely the Cooley House, referenced in Maral Kalbian’s Frederick County, Virginia: History Through Architecture on page 93.

Virginia Woolen Mill SiteWhile reviewing some of the files being moved around for painting, we found some images that had not been scanned. Sixteen images have been added to Flickr, including eight that were attached to a display board for the Kurtz, possibly in a fundraising or open house event in the early 1990s. The remaining eight photos may include some duplicates of images already scanned from the slide collection on North Loudoun Street, the Virginia Woolen smokestack, and one image of the John Wall House at 11-17 S. Kent during demolition. You can catch the photos right at the top of the photostream.

As we are also working on the files during the office shuffle, we have made a few edits to our online directory of program and event files. While it feels like we started this index just yesterday with two boxes of Kurtz Cultural Center files, we anticipate adding an eighth box to the storage collection of programs and events from the last ten years. Although these files are of limited interest to researchers outside of PHW, this is a bit of a teaser for the next round of indexing we hope to tackle for our themed research files on topics or locations. No precise timeline is available (yet!) but the indexing will likely take place in the spring.

The National Trust has several grant deadlines approaching, including African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (Jan. 31), National Trust Preservation Funds (Feb. 1), Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors (Mar. 1), and Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation (Mar. 1). You can see the full list and details on how to apply and what qualifies for each grant here.

Preservation Virginia is also taking applications for their Most Endangered Historic Places list of 2018. If you know a site worthy of recognition that is imperiled with damage, neglect, or development pressure, you can find the application and instructions here. Nominations are due by March 9.