As you may know, PHW has pledged $10,000 to the Godfrey Miller Home and Fellowship Center to assist with their repairs to the facade of the historic 1785 limestone structure. The Historic Home and Fellowship Center serves seniors, in accordance with the wishes of Margaretta Sperry Miller, who bequeathed her home to Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church to be operated as a home for elderly ladies. The fellowship center is also available to rent for meetings, receptions, luncheons, and more. On the history side, the home is opened for tours and you may be familiar with the summer lecture series on local topics of interest. There is something at the Godfrey Miller Home for anyone to enjoy.
While you are shopping in Old Town Winchester and supporting other local businesses, be sure to walk by the building at 28 South Loudoun Street. See first-hand the work that needs to take place – and what progress may be underway already.
If you find this project as worthy of support as we do, please donate directly to the Godfrey Miller Home, and let them know you heard about them from PHW. We’d like to see our supporters match our pledge and make a substantial dent in the $109,000 project. Thank you for helping keep this historic building a functional and beautiful asset to our historic downtown!
The pebbledash-covered late Italianate-style home was built for Maurice M. Lynch around 1890. Lynch entered the University of Virginia in 1885, but he withdrew for financial reasons before completing his studies. While teaching school, he studied law in the office of Judge William L. Clark and was admitted to the bar in 1887. His own struggles to receive education drove him to better the schools for the area’s children. He served on the Handley Board of Trustees, the State Board of Education, and as Superintendent of Winchester and Frederick County Public Schools.
The new owners, John and Jade Manuel, have spent the last four years bringing colorful life back into their home. The Italianate styling was the inspiration for the arched openings with black and white Italian marble floors in the foyer, as well as the Italian range in the updated Art Deco-themed kitchen. The home is filled with original character including the original 130- year-old antique heart pine floors, three brick chimneys, picture rail, and 9-foot windows in the living room.
John and Jade have partnered with the extraordinarily talented Desiree Chandra Lee, owner of Hunt Country Gardens, as well as donations from The Little Garden Club of Winchester, to decorate their home with luscious garlands and wreaths. The home will feature three themed trees: A whimsical forest tree, a family heirloom tree, and a Childhood Leukemia tribute tree in honor of their nephew, Oliver Manuel.
Julia Beverley purchased the corner lot on Stewart and Cecil streets on July 14, 1911. The pebbledashed Colonial Revival-style house was built by 1913, when the Beverley family hosted an elegant supper for a number of out of town guests visiting their daughter Miss Frances Beverley in their newly-built home. The property remained in the Beverley family until 1957.
The house has remained largely unchanged on the exterior since its construction. The classic facade harkens back to the mid-1800s and the era of Greek Revival style in American construction with its clean white exterior, dark shutters, and a pedimented entry. The gentle arch in the pediment, along with the understated dentil molding, is carried around to the Cecil Street side of the home on the small southern addition. Look carefully for the arched window with Y-tracery tucked behind this sunroom.
The current owners Michael and Lauren Peterson bought the house in 2018 to fit their multi-generational family. Their own design elements have been used to refine the traditional living and dining spaces. Most recently they have renovated their kitchen to a more contemporary and comfortable space for their active family of eight, including their four daughters and Lauren’s parents, Arlene and Dennis Torbett.
The music selection for this installment is “Chester.”
“The commerce of Winchester is carried on with great activity and success with the people of the back countries, who resort here for salt, and a supply of commodities which are manufactured in this town, and give in exchange the produce of their lands, the fruits of their industry and of the chace, consisting chiefly of grains, flax, and hemp, of coarse linens and skins.”— Charles Varle, 1809
Between 1785 and 1815 life in the Lower Shenandoah Valley grew considerably less insular. Along Valley roads new ideas moved along with people and goods. The diverse population created a class system that was possibly less rigid than elsewhere in Virginia. Even as language, religious and cultural beliefs helped to maintain ethnic identity, evidence indicates that assimilation occurred among various groups in this period.
Historian Warren Hofstra identified three integrated areas of commerce the accelerated the growth of Winchester: the migrant, the backcountry, and the market town trade. People traveling south and west along the Valley’s Great Wagon Road stopped in Winchester for provisions. The city became a supply center for backcountry peddlers and merchants and functioned as a wholesale market for Kentucky retailers. At the same time local merchants maintained strong ties with Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Alexandria where they acquired merchandise.
Livestock functioned as both a source of transportation and income for the Valley. Kercheval recalls “Stage coaches travel all our turnpike roads, drawn by the most splendid horses; and most of our substantial farmers rear the finest cattle, sheep, and hogs . . . . Our valley furnishes the several markets with vast quantities of superior beef, pork, mutton, butter, and the finest of breadstuffs.” Cattle, both locally-raised and those shipped to Winchester from western Virginia and Kentucky, were delivered to markets in Philadelphia, Alexandria, Richmond, and Baltimore.
Until the advent of the railroad, wagon drovers and teamsters created the country’s most effective system of commercial transportation. Carrying loads of several tons, wagons rarely traveled more than twenty-five miles per day. A heavy freight wagon pulled by a four to six horse team and sometimes canvas-covered to protect their cargo, Conestogas were used for hauling goods and supplies throughout the Valley and into Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and west through the Cumberland Gap. Roads were narrow and wagon bells, worn by the horses closest to the wagon, announced the arrival of a wagon and team. (1)
Ferdinand Bayard reported in 1791, “Famous four-wheeled wagons are already being built in Winchester.” Stephensburg or Newtown (Stephens City) soon eclipsed Winchester as a wagon-making center. Newtown wagon makers built a unique form of the Conestoga wagon to carry goods over rough roads and dangerous terrain. For a small town, around a dozen wagon-making establishments were in business there in the early and mid-19th century. In addition, numerous other related trades like saddlers, harness makers, wheelwrights, and blacksmiths contributed to the growth of the town through transportation-related industries.(2)
The late 18th-century consumer revolution offered greater selections to ordinary people in the marketplace. Local artisans and small manufacturers produced an astonishing range of goods for sale in the town’s shops. Account books provide a glimpse of the trade happening in the town. Beatty Carson, mayor of Winchester in 1808 and 1810, employed fifteen to twenty people in his small boot and shoe factory. Godfrey Miller, a stocking weaver by trade, expanded his business into dry goods and apothecary supplies, providing the raw materials for other local artisans like Andrew Pitman, a potter in Stephensburg. Other merchants, like John Conrad, made purchases in Baltimore, Alexandria, Philadelphia, and bought goods from local sources for resale to other merchants and townspeople. Residents such as James Wood, Jr., one of Winchester’s more prominent citizens, ordered goods directly from artisans and storekeepers in the larger East Coast cities. Philadelphia silversmith, Joseph Richardson, made this pair of beakers, now in the collection of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.
“The Chancery District west of the Blue Ridge embraces a territory of several hundred miles, from east to west and of greater extent from north to south; including a population equal to one third of the entire population of the State-The rugged and mountainous face of the Country presenting obstacles to easy and rapid intercourse….The people wealthy, enterprising and trading…” –Petition to the Virginia Legislature, December 3, 1811
When Isaac Weld traveled Valley roads in 1796 he met “great numbers of people” searching “for lands conveniently situated for new settlements in the western country.” The quest for cheaper, larger quantities of land in less populated areas lured many local residents over the Appalachians. In the 1790s the new state of Kentucky was dominated by former Virginians. Although the Valley remained a significant source for the nation’s wheat until after the Civil War, the opening of the National Road to the northwest in 1818, which bypassed Winchester, delivered a severe blow to the Valley’s commercial dominance.
Join us next time on December 17 to examine the firearms of the frontier!
The Philip Williams House was constructed in 1838 in the Greek Revival style. On Nov. 5, 1845, John R. W. Dunbar of Baltimore deeded this property to his brother-in-law Philip Williams, Jr. It was described as “a lot of land in Winchester on which the said Philip Williams, Jr. has lately erected a dwelling house.” Williams, who was born in Frederick Co., was admitted to the bar in 1832, was Commonwealth Attorney for Shenandoah and Warren Counties and also represented Shenandoah County in the Virginia House of Delegates. His first wife was Ann Hite of Belle Grove.
In 1898, the dwelling and property were sold to Minnie A. Miller, and under her stewardship several additions were constructed to the rear of the building. The interior enlarged room openings, mantel changes, and pressed metal facade design are similar to those seen in other grand homes receiving attention after the Civil War.
In the early 20th century, the building began its second life of commercial uses, including a tea house, an inn, and perhaps the best remembered, the Colonial Arts and Crafts Shop. After the closure of Joe’s Steakhouse, the current owners Scott and Barbara Bessette undertook a historic tax credit project to rehabilitate the structure for an event center.
Tickets officially go on sale today for the 45th Holiday House Tour – and our Bough & Dough Shop opens at 10 AM! Adult tickets are $20, children ages 12-6 are $6, and children under 6 are free.
You can pick up Holiday House Tour tickets, along with PHW memberships (including a free copy of Winchester: Limestone, Sycamores & Architecture, valued at $25) at the Bough & Dough Shop at 530 Amherst Street. Remember to get your renewals in to PHW by the end of this year if you would like to take advantage of the free book offer!
Complimenting the Holiday House Tour is the other half of the event – the Bough & Dough Shop. This year, the shop will be held concurrently with Holiday House Tour ticket sales between November 15 and December 5. Here’s what you need to know about the shop in 2021:
What: Do some holiday shopping while picking up your Holiday House Tour tickets at the Hexagon House. The shop features décor, ornaments, sweet treats, small gift items, and fresh greens for holiday decorating.
Dates: November 15-18, November 22-24, November 26-27, November 29-December 5
Time: 10 AM – 5 PM
Location: The Hexagon House 530 Amherst St.
Other Information: Cash, checks, and credit/debit cards accepted. Please wear a face mask while shopping inside. Fresh greenery is expected after Thanksgiving through December 5. Free hot drinks will be served on Sunday, Dec. 5, while supplies last, to complement the Holiday House Tour.
Select items may be available through our online store. Use the code “curbside” at checkout to pick your order up at the Hexagon House during normal shop days to avoid postal system delays.
The Holiday House Tour returns for its 45th year! The PHW blog begins our coverage of the tour and shop this week and will continue up to the Friday before the tour. Here’s the event overview at a glance.
Date: December 5, 2021
Time: Noon-4 PM
House Locations: 25 West Piccadilly Street, 321 South Stewart Street, 814 South Washington Street
Admission: $20 in advance, $25 at the door
Ticket Sale Locations: Kimberly’s, Winchester Book Gallery, Winchester-Frederick County Visitors Center, The Bough & Dough Shop at the Hexagon House, and online through Eventbrite.
Other Information: The tour is not rescheduled for inclement weather. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes and dress for the weather. Bring face masks for interior tours. Be prepared to spend some time waiting in line outside. You may visit the three tour sites in any order. No photography inside the homes, please!
PHW will be temporarily suspending our daily image captions on Flickr starting next week so we can concentrate on the Bough & Dough Shop and Holiday House Tour. We hope you enjoyed the inaugural year of the caption project and some of our random image selections sparked your curiosity and interest. If you have any images that you would like to know more about, just drop us a note with the image link at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get it in our queue for 2022!
We’ve been hard at work preparing multiple mailings for PHW this week. Before it hits your snail mail box, you can read the latest issue of the PHW newsletter online. You should also be receiving your Holiday House Tour invitational postcards soon. If you’d like to grab a few extra postcards for friends, extras will be available at the back door of the Hexagon House.
Keep an eye on our Instagram account for the Bough & Dough Shop to see things taking shape and alerts for new products. Although we hope the shop will be held early enough this year not to have to close for snow, any weather or illness-related closings at the Shop will be posted here as well.
Holiday House Tour tickets will go on sale November 15 at Kimberly’s, Winchester Book Gallery, Winchester-Frederick County Visitors Center, and the Bough & Dough Shop at the Hexagon House. Tickets will also be available online through Eventbrite. Program booklets may be slightly delayed, but you can find a digital copy at PHW’s website.
The Google Map for Holiday House Tour has also been updated for 2021. Use it to plan your travel route and parking during the event. We anticipate because the locations are spread out, carpooling may be very popular this year. Remember, you can visit the House Tour sites in any order during the event window.
Last, if you are looking for something different to do next week, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery will be hosting a 100th anniversary event November 9 and 10. For the first time since 1948, visitors will be allowed to approach the memorial and place flowers on the tomb. Read a history of the tomb at the New York Times, and register for the event through Eventbrite.