Friday Roundup: Labor Day Weekend Miscellany

The PHW Office will be closed on Monday, September 6 for the holiday. We’ll be back on Tuesday!

We’ve had a few questions pertaining to our Holiday House Tour and Bough & Dough Shop calls for help. For our paper bag donation request, we are looking for all sizes of bags, from small gift bags/sandwich bag up to full size paper grocery bags. Any donations are welcome, and can be left in a bin on the back porch of the Hexagon House at any time. For volunteering obligations as a Holiday House Tour docent, plan to have a shift of about two hours during the Sunday tour. You may also have around half an hour to forty-five minutes of script training and house walkthroughs before the event. Docents are NOT expected to memorize scripts. If you have other questions, just let us know!

The Patsy Cline Block Party returns this Saturday, September 4, in the 600 block of South Kent Street! The event takes place between 10 AM and 4 PM. Come out to celebrate Patsy’s life and music, the designation of the Patsy Cline House as a National Historic Landmark, and the tenth anniversary of the event. The block party is free to attend, but house tours, which will begin at 11:30 AM, will cost $5.

The Comprehensive Plan Update open house and public hearing was held August 31. If you couldn’t attend in person, you can still get up to speed before submitting your feedback through the upcoming online form by reviewing the Comp Plan Update materials and watching the presentation and public hearing online. Stop by Rouss City Hall during regular business hours (main floor-Level 2F) to view the open house exhibits through September 14.

Ghost Sign on North Kent St.
The ghost sign on the Fairfax Lane side of 300 N. Kent, where Melvin Lewis operated a grocery store from about 1936-1962.

As part of our ongoing image captioning project on our social media, the ghost sign for the E. N. Hardy Grocery Store at 300-302 North Kent Street came up in the queue this week. When we spotted the ghost sign and took a quick picture of it in the spring, we didn’t get time to research it. The photo caption project provided the perfect chance to look through the copies of the city directories we have here at the PHW office. Sure enough, we came across one directory entry in 1929 for the 302 N. Kent half of the duplex as the location for E. N. Hardy, grocer. His business appears to have been short-lived, as the 302 side of the building was constructed around 1927, and it was changed to residential use by the time of the 1936 city directory. The grocery business instead moved to the 300 N. Kent half and was operated by Melvin Lewis until about 1962. Thanks to Linda Fiddler for providing her memories of going to the store every day, Stephen Brown for providing the information Melvin and his wife Ruth lived on Woodland Avenue and she worked for Judge Henry Whiting, and Scott Straub for providing Melvin’s draft card confirming he was a self-employed grocer at 300 N. Kent St.

Calling all photographers! The City’s 2022 annual informational calendar photo contest is now open. Click here for the free to enter online submission form. The deadline to submit up to five qualifying photos is November 1, 2021

We are always surprised to find more photos lurking in our program file folders to scan. This week, we uncovered a sampling of products from Arise Studio, which set up a mobile shop in December 1990 as part of a fundraiser for the Kurtz Cultural Center. The timing of the find was fortuitous, as the fundraiser helped the dedicated Patsy Cline display go into the first floor visitor’s center and gift shop area of the building. Take a peek at the five photos at the top of our photostream, and jog your memory of the display with the photo below!

Kurtz Cultural Center
The Patsy Cline memorial display case in the Kurtz Cultural Center, during a program for the “James Wood and the Founding of Winchester” exhibit, 1994.

Friday Roundup: Comprehensive Plan and Selected Reading

Comprehensive Plan Update: If you want to see what the Planning Commission is recommending for future land use in the city, stop by City Hall on Tuesday, August 31 at 5:30 pm to talk with staff and review exhibits. At 6:30 pm, the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing and they want to hear your thoughts. Written comments can be submitted but must be received by 5 pm on August 27 to be provided to the Commission prior to the meeting.

If you are traveling to Colonial Williamsburg this fall, you may want to keep an eye out at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum for a silver tankard made by Paul Revere. You can learn more about the item at the History Blog.

Visit the Public Domain Review for a photo essay Porch Memories by Federica Soletta. As we’ve already touched on here at PHW, porches are uniquely embedded in American architecture and culture. Combining historic images and small vignettes helps bring the photos to life and highlight the porch as a scene of American life.

Some of our best finds in the tracing of historic stories are from the Virginia Chronicle newspaper collections. The Library of Virginia dedicated a blog post to the worldwide tour these scanned and searchable pages take before they become accessible to researchers online.

Strong Towns blog posted a four part series on the alley in America. Catch all four parts in The American Alley: A Hidden Resource, Origins of the American Alley, End of the American Alley, and Rediscovering the Forgotten Human Scale. The series has been collected into a free downloadable ebook, also available on their blog.

Friday Roundup: Public Hearing, MSV Free Admission, Call for Proposals, and a Happy End to a Search!

First, a public hearing on the proposed redevelopment at the corner of Cameron and Piccadilly streets Conditional Use Permit will take place on Tuesday, July 20, beginning at 3 PM in Council Chambers at Rouss City Hall. The CUP was triggered due to the size of the development exceeding by-rights use. If you are interested in making a statement on the project at the Planning Commission public hearing, you may review the submitted materials and staff report at the city meeting portal. PHW will note that according to the staff report, a previously approved demolition request and mitigation of the proposed loss of historic ghost signs on walls lining Baker Street has lapsed. PHW is in favor of retaining these ghost signs as they tell part of the story of the business enterprises in the area and the impact of the railroad on local commerce.

Baker Street
Some of the ghost signs on the building lining Baker Street.

Second, tomorrow, Saturday July 17, is free admission to the MSV and a car show. The car show coordinated by the Shenandoah Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America will feature 60 vehicles at least 25 years old. Families are encouraged to stop by the picnic area next to the garden entrance to pick up a take-and-make car-themed craft and a brochure with a seek-and-find scavenger hunt activity for the gardens. Visitors may also enjoy free admission to several special exhibitions, including Norman Rockwell’s America and the MSV Invitational Outdoor Sculpture Show. The Roaming Bistro and Shaffer’s BBQ food trucks will be on site offering food and drink for purchase from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. We’re excited to see this MSV tradition return this year!

Third, there is a call for proposals for the 2022 Main Street Now Conference. Proposals are due August 13 in three themed categories: Main Streets for the New Economy, Community Preservation and Expression, and Housing and Small-Scale Development. Visit the link for more information and how to submit proposals. Winchester was one of the three test programs for the Main Street Approach, and it may be time for us to show how our downtown is surviving and thriving forty years after the program launch.

We are pleased to inform you our quest last week to help a descendant find a copy of the Keith Williams print “Historic Buildings of Winchester” has borne fruit. Thank you to those who helped and shared stories related to Keith. By a confluence of events, we came across his resume as one of the applicants to the Kurtz Cultural Center RFP in the late 1980s. A select list of Keith Williams’ local projects include: the F&M Banks on Cameron Street and Valley Avenue; alterations and additions to First Christian Church and Opequon Presbyterian Church; renovation and organ installation at First Presbyterian Church; the Religious Education Building at First Baptist Church; the Winchester Church of Latter Day Saints; Robinson Memorial Elementary School and Gibson Elementary School buildings; Fremont Nursery School; the Child Day Care Center for Amalgamated Clothing Workers Health & Welfare Fund; Shenandoah University’s Armstrong Building, Howard Building, Funkhouser Building, Cooley Building, Racey Building, Student Center, Field House (1969), 100-Student Dorm (1972), and Library; showrooms for Molden Electric Company and Pifer Office Supply Company; offices and plant for Perry Engineering Company; Beltone Hearing Aid Center; factories for Monoflo International Inc. and Capitol Records; additions to Fulton Trucking Company and Burger King; the Golf & Country Club; the War Memorial Recreation Center; Country Club Pines Apartment Complex; Prospect Hills subdivision; tennis pavilion and club house complex at Lake Holiday Estates, The Summit; Winchester Seed Processing Plant; two Automatic Soft Cloth Car Washes in Winchester; and an acoustics consultant to John Handley High School renovation. We don’t quite recognize all the location names for his Winchester work and addresses and dates for most were not provided, so if you know any details about the above projects, let us know and we will compile them for our fledgling “architects of Winchester list” we’re developing at the office.

Save the date for the 2021 Holiday House Tour! Current plans are for the daylight tour only on Sunday, December 5, noon-4 PM. Plans and dates for the Bough & Dough Shop are not yet finalized, but we anticipate it will be held at the Hexagon House concurrent with the ticket sale window. All plans subject to change!

Friday Roundup: Preservation News

Thank you all again for the thoughts and feedback on the tour and shop from 2019. Our tentative dates for the 2020 festivities are the Shop from November 20-December 13, and the House Tours on December 5 and 6. More information on the houses and how to apply for a spot in the Shop will be available as we progress through the year.

If you would like to clean out your closets and cupboards, PHW is willing to accept the following in-kind donation items: Gently used shopping or gift bags (paper or plastic, any size), wrapping material like tissue paper and bubble wrap, large lightweight planters, light strings and clip on spotlights, and wired edge ribbon. You may bring donations to the Hexagon House at 530 Amherst St. or leave a message for more unusual donations at 540-667-3577.

If you would prefer instead to give monetarily to a lasting monument, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation is looking to place a monument to the soldiers of Maine killed and wounded at the Third Winchester battlefield. According to the Maine at War blog, this will be the first permanent marker to commemorate the soldiers of Maine who fought in the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War. There is currently a $1 to $1 matching grant challenge on to push the monument to its final completion. An online donation button is available on the SVBF website, or checks may be mailed to Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Attn: Maine Monument Fund, P.O. Box 897, 9386 S. Congress St., New Market, VA 22844. For more information, please, contact Peter Dalton at jacksonsvc1862@gmail.com or 540-325-0787.

Preservation Virginia is beginning their monitoring and coverage of legislative action in Virginia, including actions on tax credits, conservation easements, cemeteries and historic monuments. They invite you to register today for their Legislative Reception on February 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Hilton Downtown (formerly Miller & Rhoads) in Richmond. That same evening, the Virginia Association of Museums is holding their annual Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Reception at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, also in Richmond.

Via the Forum Connect, you are invited to check out the Architectural Plastics & Polymer Composites in the 21st Century: Design and Preservation of Contemporary & Historic Architecture conference. It will be held on March 28-March 29, 2020 at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts and will cover in-depth a variety of issues surrounding plastics in architecture. Continuing education credits will be available. “Early bird” reduced registration rate is offered up to January 20th. Information and registration form on the conference are available online.

Last but not least, the senior living center planned for 333 West Cork St. will be discussed at the January 21 Planning Commission Meeting, 3 PM in Council Chambers at Rouss City Hall. Review the agenda and documents about the requests at the Winchester City website here.

One City, Two Districts

As the rezoning request of the Amherst Street corridor last week highlighted, Winchester’s local historic district and National Register district currently have different boundaries.  What does this mean for property owners? Currently, the Amherst corridor has  the regulation of the local Board of Architectural Review, but none of the financial incentives available to other properties that fall within both the local and national districts.

Dave Shore, a Planning Commission member who served on the Historic District committee, said he thought the panel’s intent was to seek expansion of the national district to mirror the local district.

That would provide economic incentives for property owners to improve buildings currently subject to BAR governance but without the fiscal advantages of being in the national district.

The hope is that the incongruities noted in the survey will drive the redrawing of the city’s historic district, potentially contracting the district from “non-contributing” resources and expanding to include contributing resources currently ineligible for tax benefits.

To read more about the potential boundary changes from the architectural and cultural resource survey, visit Vic Bradshaw’s article at The Winchester Star Online. (Login required.)



Amherst Street Rezoning

Proposed plans to remove the Historic District overlay from several properties along the Amherst Street corridor were not recommended to move forward at yesterday’s Planning Commission meeting.

As Vic Bradshaw reported,

. . . Chairman Nate Adams objected to removing the property from the local historic district specifically to advance a project. He said other businesses have obtained BAR approval to build in the district, and he was concerned that others might expect similar consideration in the future.

‘I’m not sure why we should carve out an exception here,’ said Adams.

Read the full article at The Winchester Star online (login required).