Paper bag update: We are so tickled with the paper bag drop off response! Thank you to everyone who has helped out. We are mostly looking for smaller bags at this point – think sandwich bags or small gift bags instead of the grocery store bags. The contactless drop off bin will remain outside on the back porch for your convenience.
Historical program: The Friends of Handley Regional Library System present an informative free local historical program in the Handley Library Robinson Auditorium on September 25 at 2 pm entitled “Judge Richard Parker: A Man of His Times.” Judge Richard Parker was born in Richmond, Virginia and studied law at the University of Virginia. He was elected judge of the thirteenth judicial circuit in 1851. He was living in Winchester when he served as the judge in the trial of John Brown and his men after the raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859.
On-demand training: The National Preservation Institute has a number of of demand online courses related to cultural resource management. There are both free and paid courses available. If you are looking to brush up or learn new skills, check out their course offerings.
Yellowjacket update: The Hexagon House is still inundated with yellowjackets. The board room remains completely unusable at this time. Please be patient, as the interior and porch swarms are more resistant to treatment than the yard nests.
Holiday House Tour sponsorships: There’s still time to reserve a spot in our Holiday House Tour program booklet. Full, half and business card size spaces are still available. If you’re interested in reserving a spot, contact PHW at email@example.com for more information.
This week at the office, we’ve been working on filing newspaper clippings relating primarily to PHW’s Annual Meetings and Preservation Awards. While working on these files, we noticed a good number of gaps in the 1960-1980 range of Annual Meetings. If you happen to come across any invitations, newspaper clippings, notices for election of board members, or similar bits, please feel free to drop them off at the PHW office. Likewise, if you or a building you know of received an award from PHW and you don’t see it on our past award page, please let us know which award category, who/where the project was, and what year so we can correct our listings.
We are also extra thankful for a donor who dropped off a large quantity of paper shopping bags for our Bough and Dough Shop this week. We have temporarily taken in the drop-off bin while we sort through and see if there are some gaps in our needs left. We’ll update our needs soon, but from the looks of it, we will probably be looking for smaller gift bag types specifically next week.
As a belated nod to Labor Day, below we have reprinted and lightly edited for clarity selections from Danny Fisseha’s paper “The Kurtz Building – In Connection with the Business of the Community” from the oral history project of the Kurtz Building, 1988, for your reading pleasure this week.
Captain George W. Kurtz – soldier, cabinet maker and the oldest and best known funeral director in Virginia at the time of his death, died on November 14, 1926 at the age of eighty-nine. As a young man he learned how to make cabinets. He then worked with Stephen Stackhouse making furniture and coffins, which led him to his lifelong business.
In 1868, after serving in the Continental Morgan Guards and the 5th Virginia Infantry Stonewall Brigade, Capt. Kurtz established a furniture business in Winchester, Virginia. In 1876 or 1877 he bought the warehouse at Cameron and Boscawen Streets. Here, with the help of the railroad track coming straight to Winchester, he established his business of undertaking in the northwestern part of the state. He made most of his furniture himself and his clientele was mostly upper and middle class. On the other side of his furniture business, he also had a cabinet making business employing five other workers. He was appointed to the first Virginia State Board of Embalmers and served for a quarter of a century by a successive appointments starting June 1894 through 1922.
Despite the initial success of the business, it began to experience a decline by the end of his life. The loss of the rail system directly serving the building and competition from other funeral providers exerted the initial pressure. The biggest blow came after his death. It was uncovered that Kurtz never paid any income tax from 1868 to 1926. The federal government sent a bookkeeper at the expense of the Kurtz family to transcribe the records from the start of the business; consequently this cost them a great deal of money as back taxes were assessed and paid. The business was kept running by his daughter, Miss Lucy, and other close relatives until the 1960s to reach its 100th anniversary. Shortly after, the competition and loss of profit forced the business to shut down and the Kurtz Building was sold.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Winchester is the recipient of a $25,000 Virginia Main Street Grant for a comprehensive revitalization project of East Piccadilly Street between the George Washington Hotel and the pedestrian mall. The project is stated to encompass 12 façade improvements, 16 community-designed parklets, and a large exterior mural. This stretch of Piccadilly has been one of our highlights in the daily image caption project on social media due to the business history contained in this block. We’re looking forward to seeing these predominantly late 1800s commercial buildings get the same love and attention as their neighbors on the Loudoun Street Mall.
We were delighted to be gifted a few more prints of the first John Kerr School by Christy Broy at the MSV. One mounted on matboard was in PHW’s collection, and we had no idea any more existed. The suspicion is the prints of Bob Woods’ 1975 drawing were made as part of PHW’s efforts to preserve the school in the late 1970s. They were likely in the MSV holdings because Lee Taylor and/or Julian Glass were using them for PHW projects. (If you know any more details about how these prints came to be, let us know!) We anticipate having them available for purchase later, possibly at the Bough and Dough Shop or through some other venue. In the meantime, you can revisit the history of PHW’s involvement with the old John Kerr School with our Lunch and Learn Lecture “Partners in Preservation: Shenandoah University and PHW.”
Our Friday post this week ended up with a surprise feline in each section. See if you can spot them all! 🐈
This week, we took inventory of our Bough & Dough Shop supplies for the upcoming year. We request your assistance in donating gently-used paper bags of all sizes. We will be putting a receptacle on our back porch at the Hexagon House where you can drop off bags if no one is available at the office. Thank you for helping us keep our expenses low by using recycled and donated materials!
Some of you may be familiar with the unofficial PHW cat brigade and the health tribulations of the elder statesman, Severus. After a rough year through 2019 and 2020 with weight loss, high blood sugar, and other complications, he received a clean bill of health from his bloodwork this week. We hope we’ll be able to enjoy his grumpy and hissy (and occasionally greasy, like his namesake) antics for many more years.
We will be virtually attending the second “Dismantle Preservation” online conference next week between our normal office routines. Last year’s recordings are available online, and if you’re intrigued by any topics in this year’s event, you can join the conference through their website. In lieu of registration, the organizer recommends a $10/day donation or to support highlighted organizations through social media or email newsletters. (We admit we were suckered in by the “Cats and Brutalism” talk scheduled for July 28, 4:00-4:30 PM, but there are also more traditional topics.)
Similarly, the PastForward conference is now open for registration. The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s conference will be online again this year November 2-5. The conference subthemes include Promoting Equity and Justice Through Historic Preservation, Sharpening Essential Practices of Preservation, and Adapting to a Changing Climate.
Although Flickr does not provide stats for our entire viewing history, it looks like we may have broken our previous record for number of image views in a 24-hour period. We had over 29,000 views, primarily of the Millbank property album, on July 13. Our overall most-viewed image on Flickr is still the 1974 image of the Zayre store at 130 Delco Plaza, one of the long-forgotten collections unearthed from the basement of the Hexagon House (hence the unfortunate staining on the image.)
Since we began the caption project this January, we’ve seen more traffic on Flickr and more people finding our images with relevant, surprising and sometimes amusing text searches (our favorite this week is tiger nuts, the term used to find our feline festoon-holder on the Handley Library). We hope the images are proving informative and useful, and the increased captions are adding more depth and context. If there is an album, building, or photo in particular you would like us to focus our captioning efforts on, drop us a note on social media or at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’re happy to take requests!
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.
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!
While scanning some posters from past PHW events for our digital files, we found some individual photographs from events still attached to display boards. While they may be duplicates, we erred on the side of safety and scanned them for our digital collection. You can catch those images, as well as a few others, at the top of our Flickr photostream.
Do you have a copy of the Keith Williams print of Historic Buildings of Winchester, 1969 (click here for a detail from the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives holdings to refresh your memory)? A descendant of is on the hunt for a copy. If you have one you are willing to part with, please contact the PHW office so we can put you in touch with the seeker.
The Clarke County Historical Association will be hosting Colonial Kids Day on Saturday, July 10 at the Burwell-Morgan Mill (15 Tannery Lane, Millwood, Virginia 22646) between 11 AM to 4 PM. The 5th annual event features interactive activities including blacksmithing, craft making, colonial games, a scavenger hunt, the history of the Mill, living history interpretations, and grinding in action. Buy tickets ($5 per person) in advance at Eventbrite or at the event itself.
The African American Heritage Preservation Foundation has created an app and website listing more than 1,600 sites throughout the United States and Territories that focus on the contributions of African Americans to our nation’s history. The app received an overhaul and relaunch in June 2021. Winchester’s Douglas School, through its listing on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the featured Virginia sites, but we know that more could be highlighted here. If you have knowledge of other sites that could be featured on this app and site, get in touch with AAHPF to raise awareness and visibility for these places.
We were also alerted to a virtual event Afro-Virginia: Black Placekeeping and Power on July 22 at noon. Justin Reid, Director of Community Initiatives, Virginia Humanities and Manager, Virginia General Assembly African American Cultural Resources Task Force, will discuss Virginia’s contemporary Black cultural rights movement and his work promoting transdisciplinary, self-determined Black cultural placekeeping. Find out more and how to register for the free Zoom event at Brown University.
We had the pleasure to virtually visit the remnants of a wrought iron fence this week for some historical investigation. While it is a relatively small bit of fence, it fortunately retained the gate, which is one of the most likely places to find a manufacturer’s mark or other distinguishing maker characteristics. This gate was by far the most distinctive we have had the pleasure of examining, with an elaborate crest on the top with crossed halberds, heraldic sea snakes, and scroll-like decorative flourishes around the central finial. Although the label where the maker’s mark should be was not visible in the image, the gate design alone was unique enough that we could say with relative certainty it was a “Buckeye” wrought iron fence from the 1880s.
Naturally, having found such a distinctive architectural piece but never having heard of it before, it seemed like a good time for a little more investigation into the parent company. Buckeye fences were just one of the products produced by Mast, Foos & Company. Although founding dates have been contradictory, we are inclined to believe the company was founded in 1876 by Phineas P. Mast and John Foos in Springfield, Ohio, after Mast had undertaken earlier ventures in buggy and farm implements. In addition to the Buckeye fence, the company also produced wind engines, force pumps, lawn mowers, and lawn sprinklers. The company existed for almost 100 years after various acquisitions and remains well-known in Springfield, Ohio, particularly as Phineas P. Mast helped to found the local historical society. Read more about the Mast family and homes at Clark County History and explore a Mast, Foos & Company product catalogue at Archive.org.
Do you have an architectural research or identification question like this? Drop us a note and a photo at email@example.com and we’ll see if we can help.
First, the Clowser Foundation Memorial Service will be held tomorrow, Saturday, June 5 at the Clowser House, 152 Tomahawk Trail. The event is free and open to the public. If it’s been a while since you’ve been into Shawneeland, there are numerous improvements to the house and grounds to see and many friendly Clowser family descendants to meet. The event starts at 10 AM.
Second, if you are looking to travel a bit farther afield for some history tourism, Leesburg will be holding their first ever Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 19th beginning at 11:00 AM with a car caravan from Belmont Country Club to Claude Moore Park. Activities begin at noon at Claude Moore Park with the traditional flag raising ceremony by the legendary Buffalo Soldiers, followed by musical performances, kids activities, and mini-Juneteenth classes. Learn more at The Patch.
Are you invested in the future of saving places? The National Trust for Historic Places is developing a National Impact Agenda to help collaboratively guide the future of historic preservation and make it a more inclusive movement. Learn more and take the survey at their website to chime in why old places matter to you and what actions should be prioritized over the next 3-5 years!
In our work sorting through the Mutual Assurance Fire Policies, we noticed a number of buildings we have documentation for are no longer standing. Some are known to us through other means like photographs, town maps, drawings, or recollections like William Greenway Russell or T. K. Cartmell. Some others, however, seem to have slipped through with very little documentation. During some unrelated research, we found a news article on the demise of Jacob Baker’s home on Kent Street. The name was familiar from the recent Mutual Assurance Society policy database work we undertook this spring, and we can now bring a long-ago Vanished Winchester story to you.
The first trail on this building through the Mutual Assurance Society comes from Henry St. George Tucker insuring his building on “a square of lots East of Kent Street, West of East Lane” in 1827. According to a footnote in Russell’s What I Know About Winchester, Jacob Baker purchased the property in 1832. Although the footnote would lead one to assume the building was destroyed by fire before Baker’s purchase, it was perhaps a bit of careless reading of Russell’s recollections without deeper follow-up. While the house was indeed destroyed by fire at the time of Russell’s writing, the implied timing does not match the primary sources. In 1845, the Mutual Assurance policy had transferred to Jacob Baker, who was using the building as his personal dwelling.
While the Mutual Assurance Policy sketches are suggestive at best, it appears the house was situated roughly mid-block between the bounding streets of Kent, Piccadilly, Philpot, and East Lane (about the location of the Lewis-Jones Knitting Mill, but set back some distance from Kent Street). A one and a half story stone wing 24’x33′ with a wood roof was to the north (toward Piccadilly St.). The main house was two stories high, 38’x54′, and made of brick and stone with a wood roof. The main entrance was facing Kent Street with a porch around the central entrance. On the eastern (rear) side of the house was a full-width two story porch facing East Lane.
The house remained standing until March, 1866. At about 7:30 AM on March 8, the roof of wood shingles was noticed to be on fire. While it had not progressed far at that point and assistance was sent for, high winds and the dry shingles fed the flames, and the Union fire engine could not help, as its hose could not reach the fire hydrants. Amazingly, soldiers and citizens helped remove most of the furniture from the house so that not everything in the house was lost. Read the full article in the Winchester Journal through Handley’s online newspaper archive. A second account of the fire also ran in the Winchester Times, which survives as a reprint in a Richmond newspaper, below:
Fire in Winchester.—On Thursday morning last, says the Winchester Times of the 14th, the elegant mansion of Jacob Baker, Esq., on Kent street, took fire, and all efforts to extinguish the flames were unavailing, and in a short time this noble old structure together with the out buildings presented a mass of smouldering blackened ruins. At one time fire was communicated to the long dry grass in Mount Hebron Cemetery, and it was feared the wooden head-boards to the graves of hundreds of Confederate dead would be burned, and thereby obliterate every trace of the departed loved ones, but through the almost superhuman efforts of the citizens and soldiers, this most dreadful calamity was spared us. We understand Mr. Baker is insured in the Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Richmond for the amount of $5,000, which is perhaps one-third his loss. (Richmond Whig, Volume 75, Number 66, 19 March 1866)
It’s been a while, but Friday Photos brings new content! Visit the Fort Loudoun Day 2021 album on Flickr for images taken last weekend at the event. There are 70 photos in total.
You still have about a week to get award nominations for the 57th Annual Meeting in to PHW. Anyone may nominate a project in Winchester or Frederick County. Find the form here and nominate people and projects worthy of recognition!
Looking ahead at our next week, the PHW office may be closed Friday, May 28, depending on how the second round of vaccination goes. We will also be celebrating Memorial Day on May 31. Stay safe and healthy, and we will catch up with any questions we may miss while we are recuperating over the long holiday weekend.
Also, PHW is drawing to the end of its fiscal year. If your membership dues are up for renewal, please try to get your checks in before the end of the month to help our bottom line. Also, if you’ve been enjoying our online content or looking forward to the upcoming Annual Meeting on June 27, remember only PHW members in good standing may vote at the meeting. Membership forms are available online and will be available on-site during the meeting; new or renewing members may pick up a free copy of “Winchester: Limestone, Sycamores & Architecture” with their membership dues.
Do you own a log house in Winchester? Do you think your building may contain logs repurposed from Fort Loudoun? Would you be open to volunteers taking some images and possibly wood samples to better explore this possibility? Please get in touch with your contact details to the PHW office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-667-3577 and we can fill you in on this idea for an accounting of logs from the Fort.
Save the date for June 12 for “Experience American Military History in Action” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hosted by the American Military Heritage Museum. The event is free, rain-or-shine and will feature re-enactors and living history displays. Meet World War II veterans from 10:30 a.m. until noon, check out a large collection of World War II equipment and military vehicles as well as historic museum displays. The museum is located at 811 Fairfax Pike in Stephens City.