Heads up! PHW is undergoing a deep edit to its physical mailing lists ahead of the Holiday House Tour. This edit mostly impacts those of you who are on our “extended” mailing list (you only receive emails or physical mailers on public events from us). It appears the last time we performed such an in-depth edit was back in 2015, and we know many of you have moved between then and now. If you want to make sure you get a physical postcard mailer in November, reach out with your preferred mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure you’re on the list or updated to a new address.
If you were considering placing an ad in our Holiday House Tour program booklet, please note the back cover spot has been spoken for, but we still have room for interior full page, half page, or business card size ads. Find our information sheet on sizes and prices and the reservation form online. If you are working on an ad, deadline is Friday, Oct. 28 to make sure you are included in the booklet. Thank you to our generous sponsors so far this year – your support helps to offset most of the cost in hosting this community event so that proceeds can go back into our preservation and history work!
We are at work now finalizing the site lineup for the 2022 tour. We expect to be able to announce the sites by the end of October and have ticket prices and information on where to buy them available soon.
To finish off your Friday, we have eight pictures around and inside the Old Stone Presbyterian Church at 306 E. Piccadilly St. Catch them all at the top of our Flickr photostream!
Photo help time! Do you recognize the locations below in PHW’s “Vanished Winchester” holdings? These photos were not labelled and were discovered in limbo this week during filing. If you recognize either image or building, please contact the office through social media or email@example.com.
This unmarked image is of a five bay, two story unpainted brick house with chimneys and stepped parapets on both sides. The windows all appear 2/2 with shutters on the front. A porch with jigsawn brackets spans the central three bays. There is a wrought iron fence and gate, a hitching post, and a carriage block along the street. Although hard to see, there may be dentil detailing along the cornice and a rectangular transom above the door. PHW’s copy is a photograph taken of another photograph and may have been stuck in the file for planning the “Vanished Winchester” exhibit at the Kurtz.
We have ruled out the Betty Dandridge House (116 N. Braddock), the Miller House (125 N. Washington) and the Overacre House (141 N. Washington). Other guesses or provenance on the mystery photo are welcome!
This unmarked image of a demolition in progress is another head-scratcher. Our two unverified guesses are the former Solenberger warehouse site at 119 North Cameron Street (beside the BB&T/Truist bank building, now a parking lot) or the greenspace area of the current Our Health campus in the 300 block of North Cameron Street. The building appears to be primarily painted concrete block with at least one brick pier.
If you’d like a different trip down memory lane, this week we also enjoyed reading and seeing images of Canada’s $50 million 1980s ghost town by Justin McElroy. We’ve come across other stories of ghost towns or buildings abandoned to harsh environments or frozen in time when the owners left, but most are left to their own devices to decay on their own terms. This may be the first ghost town outside of a National Park that we’ve heard of with caretakers keeping the lights on and the buildings secured and maintained.
PHW will be closing our doors a bit early today to accommodate the downtown festivities for Apple Blossom. We hope everyone has a safe and fun time with your weekend celebration.
We’ve been at work sprucing up our office and getting ready for our open house event on May 14. Today was also National Historic Marker Day, so we concentrated our cleaning efforts on the back porch to get everything neat and tidy around our historic markers for the Hexagon House. You can see some photos on our Flickr account, including close ups of all the cleaned markers. Did you clean a marker today?
The Winchester-Frederick County Tourism Office will host the next Newcomers Eventon Thursday, April 7 from 5-7 pm at the Visitor Center. Are you new to the area or just want to learn more about our beautiful and vibrant community? Stop by and enjoy this free, casual event. Representatives from the City and County governments and parks and recreation departments, the Discovery Museum, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Handley Library, local destinations/museums, Winchester Area Newcomer’s Club, and more will be present.
As part of the Community Conversations Series, Councilors Kim Herbstritt and John Hill will host a Community Cleanup on Saturday, April 9 at 8 AM at Shawnee Springs (behind Mt. Carmel Church on Pleasant Valley Rd.), Friendship Park (end of N. Pleasant Valley Rd. across from Friendship Fire Station), and N. Cameron & N. Loudoun Streets (Rescue Mission and north to railroad tracks). Volunteers needed – bags, gloves, and pickers will be provided.
Grants from the Hart Family Fund for Small Townsare intended to encourage preservation at the local level by providing seed money for preservation projects in small towns. These grants help stimulate public discussion, enable local groups to gain the technical expertise needed for particular projects, introduce the public to preservation concepts and techniques, and encourage financial participation by the private sector. Grants range from $2,500 to $15,000. Apply by May 2.
In our ongoing work sparked by the Elms on Valley Avenue, we have been researching the proliferation of short-term tourist accommodations in Virginia in the early to mid-twentieth century to provide background context for the site. In William Couper’s History of the Shenandoah Valley published in 1952, the author states: “Tourist courts, at times called motels and somewhat similar terms, have become so numerous in the Valley that a pamphlet listing them and their advantages and accommodations has been published by the Virginia Tourist Court Association, Incorporated” (p. 1186).
In a prepared statement in 1951, the Association outlined how their model of business was substantially different from rental housing and commercial hotels: “Though tourist courts possess some of the characteristics of ordinary rental housing and some of the characteristics of commercial hotels, they are different in very substantial respects from both . . . . Tourist courts, unlike ordinary rental housing, cater only to transients and, unlike commercial hotels, they cater only to transients traveling by private motor vehicle. Persons traveling by train, airplane, bus, or ship do not patronize tourist courts. Further, the tourist court, because of its location usually far distant from the business centers of large cities, does not appeal to the average commercial traveler. It is designed for and seeks its patronage among motoring vacationists.” 
This reasoning falls in line well with the development patterns of tourist courts and similar establishments. Hand in hand with the rise of the automobile, Winchester and its many scenic roads were often included in vacation guides geared to the automobile owner. Starting in at least the late 1920s, various groups concerned with tourism and travel along the highways passing through town partnered with other localities to drive more visitors here to experience our scenery, history, and of course, the Apple Blossom Festival. Winchester was often touted as the perfect overnight destination on these two or three day road trips.
No timeline accounting for the rise and fall of motels in Winchester and nearby Frederick County exists (yet), though incidental research of buildings throughout town reflects larger single family dwellings often being utilized as rooming houses or tourist homes in the early 1900s to 1940s. A 1967 business census lists 17 tourist courts, motels, and similar in Winchester, and 18 in Frederick County .
Documentary images of the remaining Elms “Cottages” may now be seen at our Flickr account.
Sparked by the interest shown in The Elms Motor Court buildings along Valley Avenue, we have done some preliminary research to see what information is available about the motel. As a number of other online researchers have commented, finding historic information about the motel specifically is a bit hard to come by, so we wanted to make the information we gathered at PHW accessible as we continue our documentation of the site.
A Winchester Evening Star article dated Nov. 3, 1954 supplies most of our historic information for this post. L. Adolph Richards, the author, wrote several other articles on buildings on historic interest in the mid-1900s, and it appears he pulled most of his information from T. K. Cartmell’s writings, so we trust that the basic information provided was verified.
In this article, Richards notes the land was granted by Virginia Governor Gooch to Isaac Parkins in 1735. Isaac’s son, Nathan Parkins, built the home as well as a mill across the road. Nathan lived in the home until his death in 1830; subsequently it was occupied by T. T. Fauntleroy, George W. Hillyard, William Richards (who dubbed the house “The Elms”), and Mr. and Mrs. L. V. Watson. In April of 1954, the Chickla Brothers of Pittsburgh purchased the property and owned it during the heyday of the Elms Motor Court.
By the time of a 1963 aerial image viewable on Historic Aerials, The Elms had completed the construction of the additional cottages in an L shape around the house. The main stone house was used for room rentals, as well as a restaurant in its later life. The building, thought to be the oldest house on the south side of Winchester, was demolished in early 2010. The lot, including the elm trees, was leveled and grassed over and has been vacant since that time.
The Parkins Mill, built along Abram’s Creek, was destroyed during the Civil War and was rebuilt by Jacob Keckley in 1872. At an unspecified point (perhaps around 1930), the mill was converted to apple packaging, as seen on the 1947 Sanborn map. The Keckley Mill has also been demolished. In a newspaper clipping from December 27, 1995 detailing the demolition by Cynthia Cather, it was last occupied by Shenandoah Appliance Co. for about 17 years prior to demolition. For those familiar with Winchester in the 1980s, it was well-known because of a stuffed gorilla placed outside the entrance to the building.
The rectangular pond across the road from The Elms was used as a dam to hold water from Abram’s Creek to turn the water wheel for the Parkins and Keckley Mill, as well as being used for ice by the Hillyards. We assume this article from 1931, printed below, is the pond where the perch were poisoned.
HALF-MILLION PERCH ARE KILLED IN POND
Game Warden F. M. Pingley reported that approximately 500,000 yellow perch had been killed in the past several days in a fresh water pond at the Elms, near Winchester, Va., which, it is claimed, was due to the pollution of Abrams Creek, which feeds the pond. Informed of the killing, Maj. A. Willis Robertson, of Richmond, State commissioner of game and inland fisheries, notified Warden Pingley to proceed to prosecute the agency believed guilty of polluting the stream and killing the fish. Game Warden Pingley procured a warrant from County Magistrate A. J. Tavenner against the Virginia Apple Storage Company, operating a large plant on Abrams Creek, charging the corporation with having polluted the stream by emptying a solution of lime from their plant into the stream. The warrant was served on L. Jackson, manager. —Chief Justice, Volume 4, Number 29, 21 July 1931
More images, primarily of the Keckley Mill, are now available at our Flickr. We anticipate adding more images of the Elms Motor Court buildings soon.
Winchester held a Comprehensive Plan open house and public hearing on Tuesday this week. If you were unable to attend in person but are curious about the public comments made, you can watch the meeting video at the Winchester meeting archive site. One refrain we heard over and over from the commenters was how Winchester’s history and charm is part of why people want to live here. Obviously, we’re absolutely thrilled by hearing those kinds of comments. PHW has been a strong believer in just those qualities being an attractant for visitors and residents alike.
Simultaneously, we heard a number of comments skeptical of New Urbanism. While we know anything that has a name and sounds officially engineered is going to be viewed with suspicion these days, in many ways this approach to planning is intended to go back to the proven, organic method of growing incrementally. If New Urbanism is a new concept for you, you can learn more at newurbanism.org and the Congress of New Urbanism.
In the Preservation Leadership forum, several good website resources were shared recently. Because the forum is not available to nonmembers we wanted to pass the links on to our readers. From Fort Collins, CO, is a cost calculator spreadsheet for both residential and commercial construction. They are in Excel format and should be saved to your computer to allow for editing for your project comparisons.
Douglas Newby also shared links to his five steps for saving historic and architecturally significant homes. They are a bit of a longer read, so settle in when you have time for Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Four, and Part Five. This approach is almost exactly the process PHW was advised to take by the National Trust for Historic Preservation consultants, and subsequently how much of the residential areas surrounding Winchester’s Old Town Mall were stabilized.
Because we know it is always an area of interest, we were also notified that the founders of PreservationDirectory.com have spun off a second website HistoricFunding.com just for gathering funding resources for grants, loans, rebates, tax incentives, and other opportunities for preservation and its related humanity fields. The search requires paid membership, and so PHW cannot vouch for the quality and range of sources available here (although the price seems relatively reasonable compared to other paid grant databases we have come across).
In addition to our usual social media image captioning project for our Flickr holdings, this week we did a bit of extra sleuthing to identify two photos in our collection. If you’ve ever wondered how we go about this, here are the approaches we used for these two images:
The first building was partially identified as being located on Valley Avenue by a note on the rear. The notes have not always been accurate, as we learned in previous image sleuthing attempts, but it at least provided a starting point and seemed plausible. To check without leaving the office, we utilized Google’s Street View on maps and took a virtual drive from Jefferson Street heading south. The building would be nondescript except for the prominent white keystones with decorative inset panelss in the wall above, so those were the features we looked for first. Once we spotted a promising building on Google Street View, we pulled back and verified the side porch on the north side, as well as examining the adjoining property to the south. Once we were sure we had the right building, we took a little trip down the street to confirm the address and number of building between this one and the Benjamin Moore paint store. Armed with this info, we then went to the City’s Real Estate Assessment Search for a general Valley Avenue search and obtained the correct street address through counting back parcels to reach this one.
The second image was a bit harder to identify, and required what we would term lateral searching and organizational memory. This photo did not have a location note on the rear, but was stamped as being taken by Allan Richardson and had crop notations indicating it was used for some kind of printed material. Knowing that Allan Richardson took photos for PHW in the later 1970s to early 1980s from our previous work in the image collection, we had a basic time frame to explore. Knowing the only reason it is likely PHW had a professional photo of a modern home was because of a tour or event, we started with the biggest event of our repertoire, the Holiday House Tour. Due to previous work done behind the scenes to document the locations and years of past House Tours, and from our knowledge of Winchester that this is not a building in the Historic District, we could scroll through the address list before finding a likely address to once again plug into Google Street View. In this case, it ended up being the first possible building we identified in the 1977 Holiday House Tour. Once again, we confirmed through examining the distinctive features of the house – the chimney placement, front entry, and windows primarily – and then compared the tiny magnolia in the original photo to the modern-day tree. This one was definitely a bit more of a puzzler, but we feel confident we correctly identified the building through these methods.
It’s been a while, but during preparation for our second half of the West of the Blue Ridge posts for 2022 this week, we pulled out some of the Kurtz Cultural Center scrapbooks to look for more information we could add to the posts. In addition to some interesting interview tidbits, we also found 22 photos. They appear to be new additions for our digital holdings and were subsequently scanned and added to our online collection for the Kurtz Cultural Center.
One set of images appears to be from the decoration setup and opening reception of the Julian Wood Glass gallery and exhibit that was hosted on the third floor of the Kurtz, as well as an initial reception at the kick off of the Kurtz rehabilitation. A few scattered images came from the quilt and woodworking exhibits, and one appears to be from the West of the Blue Ridge exhibit itself. All the images have marks indicating they had been tacked up on a board at some point, most likely explaining how they slipped out of their exhibit or event files. No captions have been added to these photos yet, but if you recognize some faces, feel free to drop us a comment or email to help us identify the revelers.
Recently, we watched two animated movies that align with PHW’s history and past lecture series. If you’re looking for a movie suitable to watch with older teens to receive inspiration on preservation (and a little side history on Japan’s involvement in the Korean War), check out From Up on Poppy Hill. This story, involving students banding together to clean up and save an important school building, is set in 1963, about the same time we were feeling the same sentiments here in Winchester to preserve our historic buildings for future generations.
Although we don’t want to spoil everything about The Wind Rises, this more mature film set in 1918-1945 Japan prompted some discussion afterward on “was that really how that happened?” And indeed, some of the scenes are accurate to the contemporary writings on tuberculosis treatment and prevention that we reviewed as part of our “A House without a Porch Is Boring” lecture.
If you’re not interested in watching movies during your holidays, you might might enjoy Christmas in 19th Century America by Penne Restad at History Today. It was a fun read, based heavily in how the 19th century changed Christmas in America from how our ancestors would have known and celebrated the holiday to what we experience today.
Last, we have two images to share of work taking place on Cameron Street. One is 605 S. Cameron Street, one of the PHW Revolving Fund houses that was involved in a fire. Work is progressing on the building, which has so far included removing the rear addition, roof, and other damaged portions in the main block. PHW was happy to provide some window sashes salvaged from another local building outside the historic district that will be reused in this building, and we may be providing a door in the future. The decorative trim, which has also been removed, is salvageable and will be reinstalled.
Next, we spotted some of the stained glass window work taking place at Centenary Reformed United Church of Christ on the corner of Cork and Cameron streets. We are super excited to see the beautiful stained glass windows uncovered from the safety glass that has obscured them for decades. While storm windows like this are often a key part in preserving historic stained glass windows, some of these older iterations have aged badly and hidden the very architectural features they intended to preserve. We hope the work will finally let this church’s beauty be seen from the street.
Last, we have been informed another Revolving Fund house, known well to many of you as the Simon Lauck house at 311 South Loudoun, was involved in an accidental fire this week. Due to rapid response by local EMS teams, the building was saved, but repairs will be ongoing. We are sure the building will be in good hands, as we were already working with the owner to find someone capable of handling other repairs to the log structure. We’ll be keeping you updated here as we learn more, as we know this building is very dear to many people.
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!
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!