Nominations are open for a 2023 Preservation Award! We need your help to find projects and people that may have flown under our radar so we can recognize all the good preservation work happening locally. Download the award nomination form and fill in all the information you can about work you’ve seen happening in and around Winchester. You can nominate yourself and there is no limit to the number of nominations you can make. Nominations are due slightly earlier this year – May 5, 2023 – so get started now!
Are you in a quandary researching deeds and land records? Family History Hunters, an informal meeting for genealogists of all levels of experience, might be able to help. The group’s April 13 meeting at the Archives at Handley Library, 12:30-2:00 PM, will discuss deeds and land records. In addition to helping you trace your ancestors’ property holdings, deeds and land records can also be mined for genealogical information. We’ll review where to find land records, how to read them, and what they can reveal about your family. Registration is required; visit the Handley Library site to reserve your spot!
The Valley Conservation Council has announced ahead of spring planting season resources to find pollinator friendly native plants. If you’re looking to replace plantings on your property this spring, they recommend the Chesapeake Bay Native Plant Center tool. The Shenandoah Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society will release their Valley and Ridge Native Plant Guide in April. VCC will have copies of the guide for sale in April; contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to pre-order your copy for $15.
Located! The last unidentified slide location in PHW’s collection (mentioned in our Feb. 10, 2023 post) has been positively IDed as partial views of 600 and 620 S. Braddock St. after the demolition of 606 and 610 S. Braddock St. The corner house was demolished following this image and the view toward 620 S. Braddock has been changed by the new construction at South End Fire Company, so this was by far one of the hardest locations we’ve attempted to match up to its current view.
Our next to-do is to locate the home below. We’re not sure when the photo was taken or why, but the house is just familiar enough that we’re fairly certain it is in Winchester. There are two views – if you recognize it or think you know the neighborhood to check out, drop us a note on any of our social media channels!
The PHW office is gearing up for our largest membership renewal batch of the year, but before we send renewals by snail mail, we want to reach out to offer the chance for an emailed invoice. We recently upgraded our credit card processing abilities for PHW. If you’d like to help us save some costs for letterhead and stamps, drop us a note at email@example.com with your desired membership level (individual, family, etc., from our membership form) and any additional tax-deductible contribution you wish to include.
The emailed invoice will have several options for payment, including PayPal (which will let you use your credit or debit card without needing a PayPal account,) Venmo, or an option to download a PDF invoice you can use to send payment by mail. Your email invoice should look similar to this, but may vary by device (click to enlarge the images):
Are you already a subscriber who is on a yearly autopay schedule? You don’t need to do a thing – you’re still all set, and thank you for being an early adopter!
You may have heard the Planning Commission meeting set for March 21 was unable to be held, with a quorum of Commission members not in attendance. This meeting included the public hearing for changes to accessory dwelling structures in the Zoning Ordinance. The public hearings scheduled for that meeting have been moved to the April 4 meeting, also held at 3 PM at Rouss City Hall. If you cannot attend in person to make your statement, remember that you can provide statements in writing prior to the meeting. Find the full list of all contact points for public hearings at the City’s website.
It’s been a busy week for preservation items at Winchester City Council, but in a positive way. First, an amendment to Winchester’s Community Development Block Grant Action Plan to allow for historic preservation and rehabilitation was approved. The target area of this grant is likely to be North Kent Street. As the potential activity sites are privately owned, no details were available on Tuesday evening, but North End residents should expect more input sessions in the future.
Similarly, the derelict and blighted property designation for 137 South Loudoun has been continued until May 9 to allow the owners time to present their plans to BAR and show action on remedying the site issues. You may remember plans had been submitted and approved by BAR several years ago, but the owners faced financing complications due to the pandemic. It appears they have rebounded financially and we should see them at a BAR meeting in early April. (This group is also behind the pending rehab at the old Winchester News Stand building on East Piccadilly, and previously rehabbed the Guitar Shop building on South Loudoun.)
PHW was very encouraged to hear on Tuesday that many councilors were mindful of the historic significance of both the South Loudoun Street building and the North Kent Street neighborhood. Older buildings, particularly those that have a long history of community cultural and artistic uses, are deserving of more leeway when repurposing or recovering from disasters and often become points of pride when the projects are completed. We’re definitely encouraged by this fresh perspective on City Council for our historic resources and hope to see it continue.
Researchers, are you looking for a collection of primary sources and classroom activities relating to Emancipation in our area? Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute has launched the Emancipation Celebrations website. There is both a search function if you know what you’re looking for, or a browse collection option if you want to be surprised.
This week is also Flood Awareness Week in Virginia. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s website has information before and after flooding occurs to help you prepare and minimize problems and recover from the aftermath. If you’re curious about other long-range flood or climate change related possibilities, You may also want to visit Lifehacker’s similar article with three additional interactive mapping tools, which also have options for heat, drought, wind, and wildfires.
Recent history researchers, rejoice! Archives of the Northern Virginia Daily published between 1936 to 1963 have been added to the Virginia Chronicle website. We have found the lists of building permits issued to be most helpful in our work as we start to flesh out our files on the 2015 additions to the Winchester Historic District. If you have one of the mid-century buildings constructed in Winchester (or know your home had significant improvements around that time) and were looking for more concrete details, try entering your house number and street name into the search bar in quotations to see what might turn up.
Along similar lines, PHW was contacted about the possible existence of John Marvin papers or diaries. Marvin ran a school on Sharp Street (the school building at 219 Sharp Street still stands) and also acted as a weather observer. A researcher is hoping that Marvin may have further observations on weather during the Civil War that are as yet unknown. If you know of any leads on Marvin, or on other privately-owned diaries with weather observations around 1860-1865, get in touch with PHW at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll connect you to the researcher.
Handley 100th – Anniversary Book Photo Sharing Day is taking place Saturday, March 11, 10 AM-1 PM at 1360 S. Pleasant Valley Rd. If you have any interesting memorabilia including candid pictures, a uniform from athletics, a special sweater, class ring, club award or other items pertaining to the history of Handley High School, bring your items to Hollingsworth Mill, behind the Visitor’s Center. There, they will photograph or scan your items and receive information, including owner’s name and year used. If you can’t make the event, photos may also be submitted at the linked website.
If you need to take a break after all the history-mysteries, Celtic Fest returns to downtown Winchester this weekend, noon-9 PM. Kick off St. Patrick’s Day early by visiting Old Town Winchester to explore various venues for food, drink, live music, cultural displays, dancing, retail sales, artisan vendors, and more. Visit the Old Town Winchester site to find all the participating vendors and activities.
Noonan’s Livery is one of the vanished Winchester locations that has to date not been well-documented in secondary source materials. We hope to rectify this with our first installation in the “Vanished Winchester” blog series.
According to Wikipedia, “[t]he livery stable was a necessary institution of every American town, but its role has been generally overlooked by historians. … With the advent of the automobile after 1910, the livery stables quietly disappeared.”  American livery stables generally offered horses and wagons for hire, as well as offering short term boarding for privately-owned horses. As such they were generally located near a hotel to provide services to travelers. Many liveries also offered feed for sale and other horse-related services.
Noonan’s Livery hits most of these points (with one notable exception which we will touch on toward the end of our investigation). There was almost always a livery stable of some flavor attached or affiliated with the Taylor Hotel from the time of Bushrod Taylor’s ownership, and it is likely a stable was also part of the amenities for the earlier McGuire’s ordinary at the same location. A livery near the Taylor Hotel seems to have been run in part or in full by a Noonan family member beginning around 1865. The earliest mention we have found corroborating this is a notice to return a strayed mare to the Taylor Hotel stables, under the care of Potter & Noonan, in 1867.  In 1868, the stables were operated by Noonan & Quinn , and finally by 1871 the business was solely operated by B. Noonan, who bought out his partner’s share and continued the business in the same location. 
Most early information is limited to the usual short advertising blurbs to rent coaches, board horses, and special rates for travelers staying at the Taylor Hotel. Although an exact date has not been located yet, by 1891 Mr. Noonan had passed away and the business was now being operated by his wife, still in the same location behind the Taylor Hotel. 
A brief note in the Daily Item newspaper, July 18, 1896, indicates the stable was recently whitewashed.  Although no signage is visible on the building, we believe this image showing a white stable behind 104 N. Braddock St. is the Taylor Hotel stable and Noonan Livery.
By 1897, however, the Noonan Livery had relocated across the street and expanded their services (the original stable now being operated by Joseph Wright, Jr.). The numerous smaller sheds and buildings were torn down and a larger stable, blacksmith, and a veterinary practice now occupy the entire south side of Amherst between Braddock and Indian Alley. It is likely around this time Henry and/or J. Mack Noonan assumed the family business from their mother.
For most livery operators, this was a time of decline as automobiles replaced the horse as the standard of over land transportation and their services were no longer required. One would expect to see a horse-based business phased out by the late 1910s or early 1920s. Indeed, that happened, but the Noonan family transferred their skills to an “auto livery.” In 1916, note is made that J. Mack Noonan relocated from the south side of Amherst back to the “old Taylor Hotel stables, which have undergone extensive improvements. Mr. Noonan also has considerable space for his automobile trade.” 
Earlier in 1916, J. Mack Noonan’s brother Henry Noonan was killed in an automobile accident.  Instead of turning against automobiles, he seems to have embraced their life-saving potential by partnering with Gibson Baker and replacing the horse-drawn ambulance for Winchester Memorial Hospital with a motorized vehicle costing $3,000 (about $50,140 today) in 1921.  Numerous mentions are found of him acting as ambulance driver and making impressive times to injured people in newspaper accounts through the 1920s.
He was involved with many civic events in this era as well, offering essentially taxi services and organizing carpools to events like Apple Blossom. He also appeared to have taken up managing a bus line, much like the old days of Bushrod Taylor’s stagecoach lines. 
J. Mack Noonan passed away in 1930, but his taxi business continued to be operated by his wife after his death, similar to how his own mother operated the original livery.  Around 1935, it seems the old wooden Taylor Hotel stables were replaced with a new brick structure at approximately the same location, known as the Valley Service Station, later Valley Distributors.  When she finally closed Noonan’s Taxi Service for the last time, September 18, 1952, the newspaper stated it was one of the oldest businesses in Winchester.  Certainly that was an accomplishment for what could have been an obsolete business forty years earlier.
Both sites of Noonan’s Livery (Valley Distributors and the Firestone Building) were purchased by Winchester Parking Authority for the Braddock Street Auto Park in the late 1960s. In the February 15, 1966 newspaper article, the Valley Distributors building was considered for a partial demolition and adaptive reuse to a civic lounge. According to the article, a 36′ section of the building fronting Amherst would be retained for “public restrooms, waiting lounge, public lockers, soft drink dispensers and serve as a downtown bus stop.” An alternate idea could have seen the space used as a Chamber of Commerce office. The Firestone Building on the south side of Amherst was slated for complete demolition. The desire was to consolidate the two parcels and incorporate it into one complex (as we know now did happen) and to provide a covered walkway for pedestrians to McCrory’s in the old Taylor Hotel (which did not exactly happen.)
The Braddock Street Auto Park was constructed in 1972, according to a plaque mounted on the building. While all physical traces of the livery businesses that once operated here are gone, it is an interesting footnote that the site continues to offer short and long term boarding solutions to our modern day transportation needs.
We had hoped to produce our first Vanished Winchester location post today, but on further review we’d like a bit more time to fact check and polish our work. Look for our first Vanished Winchester entry next week to start March off right!
The City of Winchester invites you to register for this Saturday’s stormwater workshop. If you’d like to learn more about the City’s stormwater system and new utility fees, related infrastructure projects, and potential credits you can earn to offset your property’s fees, register for this new in-person workshop Saturday, February 25th, 10 am-12 pm atRouss City Hall (main floor), 15 N. Cameron Street. Advanced registration is required. The workshop will not be recorded.
Handley Library has two events tomorrow that may be of interest to our readers. On the Lower Level of the Handley Library is a pop-up book sale, 10 am-2 pm. Browse a selection of gently used books and DVDs and bring a bag or box to carry your treasures. All proceeds benefit the three branches of HRLS and staff.
Also taking place at the Handley Library at the Archives, 10:30am – 12:00pm, is Applying to Lineage Societies: Get Help with Your Application and Research. Have you ever wanted to apply to a lineage society such as the Daughters of the American Revolution? Do you have an application but aren’t sure if you have all the proofs you need? Katherine Collins, MLISc, can help you with your questions, review applications, and assist with genealogical research issues. If you can’t make this month’s event, Katherine will be available every fourth Saturday of the month in the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives reading room from now through October (no meetings in November or December). Registration not required.
If your afternoon or evening needs an activity, you may be interested in watching one of the debut performances of Ruth’s Tea Room. Old Town Winchester in partnership with Selah Theatre Project and Bright Box presents the premiere of this new original play by local playwright and director LaTasha Do’zia. With performances at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM, there are two chances to see this exciting FREE debut of what is sure to become an enduring Winchester classic.
SYNOPSIS: A prodigal daughter, Azi Wells, of a small town returns home to say goodbye to the only place that allowed her to be free. As she walks into Ruth’s Tea Room, she meets other townsfolk that have come to say farewell and share their stories of their days spent in this welcoming space. Each story shares the ups and downs of Ruth’s and the effects it had on a community and its people.
Based on a real historic location in Winchester, this dramatization brings life to one truth…There was room for everyone and anyone at Ruth’s.
It may seem to early to think about Christmas, but we’re reviewing Bough & Dough Shop needs now. If you’re interested in getting on our advance email list for artists and vendors, drop us a note at email@example.com so we can keep you in the loop.
One of our internal long term goals is to update our information on “Vanished Winchester,” one of our popular programs that originated with an exhibit held in the Kurtz Cultural Center in 1994. The display was initially open to the public October 1-November 11 and featured photographs of buildings either demolished or severely altered, with many of the photographs originating from the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives. Versions of this program have been hosted in the decades since and remain highly engaging.
Compiling demolished sites for the “Vanished Winchester” program dates back to at least early 1990. Stewart Bell, Jr. provided his list of significant buildings lost before the formation of PHW to us along with a handwritten note to Pat Zontine, PHW’s President at the time, and Anna Thomson, then Executive Director:
In the spring of 1994, John G. Lewis and Virginia Miller appear to have further expanded the initial list provided by Stewart Bell, Jr. It appears they used a combination of page by page marking photographs of demolished building in Images of the Past, combined with their knowledge of downtown Winchester from their work on the 1976 architectural survey. After two to three iterations of the list, 87 demolished or significantly altered buildings were identified, with nine additional sites posited to have possible documentation or to be marked for further investigation. About 60 photographs made it into the finished exhibit.
Unfortunately, only three of the exhibit panels seemed to have been photographed (“Most Endangered Buildings,” “Historic District,” and “Changed Vistas,”) and the text used for the image captions seems largely missing or to be very early draft copies. If you happen to have any more views of the exhibit or planning materials, we would be interested in obtaining more documents to flesh out the historic files.
We hope to make keep expanding our knowledge of some of these lost sites in a future series of blog posts. While we’re sure to cover some of the famous lost buildings like the Winchester Inn, the Cannonball House, and the Chanticleer Inn, we hope to also bring more recognition to other properties that have largely been forgotten or were lost too recently to have been covered in past programs. As the exhibit text stated in 1994, “We hope you find this exhibit both interesting and educational. We also hope that as you finish your [virtual] tour, you will agree that it is important that we all continue to work to safeguard our architectural heritage for future generations.”
Keep an eye out for the first featured building in a future post!
We hope you all have been enjoying the spring-like weather as much as we have. The nicer days have let us visit approximately half of the Revolving Fund houses for our yearly review. Kent Street and the cross streets will be our last to do, pending weather and meeting schedules.
We are also close to the halfway point of unpacking and sorting our Flickr photos – uploading them to our locally hosted gallery is going to be a while longer, and as you may notice, captions on the photos are probably not happening any time soon on the public side. As we complete the transfer of albums and captions, we will be deleting them from Flickr. Ideally we would like to get under 1000 photos on Flickr mark by the time of the next renewal request in January 2024. Even if we don’t make it by January of 2024, all of the text data is in two zip files; it’s tedious but it is all retrievable on whatever time frame it takes.
On the plus side, the photo migration made us dive back into the hard copies and a few more unidentified images were pulled out for a fresh look. One of the luckiest IDs was for a modest house with little surrounding clues to identify location, only the house number on the building. We successfully honed in on the house number and guessed based on a map search that it was one of the row on North Frederick Pike/Fairmont Avenue. (We’re still scratching our heads over this slide, though – it’s our last unidentified slide image and we’d like to get it filed appropriately. Leads are appreciated!)
This Saturday is the 10th annual Chocolate Escape in Old Town Winchester! Visit over twenty different locations February 4 from 2-5 PM for specials, discounts, sales, and restaurant specials for only $5. Follow the red heart-shaped balloons or visit the Old Town website for more details and a map to participating locations.
The MSV will host a free panel discussion “Contemporary Contributions” 3–4 PM this Sunday, February 5, highlighting several Black-owned businesses in Winchester. Panelists include Terry Carter, T-Bone’s Bar & Grill; LaTasha Do’zia, Selah Theatre Project, Inc.; James Frisby, FASST Sports Performance Training; historian Judy Humbert and moderator Carl Rush, chief equity officer for Loudoun County. Participants will discuss their challenges, inspirations, and successes. Preregistration is encouraged at https://bit.ly/3HEDcC2.
Belle Grove Plantation and the Winchester Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America are beginning a new community stitching project to honor the 270 people who were enslaved at Belle Grove—a quilt with each person’s name and birth date stitched onto it. Their first free public workshop will be Saturday, February 11, 1-3 PM at Bowman Library in Stephens City. Participants are asked to preregister with Irina Galunina at firstname.lastname@example.org by February 5. Other stitching activities will be taking place at Bowman Library for Stitch in Public Day starting at 11 AM.
The Old Town Community Session on February 16th, Understanding and Enforcing New Walking Mall Codes, is open to residents and downtown businesses. Hear directly from City staff across multiple departments to better understand the newly adopted changes to City Code, how and when to report infractions, and what to expect from police. Event begins at 9 AM in the Zuckerman Board Room of Rouss City Hall in Winchester.
The William G. Pomeroy Foundation has opened its first Hungry for History Marker Grant Program. This program is designed to commemorate significant food dishes created prior to 1970 and the role they played in defining American culture and forging community identity. The grant is available to 501(c)(3) organizations, nonprofit academic institutions, and local, state and federal government entities within the United States. Letters of Intent are due March 13. Visit their website for full details.
Nominations are now open for the 2023 List of Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places through Preservation Virginia. Each May as part of National Historic Preservation Month, Preservation Virginia works with community advocates to release a list of threatened historic sites in an effort to raise awareness and boost public support for their preservation, and encourage individuals, organizations, and governmental entities to advocate for and find collaborative solutions for preserving these places important to Virginia’s communities. Nominations can be made on their website. If you need assistance or have questions, contact Sonja Ingram, Assistant Director for Preservation Field Services, at email@example.com.
Thanks to a generous donor, the Flickr Pro account has been extended for one year. This should allow us time to add the images to our local hosting and make sure we have the captions matched up; however, it is likely we will not add our event photos back at least for the foreseeable future. We still highly recommend you save local copies of any images on Flickr you may be using for upcoming architectural research, as we are decreasing the image size for our online copies to reduce storage space. Full resolution copies are still available and can be emailed upon request.
This means the image captions are continuing on our social media accounts. To make sure we get the images correctly captioned, we’ll be doing the uploads and captions in small batches. We’re in this process for the long haul – hopefully the third time of moving our images and captions around online will be the last!
The work in the back yard at the Hexagon House is mostly complete, or at least the very intense portion of it. This work is part of the collaboration PHW and the MSV undertook in memory of Dr. Jim Laidlaw. He was a supporter of both our organizations, and now we have a permanent improvement to enjoy our back yard at the Hexagon House. We’re looking forward to seeing how things shape up this spring. Who knows, we might even be doing a lot of our office work in this space during the warm months….
Speaking of events that take place in the rear yard at the Hexagon House, we wanted to put the feelers out now for greenery donations for the Bough & Dough Shop early. If you are unaware of how we obtain fresh greens for holiday decorating, they are almost all provided by volunteers. If you have evergreens that are commonly used for holiday decorating, consider waiting on giving them a trim until the week of Thanksgiving and donating your cuttings to PHW. Alternatively, you may pass your contact information on to the PHW office if you are comfortable with volunteers cutting the greens on your property.
Looking for something to do this weekend? The Handley Library is hosting two events tomorrow that may pique your interest. First, “Heraldry and Coats of Arms: Finding your Armorial Ancestor” by Katherine Collins, MLISc, from 10:30 AM-12:30 PM in the Benham Gallery Room will explain what armorial and gateway ancestors are, standards of evidence, best practices, and where to register historical arms. She will demonstrate how to use traditional books in our local libraries and archives, online databases, and the records of lineage societies to prove the connection to a documented armorial ancestor or “gateway ancestor.” Register now!
The presentation “The Impact of the Civil War on Medicine” by Dr. Dianne Murphy from 1-2 PM in the Robinson Auditorium will focus on the medical environment at the beginning of the Civil War and three dramatic changes that occur during this period that were to change the care of war wounded. Presented in partnership with Winchester/Frederick County Historical Society. No registration is required for this event.
Feeling more like staying in this weekend? You may want to check out these two resources online. The National Trust has compiled a webpage for State Historic Tax Credits – Virginia gets a top billing mention as one of the leaders in this arena for providing incentives to reuse our historic buildings. Check out the full report at savingplaces.org.
If you’re looking for a bit more of an interactive experience while reading, you may enjoy perusing the article This App Turns the World Into a Wikipedia Scavenger Hunt. The app looks like an interesting combination of Wikipedia data mixed with open source mapping. If you want to contribute, there’s even suggestions on how you can expand the image selections, or even add Wikipedia articles about an interesting place.