Friday Roundup: History Mystery Edition

Welcome to October! It seems the spooky season is uncovering all kinds of unsolved mysteries, and we have three to share this week:

PHW was recently approached for further information concerning 225 Sharp St. This is a frame addition to a ca. 1830 (possibly as old as 1822) brick house. The frame addition was part of our image caption project for social media, at which time we tentatively identified the owner at the likely time of the construction as George E. Bushnell. In searching for further information on the owner, we learned he was a druggist (or pharmacist) in Winchester, but to our surprise it appears he passed away in 1898, probably before the frame addition was constructed. We can confirm by the 1920 census it was being used as a rental for Ida and Westley Washington and their family. If you know of any specific history tidbits or timeline concerning this structure, please let PHW know at so we can pass the information along to the requester.

On a similar note, we were asked if there was any specific name for the area near the Piccadilly/Kent St. railroad crossing. We have looked through some older maps and accounts of Winchester as a young town, and in general that area around Piccadilly seems to have been referred to as “the northeastern end of town” at least until the early 1900s and the construction boom along National Avenue pushed the edge of town further east. That intersection comprises lots 47, 48, 65, and 66 of the 1752 plan of Winchester, and the original owners of said lots were identified as Andrew Fretty, John Steward, and — Bush, respectively (with Bush owning two parcels). None of these names seem to have stuck to the land parcels through the centuries. Looking at real estate records sometime reveals tract names from subdivisions; the closest we could find was reference to the Virginia Woolen Mill. Although no specific and catchy name like Potato Hill or Virginia City has stuck in the printed literature, do you call this area anything in particular?

While doing this and other research on Piccadilly Street, we came across a mention in the May 14, 1925 Daily Independent newspaper that Harry Gardiner, “The Human Fly,” was set to climb the Piccadilly side of the George Washington Hotel as a fundraiser. The attempt was indeed successful, though it is unclear how much money his stunt raised for the American Legion. From the coverage the Monday following the event:

George Washington Hotel
The Piccadilly side of the George Washington Hotel scaled by Harry Gardiner, “The Human Fly.”

“A large crowd of people gathered on Market [Cameron] and Piccadilly streets Saturday night to witness the climbing of the walls of the George Washington Hotel by Harry Gardiner, the human fly. Mr. Gardiner ascended the Piccadilly street side of the hotel, and when he had almost reached the roof of the hotel, the spectators stood in breathless excitement, wondering how he would be able to climb to the roof, but they soon spied a rope dangling a few feet from the roof, by which Gardiner climbed to the top of the hotel. The Citizens’ Band, who donated their services, gave a beautiful concert in front of the hotel before the climbing act took place. The affair was held under the auspices of the R. Y. Conrad Post of the American Legion, and the amount of money taken up and for the benefit of the building fund.” – Daily Independent, May 18, 1925

From a quick peek at other newspapers, it appears Harry Gardiner’s building-climbing skills were employed at other hotels in Virginia and West Virginia in the 1920s, many under the auspices of fundraising for American Legion chapters. It does not appear a full list of his climbing exploits have been compiled yet, but perhaps this chance find will spark a bit more interest and investigation into this once famous stuntman.

Friday Roundup: Behind the Scenes for Holiday House Tour

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 and we’ll make sure you’re on the list or updated to a new address.

Save the date! The Holiday House Tours will be held Sunday, December 4, 2022.

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!

Old Stone Church
Daniel Morgan overlooks Winchester’s roundabout with the Old Stone Church in the background. Photo by Rick Alvarez.

Friday Roundup: Descendants Search, Black Modernism Grants, and Weekend Activities in Winchester

The Winchester Star editorial page recently ran a letter from Nancy Oudekerk looking for possible relatives of people buried in Green Hill African American Cemetery in Martinsburg, WV. The formerly abandoned cemetery has now been cleaned and the group is now hoping to find descendants of those buried here. If you or someone you know recognize a name on the following list, please contact Gloria Carton, president of the Green Hill Historic African American Cemetery at

The names of those interred, according to Trinity Episcopal Church, are: Charlotte Alexander; Louise Arnold; R.B.; Jeannie Barnes; Emma Jane Brook; John Campbell; Sinah Campbell; Margaret Carter; Cynthia Cook; A.D.; Agnes Dandridge; Sancho Drew; Mary Henrietta Dunmore; Julia Lyons Gray; Virginia Smith Gray; William Green; Thomas Jenkins; Lucy Lane; James Lowrie, Easter Lowrie; Laura Marshal; Anna McDaniel; Susan Parrott; Lemira Patterson; Toby Pettigrew; John Robinson; John Henry Semmes; Elizabeth Sherman; Harriet Smith; Stephen Thomley; Jesse Virginia Turner; Fanny; Lavinia; Thornton (unknown surnames) Lewis Washington; Ashby Weldon and Mary Wilson. The original Trustees of the cemetery were Samuel Hopewell, William Fairfax, Daniel Thurnton, Lewis Ford, William Ford, Franki Johnson, Perry Alman, Christopher Ailingsworth and James Johnson.

On the other end of history, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Getty Foundation are partnering on a new grant program, Conserving Black Modernism, to protect the often-overlooked modernist sites designed by Black architects. The two-year program will advance efforts to further identify historic sites that represent this architecture style, while also providing necessary preservation planning, training, and storytelling resources for long term sustainment. Grant applications will be managed by the National Trust and open in November, with the first round of grantees to be announced in Summer 2023. If you know of a site that fits these criteria and could benefit from this program, visit the Action Fund and learn more.

There’s a lot happening this weekend in and around Winchester! The Winchester Arts and Music Festival kicks off this Friday, Sept. 23, at 4 PM and runs through Sunday, Sept. 25 at various locations and times around downtown. Find more information on the activities here.

Literacy Volunteers will also host Oktoberfest downtown, 5-10 PM today. Tickets include ten tastings from breweries across Virginia and a commemorative glass. More information and ticket purchase information is available here.

The MSV at Night is also taking place this evening, 5-8 PM. Come out to the museum at 901 Amherst St. to view the exhibitions “Destination: Latin America” and “ORIGAMI IN THE GARDEN” while enjoying live music and authentic Mexican food. For more information on the program schedule and admission prices, visit the MSV’s website.

The French and Indian War Foundation will have their 5th annual French and Indian War Weekend at Abrams Delight in Winchester this Saturday and Sunday, September 24 and 25. Stop by Winchester’s oldest home for living history and tactical demonstrations.

Fort Collier and Trenches
Fort Collier, 922 Martinsburg Pike

Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute and the Fort Collier Civil War Center present Prof. Jonathan A. Noyalas, “A Theme for the Poet, a Scene for the Painter”: Fort Collier and the Third Battle of Winchester. The one-hour tour, beginning at 9:30 AM, will be held at Fort Collier, 922 Martinsburg Pike. This event is free and open to the public and no pre-registration required.

Celebracion will round out the Saturday events downtown on the walking mall, noon-4 PM. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with food and retail vendors, music, and impromptu dance lessons.

Stay safe and pace yourselves this weekend while you enjoy all that Winchester has to offer!

Friday Roundup: Bits and Bobs

First, many apologies to Kathy Yereb of Very Merry Mittens, who should have been listed in our “sneak peek” post last week. Her felted mittens and ornaments WILL be available this year at the Bough & Dough Shop!

From Preservation Virginia is the Historic Places Student Art Contest 2022. If you have a child in grades 3-12 (public, private, or homeschooled), they are eligible to participate in this 2D or 3D art contest. This art contest asks students to create a visual representation of an historic structure or place from their community that they think is important to their local identity. These could include any number of historic buildings or structures, such as a former school, library, community center, historic house, or a bridge, or places like cemeteries, green spaces, memorials and more! Art submissions will be due by December 5, 2022 at 11:59pm. For complete details and guidelines about the Historic Places Art Contest, please see the full announcement here. Please submit any questions to Meika Downey, Education Coordinator at We hope to see some Winchester places represented!

Last, we’ve been keeping an eye on an upcoming Planning Commission public hearing, set for Tuesday, September 20 beginning at 3 PM. This public hearing will cover the proposed development/redevelopment of the former site of Smalts florists, including the historic 1867 brick dwelling located on George Washington’s out-lot. If you are interested in learning more about this project, you may find the agenda and packet materials on the City’s website. PHW is in favor of retaining the brick structure at approximately 428-432 National Avenue, as it appears to be the oldest remaining house on National Avenue and is an excellent example of Italianate architecture. Although outside the Historic District, it is in a Corridor Enhancement District, and we believe the historic structure will be an appropriate buffer between National Avenue and new construction inside the large Smalts parcel.

National Ave.
The ca. 1867 brick duplex on George Washington’s out-lot, as it appeared in a later 1970s photographic survey conducted by an intern for PHW.

Sneak Peek: Bough & Dough Artists for 2022

PHW is proud to announce the lineup for this year’s Bough & Dough Shop (Nov. 18-Dec. 11) at the Hexagon House. Here’s what you can expect this year:

Ornament by Margie Cullers, the Primitive Peddler

Nina Burke, gourd art

Lorraine Candell, holiday decor and party favor treats

Tracy Carbaugh, The Card Shop Bakers, cookies, notecards, ornaments, and cross stitch

The Clowser Foundation

Margie Cullers, The Primitive Peddler, ornaments made from antique butter and Springerle molds

George Davis, reclaimed wood tables

Ornament by Dave Hickman

Melanie Fields, The Merry Beader

Linda Spollen Haile Watercolors notecards

Dave Hickman, turned wood items and ornaments

J&W Farm, birdseed wreaths

Susan Keenan, mosaic ornaments and jewelry

Beth Light, Eye of the Needle Embroidery

Ron Light, Lighthouse Woodworking

Weaving detail by Clara Schulte, CLS Cloth

Karen Miller, Karen’s Kollection

Annamarie Mrazik, Ree’s Treats

Jamie Pein, Fripperies

Libba Pendleton, felted items

Deborah Phillips, Heartsong Hill Designs, sea glass art and jewelry

Preservation of Historic Winchester: Holiday House Tour tickets, fresh greens, books, and bows

Cyndie Rinek, Blooming Hill Lavender Farm

Snowflake ornaments by Hilda Troxel, Capers in Crochet

Mike Robinson, Winchester Tales books

Clara Schulte, CLS Cloth

Donna Sheets, jams

Carol Spalding, Angel’s Roost Quilts

Virginia Stultz and Jean Whetzel, baskets

Hilda Troxel, Capers in Crochet, crocheted ornaments

Doris Vanderpool, shell ornaments

Steve Wilson, Virginia Pottery

Kathy Yereb, Very Merry Mittens

Need to plan your visit this fall? See our listing at or on Facebook for days and times.

Friday Roundup: Labor Day Weekend

It’s been a busy week at PHW as we shift into Holiday House Tour mode for the last part of the year. Many thanks to all the artists, new and returning, who will help us create the Bough & Dough Shop in November. We will be announcing the artists next week – we think you will find your old favorites as well as some fun new items. (Spoiler alert: we have some awesome ornaments in the selection this year!)

Hand in hand with our artist line up, we are now working on our Holiday House Tour sponsorships. As you may know, since 2013 we have produced a program booklet to accompany the house tour. We use these funds to cover most of the event expenses (like printing, postage, and homeowner decorating reimbursements) through the advertising sponsorships, and we hope the business community will continue their support this year. You can find the ad size and price sheet and the form to return to PHW. The deadline to turn in your ad for the program booklet is Friday, October 28.

Looking for something to do this weekend? You may be interested in the Patsy Cline Block Party, which this year will mark what would have been her 90th birthday. The event starts at 10 AM on Saturday, September 3 in front of her childhood home, 608 S. Kent St. Find more information on the event at Facebook. Follow up the block party with the Mandy Barnett Benefit Concert for the Patsy Cline Historic House at 7:30 PM. Celebrating Patsy Cline is collaborating with Patsy Cline Enterprises and Patsy’s Nashville family to present a first-ever tribute concert in the Patsy Cline Theater at John Handley High School to benefit the Patsy Cline Historic House. Find more information on Facebook.

The PHW Office will be closed on Monday, September 5 for Labor Day. We’ll see you again on Tuesday!

Friday Roundup: Shop Reminder and Weekend Reading

Don’t forget, prospective Bough & Dough Shop artists – next Friday, September 2 is our last call for applications for the 2022 Shop! Download a copy of the information sheet and application and return them to PHW – by email to or by snail mail to PHW, 530 Amherst St., Winchester, VA 22601. We are super excited by the artists who have applied so far this year and can’t wait to share the lineup in early September!

Ghost signs have gotten a fair amount of attention, so we thought our readers may enjoy a UK-based online archive from the History of Advertising Trust documenting famous and obscure signs across the pond. One that caught our eye was the W. Smithson & Sons. Let us know if you spot a good one!

We also enjoyed reading about Guédelon Castle and how an “experimental archeology” project is likely to aid in the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral. From the article:

“The roof frame [at Notre Dame] was extremely sophisticated, using techniques that were advanced for the 12th and 13th centuries,” Frédéric Épaud, a medieval wood specialist, tells the Observer. “After the fire, there were a lot of people saying it would take thousands of trees, and we didn’t have enough of the right ones, and the wood would have to be dried for years, and nobody even knew anything about how to produce beams like they did in the Middle Ages. They said it was impossible. But we knew it could be done because Guédelon has been doing it for years.”

Last, as we’ve had rowhouses and demolition on our mind lately, you may likewise enjoy Philadelphia’s ‘Building Ghosts’ Have a Lot to Say at Atlas Obscura. These ghosts, like the ghost signs, are traces not just of former businesses but of entire rowhouses or other buildings that were once attached to their neighbors. When a part of the row is demolished, a tantalizing glimpse of the interior can remain on the neighboring structure. From the article: “Building ghosts show up in many cities that have historically had lots of rowhouses or attached buildings. . . . . Donald Friedman, an architectural preservation consultant who co-founded New York-based Old Structures Engineering, explains that masonry-walled rowhouses were a 19th-century phenomenon and became much less common after around 1910.” Next time you are in the historic district, keep an eye out particularly on the upper stories of structures – we have a few such building ghosts in Winchester, though here they are mostly limited to roof and addition outlines.

Friday Roundup: Bough & Dough Shop Open House Tomorrow!

Preservation of Historic Winchester will host an informational open house for the 46th annual Bough & Dough Shop tomorrow, Saturday, August 20, 10 AM – 1 PM on the first floor of the Hexagon House, 530 Amherst St. PHW is seeking new artists crafting unique handmade items and holiday décor to expand the shop’s offerings for 2022. We invite anyone interested in applying to stop by to see the space in person and find out more about the event, or read our informational handout available at

Prospective artists are encouraged to bring portfolios or example pieces for the jury process. Application forms will be available at the event or can be downloaded at the PHW website,

If you cannot make the open house event, applications can be sent in by mail to PHW, 530 Amherst St., Winchester, VA 22601 or by email to until September 2, 2022. Final artist lineups will be announced after September 14.

Bough and Dough Shop 2019
A variety of items that were for sale during the 2019 Bough & Dough Shop.

Friday Roundup: South Loudoun Street Demolitions and African American Genealogy

PHW has reviewed the preliminary structural reports for 411 and 514-520 South Loudoun Street this week. From our reading and conversations, we believe 411 South Loudoun is able to be rehabilitated following some selective (not total) demolition to the rear of the structure. The main block of the house facing Loudoun Street appears to be relatively sound and the issues found are common enough to correct. The rear wing is more deteriorated primarily through water damage, but reconstruction or a new addition to the rear of historic buildings is an acceptable and common way to repurpose historic buildings for new uses and needs.

514 S. Loudoun
514-520 S. Loudoun, circa 1976

The townhouses at 514-520 South Loudoun are more deteriorated, but we would like more information from the completed structural reports. Again, it sounds like water and lack of maintenance were the primary sources of deterioration. One of the issues we have circled back to many times at PHW during discussions involving these properties is the unique character of the townhouse facades. While there are a few townhouses of a similar style in Winchester, none have quite the same “San Francisco” feeling as these units with their walk-in basements. One idea that may be worth exploring for the townhouses is a facadectomy, wherein the facade (the most architecturally interesting portion of the building) is retained, and an entirely new structure is built behind. This approach may be particularly useful in this case because the interior of the building may be difficult to work with for modern conveniences, as the units are reported to be very narrow, dominated by staircases, and the rooms quite small inside.

In either case, for both structures, there is no plan by the applicant to rebuild. Philosophically, PHW is opposed to demolition that leaves holes in the streetscape. Given the slow pace of action of these properties throughout almost the entire existence of PHW as an organization, we have little hope should this demolition be approved that anything will be built on this land within the next fifty years. We urge the applicant to finally relinquish these properties to other entities who are willing and able to proceed in meaningful action instead of continuing a slow and painful demolition by neglect.

If you would like to make a statement on these properties, the public hearing for demolition is scheduled for August 18, 4 PM at Rouss City Hall.

In other news, we also watched this presentation from the Thomas Balch Library on African American Genealogy this week. While this is focused on Loudoun County and some of the search resources are not available for Winchester, it can provide ideas for alternative lateral research avenues. If you are on the hunt for more information, you may wish to check out the Virginia Untold website to start or flesh out your search.