As some of you may know, when we returned to the Hexagon House in 2006 we uncovered a treasure trove of PHW articles that had been left behind in the move to the Kurtz Building. One of those items was the portfolio of colored Sanborn Fire Insurance maps that were used in our presentation to City Council lobbying for the creation of the Historic District. The maps languished forgotten in the basement at the Hexagon House in a damp spot and have been very badly damaged. In addition, the rubber cement used to mount the maps to display boards has also greatly discolored the paper and made the color-coding hard to discern.
During one intern program several years ago, we assembled the individual 1897 Sanborn map pieces into one larger map. At long last, we have unrolled this assembled map and begun the task of recreating the color-coding from the portfolio sheets on the wall-sized map. While it will not have quite the same feel of a portfolio of individual pages, we hope the fully assembled and colored map will provide the same impact of seeing the amount of historic building stock left in the historic downtown. (We must note, however, that we are exactly recreating the color-coding from the portfolio, and that work in itself was preliminary before the more in-depth architectural surveys of 1974-1976 took place. The color-coding is only for historic purposes and not intended to be a 100% accurate representation of the age, building material, or significance of any property colored or uncolored in the maps.)
The Winchester Star has been publishing the bank building at 201 North Loudoun Street, most recently a Wells Fargo, was constructed in 1950. The Beaux Arts style building was actually constructed in 1903 for Shenandoah Valley National Bank. The bank appeared in a newspaper special on Winchester commercial enterprises published in 1904 and has been documented extensively since that point via postcards throughout the 1910s and ‘20s.
For more information, you may also wish to refer to the 2011 architectural survey of the building, which can be found here.
If you are feeling a bit disconnected from our local tourist spots, local 360 degree tours may help fill in the gap. The Winchester-Frederick County Visitors Center has been posting videos on their Facebook page of local tourism spots like Bell Grove Plantation and Blandy Experimental Farm. If you’re feeling a bit shut in, you might enjoy a walk along rows of blooming peaches taken about two weeks ago:
The Shenandoahvalleytv Youtube channel also offers looks at Apple Blossom time, Belle Grove Plantation, Patsy Cline exhibits, and many other events, museums, and activities in our area. Check out their quick (one minute and change) video on Route 11 potato chips if you aren’t feeling too fried!
Are you looking for more interesting images of Winchester’s past? we found a collection of images primarily of a horse and pony show, listed as happening in Winchester, that were taken for a Life magazine article by Edward Clark in Google Arts and Culture section. While we have not found the accompanying article, we’d be interested in sharing it in the future to put more context to the images – if you have any leads on the story this may have appeared in, please let us know!
It might seem early, but artist applications for the 2019 Bough & Dough Shop are open! The Shop will be held at the Hexagon House between November 22 and December 15, 2019. With last year under our belt, we have a bit more information to share with potential artists in a small booklet with the application. Applications are also available online through Google Forms and printed copies will be available at the office. We will be reviewing applications for new artists starting at our March 11 board meeting. We do have one item to note for potential artists we may have spoken to last year at the shop but not had contact information to follow up – commission fees for 2019 have increased to 25%. We are still a no table fee and no application fee event, and admission to the shop is free for shoppers (or anyone curious to see the Hexagon House).
If you could not make it to the City Council work session to hear the discussion on the Conditional Use Permit for the old hospital site, the City Council meeting from February 26 is available for review on the Meeting Portal. The application is scheduled to return to City Council on March 12. You may also want to review HDP’s video of a 3D rendering of the proposed new construction. We hope HDP will continue to work with the neighbors and address their issues throughout this process, particularly exterior design and landscaping choices and addressing the uptick in traffic and parking.
For something a bit different, we have a link to a historic article on a topic that many people may not know about. We don’t talk much about Winchester Gas and Electric Co. in our history of Winchester despite its establishment here in 1853. By chance we came across an article this week that goes into some detail on the company’s history and its re-invigoration in 1922 after years of poor management and dilapidated equipment had taken its toll. Take a look at Reviving a Run-down Gas Plant in the September 16, 1922 Gas Age-Record for both a glimpse at an underappreciated piece of Winchester’s vanished history, along with numerous photographic illustrations of the town and the plant. Happy reading!
We know a number of our members and readers are following the development at the old Winchester Memorial Hospital site on Cork Street. From the Winchester Cit-E News from January 23, ” After much discussion, Council decided to table the item until the February 12th Work Session in order to allow Council more time to gather additional information from the applicant and to review public feedback.” You can find the documents relating to the application starting on page 94 of the agenda packet for January 22. There is much to read and digest here, but we recommend reading through the neighborhood concerns and worries to gather a fuller understanding of the issue prior to the February 12 meeting.
Looking to expand your historic image and content searches for Virginia and West Virginia? The Digital Public Library of America has a new hub service Digital Virginias, with more than 58,000 items from the University of Virginia, George Mason University, William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia University. A quick search for Winchester in this subset turned up not just photographs, but also a wealth of medical records for West Virginia soldiers treated in Winchester and telegraphs exchanged during the Civil War. You might want to take a look at some of the school images from the University of Virginia Library in particular; they seem to show the original John Kerr School classroom in 1921. Let us know if you find something intriguing!
Since this is a bit of a quiet week, we also wanted to transcribe the article accompanying the oldest photo we are aware of for the Piccadilly and Kent Street intersection on the Central Garage. We believe the following article was written in late 1914 or 1915.
Central Garage and Machine Shop
H. B. Sell, Proprietor
Repairs, Storage, and Automobiles for Hire
That the wonderful development of the automobile will go down in history as one of the greatest wonders of this wonderful age, no thoughtful man can for a moment doubt. Every season improvements are being made and it would seem that perfection is not very far away, though many contend that the machine of the present is comparatively nothing to what the future will bring forth. Winchester is one of the best automobile places in the country, when its size is considered. With the famous and historic Valley Turnpike and other fine roads leading to it from every direction, it is a favorite stopping place for tourists, between the North and South, and hundreds of machines owned by local people. One of the most popular garages in the city, and the only one that is steam heated, is the Central Garage and Machine Shop located at the corner of Kent and Piccadilly streets, opposite the B. & O. passenger station, of which Mr. H. B. Sell is the proprietor. There is ample storage room for a large number of cars. The repair department is by far the best equipped and most complete in Winchester. Only the most expert and skillful mechanics are employed, men who make a specialty of automobile work, and keep in touch with every advance that is made in automobile construction. Mr. Sell is himself and expert mechanist and gives his personal attention to all work entrusted to his care. His facilities for repairing and making broken parts are of the best, much better than are usually found in a small city. He also owns a number of cars which may be hired at reasonable rates. In addition to his automobile business he conducts a general machine shop and most of the large plants in this vicinity, such as the Virginia Woolen Mills and the Knitting Mills are among his patrons. There is no job too intricate or too difficult but that he is prepared to undertake and carry to a successful conclusion. Mr. Sell is a native of this section where he is well and favorably known. He has for years been identified with its business life and is always ready to aid in its upbuilding.
Did you miss the September 29 lecture? You can now catch the event on YouTube. The three sections of the talk are in individual videos, so you may skip directly to the portion which interests you. The audience interactions are at the end of the third section. Although the audio is fairly muffled due to the location of the microphone at the live event, there were a number of good questions asked, and many others were not picked up on the audio at all. Thank you all for your insight and curiosity!
PHW uncovered a selection of interesting vintage Winchester advertisements during the research and preparation for the Saturday, May 16 program. Some are amusing, some are informational. Some businesses are still remembered today, but perhaps many more have been forgotten. Even the goods sold run the gamut from the expected homemade whiskey to the surprising imported Italian marble.
This is a busy weekend for everyone in Winchester, but if you feel nostalgic for Blooms of the past, Harry F. Byrd, Jr. recalls his memories of Apple Blossom in this four minute video, recorded in 2008 for the 81st Apple Blossom Festival.
During the research into Conrad Crebs for the 2014 Holiday House Tour, there was a badly discolored newspaper clipping of a so-called “Hessian” apple tree in PHW’s Revolutionary War files. It was not able to be worked into the House Tour, but the story remained intriguing. When it again entered the PHW radar in relation to research on the local apple orchards, specifically the Bond Brothers, it was clear it was time to talk about the tree.
The tree was “bearing its first fruit when the Hessian Soldiers worked in this area [Apple Pie Ridge, near the foot of Gold’s Hill on the Bond land] after the Revolutionary War.” It was still bearing a small amount of fruit until the 1930s, when the photo was taken (reported as 1936). By the time the article ran in the Winchester Star on July 2, 1965, the tree had been cut down. No one was sure which stump on the Bond land was the remains of the tree in the photograph, but the tale and the photo of the Hessian apple tree was “still in circulation.”
The story of the Hessian apple tree may be fading from popular memory as Winchester moves farther away from its agricultural heritage, but this once-famous photograph is still available at the Stewart Bell, Jr. Archives.