Friday Roundup: Weekend Events

While we approach the end of National Preservation Month, there are still a few more activities in the pipeline that can help you celebrate the area’s unique architectural and cultural heritage:

This weekend is the 30th annual Newtown Heritage Festival. The event started in 1993 to commemorate Stephens City’s heritage and to bring community awareness to the town. The festival begins tonight, May 27, at 6 PM and continues into Saturday, May 28 with various activities and performances. Perhaps of most interest to our readers would be the “Up Along Mulberry” Guided Trolley tour created by Rick Kriebel of Newtown History Center. The tour is free but tickets are required. Seating is limited. Pick up a ticket at the festival tent or reserve by emailing NHF30th@gmail.com. Tours are scheduled for 11 AM and 4 PM on Saturday.

In celebration of its 200th anniversary, the Winchester Police Department will host a car show in Old Town Winchester (Piccadilly & Cameron Streets) in partnership with the Hoppers Auto Club, Inc. on Saturday, May 28, 1-5 pm (rain date Sunday, May 29). Cost is $10, with proceeds benefiting the Winchester-Frederick Co. Law Enforcement Foundation.

OrigamiintheGarden, an exhibition created by Santa Fe artists Jennifer and Kevin Box, opens Saturday, May 28 at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. The outdoor exhibit features Box’s own compositions as well as collaborations with world-renowned origami artists Robert J. Lang, Te Jui Fu, Beth Johnson and Michael G. LaFosse. These remarkable artworks feel at home in the wondrous setting of botanical gardens, since paper originates in plant life and origami is made of paper. Don’t miss the Memorial Day Special Showing on Monday, May 30 at 2 PM!

The PHW office will be closed on Monday, May 30 for Memorial Day. Celebrate responsibly!

The board of directors of the Clowser Foundation will host its annual memorial service to honor the Clowser family members of Frederick County who were killed on June 1, 1764, by Native Americans during the French and Indian War. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 10 a.m. June 4 at The Historic Clowser House at 152 Tomahawk Trail, Winchester 22602.

Friday Roundup: Upcoming Events

Mark your calendars! PHW and the Shenandoah Arts Council are teaming up on May 14 to host an open house in our office, the Hexagon House, 530 Amherst St. We invite anyone to stop by and see our unique office building, the only hexagonal residence built in Virginia. We will premiere the highly-requested brochure on the house’s history at the event, and visitors can pick up a free copy. This is also set to be one of the rare times the second story will also be open for tours, thanks to the partnership of ShenArts.

This event is held in celebration of National Historic Preservation Month, which takes place every May. This year’s theme is People Saving Places. Historic place-savers pour their time, energy, and resources into protecting places they care about, often without recognition. Preservation Month 2022 is for them—a national high-five to everyone doing the great work of saving places and inspiring others to do the same.

In lieu of an admission fee, we encourage you to donate to one of a number of earmarked funds held by PHW. Online donations through Eventbrite will be marked as a general donation to PHW; you may donate in person at the door toward our directed funds. More information on the donation options will be available at the event.


The family-friendly Kidzfest day downtown will also be held May 14. Before or after visiting us at the Hexagon House, head to the Old Town Mall for exhibits highlighting education, art, music, sports and more. Information on the event is available at oldtownwinchesterva.com.


The French and Indian War Foundation has two events for the same weekend. First, stop by Washington’s Well at 419 N. Loudoun St. between 10 AM and 4 PM on May 14. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Fort Loudoun Day commemorating the beginning of construction of Col. George Washington’s historic Fort Loudoun in 1756. Look back into Winchester’s history during the 1700s via re-enactments, tours, and children’s activities.

Dr. Carl Ekberg presents a special luncheon and lecture “George Washington Gets Lucky, July 4, 1754” for the 20th anniversary celebration of the French and Indian War Foundation on Sunday, May 15. Head to the George Washington Hotel Ballroom for a 1 PM lunch and 2 PM lecture and cash bar. The event is $30 for members of FIWF and $35 for nonmembers; reserve your tickets by shopping online at fiwf.org/shop or by mailing a check to FIWF, PO Box 751, Winchester, VA 22604.


PHW is also accepting nominations for the 2022 preservation awards. If someone you know has completed a preservation project in Winchester or Frederick County and deserves recognition for their hard work, nominate them for a PHW award. The nomination forms can be found on the PHW website—nominate as many people or projects as you wish. Nominations are due by June 10 for consideration this year.

Friday Roundup: Upcoming Events

Handley Regional Library presents the Orrick Cemetery 100th Anniversary program on Saturday, April 23, 2:00 PM in the Handley Robinson Auditorium, Handley Library.

Orrick Cemetery is the only surviving African-American cemetery that is still active in Winchester, Virginia. It will be celebrating a century of incorporation on April 13, 2022, but has served our community for over two centuries.

Presenter Brenda Nelson will give a comprehensive history of Orrick Cemetery. She has been researching her and her husband’s genealogy and has shared what she has learned and the family she has researched by writing and publishing three articles for the Fairfax Genealogical Society Newsletter. Brenda’s latest project had been researching the history of the Orrick Cemetery here in the City of Winchester.


National Historic Marker Day will take place this year on Friday, April 29. The William G. Pomeroy Foundation created this fun and family-friendly celebration in 2021 to bring people together to clean historic markers in their community, while helping to promote and preserve local history.

Markers educate the public, encourage pride of place, promote tourism and generate economic benefits. Despite their importance, many have not received ongoing care to maintain their luster. Road salt, pollen and other contaminants can take their toll. Markers must be regularly cleaned so they can be enjoyed now and for future generations. That’s where volunteers for National Historic Marker Day make a difference.

Visit the official National Historic Marker Day webpage for details about registering as a volunteer, planning a service project, tips for cleaning markers, and the benefits of participating. PHW will be sprucing up our markers at the Hexagon House before closing early that afternoon for Apple Blossom festivities.


PHW is planning a National Preservation Month event in mid-May at the Hexagon House. We are ecstatic to have finally completed an updated history brochure on our wonderful office space and are looking forward to celebrating its launch this spring. More details will be coming soon!


Are you an artist interested in being part of the Bough & Dough Shop this year? The dates have tentatively been set for November 18-December 11. Artist application forms will be completed soon; if you are a prospective artist drop us an email at phwinc.org@gmail.com to receive a digital copy when they become available.

Hexagon House

Friday Roundup: Upcoming Events and Virginia Tourist Courts

The Winchester-Frederick County Tourism Office will host the next Newcomers Event on 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 Towns are 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.” [1]

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 [2].

Documentary images of the remaining Elms “Cottages” may now be seen at our Flickr account.

Elms Motor Court

Friday Roundup: Office Updates and Elms Motel

Better late than never! The Winter 2022 edition of the newsletter is online now. We have had a couple mailers come back to the office as undelivered, so if you haven’t received snail mail from us and you still want to, please reach out at phwinc.org@gmail.com.

We are also getting ready for a large batch of membership renewals for our spring/end of fiscal year push. If you’d like to get in your renewal early, we have an online form you can download and mail in with your check. Otherwise, keep an eye out in early April for the next renewal letter.


We are getting closer to seeing the MSV partnership on some landscaping/exterior improvements happen at the Hexagon House. Our end goal is to have some quality of life improvements for outdoor events here. Many of you are familiar with our usual outdoor setup for the Annual Meeting and the greenery sales at the Bough & Dough Shop and have probably noticed the yard is looking a bit rough. We hope to be able to share more details soon, but any donations made to PHW in memory of Jim Laidlaw are currently being considered for this project. As you may know, Jim and Barbara have been integral parts of PHW’s leadership since the 1970s, and were similarly involved with the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. Barbara is being consulted and is on-board for the proposed idea.


With the news of a “raze and replace” development proposal at the site of the Elms Motel on Valley Avenue, we were alerted by a concerned reader that the four Art Deco units have been cited as one of the rare examples of this ephemeral style of architecture still in existence. The project is on the March 15th Planning Commission meeting agenda, and the documents for the proposal can be found online at the City of Winchester portal.

We have reached out to our local Department of Historic Resources office and confirmed of the 200 motels/hotels surveyed in Virginia, only three are from Winchester/Frederick County. Similar styles have been considered National Register eligible recently. We would recommend viewing the Multiple Property Document for Virginia Beach Oceanfront Resort Motels and Hotels for more in-depth architectural history on hospitality-focused buildings. You can also view more collected images and information on the Elms Motor Court at Dead Motels USA. The existing motor court is worth documenting properly at the very least, or perhaps even incorporated into the other adaptive reuse of existing structures planned for the site.

The public hearing for rezoning will take place March 15, 3 PM in Rouss City Hall. You may wish to make statements in writing and submit them before the meeting to the Planning Commission by email via plngdept@winchesterva.gov.

Elms Motor Court & Dining Room Winchester VA
The Elms in the William L. Bird collection of Flickr, from a postcard postmarked 1957. The four Art Deco units are in the larger image, while the now demolished main building is in the inset.

Friday Roundup: Charlie Rouss Day Edition

Today is Charlie Rouss Day, celebrated on the birthday of this benefactor to Winchester. While no events were planned for 2022 due to the pandemic, you can celebrate by watching a quick video produced by the City of Winchester:

This time of year, PHW is also getting ready to celebrate its 58th birthday. We celebrated at the office by doing some filing for old newsletters discovered tucked into other file folders this week. Perhaps not the most festive thing to do, but important if we’re ever going to get around to scanning all the backlog!

Here are a few other upcoming events and a video that could be of interest to historians and preservationists:

Learn about Winchester in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and explore the history of the Godfrey Miller House. The event takes place February 16 at 2:30 PM in the Godfrey Miller Center, 28 S. Loudoun St. The tours will be led by Rev. Jonathan Boynton dressed in period costume. Rev. Boynton is an avid reenactment historian that has been delighting participants with his knowledge and entertaining presentations for more than 35 years.

A new highway marker honoring Dr. Madison S. Briscoe will be unveiled at his childhood home 204 S. Kent St. on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2:30 PM (inclement weather date is Feb. 26). Parking is available at the Winchester Moose Lodge. Activities related to Dr. Briscoe will be held at the Discovery Museum between 11 AM and 2 PM on the same day.

Ready to learn about an innovative solution to preserving a fragile piece of the built environment? Check out A Massive Chainmail Shelter Prevents a Renowned Scottish Mansion from Dissolving in the Rain. Be sure to watch the quick video for a look at the building, inside and out. Even better, the innovative structure will be completely recyclable at the end of the fifteen-year project, being made entirely of steel.

Friday Roundup: Sundry Small Updates

It will be a brief roundup this week, as we’ve been working on PHW membership renewal letters. If you’d like to skip mailing a check, you can pay online using a credit/debit card. You can find the automatic subscription form on our website, along with a link to make a one-time donation or a form to mail in with your check (just in case you misplaced your form). Thanks in advance to everyone renewing for the 2022 year!

It’s Virginia General Assembly advocacy season at Preservation Virginia. The bills they have identified as a priority can be found on their website. They are currently following the progress of  SB 158 and HB 141, Virginia Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Historic Preservation Fund, which will establish a grant fund to support and provide nonprofit organizations, localities, and state and federally-recognized Indian tribes eligible costs to acquire, preserve and interpret historic structures, cultural landscapes and archaeological sites important to the history of Black, Indigenous and People of Color. No such fund currently exists to support these resources. Its establishment would help to ensure the preservation of historic sites and resources from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities, which traditionally have not been priorities for state conservation grant funding.

PHW is working on producing a pamphlet covering the Hexagon House. Do you have questions about the house and its history you want answered? Drop us a note and we’ll try to cover as many questions as possible. We’ve touched up our house history with information recently uncovered and are looking forward to printing this spring. Stay tuned for more details!

Ever wondered about the type of architectural detective work we do here at PHW? You might enjoy Didn’t Used To Be a Pizza Hut for the saga of uncovering land use history of a weird-looking Pizza Hut in Landover, MD. It’s quite a chain restaurant tale hitting both recognizable names like Pizza Hut and Howard Johnson and some mostly forgotten ones of a bygone era.

Last, for a bit of documentation of Vanished Winchester, you may wish to look through the Winchester Towers interior photography album on Facebook from shortly before the building was demolished. Thanks for sharing, Matthew Lofton!

Construction of the Winchester Towers
The Darlington Motor Inn in 1977, later Winchester Towers, at the corner of Cameron and Piccadilly streets.

Friday Roundup: Clearing the Backlog

Icy Nandina
It’s going to be a cold weekend – here’s some extra reading!

Oops – sometimes we save too many things in our bookmarks and don’t get to share them in a timely manner. To make things a bit more manageable on the back-end of blog post production and inspiration, here is a selection of links we’ve gathered over a few years (gulp):

From Strong Towns, here is a simple list of questions and attractive graphic titled Ask Yourself These 20 Questions to Make Better Decisions for Your Community. Many people seem to make impulsive decisions without thinking through consequences, and we encourage anyone who has had a thought of charging ahead on any decision to take a few moments of reflection and really consider consequences past your immediate gratification. If you need to make a lot of decisions and keep finding the decisions are not working out as planned, perhaps you should print out the graphic and hang it in some conspicuous places.

We dusted off our PHW PayPal Giving page this week. If you’d like to drop us a little monetary donation, you can use an existing PayPal account, or a credit or debit card. This function, as we just learned, allows for anonymous donations and PayPal covers your tax receipt.

History lovers, have you tried Wikitrivia? We checked it out over the snow days and had a fun time placing events and people along a timeline. Test your general history knowledge this weekend, and perhaps you’ll find a topic you’d like to explore further.

We’ve mentioned the photographs of John Margolies in the Library of Congress collections before, but Atlas Obscura covered his images of novelty gas stations across America in Fuel Your Imagination with Glorious Photos of Odd Gas Stations.

Ghost signs are a love it or hate it topic in historic preservation (personally, we love them). If you’ve ever wondered about the ghost sign on the mountainside at Harpers Ferry, check out The Sign Above the Tunnel for a quick history of the sign.

Black Businesses in Antebellum Virginia is a look into how freemen could become business owners – as well as underscoring how difficult such a path was and how it was not a guarantee their family could remain together and their business remain viable.

Is Winchester a “15-Minute Neighborhood” for you? Can you walk to most of your necessities in 15 minutes or less? (It’s close for us, but groceries are our sticking point, and probably yours, too.) We can see this process in the downtown, and in the recently-proposed rezoning for the North End, that we are heading toward this process of becoming more dense instead of expanding ever outward (due of course in part to Winchester’s limited geographic footprint). Strong Towns posted 7 Rules for Creating “15-Minute Neighborhoods,” even for areas that may not currently be set up to accommodate this ideal. We find this suggestion particularly resonant (and reflective of past building practices): “A 15-minute neighborhood may be dense, but the more important thing is that it’s fine-grained and truly mixes homes, businesses, and public spaces seamlessly instead of segregating them into zones. This is why we need to let all our neighborhoods thicken up incrementally, instead of building clusters of high-rises to meet the demand for new housing.”

Last, in keeping with our “West of the Blue Ridge” series, Native American Trails Key to Settlement from Mt. Airy News calls back to a few of our early installments in the series. Look for the Winchester mention!

Friday Roundup: Snow Day!

It’s our first appreciable snowfall of the year, so PHW is operating from home today. Monday may also be suspect due to the forecast of more snow and freezing rain. While we work from home, you can still reach us at our email phwinc.org@gmail.com and we can answer most questions. Anything that needs further exploration will be answered when we get back to the office, weather permitting.

To hold you over on this winter weather weekend, we have a few items to share. From the Handley Regional Library, you’re invited to Family History Hunters, a group for those interested in discovering their family history. Whether you have years of experience or are just beginning your journey, this is the place to learn tips and strategies, find new resources, and share successes. The first meeting will be virtual on January 13, 12:30 PM and all are welcome! Future meetings will be February 10 (special beginner’s session), March 10, April 14, May 12,
and June 9. Join one session or all!

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has a number of grant deadlines and events coming up – see if any of these can benefit your organization or preservation project:

Last, for a bit of interesting side reading, you may want to check out “How to design a house to last 1000 yearspart I, part II, and part III by Brian Potter. When considering the houses and buildings here that made it past the century mark, we see many of the same confluences of luck against fire, lack of natural disasters, durable building materials, and stable neighborhood uses or ability of a building to be repurposed to changing uses. The third part might be of the most interest to see how this person designed a building that might last 1000 years. What do you think of the final design choices?

First Snow of 2022
First snow at the Hexagon House, January 2022. Photo by Rick Alvarez.

Friday Roundup: New Year’s Eve Edition

Thank you all for joining PHW on this year’s adventure. We persevered through another round of the pandemic, managing to safely host in-person events for both our Annual Meeting and the Holiday House Tour and Bough & Dough Shop. While the Shop itself is finished until next November, a few PHW products can be ordered at any time through our online store. Of course, we continued our educational mission about architecture and local history through our image captioning project on social media, assisting homeowners in research questions, and coming out to events and speaking to other similar historically-minded organizations about preservation and history topics.

In preservation news, we have had two projects of note for the second half of 2021. In addition to the usual Revolving Fund house oversight, we have been delighted to put some of the salvage material in PHW’s holdings back into 609 S. Cameron Street (and a few other local preservation projects.) Our salvage holdings are a bit of a secret service. We are in no way set up to compete with Maggie’s Farm, but we have taken in some select local building parts over the years and are always willing to see if our holdings might have something you need for a project. We currently have an abundance of window sashes in various states of repair, doors, and a few mantels and light fixtures. We’re happy to do some basement spelunking with you to look over the items, but it’s up to you to get them back out of the basement and to your work site. Prices are flexible and go to supporting PHW’s operations (like this!).

We are also delighted to have partnered with the Godfrey Miller Home and Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church to support the maintenance needed for this special building. You may have gotten to peek in at the freshly-spruced up interior earlier this month during an open house event. They are still collecting donations to help with their expected expenses, the forms for which can be found here on our website. We’d like to see our members meet our donation of $10,000 and get the Home well on its way to a clean and safe exterior!

This year, we have also been collecting targeted donations for the Sherry Bosley scholarship fund, with which we hope to establish a scholarship for local students entering the historic preservation field, as well as donations made in memory of Dr. James Laidlaw. While we don’t have concrete plans yet for the Laidlaw donations, we hope to use the funds for something in partnership with the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, another organization the Laidlaws have supported over the years. If you’d like to make a last minute donation for your 2021 season, you can utilize PayPal to make a payment by debit or credit card (no PayPal account needed). If you’d like the donation to go toward one of our targeted funds, just write us a little note in the PayPal form and we’ll take care of it. You can also use this form to renew your PHW membership one time – just write the note that it’s your membership dues so we can record that accurately, as well.

We know there’s still a lot more work to do in 2022, and we probably don’t know of every preservation project or need that exists. That is why we are a membership-driven organization – it takes our members to help keep the board and staff informed and let us know if there are ways for us to help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us at phwinc.org@gmail.com or 540-667-3577 and let us know what’s going on.

Stay safe, celebrate responsibly, and we’ll see you in 2022!

Old Town Spring
Happy New Year!