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Farmville, Virginia: Civil War to Civil Rights


Where Gumbo Was #460

Farmville, Virginia is a historic small town of about 8,000 in central Virginia, a little more than an hour south of Charlottesville and a little more than an hour's drive west of the capital city of Richmond. It is home to Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College, one of the oldest colleges in the country. It is the county seat of Prince Edward County and according to the signage, it was established in 1798.

Wall Mural Coca ColaTown Hall ClockBanditos

Like many Virginia towns, Farmville got its beginnings in the farm produce, tobacco, and coal industries. Canals were built by enslaved African Americans to enhance the delivery of goods to the more populated areas in eastern Virginia. Railroads soon followed and made the canal system obsolete.

Train Station BuildingTrain Station Wagon CartTrain Station SignageAt the entrance to the town, the first place I came upon was the historic Farmville Train Station which is no longer an active train stop, but the building has been restored as a venue for weddings, family get-togethers or holiday events. It was locked up, so I only had photos of the exterior. An old caboose has been repurposed as a small café in the town.

Caboose Cafe

Besides the universities, the town is now primarily known for furniture and carpeting businesses, plus activities like bicycling the High Bridge Trail State Park or kayaking the nearby Appomattox River. It is also known for the Heart of Virginia Festival every May with traditional fare and fireworks.

Amish Originials FacadeAmish OriginialsGreen Front

Main Street is the city hub and lined with shops and historic buildings including the famous Green Front with 900,000 square feet of showroom and twelve buildings and the Amish Originals family run store where most everything was built in the Ohio Amish country.

Antique ShopWalkers DinerWalkers Signage

You will also find many other shops such as antiques stores and eateries like the local favorite, Walker’s Diner. There is no shortage of dining establishments, and my favorite was Charley's Waterfront Café with a large selection of wine, draft and bottle beers, and generous portions of food selections.

Longwood Visiual ArtsLongwood Visual Arts GertrudeCrute Stage

The Longwood Center for the Visual Arts is a good stop on Main Street to view local artwork and temporary exhibits. The Crute Stage, is where Farmville gathers for the Main Street Music Series and Stars under the Stars outdoor films, and also serves as a platform for local musicians or actors.

Farmers Market SignageFarmers MarketFarmers Market Parking

The Farmer’s Market is a big draw and open on Saturdays, rain or shine, April 25th through October 31st. There you will find locally grown fruits and vegetables, meats, home baked goods, handcrafted goods and more. The market has a large parking lot with wall murals. There are other brick wall murals done very tastefully throughout the town.

Brickwork #1Brickwork #2

Farmville BannersPatriotic BannerWWI Monument

There is plenty to see of old ironwork and brickwork on Main Street as you browse the shops. The city exhibits is patriotic nature with monuments and many lamppost banners honoring local service members. There are many historic buildings with markers like the courthouse and old clock in front of the town hall.

Main StreetUptown CafeTheater

Civil War history also left its mark on Farmville. Confederate General Robert E. Lee retreated through Farmville as he escaped the Union Army. General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia found itself soon surrounded. He surrendered a short distance away at the Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

Lee Retreat Signage

As with other Virginia towns there are reminders of Civil Rights history. Two Baptist churches are just blocks apart, one with a historically African-American congregation, the other historically white. There is also a two-mile Civil Rights walking tour that guides you to sites in downtown Farmville significant to this history between 1951 and 1964.

Civil Rights Walking Tour Signage

Farmville and Prince Edward County Public Schools were the source of Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County (1952–54), a case incorporated into Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the landmark case that overturned school segregation in the United States. Among the cases consolidated into the Brown decision, the Davis case was the only one involving student protests. Despite that decision, Prince Edward County closed its schools from 1959 to 1964 to avoid integration. This sign remembers that period.

Court House

And a few more Farmville scenes, as well as congratulations to this week's solvers, PortMoresby and Jonathan L!

Wall ArtWall Mural ButterflyIronwork


Images (34)
  • Amish Originials Facade
  • Amish Originials
  • Antique Shop
  • Banditos
  • Brickwork #1
  • Brickwork #2
  • Caboose Cafe
  • City Sign
  • Civil Rights Walking Tour Signage
  • Court House
  • Crute Stage
  • Farmers Market Parking
  • Farmers Market Signage
  • Farmers Market
  • Farmville Banners
  • Green Front
  • Ironwork
  • Lee Retreat Signage
  • Longwood Visiual Arts
  • Longwood Visual Arts Gertrude
  • Main Street
  • Patriotic Banner
  • Theater
  • Town Hall Clock
  • Train Station Building
  • Train Station Signage
  • Train Station Wagon Cart
  • Uptown Cafe
  • Walkers Diner
  • Walkers Signage
  • Wall Art
  • Wall Mural Butterfly
  • Wall Mural Coca Cola
  • WWI Monument

George G

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