In the 18th century, Staunton, Virginia, was originally named Beverley's Mill Place. When founded in 1747, it was renamed in honor of Lady Rebecca Staunton, wife to Royal Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Gooch. Because the town was located at the geographical center of the colony (which then included West Virginia), Staunton served between 1738 and 1771 as regional capital for what was known as the Northwest Territory.
On my trip to Staunton, I was focused on visiting the Woodrow Wilson Museum which I reported in a previous TravelGumbo blog. But on arrival, there was much more to see architecturally than just the Wilson Museum. Staunton sits near the intersection of Interstates I-81 (north south) and I-64 (east west) and is approximately a 1 hour drive west from Charlottesville, Virginia.
My first stop was the Staunton Amtrak Station which is listed as a haunted location by the paranormal believers. A few older train cars were on a side rail outside the station, which was being remodeled, and the surrounding wharf historic district had a lot to see.
The Wharf District contains 22 buildings and 4 structures that were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Have any TravelGumbo readers had a Myofascial Release or Craniosacral Therapy? What I found to be very coincidental is that the Western State Lunatic Asylum. founded in Staunton in 1928, was designated a national historic district of 22 buildings and 4 structures just like the Wharf District (sort of).
The Sears Hill black iron truss pedestrian bridge above the railroad tracks provided a great viewpoint of the station and the city. It was originally made of wood to provide a path for Sears Hill neighborhood residents to get to the Wharf District over the tracks, then replaced by an iron bridge which was later renovated through local donations.
As I strolled toward downtown, I saw a number of intriguing concrete wicket structures lining a hillside parking lot. I had to phone Frank Strassler, Executive Director of the Staunton historical society, to get an explanation. He said they were braces for a train sidetrack that unloaded lumber to a planing mill located below which is now occupied by the Wilderness Adventure Building.
Trundling past the Ox-Eye Vineyard office, I caught snapshots of various facades like the Klotz Building, Redbeard Brewing and Taproom, Pufferbellies Toy Shop, Frontiers Antiques, Worthington Hardware Warehouse Antiques, Shenandoah Valley Brewing, and Once Upon A Time Clock Shop.
After admiring the façade work near the tradition old American Dixie Theater, a few steps further, I wandered up to the famous Blackfriars Playhouse where Shakespeare’s Plays are performed to promote the joys and language in a Renaissance theater. I was permitted to be escorted into the theater to take photos between rehearsals and the daily play, but my camera battery failed. This year they are celebrating 30 years of performances shown on the poster bill in my photo. Tickets run from $29 to $49.