Lynchburg is a colorful, diverse community with roots that dive deep into the formation of America. Since its founding in 1786, the “city on a hill” has gone through a stunning transformation. Nowadays, you will find tasty eateries, concert venues and multiple festivals and events. Yet, it is our innovative, industrial revolutionary past that makes our community the cultural hub that it is today. Get to know our great city throughout the years.

 

 

Downtown Lynchburg

(Courtesy of the Lynchburg Museum System, via)

Then: Downtown Lynchburg was the economic center for the entire town during the 18th and 19th century. Starting in the 1750’s, traders from Charlottesville and beyond would cross the James River, using John Lynch’s ferry service, to trade goods and products at the farmer’s market on Water Street. Around 1791, the tobacco industry moved into town. From there, the downtown district began to take its shape and establish a thriving city along the James River’s banks.

Now: The 19th century renaissance architecture is still here. But now, numerous modern businesses occupy the original storefronts. Shops ranging from up-and-coming eateries to chic clothing boutiques to art galleries and performing arts centers are now a part of the local economy. The original farmer’s market, which is the third oldest market in America, now functions as Lynchburg Community Market and has since relocated from Water Street (now called 9th street) to its permanent home on Main Street. There, locals regularly stock up on fresh Virginia produce. But, you can also find fine Virginia wines, homemade cheeses and artisan-crafted goods.

Point of Honor

(Courtesy of the Lynchburg Museum System, via)

Then: Point of Honor is a federal style home owned by Dr. George Cabell, a prominent Lynchburg doctor, in the early 1800’s. He studied at Hampden-Sydney Academy and received medical training at University of Pennsylvania. He was known for being a friend and physician to Patrick Henry and a pen pal with Thomas Jefferson. After his death, the home was passed down through seven prominent Lynchburg families. Some of the families included Judge William Daniel, Jr. whose son was United States Senator John Warwick Daniel, and Col. John S. Langhorne whose daughter, Elizabeth Langhorne Lewis, was a fighter for women’s suffrage.

Now: Today, Point of Honor is a part of the Lynchburg Museum System and can be toured throughout the year. The home and grounds have been restored to the condition that Dr. George Cabell would have remembered.   

Poplar Forest

(Courtesy of the Lynchburg Museum System, via)

Then: Thomas Jefferson, founding father and writer of the Declaration of Independence, began to grow weary of Monticello later in life. In the early years of his marriage to Martha Wayles, the couple inherited 4,000 acres of land from Martha’s father after he passed away. However, the couple decided to work on Monticello instead of building upon the land. After his presidency, there was such an influx of visitors to Monticello that Jefferson later regarded his home as a “virtual hotel”. In an effort to escape, he built Poplar Forest in the early 1800’s on the land that was gifted to him decades prior. The grounds would serve as his private retreat and he would visit three to four times a year while staying anywhere from two weeks to two months. After Jefferson’s death, the home was sold to cover his debts.

 

Now: In 1986, Poplar Forest became a National Historical Landmark. Since then, it has welcomed visitors from around the world who wish to learn more about Jefferson’s life and personality. The property also hosts beer and wine festivals throughout the year that feature the best brews Virginia has to offer on tap.

Monument Terrace

(Courtesy of the Lynchburg Museum System, via)

Then: At the intersection of 9th and Court Streets stands Monument Terrace, a tribute to Lynchburg’s local fallen soldiers. The original plans for the monument were drawn up in the early 1880’s by August Forsberg, a city engineer. The Terrace’s original intent was to be a simple staircase that spanned from Court Street to Church Street. However, in 1883 a tragic fire broke out in Lynchburg, killing five firemen. In light of the event, Forsberg redesigned the iron fountain at the base to honor the men who sacrificed their lives. Later in the 1920’s, the terrace was updated once again, this time to honor 43 local men who were killed in World War I. The fountain was then replaced with a bronze statue known as The Listening Post, or as the locals call it, The Doughboy.  

Now: Today, Monument Terrace still stands as tribute to the local men and woman who sacrificed their lives for our country in any war. As you walk on the terrace, you will see the names of those fallen soldiers. Also, the terrace is a great location to take in a stunning view of Lynchburg. Once you’re at the top of the steps, reward yourself with a visit to the Lynchburg Museum.

Our city may be built upon the stones of a past era, but our modern community looks to build a bright future for every visitor and resident. So, whether you’re here to tour the historical sites or simply take in the majestic James River, this community is yours to explore.