Category Archives: Buildings

James Farmer, Civil Rights Leader E-113

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James Leonard Farmer was born in Texas on 12 Jan. 1920. In 1942, he and other Civil Rights leaders founded the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Chicago. CORE used Gandhi-inspired tactics of nonviolent civil disobedience to protest discriminatory practices against blacks. Under Farmer’s leadership, in the spring of 1961, CORE organized “Freedom Riders” to desegregate interstate transportation in the Deep South. He was an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (1969-1970). Farmer taught at Mary Washington College (1985-1999) and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. Farmer died on 9 July 1999. His house stands east of here. [2000]
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Mud Tavern E-32

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Mud Tavern E-32 Mud Tavern was the old name of this place. Six miles east, at Guinea Station, Stonewall Jackson died, May 10, 1863. In the campaign of 1864, Ewell’s and Longstreet’s corps of Lee’s army, coming from Spotsylvania Courthouse, here turned south, May 21, 1864. Lee fell back to the North Anna River as Grant swung around to the east.
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Colonial Fort E-46

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The Virginia General Assembly authorized the construction of a fort built nearby along the Rappahannock River in 1676. It served as a defensive fortification for settlers of European descent on the frontier when periodic conflicts occurred between Virginia Indians and settlers. Maj. Lawrence Smith commanded the fort. Smith had patented 6,300 acres of property with Robert Taliaferro in the region in 1666. Smith later obtained more land nearby. The fort was abandoned about 1682, when the General Assembly ordered the dismantling of many of these structures. [2004]

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George Washington’s Childhood Home J-61

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The Washington family moved to a plantation here in 1738 when George Washington was six years old. Along with his three brothers and sister, young Washington spent most of his early life here, where, according to popular fable, he cut down his father’s cherry tree and uttered the immortal words, “I cannot tell a lie.” His father, Augustine, died here in 1743, leaving the property to him. His mother, Mary Ball Washington, lived here until 1772 when she moved to a house in Fredericksburg that Washington bought for her. [1997]
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Penny’s Tavern E-129

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Nearby stood Penny’s (Penney’s) Tavern, named for Lincefield Penney who purchased the site in 1811. The tavern catered to travelers making their way to old Spotsylvania Courthouse site (1781-1837), located approximately one mile north of the tavern site across the Po River. After the Court House burned in 1837 and was moved to its present location, business greatly declined. By 1840 the property was sold to Mansfield Wigglesworth who operated a tavern there called Wigglesworth Tavern. The tavern was closed by the outbreak of the Civil War. The intersection where the tavern once stood was known as Penny’s Crossroads into the twentieth century.
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Fall Hill E-49a

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On the heights one mile to the west, the home of the Thorntons from about 1736. Francis Thornton 2nd was a justice, a Burgess 1744-45, and Lieut. -Colonel of his Majesty’s militia for Spotsylvania County. He and two of his brothers married three Gregory sisters, first cousins of George Washington. “Fall Hill” is still (1950) owned and occupied by direct Thornton descendants. [1957]
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Asbury’s Deathplace EH-8

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A short distance southeast is the site of the George Arnold House where Bishop Francis Asbury died, March 31, 1816. Asbury, born in England in 1745, came to America in 1771 and labored here until his death. He was ordained one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America at the Baltimore Conference of December, 1784. [1982]

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Cox House E-42

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Across the road to the northeast stood the Cox House, also known as the Wiatt House. In December 1862, Confederate Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws’s division used it as a hospital, and there on 13 December, Brig. Gen. Thomas R. R. Cobb died from wounds received during the Battle of Fredericksburg. On 3 May 1863, during the Battle of Chancellorsville, Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early rallied his Confederate troops at the Cox House after Union Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick drove them off Marye’s Heights. Early later retook the heights and attacked Sedgwick’s rear, while McLaws engaged him in battle near Salem Church. [1995]

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The Sentry Box

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The Sentry Box (ca. 1786) is an elegant specimen of late Georgian style architecture. Brig. Gen. George Weedon of the Continental Army, later mayor of Fredericksburg, built the house and named it to reflect his military career. Upon the death of Gen. Hugh Mercer at the Battle of Princeton during the Revolutionary War, Weedon enlarged the house to accommodate the Mercer family, and Mercer’s children later inherited the property. In December 1862, the Union army built its middle pontoon crossing over the Rappahannock River just below the Sentry Box. Intense fighting occurred here, and the house was heavily damaged. [2008]

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Third Spotsylvania County Courthouse E-128

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Bypass Rte. 208, at third courthouse site. This site was the location of the third Spotsylvania courthouse. In 1722 the first county court session was held at Germanna (now in Orange County) and a courthouse was built soon after. The court was relocated to Fredericksburg in 1732. In 1778 the General Assembly permitted the county to move the courthouse again to a more central location. The first court session was held here in 1781. The County’s courthouse, jail, pillory, stocks, and gallows were built, and a clerk’s office and tavern were erected thereafter. A second courthouse, built in 1800, replaced the original. In 1837 it burned to the ground, and a replacement was built nearby at the present site of the Spotsylvania courthouse.

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Hartwood Presbyterian Church E-126

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Organized in June 1825 by the Winchester Presbytery as Yellow Chapel Church, the brick church was constructed between 1857 and 1859. It became Hartwood Presbyterian Church in 1868. During the Civil War an engagement took place here on 25 Feb. 1863. Confederate Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, commanding detachments of the 1st, 2d, and 3d Virginia Cavalry Regiments, defeated a Union force and captured 150 men. The interior wooden elements and furnishings of the church suffered considerable damage during the war, but were replaced. The building was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places in 1989 and it is an American Presbyterian Reformed Historical Site. [2004]

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Massaponax Baptist Church E-78

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Massaponax Baptist Church, built in 1859, served a congregation founded in 1788. On 21 May 1864 Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his commanders conferred on pews in the churchyard as the Union army marched from the Spotsylvania Court House battlefield to the North Anna River. Photographer Timothy O’Sullivan hauled his heavy stereo camera to the balcony of the church and recorded this conference in a unique series of candid images showing a war council in progress. [1991]

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Aquia Episcopal Church E-90

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Here is Aquia Church, the church of Overwharton Parish, formed before 1680 by the division of Potomac Parish. It was built in 1757, on the site of an earlier church, in the rectorship of Reverend John Moncure, who was the parish minister from 1738 to 1764. The communion silver was given the parish in 1739 and was buried in three successive wars, 1776, 1812 and 1861. [1932]

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Chatham J-60

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Here is Chatham, built about 1750 by William Fitzhugh. Here Robert E. Lee came to court his wife. In the battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862, the house was occupied by General Sumner. It was General Hooker’s headquarters for a time, 1863. [1928] Continue reading

Peyton’s Ordinary E-49

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In this vicinity stood Peyton’s Ordinary. George Washington, going to Fredericksburg to visit his mother, dined here, March 6, 1769. On his way to attend the House of Burgesses, he spent the night here, October 31, 1769, and stayed here again on September 14, 1772. Rochambeau’s army, marching north from Williamsburg in 1782, camped here. [1947]

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Kenmore N-31

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Four blocks west stands Kenmore, built in 1775 by Col. Fielding Lewis for his wife, Betty, sister of George Washington. Near here, between Kenmore and the Rappahannock River, stood Lewis’s warehouses and docks. Kenmore’s intricate plasterwork is the finest in the country. Among 19th-century owners and occupants were Samuel Gordon, who named it Kenmore, and William Key Howard Jr., who restored and embellished the mansion’s plasterwork. Washington and other Revolutionary leaders often visited, and during the Civil War Union troops used it as a hospital. The Garden Club of Virginia, starting in 1929, rehabilitated Kenmore’s gardens as its first restoration project. [1995]
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