A Tour of Historic Districts in the Valley
One of our favorite things about living in the Shenandoah Valley is how it can sometimes appear as if it were plucked straight from a history book. Much of the region’s architecture has survived for centuries and now stand as living monuments to the early days of our country. There are homes in the Valley that are older than the state of Florida (which entered the Union in 1845, for reference).
Of course, there are pros and cons of living in a historic district. And while we absolutely recommend that you speak to a realtor about what living in a historic district means, we also think that nobody can deny the beauty in these homes.
Beverley Historic District
The heart of downtown Staunton, the Beverley Historic District encompasses 131 buildings in the center of the city. A commercial district, some of these buildings still serve their original purposes.
The Augusta County Courthouse, which was designed by the famous Staunton architect TJ Collins, constructed in 1901, and is still in operation to this day. Others have seen massive changes in use over the years. The old YMCA building, for example, originally constructed in 1890, has been converted to modern condominiums.
Middlebrook Historic District
Located south of Staunton in Augusta County, the historic district of Middlebrook is made up of 50 buildings and 52 sites. Most buildings date back to the 19th century. Included in the district are five stores, two churches, and an Odd Fellows Hall.
The community of Middlebrook dates back even further than some of those structures – records show that William and Nancy Scott sold the first property in the village back in April of 1799. Once railroad construction bypassed the village in the 20th century, the village did not modernize in the same way as some of its neighboring communities did. Now, walking down its main road reflects a lot of the same character as it had in the 1880s.
Tree Streets Historic District
It’s easy to imagine where this Waynesboro historic district got its name. Containing portions of Cherry, Chesnut, Locust, Maple, Oak, Pine, and Walnut Avenues in Waynesboro, the Tree Streets were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
A staggering 445 buildings contribute to the district. Among them is the Old Stone House on Oak Avenue. Although estimates vary as to when it was constructed, it is likely to be more than 200 years old, and still retains its original fieldstone walls. Another beautiful property in the area is the Fry House on Maple Avenue. Designed by the architect Carrington Hubbard, it features an octagonal turret and beautiful bay windows.
Mount Sidney Historic District
Some of the buildings in the Mount Sidney historic district date back to as early as the 1820s, earning its place as having the oldest buildings on this modest list. Mount Sidney is one of many villages in the Valley named Mount something – Mt. Solon and Mt. Jackson, for example – but anyone looking for the similarly named mountain in the area would be looking for some time. The names of these villages were actually inspired by the fact that they were places one might find a suitable horse.
The buildings that remain from the villages earliest days stand on Lafayette Street and reflect the architecture that was becoming increasingly common in the area during those years. They feature a symmetrical brick shell with a Flemish bond facade and a gable rood. The elongated facades were typical of the taverns and early hotels that were built along Augusta counties early turnpikes.
There are many more historic districts and sites in the region to explore. For more information, we’d encourage you to reach out to the Augusta County Historical Society, which has done a great deal of work over the years to preserve these sites for generations to come.