Stanardsville Historic District

Stanardsville Town, Greene County, VA

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The Stanardsville Historic District [†] includes a total of 168 contributing resources and 81 noncontributing resources located within the incorporated limits of the Town of Stanardsville, the county seat of Greene County, Virginia. A small portion of the eastern edge and southern edge of the district lie within the jurisdiction of Greene County. The district includes the Courthouse Square and commercial blocks from the late 19th abd 20th centuries on Main StreetIRte. 33, Bank Street, and Stanard Street. Residential areas encompassed by district boundaries include dwellings and associated outbuildings ranging from the first quarter of the nineteenth century to 1952. Noncontributing properties date from 1953 to the present. While a number of these dwellings pre-date the Civil War, many of the dwellings facing the district arteries of Main Street and Madison Road (State Route 230) were built during the late 18th and first and second quarters of the 20th centuries. Two circa 1794 survey markers dating to the incorporation of the town are also listed as objects and are located within the district. Four churches of various denominations and dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries survive in excellent condition. Landscape features include a terraced garden possibly dating to 1794 and five cemeteries. Architectural styles throughout Stanardsville include, but are not limited to, Greek Revival, Queen Anne, Bungalow, Moderne, and various vernacular forms in residential and commercial buildings. The 1839 County Courthouse is listed individually in the National Register.

Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Stanardsville is one of a handful of intact courthouse towns that grew up along transportation routes crossing the Piedmont region of Virginia.Despite sporadic fires occurring during the first half of the 2 0 ceentury and the County Clerk's Office explosion of 1979, the townscape survives much as it did during the late 19th century.

Incorporated on December 19, 1794, Stanardsville was originally envisioned as a speculative development by William Stanard of "Roxbury" in Spotsylvania County. A member of a prominent Virginia family, Stanard obtained a portion, approximz:.:ly 6,000 acres, of the 1722 Octonia Grant from Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood through his great uncle, Robert Everly. At that time part of Orange County, Stanard's plantation probably ran eastward from present-day Stanardsville to a point beyond the "Fredericksburg Road," now State Route 609. The property extended westward towards the Blue Ridge Mountains and northward towards South ~ River.

Despite Stanard's absentee status (he spent most of his time in Spotsylvania County), he surveyed and divided 45 acres of his Orange County plantation into half-acre lots. Lying along what was then known as Richmond Road (later known as Main Street within the town limits), these lots were designated a town in 1794. James Madison Sr., Zachariah Bumley, William White, May Burton Jr., Robert Miller, James Easley, John Beadles, Thomas Davis, George Argenbright, and Isaac Davis were appointed trustees of the town.

Eighteenth-century deeds refer to the town as "Stanards Ville" or Stannards Ville" while the Act of Assembly refers to the town as "Stanardsville". A plat dated May 7, 1835 delineates "a portion of William H. Stanard's land at Stanardsville." While an expansive tract, the plat shows a singular building on the holding. Stanard's "mansion house" is drawn as a two-story, Georgian house with 4 bays on the southem faqade. A hipped roof covers the dwelling and two, exterior- end chimneys are found on the western and eastem facade. Historic photographs of the dwelling, dating from the early 20'-century, confirm the accuracy of the elevation. This above- ground portions of this building were demolished after being purchased by T. P. Moyers in 1916.

Only a handful of resources remain from the Stanard period (1794-1838). These include two stone survey markers located at the comer of Main Street and Ford Avenue and on the east side of State Route 230 (formerly known as the "road to Madison Court House") near the town corporate limits. Architectural evidence suggests that frame members and portions of the brick cellar that once supported Stanard's "mansion house" may have been reused during the construction of the T. P. Moyers House (176 Ford Avenue, 302-0012-0020). While the Moyers house was constructed circa 1916, this house is situated in the approximate location of Stanard's former "mansion house." Located behind the Moyers House, are the remains of an extensive terraced garden. While archaeological testing has not been undertaken to determine the date of this feature, it may also be from the Stanard period.

Another component of the Stanard-period landscape is the brick portion of the Shelton-Watson house (439 Main Street) located on a small knoll just east of 3 .230. This finely executed brick office, now incorporated into the circa 1850 frame dwelling, dates to the first quarter of the 19" century. While little is known about this small structure, oral history suggests that it may have been an office operated by Stanard.

Just east of the former Stanard "mansion" is another dwelling (31 1 Main Street, 302-0012-0033) that can be attributed to the pre-1838 development of the Town of Stanardsville. Constructed circa 1815 by local merchant John Sorrille for his sister Nancy Atkins, the house is situated in a low-lying area between Stanard's "mansion house" site and State Route 230.j The south-facing portion of the building contains an exterior-end brick chimney in English bond. An anterior ell and detached smokehouse also appear to date to the first quarter of the 19yh-century. Oral testimony suggests that the southern portion of the dwelling, adjacent to Main Street, once housed a store or possibly a tollhouse for a local turnpike.


The Stanardsville Historic District in Greene County, Virginia, encompasses built fabric representing the town's growth from a small late 18th-century settlement to a critical crossroads at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The historic district covers the area that was originally platted by William Stanard in 1794 as a speculative endeavor along the well-traveled Richmond Road and, at the time, within Orange County. Although growth was slow during the 18th and early 19th centuries, the establishment of a large portion of western Orange County as Greene County, with Stanardsville as the county seat, in 1838 marked the beginning of the first boom period that lasted until the end of the Civil War.

The second notable period of growth, catalyzed by the development of large farms on the outskirts of Main Street and the New Deal Era, extended from 1900 to 1952. Despite the stagnant economy during the Great Depression, Stanardsville saw several improvements as a result of PresidentRoosevelt's New Deal and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Paramount to these improvements was the establishment of the Shenandoah National Park in 1936. While 14,619 acres of the county was consumed by the park and citizens were relocated, the founding of the park secured Stanardsville's position as gateway to the Blue Ridge.

Despite minor fires, economic stagnation, and the 1979 explosion at the Greene County Clerk's Office, the Town of Stanardsville survives as a tangible reminder of 18th, 19th and 20th -century development along the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Stanardsville Historic District is associated with major historical developments between 1794 and 1952, in the areas of exploration/settlement and commerce. The district has a collection of 19th and 20th-century public, commercial, and residential buildings representing a wide range of architectural styles including Classical Revival, Queen Anne, Carpenter Gothic, Bungalow, and American vernacular.

The Octonia Grant

Stanardsville Historic District Greene County, Virginia

In 1722 the British Crown issued a land grant of 24,000 acres to Alexander Spotswood that would eventually form the heart of Greene County. Traversed by Spotswood as early as 1716, this expansive grant became known as Octonia and was given by him to eight prominent virginians. Among the eight were William Stanard (1682-1732) of Middlesex County and Captain Hany Beverly (died 1730) of Spotsylvania County. While the grant was divided among residents of various counties, these eight Virginians were not strangers and six of the eight receiving the grant were parishioners of Christ Church Parish, Middlesex County.

The Stanard Family

The Octonia Grant extended roughly from the Rapidan River in what is now Orange County westward towards the Blue Ridge Mountains. Failure of the grantees to seat and cultivate the land and pay quitrents resulted in the regranting in 1729 of the entire Octonia Grant to Robert Beverly, a son of Captain Harry Beverly and married to Anne Stanard, who was a daughter of the William Stanard above mentioned and his first wife, Anne Hazlewood. Stanard's second wife was Elizabeth Beverly, a sister of Robert Beverly, and their son was Beverly Stanard (1722- 1765). It was through a bequest in 1733 from Robert Beverly to nephew Beverly Stanard of the upper 6,000 acres of the Octonia Grant, that the Stanard family obtained the land that was to become the Town of Stanardsville."

Beverly Stanard's death in 1765 left his son, William Stanard of "Roxbury" in Spotsylvania County, well positioned to control his 6,000-acre portion of the Octonia Grant. His marriage to Elizabeth Hill Carter of "Blenheim" in Albemarle County secured his position as a prominent Virginian with ties to the aristocracies of both the James and Rappahannock rivers. In 1765, Stanard's plantation, then part of Orange County, probably ran eastward from present-day Stanardsville to a point beyond the "Fredericksburg Road", now Route 609. It also extended westward toward the Blue Ridge Mountains and northward toward the South River.14

Through this large holding ran several thoroughfares that extended from the low-lying areas of Virginia's Piedmont to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Most of these transportation routes were no more than footpaths and horse trails with the exception of Richmond Road. Possibly realizing the potential for locating a town on this road, Stanard subdivided 45 acres of the relatively flat lands along the foothills and adjacent to Richmond Road into half-acre lots. This speculative development eventually became the Town of Stanardsville.

The Establishment of Stanardsville

>Stanardsville Historic District Greene County, Virginia In 1794 an act of the Virginia General Assembly officially established the townsite within what was then Orange County. Between 1797 and 1800 approximately 25 lots were sold. Deeds recording these sales mention a tanyard, court square, and meeting house lot. While the tanyard was functioning during the late 18th century the court square and meeting house lots were not developed as such until the 19th century."

Prior to William Stanard's death in 1807 approximately 4665 acres of the original 6000 acres and excluding the lots in the town of Stanardsville had been sold, including 800 acres to his son, William Hill Stanard. In August 1816 deeds were recorded totaling 1480 acres of Stanard's land sold by commissioners appointed in an Act of the General Assembly of Virginia for the settlement of claims of the creditors and heirs of William Stanard.

A plat dated 1835 shows William Hill Stanard's house and 274 acres which lay to the north of the northernmost edge of the Town of Stanardsville. This was sold to George W. Price in 1836. The westernmost edge of the holding, adjacent to what is sketched and labeled on the plat as the mansion house, became Ford Avenue during the second quarter of the 20th century. The easternmost edge noted on the plat was the "road to Madison Court House". Today, this road is known as Madison Road or State Route 230. Not delineated on this plat are Main Street and Celt Road. Running east-to-west through the district, Main Street, named in the mid-nineteenth century, follows the former Richmond Road. Perpendicular to Main Street and near the eastern edge of the district is Celt Road.

While Stanards's plat only delineates his home and immediate holdings, deeds recorded prior to 1838 indicate that Stanardsville supported many businesses and residents along Main Street. While few elements of this landscape survive, documentary evidence supports the fact that prior to the founding of Greene County, Stanardsville was an established commercial center for traffic crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains at Swift Run Gap. By 1835 Stanardsville boasted 142 residents, 21 dwelling houses, 5 stores, 2 taverns, 1 tanyard, a saddler, a boot and shoe shop, a tailor, 2 blacksmiths, a wheelwright, a hatter, a gunsmith, and a physician. Three years later, in 1838, Greene County, named for Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene, was formed from Orange County and Stanardsville became the county seat.

The establishment of Stanardsville as a county seat, growing traffic along Main Street (formerly Richmond Road), linkages to regional markets as well as the construction of the Greene County Courthouse, Clerk's Office and Jail between 1839 and 1840 spurred further commercial development in the town. As the newly built courthouse structures defined Court Square, brick commercial buildings began to define Main Street.

Growth Along Main Street and the Civil War Development occurring during the years between 1838 and the end of the Civil War left an indelible mark on the Town of Stanardsville. It was during this time that Robert L. Pritchett, the first County Clerk, completed a three-story brick hotel to accommodate travelers along the Richmond Road. The hotel, known as the Lafayette, extended northward from the edge of Courthouse Square and eastward down Main Street. In addition to the Lafayette Hotel, large brick stores were constructed by Joseph Ham and Thomas Gibbons.

Prompted by the surge in permanent commercial buildings, prominent citizens of the town began to construct substantial dwellings just prior to the Civil War. The Gibbons family and others, profiting from their new stores, constructed houses near their commercial enterprises along Main Street. In addition, dwellings and farms emerged on the outskirts of the town and to the west and east of Main Street.

Early Infrastructure Development

In 1905 the first phone lines were installed in Stanardsville and the Lafayette Hotel received the first telephone. Three years later, the Northern Piedmont Electric Corporation began to serve Greene Prior to electricity, kerosene and wood were the fuels of choice in the town. By the 1930s, the Atlantic Seaboard Corporation constructed a natural gas pipeline from Eastern Kentucky to the PennsylvaniaMaryland border. A portion of this pipeline crossed Greene County and provided Stanardsville with service. The effect of this supply of natural gas was twofold. First, many people moved into the town as temporary boarders to work on the line and second, natural gas provided a cheap, stable source of fuel for town and county residents.*

Shenandoah National Park and the Works Progress Administration Following an Act of Congress establishing the Shenandoah National Park in 1936, Greene County ceded 14,619 acres to the federal government for the 193,177-acre park. While the New Deal and the subsequent establishment of the park had the greatest effect on the western portion of Greene County it also changed the face of Stanardsville through the accomplishments of the Works Progress Administration.

The Works Progress Administration (WPA), a result of President Roosevelt's New Deal, established an office on Main Street in what is now known as the Grover Morris house. Here, the local administrator for civil works oversaw improvements to the county and to the town. In 1933, the WPA sought applicants for work on civil improvements. A total of 503 men and 25 women applied from Greene County. Of this pool of applicants, 307 men were engaged to conduct school and public building improvements, make infrastructure improvements, construct sidewalks, and to administer food distribution. Women were assigned to sewing rooms across the county. Remnants of WPA efforts in the Town of Stanardsville include the public sidewalks that run along Main Street, the western edge of Ford Avenue, Court Square and its adjacent streets, and alone. portions of Rt. 230 as well as the introduction of sewer and water lines. The 1939 reconstruction of the Clerk's Office and the paving of State Route 33 were also undertaken by the WPA.

The establishment of the park as well as the impact of the automobile had direct effects on Stanardsville and the stability of its economy. The improvement of infrastructure and the installation of sidewalks as well as the growing number of car dealerships and repair shops along Main Street supported a period of prosperity that counterbalanced the effects of WWI and the Depression of the 1930s. As a result, the town's commercial core grew and nearby residential areas expanded as farms were subdivided and developed

The first large farm to be broken up was the Sorrille family holding located on the western edge of the town. In the 1920s and 1930s this farm was broken into smaller holdings for single-family residences. Several years later, the division of the McMullen family tract into Child's subdivision further established State Route 230 as an important artery linking Madison County and Stanardsville.

World War II and After

Like other small towns across the state, Stanardsville remained static during the war. However, immediately following the war and into the 1950s and 1960s many residences were constructed on the newly platted tracts of land adjacent to State Route 230. While the population of the town increased, many new town dwellers commuted to work in nearby urban areas such as Charlottesville. As a result, the economy of the town remained viable.

Stanardsville Today

Until the opening of the Stanardsville Bypass in 2001, only Route 33 (Main Street) passed though the town. With the bypass now in place and with businesses moving towards the fastgrowing area around Ruckersville, Stanardsville (still without a stoplight) has ceased to be a commercial hub. While few buildings have been razed, only a handful of buildings have been restored or remodeled. However, numerous grazing fields and expansive open spaces have been preserved and remain undeveloped. In sum, the scale, setback and design of the original nineteenth- and twentieth-century streetscapes are intact and, as a whole, the town's visual character has been retained.

Stanardsville celebrated its 200th anniversary in 1994 in Court Square. Celebrations following this event have included the annual Strawbeny Festival held during the spring. In an attempt to draw visitors to the area, this annual event continues to expand, drawing larger crowds every year. Building on this momentum and the support of local government, the Virginia Tourism Corporation in partnership with The Virginia Company (a business selling Made In Virginia goods) will establish a Visitor's Center on State Route 33 in Greene County.

Operating on a volunteer basis, residents of Stanardsville and members of the Greene County Architectural Survey Group undertook the survey of its resources and the preparation of a National Register nomination. Both the survey and the nomination were supported by the Stanardsville Town Council. A local, non-profit organization known as Stanardsville Pride With Action supported photography expenses with a small grant.

Stanardsville remains an important example of an intact courthouse town in the heart of Central Virginia. The architectural character and integrity of its buildings, urban patterns and open spaces express the evolving periods of the town's history. The commanding Courthouse Square remains in use as do many of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century commercial and residential buildings along Main Street. Collectively, these buildings and landscapes that make up the historic core of Stanardsville are invaluable resources for the town's future growth as well as markers of its rich past.

Adapted from: Julie Dickey, Virginia Fitzhugh, Gina Haney. Greene County Architechlral Survey Group, Stanardsville Historic District, nomination document, 2003,National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Street Names
Court Street • Ford Avenue • Judges Road • Madison Road • Main Street • Rectory Lane • Shiloh Road • Spotswood Trail • Stanard Street • William Mills Drive • Willow Lane

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