Federal Hill Historic District

Lynchburg City, Independent Cities, VA

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The Federal Hill Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1]

The Federal Hill Historic District includes some one dozen residential blocks in the heart of Lynchburg. Laid out in a grid plan, the area covers one of the city's seven hills and is separated from Lynchburg Hill, or the commercial area, by a deep valley. Two of Federal Hill's principal streets, Federal Street and Jackson Street dead end at a sharp cliff above 12th Street so that the district is rarely entered by other than local traffic. Most of the wide, tree-shaded streets retain early brick sidewalks using bricks with distinctive patterned faces. A number of slate sidewalks and granite curbs remain as well. Other street furniture includes numerous iron fences in a variety of patterns.

The district's architecture consists primarily of free-standing brick or frame houses in a variety of styles but of harmonious scale. Of chief architectural interest are several Federal-style brick houses built about the time the area was laid out. A few mid-19th-century houses are scattered through the neighborhood, and the rest of the lots are filled with complementary late 19th-and early 20th-century dwellings. Three important French Second Empire houses stand near one another on Harrison Street. The individual early 20th-century houses are generally undistinguished, but together they contribute to the visual harmony of the block facades. Yard sizes vary, and there are few vacant lots. In addition to the houses, the area has a public school building and a church, both dignified examples of Edwardian period architecture.

Federal Hill is racially mixed and has residents of high, middle and low income levels. Several houses are in poor condition while others are maintained excellently. The general appearance of the neighborhood is good, however, and the income level is rising as houses are restored. Except for Jackson Street and the southwest side of Federal Street, Federal Hill is included in the College Hill Urban Renewal Area, operated by the Lynchburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority which is assisting in upgrading the area.

Federal Hill is one of the most distinctive of several early neighborhoods situated on the hills surrounding the commercial area of Lynchburg. Unlike Garland Hill where the city's industrialists built their homes, Federal Hill primarily has been the residential area for merchants and civic leaders. Contained within the district's dozen blocks is a notable assemblage of free-standing dwellings in architectural styles ranging in date from the early 19th century through the Edwardian styles of the early 20th century. Most significant is the neighborhood's important collection of early Federal-style townhouses which includes some of the oldest and finest houses in the city. Few Piedmont cities of the South can boast such a distinguished grouping of Federal dwellings.

Many of Federal Hill's earliest houses were erected prior to 1819 when the neighborhood was annexed from Campbell County. These include the Ford House, 914 Federal Street; the Carrington House, 1002 Federal Street; the Otey House, 1020 Federal Street; the Thaddeus Ivey House, 1106 Federal Street; the Holcombe House, 917 Federal Street; the Poston House, 1104 Jackson Street; the Gordon House, 1023 Jackson Street; and the Crowe House, 1101 Jackson Street. All of these houses are brick and all exhibit the fine craftsmanship, proportions, and details associated with the Federal style. The exact date of the Speed House at 822 Federal Street has not been determined, but architectural evidence indicates a date around the time of the annexation. Erected for William Wiatt Morvell, a distinguished civic leader, this brick dwelling possesses particular architectural refinement, with details similar to Lynchburg's Point of Honor.

The somewhat scattered distribution of Federal Hill's early houses indicates that the area built up slowly, and that many of the lots did not receive buildings until nearly a hundred years after the streets were laid out. Thus most of the blocks have an interesting mixture of early , mid-, late 19th-, and early 20th-century dwellings that together form block facades of varied textures, materials and forms. All of the buildings are of similar scale and massing, however, so that visual order is maintained. Federal Hill's mid-19th-century houses of note include the Winfree House at 1007 Federal Street, built in 1844 for John Bell Winfree, president of Lynchburg's first school board. The house is a pleasing example of central Virginia's somewhat restrained version of the Greek Revival style. The architecturally similar Langhorne House at 1021 Federal Street was erected in 1853 for Maurice Langhorne.

The neighborhood also possesses three of the city's purest examples of the Second Empire Style, all dating from the late 19th century. 1020 and 1121 Harrison Street have the style's characteristic mansard roof, asymmetrical facade and central tower with square dome. 1102 Harrison Street features a mansard roof and round-arch dormers but has a symmetrical facade. A small but distinctive Queen Anne-style house at 1021 Harrison Street features a rough-face, cast-stone first floor, with shingled second floor and exposed frame gable.

The neighborhood's major non-residential buildings are the former Frank Roane School designed in the very personal eclectic style of Frye and Chesterman and the Romanesque Revival-style 8th Street Baptist Church (1899, E. G. Frye, architect).

In addition to the buildings specifically mentioned, Federal Hill possesses numerous late 19th-century and early 20th-century frame houses, most of which have interesting roof lines and richly turned Eastlake porches. One of the neighborhood's most important late houses is a handsome Georgian Revival mansion at 1101 Federal Street.

Additional information on some of Federal Hill's most important early residences is provided in historical leaflet #4, vol. IV, "Federal Hill," published by the Lynchburg Historical Society.

  1. Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff, Federal Hill Historic District, nomination document, 1980, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
10th Street • 11th Street • 12th Street • 5th Street • 6th Street • 7th Street • 8th Street • 9th Street • Federal Street • Harrison Street • Jackson Street • Polk Street


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