Staunton Virginia is perhaps the prettiest town I’ve seen in the last 50 years. I have to apologize to them first for getting their name wrong in earlier post. I was calling it Scraunton for some silly reason. They deserve to be recognized properly. My son lives there and we went to visit him last weekend.
I have a fondness for small town America and applaud the efforts such as these by the government and business owners. They have done a remarkable job at keeping all the charm through the years of growth and change.
Staunton business owners have maintained the store fronts with their architectural detail and individuality. Many towns have rows and rows of the same old sqaure facade, but not Staunton! Just look at how beautiful. I want to go back.
Staunton also has the best website on the net. You can see they have something going on just about every month/weekend/day. There was so much to do and see that we couldn’t fit it in to the weekend.
The shop owners, residents, and town government should be very proud of themselves for the efforts they put forth in making their town attractive and fun to visit. Staunton has always been a government leader and was the first town to hire a city manager for their day to day operations. They already had a mayor and aldermen who saw the need to bring in a manager who could set a vision for the daily operations and help resolve some growth issues the town faced.
In April of 1908, Mr. CE Ashburner became the first city manager. Today, many towns have a city-manager form of government. This was very interesting information to me as my MrD is a city manager.
City managers are not elected and are part of the staff that carry out the duties set forth by the council members. They do not hold terms and hopefully MrD and I will always live in our little village that we have grown to love. City managers can be fired and we just won’t talk about that.
But if it weren’t for the devoted efforts of this first town manager, Scranton would not be what it is today. Before he came along, the council was divded and bickering amongst themselves. Mr. Ashburner got things in order by setting up priorities like paving the streets. He began to put out bids for work on the needed repairs and soon things were looking pretty good—-and today Staunton can give itself a pat on the back for keeping the vision.
From the Staunton website:
Staunton, located in the historic Shenandoah Valley, was first settled in 1732. The hamlet was named in honor of Lady Staunton, wife of Sir William Gooch who served as lieutenant-governor of Virginia from 1727 to 1749. The Virginia General Assembly established Staunton as a town in 1761. They were incorporated in 1801.
Staunton grew rapidly in 1870 as it became a supply base for Southern armies. It was also a trading center for the surrounding farms and communities. I can remember my great uncle who was an engineer on the Southern Railway talking about going through Staunton. It was a major hub for a very long time.
It is the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson. You can visit his library, museum, and gardens which I will do next time we visit our son. It was on our list of to do items but so was a million other things. I took these photos as I wandered the streets of Staunton. My son and MrD had gone fly fishing for a few hours. So I set out on foot to capture as much as the morning would allow.
If you would like to visit Staunton–then take a look at their visitor SITE. It is chock full of things to see and do. I’d like to see a play at American Shakespeare Theater in Blackfriars Playhouse. I would like to see, The Merry Wives of Windsor!
You and your children should ride The Gypsy Express and make it before October 31 or you’ll have to wait till next year. Lots of railroad history there to explore.
Visit Staunton and see firsthand why the National Trust for Historic Preservation honored Staunton for its outstanding revitalization accomplishments. From that site:
Like many downtowns across the county, when the railroad declined, so did Staunton. The city suffered a further blow when interstate highway travel bypassed Staunton and commercial development flocked to the suburbs. The once stately facades in the central Beverley Street district lost their luster and downtown was reduced to a shell of its former self. Preservation ordinances were unheard of, allowing the wrecking ball to inflict further damages on the city. The urban renewal strategy of the 1960s laid waste to fifty of Staunton’s historic buildings before concerned citizens rallied in 1971 to form the Historic Staunton Foundation. Today, the Foundation is one of three non-profit organizations determined to see that Staunton doesn’t lose another monument to its glorious past, or its connection to its arts heritage. In 1998, the Staunton-Augusta History and Arts Alliance purchased the Eakleton Hotel intent on rescuing the 1895 property from neglect and on finding a home for the county’s rich history and arts record.
The Historic Staunton Foundation mentioned in the above article is very much active today. Visit their site and you can explore more than a lifetime full of information on the preservation of Staunton. You can also find out information about walking tours. You all know I would really like to do that!
I’ll be going back soon and biting off another chunk of Shenandoahan history. It is fascinating! Don’t you agree? Do you see that the trees are starting to change? I’ll put up a slideshow of the downtown sometime this weekend. Thanks so much for visiting my blog.
The Mary Baldwin College of Staunton Virginia.