Welcome to… The Town of Orange
Sweet Living, Steady Progress
— www.townoforangeva.org —
Orange was born as one of Virginia's Court House villages on November 24, 1749, when the Gentlemen Justices of Orange County voted to hold County Court sessions in Timothy Crosthwait's tavern alongside "Swift Run Gap Road," the County's main east-west highway. A courthouse and jail were built, followed by law offices, and various "smithies" and stores to attend the needs and desires of persons availing themselves of the services of local government. Dwellings for county officers, merchants and service people, along with their houses of worship created the village of Orange Courthouse.
In 1854 Orange's commercial role was greatly enhanced when the tracks of the Orange and Alexandria railroad were driven literally through the center of the Public Lot, between the courthouse and the jail. With the construction of the present courthouse five years later, governmental functions retreated a block to the west.
The courthouse village grew as Railroad Avenue became the commercial center of Orange County. After several false starts, a state charter was granted and the Town of Orange came into being in 1872.
Welcome to Orange's past—and its future! You are standing in what was the very heart of the town of Orange at the beginning of the 20th century. Before dawn on Sunday morning, November 8, 1908, Towles Terrill, a 78 year-old Civil War veteran, accidentally started a fire in his bachelor room over Gaines saloon on Railroad Avenue — just across the tracks from where you are standing.
By 11:00 A.M. the heart of Orange's business district lay in ashes.
All the buildings on Railroad Avenue were destroyed; so, too, were the structures on both sides of East Main Street between the railroad tracks and Byrd Street along with four buildings west of the tracks on the south side of East Main.
That disaster set the stage for the rebuilding of Orange's railroad centered business district. Every building you now see in this area was
After suffering defeat at the battle of Gettysburg in July, 1863, General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army retreated to Orange County. Here, on the south bank of the Rapidan, the army established a defensive position where it could lick its wounds, regroup and resupply itself during the winter of 1863-64. Consequently, this Orange and Alexandria railroad station became the primary supply depot for the beleaguered Army of Northern Virginia.
During a Virginia winter, Orange's mud becomes notoriously deep and sticky. General Lee is reported to have commented that "Orange County mud and Orange County ladies; each makes an impression quite indelible." To allay the problem of having its supply-wagons stuck in Orange mud at the supply center, Confederate soldiers brought tons and tons of rock to macadamize Orange's main street andthe area around the railroad depot.
Throughout the winter, the offices of the Army's Quartermaster Corps and the Provost Marshall were quartered here in the town of Orange. Just as General Washington had refitted his Continental Army at Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War, after the defeat at Gettysburg, General Lee used Orange County as his base for preparing to meet the spring 1864 offensive by General Grant and the Union Army of the Potomac.
Erected by The Orange Downtown Alliance, Inc.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Architecture • Railroads & Streetcars • Settlements & Settlers • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Orange and Alexandria Railroad series list. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1863.
Location. 38° 14.697′ N, 78° 6.595′ W. Marker is in Orange, Virginia, in Orange County. Marker is on Short Street just south of East Main Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 122 E Main St, Orange VA 22960, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Historic Downtown Orange (here, next to this marker); The Orange Railroad Depot (here, next to this marker); Town of Orange (within shouting distance of this marker); Orange County Visitor Center
Credits. This page was last revised on April 11, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 11, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 31 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 11, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.