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Orange in Orange County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Historic Downtown Orange

 
 
Historic Downtown Orange Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, April 9, 2021
1. Historic Downtown Orange Marker
Inscription.  
In 1998, The Orange Commercial Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register in recognition of the distinctive characteristics of its architecture and its association with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of Orange history in the areas of politics, government, commerce and transportation. The Historic District contains the oldest public, religious and commercial structures in the Town of Orange.

Of the 74 structures in the Historic District, 61 buildings are considered "contributing" to the District. Two buildings were already listed in the National Register before the District was formed: St. Thomas' Episcopal Church, constructed in 1833, and the Italian Villa-style Orange County Courthouse, constructed in 1859.

Historic Buildings in Downtown Orange
Miles B. Lipscomb Store
200-204 E. Church Street - This brick store building was constructed circa 1855. The first floor of the building is a storefront with a central entry door flanked by nearly full-height paired round-arched windows. A frame addition

Historic Downtown Orange Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, April 9, 2021
2. Historic Downtown Orange Marker
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with clapboard siding was constructed on the east side of the store, probably in the late 19th century.

Virginia Central Railroad Depot
222 E. Church Street - This structure was built circa 1926 as a passenger depot to service the newly chartered Virginia Central Railroad Company which had taken over and rebuilt to standard gauge the narrow-gauge Piedmont, Fredericksburg and Potomac Line. The construction of the narrow-gauge PF&P line had been completed soon after the Civil War. Still, the renamed Orange to Fredericksburg railroad continued to lose money and was abandoned in 1936. The depot fell into disuse for many years.

The following buildings denoted with "*" were burned in the 1908 fire. Later rebuilt, they now comprise an early 20th century downtown district.

Gill Hardware Building*
135-137 E. Main Street - Built in 1917, this two story building with a modillion cornice, round-arch pediment and finials, has two "units." 135 East Main Street has large plate glass windows, while the 137 entrance is recessed under a canopy porch. That section was converted into an auto garage when automotive products were bought at hardware stores. The pressed tin ceiling is still in place under the canopy. The building housed a hardware store from its erection in 1917 until the early 1990s.

Hankins House*
138 E. Main

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Street - This brick, two story, pyramidal hipped-roof residential structure is a Late Victorian Queen Anne style, built circa 1909 for Dr. J.P. Hankins, and used by him as a doctor's office and residence. The home replaced a prior dwelling which was destroyed in the 1908 fire.

Waugh Furniture #2*
132 E. Main Street - In 1913, this two story brick commercial structure with two storefronts and a cast/pressed metal cornice was built by John R. Hughes for Z.W. Chewning and then combined with the adjacent building to the west for use as a furniture store. Later, the east half was used as an Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. store and then as Joe Ulman's Clothing Store. The structure was built on the site of the old Baptist Church, a magnificent edifice destroyed by fire in the 1908 fire.

Waugh Furniture #1*
130 E. Main Street - Built in 1909, this two-story brick building is a typical example of the commercial structures that appeared along Orange's Main Street in the early 20th century. The building originally had two storefronts which have been combined into one space. This structure has been home to a series of furniture stores throughout the years.

Willis Hardware Building*
131 E. Main Street - Built in 1910 as a hardware store, this structure is a good example of early 20th century commercial architecture and an interesting variation

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from the other commercial buildings in the district. The building was later used as a dry goods store.

Willis Building*
129 E. Main - Constructed in 1909, this two-story four-bay wide commercial building has recessed panels around segmental arches over second story windows and a metal cornice with floral motif, brackets and dentils. The structure was originally called the Willis Building, having been constructed for Larkin Willis, Jr. for use as a grocery store. In the years following, the building has been used as a dry goods store, a five and dime and, for many years, as a furniture store.

Wilbur Theater/Rohr Building*
125-127 E. Main Street - Built in 1915 by A.J. Harlow, this two-story masonry commercial building has a cast iron/metal cornice with modillion blocks and is typical of the style of commercial architecture popular during the early 20th century. It originally housed a movie theater and cafe; in the '30s and through the '70s the building was the home of Grymes Drug Store; and then was used by Buchanan & Kiguel until 1990 for their custom framing shop.

Sherman Pool Room - Billiard Building
110-112 Railroad Avenue - Built in 1909, the facade of this two-story brick commercial building is divided into three storefronts with recessed entrances, plate glass windows and transoms. Three hip-roofed canopies, each with rows of colored lights attached at the second floor window. This building replaced an earlier one that reportedly was the site where the 1908 fire started. The building has served a number of purposes since its construction. It was a sash and blind manufacturing company, a fountain shop and speakeasy.

Coleman Pool Hall Building*
Railroad Avenue - Circa 1919, this two story, three-bay-wide brick commercial building features a cast or pressed metal cornice above the first floor.

Levy Building*
114-118 E. Main Street - Originally known as Levy's Busy Corner, this two-story brick structure was probably the first commercial building to be rebuilt (in 1909) after the fire. Located at the corner of Railroad Avenue and East Main Street, this mercantile business was an important anchor in the commercial district and has been described by local historians as "Orange's premier emporium." The building contains three separate storefronts and has housed such businesses as a furniture store and the Sanitary Grocery Store.

* Historical and Architectural information is further detailed in the Walking Tour brochure of the downtown Orange Commercial Historic District.


A Downtown Orange Time Line
1749 - County Court established in village of Orange at Timothy Crosthwalt's Tavern.
1752 - First courthouse built in the Town of Orange.
1776 - First post office established in Orange Courthouse.
1800 - Paul Verdier began to subdivide Orange.
1804 - Orange's 2nd courthouse constructed on 'public lot' just across railroad tracks from where you are standing.
1833 - St. Thomas' Episcopal Church constructed.
1854 - Orange and Alexandria railroad tracks reach Orange.
1859 - 3rd courthouse moves to new site at corner of Main Street and Madison Road.
1862 - Civil War Calvary skirmish on Main Street.
1863-1864 - Army of Northern Virginia in winter quarters nearby; Quartermaster and Provost Marshal's offices housed in town.
1871 - Nazareth Baptist Church organized on Church Street.
1872 - Town of Orange formally incorporated.
1885 - Masonic Opera House constructed.
1892 - Trinity United Methodist Church built on Main Street to replace 1835 church located on Caroline Street.
1908 - Great fire destroys second Orange Baptist Church, along with the Train Depot and numerous commercial buildings along East Main Street, Railroad Avenue, Chapman Street, May-Fray Avenue, and Church Street.
1909-17 - Period of immense rebuilding activity; Baptist Church rebuilt on West Main Street; new train station constructed on public lot; and many commercial structures built to replace those destroyed by fire. By 1917 the population of the Town of Orange climbs to 1200 and the town has completely recovered from the fire.
1910 - Orange Presbyterian Church built at corner of Main and Caroline Streets to replace earlier church at east end of Church Street.
1928 - President Madison Inn built on Caroline Street to accommodate increasing number of visitors traveling by automobile.
1938 - Orange Volunteer Fire Company erects new building on West Main Street.
1965 - Railroad Station rebuilt after being damaged by train wreck.
1970 - Auto dealers desert Chapman Street for suburbs.
1979 - Railroad passenge terminal closed.
1991 - 19th century Crittenden Building refurbished as County Office Building.
1998 - Train Station, which had been closed to passenger travel since 1979, is renovated and reopened as town transportation hub, Orange County Department of Tourism and Visitors Bureau, and community center.

The Orange County Downtown Alliance, Inc. has been the leading force in revitalizing the Orange downtown business district. In 1992, the Orange Downtown Alliance spearheaded the initiative for the selection of Orange as one of Virginia's first small town Main Street Program participants. The Orange Downtown Alliance's efforts are ongoing in maintaining this two-and-a-half centuries old courthouse town as the hub of commerce and government in Orange County.
 
Erected by The Orange Downtown Alliance, Inc.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureIndustry & CommerceRailroads & StreetcarsSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Orange and Alexandria Railroad series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1998.
 
Location. 38° 14.696′ 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 left when traveling north. 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. Welcome to… The Town of Orange (here, next to this marker); The Orange Railroad Depot (here, next to this marker); Town of Orange (a few steps from this marker); Orange County Visitor Center (within shouting distance of this marker); Orange Train Station (within shouting distance of this marker); Crosthwaite Alley (within shouting distance of this marker); Confederate Dead (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); General Zachary Taylor (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Orange.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 13, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 11, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 30 times since then. Last updated on April 12, 2021, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 11, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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May. 14, 2021