Archive for the ‘News’ Category

RHS Website: RHS Quarterly Program, June 18, 2017 at Effinger Firehouse at 2:30 PM

Icon Written by mskovira on May 30, 2017 – 9:25 am

for detailed information, go to or or 464-1058.

April 2, 2:30: “The Heyday of Natural Bridge Station” at Natural Bridge Elementary School

Icon Written by mskovira on March 11, 2017 – 1:33 pm


April 3 Program: Denmark, at the Foot of House Mountain: A Rockbridge Village in Time

Icon Written by mskovira on March 10, 2016 – 1:40 pm

Kerr’s Creek Baptist Church

Sunday, April 3, 2:00 PM



Presentation Slides from Denmark Program


RHS’ April Program will revisit the terrain surrounding House Mountain, a clear draw for December’s record-breaking audience for “The Haunts of House Mountain.”

The afternoon presentation will cover the period from Denmark’s beginning in 1800 to the closure of its last commercial business in the early 20th Century.  Accompanied by historic artifacts and a map of the community, a slideshow and remarks will be based on the Teaford Papers, a chronology of life in that period left to us by Cleopatra Hartbarger (1894-1979) and her daughter Seatta Hartbarger Teaford (1918-2012) .

The program will be presented by Reed Belden, based on work by Barbara Bennington Nunely and Stewart Bennington, who have studied these papers over the past decade.

RHS Members’ Tour, Saturday, January 30, 1:00-4:30 p.m., Roanoke Museums

Icon Written by mskovira on January 17, 2016 – 11:10 am

Leafing through History’: Photographing Tobacco Culture and Family Farms in the Valley, Virginia and Beyond

Building on the success of our December tours, commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s leadership as President of Washington College, RHS now looks to extend our reach further afield: arranging a field trip to see two photographic and multimedia exhibits in downtown Roanoke, at the History Museum of Western Virginia, and the Taubman Museum of Art.  The staffs of these partner institutions have kindly offered to welcome our group to the complementary shows at these flagship regional museums.  We are not number-limited for this event, but RSVPs to will help our planning, and can help connect those interested in carpooling.

Interested participants should meet at 1:00 PM in the downstairs lobby the History Museum, located in Roanoke’s Center in the Square Museum complex.  $8 Admission can be paid at the door.  The museum’s Curator will help us interpret and discuss “Distant Echoes: Black Farmers of the South,” on loan from Baltimore’s Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History, and closing at month’s end amid its national tours. The gallery’s focus on African American family farms couples a series of historic and contemporary agricultural tools and equipment, with over 50 large-frame, black and white photographic portraits and landscapes by John Francis Ficara.  For more, see .

Later, we’ll walk a block to the Taubman Museum to see their free exhibit “Tobacco People,” a global, four-year’s chronicle by Southside, VA native and Hollins College alumna, Sarah Hazelgrove.  Its displays combine film, photography, innovative printing techniques, and a huge, original 16th century tobacco press from Bahia, Brazil to “document the changing faces of individuals and communities engaged in the rapidly disappearing world of tobacco cultivation.” Other elements of the exhibit are jointly presented at the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, O. Winston Link Museum, and Center in the Square.  For more, see: .

We’ll be joined on the day by Washington and Lee’s veteran University photographer, Patrick Hinely (WLU’73, and the first to person to teach photography in the Art Department). Along with his own interpretive comments on the exhibits’ images, he’ll ask us to consider more generally how documentary and creativity play off one another.  How do histories and stories ‘lens’ one another? How are they are formally arranged, framed, and narrated to shape and enrich our impressions of past and present alike?

Both exhibits provide a fine opportunity for us to compare these regional, and international traditions in culture and agriculture, with the more local legacies in Rockbridge.

December Program: The Haunts of House Mountain: Oral Histories, Hollows, and Homes

Icon Written by mskovira on November 11, 2015 – 3:00 pm

House Mountain and Lexington Cropped -- 1860 Gilham MapRHS Program (free and open to the public)

Date: Sunday, December 13, 2015

Location: House Mountain Inn

Time: 2:00 to 4 p.m., reception  and displays to follow

The Haunts of House Mountain: Oral Histories, Hollows, and Homes

After September’s journeys to Rockbridge County’s southerly namesake at Natural Bridge, RHS turns this December to another local landmark in a joint presentation by Sarah Clayton and Jennifer Law Young that will center on the communities nestled around House Mountain.  Though the Bridge’s majestic span may be the signature for outsiders, the icon for many local residents is the familiar profile of House Mountain (indeed, its double profiles, for those here who know its twin ridges).

The December program will provide a visual and narrative tour of the histories, hollows, and homes that surround those paired mountains.  The afternoon’s presentations, exhibits and film will draw from an inventive, ongoing project that’s being developed across a number of multimedia platforms by two Rockbridge residents. Sarah Clayton is an award-winning writer and photographer, and author of a book on this terrain; Jennifer Law Young is a veteran, Emmy award-winning filmmaker and journalist, whose documentary film on this subject, “Lost in Time,” is being prepared for public television.

As their work continues to grow and evolve, the two women draw on a remarkable series of more than 100 recorded interviews; a wide variety of original and historic photographs; the evidence of geologists, botanists and archaeologists; and the rich resources at Washington and Lee’s Special Collections, including those belonging to RHS. In addition to previews from Young’s film, the audience will be treated to a slideshow, and readings from diaries, letters and interviews, as well as the chance to browse displays of historic maps and artifacts both ancient and more modern.

Particular welcome on the day goes to the participants and families who contributed to the project, and whose interview transcripts will eventually join the RHS archives of local history. Before and after the presentation, neighbors and guests can enjoy the opportunity to visit together and examine the displays in detail.

House Mountain has long been an icon here, highlighted by recent concerns about its historic and environmental preservation. But what distinguishes these presenters’ collaborative approach is their depth of inquiry and witness, their colorful variety of testimonies and media.  Clayton and Young will share intimate, distinctive stories of the House Mountain settlements and families, illuminated through their sustained, creative efforts. Together, they bring to life both personal memoirs and long local traditions, through these new modes of public history.

Please invite a current – or prospective – Society member to join you for this, the final RHS program of the year. House Mountain Inn is a 25-minute drive northwest of Lexington at 455 Lonesome Dove Trail; for directions, look at or call 540-464-4004.

September Program: Visiting Natural Bridge – Four Centuries of Visitors:

Icon Written by mskovira on September 5, 2015 – 8:46 am

Sunday, Sep. 20, 3 PM

  Natural Bridge Historic Hotel, Washington Hall

     Presentation followed by Reception and Artifact Display  

The Rockbridge Historical Society’s next program will feature a double bill of eminent speakers on the afternoon of Sunday, September 20, chronicling the history of Visitor Experience at Natural Bridge. Entitled “Four Centuries of Visiting Natural Bridge: From Jefferson’s Family to Tourism Today,” the program will meet, fittingly, at the Historic Natural Bridge Hotel in its newly renovated Washington Hall.  A reception will follow the 3 PM slideshow presentation, with both free and open to the public.

Extending from the visual focus of our “Images of the Rock Bridge” exhibit (still running at Campbell House through 2015) our presenters will jointly canvas a variety of visitor accounts over the course of four centuries, beginning from Jefferson’s purchase of the Bridge in 1774, and highlighting a memorable 1817 letter by Jefferson’s granddaughter Cornelia as they traveled to those properties from Poplar Forest.

Over the years, the site would be successively transformed into a 19th century resort, and a nationally publicized mid-20th century attraction featuring such novel amenities as a swimming pool and air conditioned cafeteria.  Most recently, the Virginia Conservation Legacy Foundation has invested anew on these foundations, to renovate the historic structures, create museum displays, and expand recreational activities before transitioning the Bridge and its surrounding acreage to a state park.  For visitors past, present, and prospective, Natural Bridge has brought marvelous, meaningful, and memorable experiences.

Our first speaker, Dr. J. Jefferson Looney, is Editor of the Thomas Jefferson Papers: Retirement Series at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.  Having worked on the project at Monticello for over 15 years (with the full series of papers now 70 years in the making), Looney is recognized as a leading archival expert on Jefferson’s writings.  Most recently, he has been instrumental in digitally indexing thousands of letters in the ongoing effort to make Jefferson’s voluminous, wide-ranging personal correspondence more available to scholars and digital audiences around the world.  For this program, Looney’s attentions to Jefferson’s family and post-presidential years will provide a unique and intimate angle on Jefferson’s 50 years’ ownership and visits to Natural Bridge, which he described as the “most sublime of nature’s works,” and which would give Rockbridge County its name.

Among her wide range of expertise, Dr. Jurretta Heckscher, Reference Specialist for Early American History at the Library of Congress, is known to many in our community as an advocate for preservation of the Bridge, while also writing a monograph on its narrative and visual histories. As a collector of Bridge memorabilia herself, Heckscher was also a vital support in the development of RHS’ exhibit, including a loan of a rare 19thcentury print of colorfully dressed women visiting the Bridge, an image you can still see in the entry to Campbell House. Dr. Heckscher will also bring some distinctive items from her collection for guests to view – from unique artifacts and prints to playful souvenir tchotchkes – as an index of the Bridge’s international status as natural icon, and tourist attraction.

Washington Hall is located to the rear of the main Hotel.  Accessible parking is located around back, with restrooms in the main hotel accessible by a breezeway.  Please contact 540.464.1058 or for more information.

June program: Rockbridge in Liberia: The Colonization Movement in Rockbridge, 1830s-1860s

Icon Written by mskovira on May 14, 2015 – 10:48 am

Monday June 8, 6:30 Reception, 7:30 Talk by Dr. Neely Young
First Baptist Church, Lexington, 130 N. Main

On Monday June 8th, at Lexington’s First Baptist Church, the Rockbridge Historical Society welcomes you to its second program of the year, free and open to the public. A 6:30 social hour reception will be followed by a 7:30 presentation by Dr. Neely Young: RHS Board Member, and author of Ripe for Emancipation: Rockbridge and Southern Antislavery from Revolution to Civil War.

The talk and following discussion will center on some of the local histories connected to the national and international developments in early Liberia. Chief among those figures is Othello Richards, a former slave of the McDowell family who purchased his freedom, then trained as a Methodist minister, before becoming one of the early antebellum emissaries to Liberia. Young’s presentation will also include material from his more recent study of the Richards/ Colemen family in the transatlantic crossings between America and Liberia from the 19th into the 21st centuries.

Campbell House Hours Extended

Icon Written by mskovira on May 1, 2015 – 8:29 am

The Rock Bridge – an exhibit of the history of Natural Bridge – is open Wednesday thru Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

RHS Events with Virginia Garden Week April 25

Icon Written by mskovira on April 20, 2015 – 10:07 am

Special Master Gardeners’ tours and new interpretive brochures of RHS’ historic gardens, stonework, and landscape architecture at Campbell House, The Castle, and Sloan House will be held from 10-5 on Saturday. Campbell House will also welcome visitors with extended hours from 10-4 for tours of our permanent collections and Natural Bridge exhibit.

Other featured events by RHS and our partners include presentations by

The House on Fuller St (drawn the 2012 HLF/RHS Exhibit, Dialogue with Diamond Hill)

Dr. Beverly Tucker, President, Historic Lexington Foundation:

10 AM, First Baptist Church, 103 N. Main Street

A History of Main Street Lexington

Eric Wilson, Executive Director, Rockbridge Historical Society

3 PM, Old Courthouse, 2 S. Main Street

 Tour details


Program Rescheduled for March 16, 2015 : History through Accounting

Icon Written by mskovira on February 3, 2015 – 2:02 pm

Date: Monday, March 16                                                                         

Place: WLU Hillel House, W. Washington St.

Reception: 6:30 p.m.

Program: 7:30 p.m.


President Lee’s Financial Legacy,and Lexington’s Historic General Store: History through Accounting

Presenters, A Panel of Washington and Lee University Faculty and Students: 

*Stephan Fafatas, Lawrence Associate Professor of Accounting

*Tom Camden, Head of Special Collections & Archives, University Library

*Bereket Mechale ’15, Accounting/Business Administration Major

*Catherine Roach ’16, History and Accounting/Business Administration Major

Speakers will highlight the utility of historic ledgers in investigating the impact of the railroad on Lexington commercial establishments such as Dold’s Store and the financial effect of Robert E. Lee’s presidency on Washington College.