Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lynchburg: Downtown Drive-By

In 1757, John Lynch established a ferry service on the James River on property owned by his papa. By the end of the American Revolution, the village at Lynch's Ferry had become a vital trade center. In 1784, Lynch saw the possibilities of establishing a town on the hill overlooking the ferry site, and petitioned the General Assembly of Virginia for a town charter. In October 1786, Lynchburg was founded.
Like many mid-size cities, Lynchburgers fled downtown as the city expanded and shopping centers and malls gained favor over the center of the city. In the late 1980s, a revival began, which has restored a modicum of luster to the downtown area. And yet, in many ways, it has barely changed since I was living here as a kid.
The two tallest buildings: the Art Deco Allied Arts Building, and (then) Central Fidelity Bank.
Above: Well done! Below: Authentic!
Schewel's Furniture Market has been downtown as long as I can remember.
The YWCA—where I learned to swim as a kid before the age of 7. I later took advanced lessons at the YMCA, also located in downtown Lynchburg.
I took ballroom dance lessons here, from Floyd and Virginia Ward, two sisters that could have come right from The Waltons. Everyone I know that recalls the experience is pretty well convinced that they were drunk most of the time. And mean. Man, were they mean!
Below is the Academy of Music, which was a live theater decades ago. It took some 25 years to finally renovate the joint... and it still looks pretty shady.
Now part of the Academy is this building on 6th Street downtown. This was my grandfather's business, Price & Clements, founded in 1922, and taken over by my diddy, who was president until he retired in the 1990s. The Academy restored it to its original luster.
One of downtown's longest-surviving businesses... Man, Carlton and I used to shop for 45s here after school when we attended Dunbar in 1977-1978. A woman named Peggy would let us play the records before we bought them. Those were sweet times.
Lost signs painted on brick buildings that I took over the past week...Point of Honor, a Federal style mansion completed in 1815 for Dr. George Cabell. By the 1930s, it had fallen into miserable disrepair, before a beautiful restoration was completed in the late 1970s.There are still plenty of buildings in downtown L'burg edging toward the seedy side.
Original cobblestone streets found downtown...
Downtown's most renowned attraction: Monument Terrace, paying tribute to WWII soldiers that died.And finally, the Depot Restaurant, where we had pre-high school reunion din din Saturday, and the James River fountain. Whoosh!