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Cities of the Dead—Lynchburg Museum to Highlight Old City Cemetery, Presbyterian Cemetery, and Spring Hill Cemetery for First Friday, October 3rd
As part of “First Friday,” the Lynchburg Museum at 901 Court Street will be open free of charge on Friday, October 3rd from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. The Museum will feature mini displays about prominent individuals buried in Old City, Presbyterian, and Spring Hill Cemeteries.
Also known as the New Burying Ground or Methodist Cemetery, Old City Cemetery was established in 1806 on land donated by John Lynch, the founder of Lynchburg. As the City’s first public burial ground, it is home to over 20,000 graves and encompasses 25 acres. Less than 20 years after the creation of Old City Cemetery, an ad announced plans for a new Presbyterian Cemetery: “Notice—the elders of the Presbyterian Church, in common with many other citizens, viewing with regret the dilapidated state of the present public graveyard, have subscribed and collected a sum sufficient to purchase a square of two acres for a new graveyard.”
Spring Hill Cemetery was created by architect John Notman of Philadelphia who designed Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. Described as a romantic cemetery, Spring Hill’s curving pathways differed from the grid plans at Old City and Presbyterian Cemeteries. Burials were delayed when neighbors sued the cemetery association protesting a graveyard in their area. The neighbors lost in Campbell County Court and burials commenced in April 1855.
Notable residents featured include artist Queena Stovall, musician Bransford Vawter, Senator Carter Glass, Confederate Generals Samuel Garland Jr., Robert Rodes, Jubal Early, and Thomas Munford and other distinguished personalities including Dr. John J. Terrell and early feminist Caroline Morgan. The Museum will feature information on the individuals along with objects related to the history of the cemeteries with historic photographs, an embalming kit from Duiguid’s Funeral Service, a 1920s map of Old City Cemetery, and more.
Caroline Morgan Dr. John J. Terrell
Large Collection of Early Dunbar Material and Portrait of Confederate General James Dearing Donated to The Lynchburg Museum
When Dunbar High School transitioned from a segregated black high school to an integrated school in 1970-71, Carolyn Brown was there as school secretary. Earlier, she worked with C.W. Seay, the principal of Dunbar and the first African American elected to City Council since the 1880s. During the transition, many items were being thrown away and Carolyn saved documents, photographs, graduation programs, and other pieces of the school’s long history.
In recent months, Carolyn contacted the Lynchburg Museum and agreed to let the Museum make digital copies of the extensive collection. Staff members and college interns worked on the collection for several months and recently completed the project. At that time, Ms. Brown decided to donate the collection to the Lynchburg Museum.
Museum Director Doug Harvey noted: “Collections like this are rare, as African American history was not often saved in the early to mid -20th century. This collection includes student newspapers from the 1920s, commencement programs, memorabilia from Jackson Street School, the predecessor to Dunbar, annuals, reunion photographs, and similar items. Carolyn Brown preserved an important and often overlooked part of Lynchburg’s history.” The Museum plans to put portions of the collection on its website in the coming months.
Another important part of local history was donated to the Museum this week. General James Dearing was born in Campbell County, attended West Point, and served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Rising to the rank of Brigadier General, he was wounded just before the surrender at Appomattox in a cavalry battle near Farmville. Brought to Lynchburg’s Ladies Relief Hospital on Main Street, he died there on April 22, 1865. James Dearing was the last Confederate General to die in the conflict and was buried on his 25th birthday.
Originally interred at the family home Avoca, now a historic house museum near Altavista, he was later moved to Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg. The oil portrait of Dearing by Flavius Fisher was done in 1899 and bequeathed to the Museum by the late Mrs. Margaret Spruce Christian. Her husband was James Dearing Christian, Jr., a descendant of General Dearing and of John Lynch, the founder of Lynchburg.
The Museum is located at 901 Court Street and the Lynchburg Museum System also operates Point of Honor at 112 Cabell Street. For more information, call (434) 455-6226, visit the website at www.pointofhonor.org, the Museum’s Facebook page, or on Twitter.
Lynchburg Museums Recognized in Top 100 of Virginia's Favorite Architecture
The votes are in, and the people have spoken. The Virginia Center for Architecture announces today that the Lynchburg Museum and Monument Terrace and Point of Honor have been ranked in the top 100 structures in a public poll to identify Virginia’s Favorite Architecture.
The survey, which garnered nearly 30,000 votes, found that Virginians chose buildings that evoke powerful emotions and memories as their favorites. Universities and Thomas Jefferson claim most of the top 10, with an historic church and an iconic airport thrown into the mix. The Lynchburg Museum and Monument Terrace ranked 21st and Point of Honor 50th out of 100 in the survey.
“I think Lynchburg should be very proud of these historic treasures,” said Museum Director, Doug Harvey. “We are pleased that others throughout the Commonwealth also recognize what architectural jewels these structures are.”
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Sunday: Noon - 4 pm
The mission of the Lynchburg Museum System is to collect, interpret, and preserve the history and material culture of Lynchburg and the surrounding area.