Welcome to the Lynchburg Museum!
The Lynchburg Museum System is official museum and archives of the City of Lynchburg. Its mission is to collect, interpret, and preserve the history and material culture of Lynchburg and the surrounding area. It is a division of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, working in partnership with the non-profit Lynchburg Museum Foundation.
As principal of Dunbar High School from 1938 to 1968, Mr. Clarence W. “Dick” Seay was a leading representative for the African American community in Lynchburg. He spoke out against injustices within the education system and encouraged black schools to hire black educators, administration, personnel, and to seek black leaders for the School Board. Seay ended his career with Dunbar in 1968 after leading the school to be one of the top rated black high schools in the segregated South.
Few things are more quintessentially “Lynchburg” than batteaux and packet boats. These vessels traveled up and down the James River, and later James River & Kanawha Canal, connecting Lynchburg to the wider world. African Americans played key roles in operating these boats, which drove Lynchburg’s economy until the advent of the railroad.
August 18, 1920, marked the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. In Virginia the Nineteenth Amendment was not ratified until 1952. However, the delayed passage did not inhibit women from voting in the 1920 presidential election between Republican candidate Warren Harding and Democratic candidate James Cox. Twelve women in Lynchburg paid poll taxes and registered to vote on the first day of eligibility.
Thomas Jefferson Anderson was born to slave parents in Amherst County. He moved to Lynchburg and lived on Taylor Street. In 1885, he was elected from the Third Ward to Lynchburg City Council, where he served two terms on the Alms House, Cemetery, and Sanitary Affairs committees.
When talking about the invention of radio, the first name that comes up is always Guglielmo Marconi, who began experimenting in 1895. While it is true that Marconi was very successful (by 1899 he had established wireless connections between Britain, France, and several prominent islands), the moniker “The Father of Radio” is not one hundred percent true. In fact, the first known occurrence of wireless aerial communication was conducted in the Blue Ridge Mountains just outside of Lynchburg by Dr. Mahlon Loomis in 1866, a full eight years before Marconi was even born.
Music was a healing component in the struggle for equality for African Americans during the Civil Rights movement. In Lynchburg, access to that music over the radio was difficult to obtain. Robert Goins, otherwise known as “DJ Mad Lad” was instrumental in providing an outlet for enjoyment.
Lynchburg, Virginia, 1963–In the heat of the Civil Rights movement, Thomas Wansley, a sixteen-year-old black teenager was convicted of two counts of rape and one count of robbery by a Lynchburg Corporation Court jury. Wansley was sentenced to death for each rape charge and given an additional twenty years for the robbery charge. This conviction would set off a chain of events that would last for more than ten years.
Impactful and praiseworthy is the life of Amaza Lee Meredith. She was born in small-town Lynchburg with aspirations and accomplishments—alive and posthumously, that extended beyond the boundaries of a small-town and influenced fields including education, art, and architecture.
From 1917-1923 Piedmont Motor operated in Lynchburg, Virginia. The company was located on Hollins Mill Road where Flowers Bakery stands today. Parts purchased from top manufacturers arrived by rail and were assembled into a finished product at the facility. Multiple companies then purchased the cars and sold them under their own label.
Tobacco played a large role in the development of Lynchburg. Smoking and chewing tobacco were manufactured in numerous factories around the city. Ammon Goode Hancock established a tobacco factory in 1853 on what is now Cabell Street.