Lynchburg History

Lynchburg History (HM1EMK)

Location: Lynchburg, VA 24504
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 25.022', W 79° 8.647'

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Main and Seventh Streets

As Lynchburg grew, Main Street became the commercial center, with bookstores, dry goods stores, furniture shops, clothing stores, cigar stores, barbershops, banks, and hotels. During the Civil War, Lucy Otey founded the Ladies Relief Hospital, which stood just to your left. It was a Confederate facility that the women of Lynchburg operated completely by themselves. Otey's daughter-in-law, Mary Otey, who lost her first husband to the war in 1862, said that the worst-wounded men were always sent to this hospital. While volunteering here, Mary Otey nursed patient Col. Augustus Forsberg back to health. They married in 1865.

The Academy of Music Theatre was built in 1905. Performers included Will Rogers, George M. Cohan, and Mary Pickford. By the 1920s, the Academy hosted a mixture of live performances and movies. The Paramount Theater was built in the 1930s across Main Street where the hotel is now. In 1942, a movie about Lynchburg's Yancey family, The Vanishing Virginian, premiered there.

By the 1950s, Main Street was a thriving commercial district with five hotels, restaurants, and stores, such as Guggenheimer's, Millner's, Leggett's, Baldwin's, and Sears. Movie theaters included the Paramount, Academy, Warner, and Isis. Shopping centers and malls drew customers to other parts of the city beginning late in the 1980s, and downtown declined.

During the Civil Rights era, students from Randolph-Macon Woman College, Lynchburg College, and Virginia Theological Seminary staged sit-ins at lunch counters along Main Street, demanding the right to equal service for all races. By the early 1970s, Lynchburg's businesses and public schools were fully integrated.

(lower left) Academy of Music Theatre Courtesy
(upper center) Lucey Otey Courtesy
(upper right) Main Street, looking west from Seventh Street Courtesy
(lower right) Civil Rights picketers, downtown Lynchburg, 1960 Courtesy

Lynchburg is a city rich in the history of Virginia and the nation. As with any city, some of our sites and buildings that reflect that history have changed over the centuries since Lynchburg's origins in the 1750s. You can see for yourself the city's historic places and how they have changed or remained intact. Just let the map guide you to the many historical markers that are located downtown. Enjoy learning about Lynchburg!
The Lynchburg History marker program is a partnership of the City of Lynchburg Museum System, Dept. of Communication & Marketing and Dept. of Parks & Recreation, discoverlynchburg, Lynchburg Historical Foundation, and Lynch's Landing
Year Placed2011
Placed ByThe Lynchburg History Marker Program
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, October 13th, 2014 at 8:22pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 664230 N 4142753
Decimal Degrees37.41703333, -79.14411667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 25.022', W 79° 8.647'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 25' 1.32" N, 79° 8' 38.82" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)434, 540
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1301-1305 James River Heritage Trail, Lynchburg VA 24504, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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