I. Community Planning & Development

A. 1865-1914

B. 1914-1945

II. Domestic Architecture




III. Commerce




IV. Religion (Churches & Houses of Worship)




V. Education (Schools & Libraries)

A. 1865-1914

B. 1914-Present

VI. Health Care and Medicine



VII. Social/Recreation/Arts

VIII. Transportation

IX. Landscape Architecture

X. References

Historic Picture of Oakwood Country Club

IA. Community Planning and Development 1865-1914

The area known today as Rivermont originally was part of Campbell County until the early 20th century. The former landholdings of the Hutter, Warwick, Scott, and Langhorne families were located to the northwest of Lynchburg in what is now known as Rivermont and are shown on historic maps of Lynchburg from the 1870s and 1890s. This land consisted primarily of small farms, probably growing tobacco and some cereal grains. Some structures dating to this period remain in the Rivermont area, including the ca. 1845 house at 1304 Oakwood Lane and the Scott Farm Carriage House (3109 Rivermont), currently on the property of First Christian Church of Lynchburg.

The annexation carried out in 1870 by the City of Lynchburg was the first to take in part of what is now the Rivermont area. The southeastern tip of the neighborhood, extending north two blocks from the present  Jones Memorial Library building (434 Rivermont Avenue), was brought within the city limits from Campbell County. In 1890, the Rivermont Land Company was founded, one of a number of land companies in Lynchburg at the turn of the 20th century. Although Lynchburg had grown throughout its history in a generally orderly fashion along a nearly uniform grid pattern of streets, the Rivermont neighborhood was the city’s first planned development, as well as one of the first in the nation (Chambers, 1981, pp. 303-304).

The Rivermont Land Company was the largest of the many land development companies in Lynchburg during the 1890s, eventually owning more than 7,000 acres in Campbell County and the City of Lynchburg. Joined to the city by the Rivermont Bridge over Blackwater Creek and laid out on either side of curving Rivermont Avenue with its streetcar line, the area soon became an attractive venue for Lynchburg’s growing population. The company platted an extensive subdivision, drawing streets, dividing lots, and dictating the size and use of lots. The subdivision was never planned as a separate city, but rather as a suburban area eventually to be absorbed by the City of Lynchburg. City services such as street paving, parks, sewer, and gas lines integrated the Rivermont area with the rest of the city. Rivermont Avenue was paved in the early 1900s; many side streets eventually were surfaced in the 1920s. The first two public buildings in the Rivermont neighborhood were Rivermont School (demolished), designed by J. M. B. Lewis, and the Lynchburg Fire Company No. 4, both constructed in 1904. This tall brick fire station at 1210 Rivermont Avenue was designed by the architectural firm of Frye and Chesterman in the Classical-Revival style with a bell tower, pedimented gable with modillions, corner quoins, and a belt course. It is now used as a residence and gallery.

The architectural character of the RIvermont area was determined by several factors. The socioeconomic class of new homeowners building along and moving to Rivermont Avenue in the 1890s and 1900s greatly influenced the size, type, and construction materials of residences. The requirements of the Rivermont Company were written into deeds of sale in Rivermont and remained in force long after the demise of the development company. These requirements exercised a decisive influence on the type and size of houses erected. For example, residences and buildings located on Rivermont Avenue northwest of Bedford Avenue had to observe a set back of 20 feet. It was also required that they not cost below a certain amount to build (Chambers, 1981, p. 304). Where these guidelines were not in effect, the result was more tightly built up streetscape, with smaller set-backs, and sometimes a mixed-use commercial-residential appearance. This was true of Rivermont Avenue east of Belmont Street. Topography also played an important role in the design and scale of domestic architecture, as it had elsewhere in Lynchburg. Lots often sloped quite steeply away from the street façade, dictating a narrow street frontage.

Shortly after the company began to experience financial difficulties in 1891, it ceded control of the area’s main thoroughfare, Rivermont Avenue, as well as the Rivermont Bridge, to the city. In 1900, an extension of the city’s land area, to include Rivermont, took the city limits northwest from the 1870 boundary to a line across Rivermont Avenue between Fredonia and Huron Streets (Chambers, 1981, p. 356). In 1908, a second annexation absorbed the Rivermont area southeast of Belvedere Street, including Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (now Randolph College) located at 2500-2800 Rivermont and the nearby area of Randolph-Macon Heights. These expansions helped to increase the city’s population, which along with other annexed areas, grew from 18,891 to 29,494 between 1900 and 1910 (Chambers, 1981, p. 360).

IB. Community Planning and Development 1914-1945

In 1926, reflecting the continued residential growth in Rivermont, with new streets laid out and built upon almost yearly, the city annexed additional areas of Rivermont, bringing the northwestern limits of the city to the Bedford County line at Clayton Avenue. With this annexation came the paving of the remaining streets in the Rivermont area. Although governmental building activity in the center of Lynchburg continued through the 1920s and 1930s, few public buildings were erected in the Rivermont neighborhood, reflecting the overwhelmingly residential character of the area. By 1921, population growth had put such a strain on the city’s schools that a number of new buildings were dedicated and built in record time. Among these was the Garland-Rodes Grammar School at 2244 Rivermont, situated on a hill overlooking a bend in Rivermont Avenue near the entrance to Riverside Park (2238 Rivermont Avenue). Firmly embracing the Classical-Revival style for school architecture, the school board commissioned Stanhope Johnson to design this school, which was completed in 1921 at a cost of $130,000 (Chambers, 1981, p. 437). The school building served as the Virginia School of the Arts until 2010. Another public building constructed during this period in response to the growth of the area was a small, one-story brick U.S. Post Office (Rivermont Station) at 2485, erected on Rivermont Avenue in 1941 to serve the surrounding neighborhood.  

II.A Domestic Architecture 1865-1914

From its beginning, the Rivermont neighborhood has consisted primarily of single-family detached residences, usually two stories in height, with gable or hipped roofs often covered with metal standing seam sheets or slate shingles. Houses always faced the street and had auxiliary buildings such as garages and sheds located to the rear of the yard. Building materials included both wood and brick (stone was almost never used as a construction material). Most of the buildings dating from the 1890-1910 period were of frame construction. This was true even of the houses of the wealthy—such as expansive Queen Anne-style residences like the George and Mary Jones House at 456 Rivermont. Houses from this 1890-1910 period also share other characteristics, regardless of their size and degree of architectural sophistication. Most were built on raised brick basements, had prominent porches along the front, interior brick chimneys, and double-hung sash windows. Interior plans generally consisted of either a side hall or central passage plan, although the more elaborate Queen Anne-style houses of this period featured the asymmetrical free-flowing plans characteristic of this style. Most houses were given some form of individuality by decorative exterior woodwork such as brackets, shingles, vents, cornices, and porch columns.

Although many houses from this period were built by local (and largely unknown) contractors using stock building patterns, many were designed by members of Lynchburg’s highly talented architectural profession. Foremost among these was the architect Edward G. Frye, who excelled in designing Queen Anne-style frame residences elsewhere in Lynchburg. Numerous examples of Frye’s work, along with this partner Aubrey Chesterman, can be seen in the Rivermont neighborhood. Their designs range from highly individualistic and inventive frame Queen Anne-style residences to small gambrel-roofed cottages and outbuildings.

The lower end of Rivermont Avenue, which because of topography was developed as an area of smaller-scale houses and duplexes, is given added distinction by a number of Frye-designed residences. He was an especially inventive designer of residential architecture in the Queen Anne style, as seen in the design for the George and Mary Jones House at 456 Rivermont, the most whimsical and irregular Queen Anne-style frame house in the city, with its turrets, wings, and semi-enclosed porches and balconies. Other examples include the Jehu R. Williams House built in 1894 at 465 Rivermont Avenue, as well as the R.J. Snead House built that same year several doors down the street at 471. They incorporate several features so popular in Queen Anne-style architecture at that time, including such classical references as garlands and swags, patterned slate shingle roofs, and wood shingles used as exterior cladding, as well as asymmetrical towers, turrets, and semi-enclosed balconies. A feature often taken to be Frye’s signature is the small triangular louvered vent on the gable ends of his houses and outbuildings. This characteristic feature appears even on some otherwise quite plain and simple residences, such as the house at 911 Rivermont Avenue. The R. Taylor Gleaves House at 1700 Rivermont Avenue shows Frye at his most imaginative. The house, rather low-slung in comparison with the more showy and large-scale houses on either side of it, has a varied outline with a corner turret and protruding dormer hoods. It is one of the few partially stone residences in the Rivermont area.

Aubrey Chesterman, working with Frye, and also with architect J. Bryant Heard, was of only slightly less influence than Frye in the Rivermont neighborhood at the turn of the 20th century. In 1901, Chestrman designed the William A. Graves House at 2102 Rivermont, one of his best works in the city. A full-fledged Georgian-Revival mansion, it relies on a profusion of classical details to make its architectural point, and is one of the few houses from this period that maintains its appearance on all four elevations, rather than giving in to the facadism so often characteristic of this style. Frye and Chesterman are thought to have designed a number of notable Colonial-Revival-style mansions including those at 1510 Rivermont, 2106 Rivermont and the Sally Cosby Wright House (2144 Rivermont). The work of the other major architect practicing in Lynchburg at this time, J.M.B. Lewis, was noticeably less Victorian than Frye’s in spirit and execution. The 1903 William Christopher Ivey House at 2024 Rivermont Avenue is Classical Revival in its architectural detail, but is reminiscent of large-scale Victorian town houses build for the nouveau riche in Richmond, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. The George A. Kerr House at 2100 Rivermont (Seven Hills School and, later, Virginia School of the Arts) is English Tudor in derivation and rather dour in appearance. Built in 1909, it is one of the first instances of the period revival style house in Lynchburg, according to S. Allen Chambers, whose book Lynchburg—An Architectural History is the definitive work on Lynchburg’s architecture and architectural profession over the last 200 years. Another residence attributed to Lewis is the Queen-Anne style W. Russell Winifree House/Wedgewood Apartments located at 3024 Rivermont Avenue.The original house was built in 1904-1905 with 1930 modifications added when it was coverted to apartments.

 IIB. Domestic Architecture 1914-1945

Residential construction continued during the period between the wars. By 1914, the area of greatest growth in the Rivermont neighborhood had shifted away from the lower Rivermont area and towards the section northwest of the 1300 block of Rivermont Avenue. Topography and the building restrictions written into many deeds dictated that these houses were larger than those generally found in the lower Rivermont Avenue neighborhood. A large number of houses were built of brick, although wood, or wood covered with wood shingles or stucco continued to be popular, also. Garages became much more common; they were still placed well to the rear of the property, sometimes accessed by narrow alleys running from the side streets. Although some quite notable examples of Queen-Anne style architecture stand in this section of the neighborhood, most dwellings show the influence of the Bungalow, American Four Square, Colonial Revival, and later, the various period revival styles—Georgian Revival, Spanish Colonial, and Tudor Revival.

As S. Allen Chambers, in his book Lynchburg—An Architectural History, has pointed out, this period witnessed a change in the exterior appearance of residential architecture and a change in room arrangements. Room sizes and arrangements in houses from this period varied according to their function and use, and freely incorporated modern conveniences. At the same time, the exterior took on a more formal and axial appearance. In addition, the rise in popularity of the Georgian-Revival style caused a decline in the ubiquitous front porch in favor of front or side porches and a more spread-out appearance. This feature was encouraged by the generally larger size and more level topography of lots in this part of the neighborhood, particularly west of Randolph College (2500-2800 Rivermont). Thus ended one feature so often criticized about the architecture of Lynchburg: “narrow houses with reasonably good facades, but in the rear tall, ugly things on stilts set on steep slopes” (Scruggs, 1976, p. 203).

While Frye had dominated the Lynchburg architectural scene at the turn of the 20th century, architect Stanhope Johnson dominated it in the post-World War I period. Working individually or in partnership as McLaughlin, Pettit & Johnson or Johnson and Brannan, Johnson was responsible for more public, religious, and residential buildings in the Rivermont neighborhood than any other architect during this period.

Johnson’s work evolved in several stages. His earliest residential designs, done as a partner in the firm of McLaughlin Pettit & Johnson, adhered basically to the Bungalow and American Four Square modes of design and was similar to the work produced by the architects Heard & Cardwell. Many homes incorporated such typically Craftsman-style features as leaded glass, diamond-pane windows, tapered brick or wood piers on the front porch, and simple, wide-window and door trim. A good example is the George H. Cosby House at 2140 Rivermont Avenue. In the mid- and late-1910s, Johnson’s residential work moved away from the earlier American Four Square designs towards a very individualistic classicism. Many of his residences were frame and mixed such elements as patterned wood shingles, hip-roofed dormers, and leaded-glass panes with striking classical porticos and doorways. The P.S. Boxley House at 2132 Rivermont Avenue, built 1905, is a good example.

Also at this time Johnson was developing a unique building style dubbed “Spanish Georgian” by architectural writer S. Allen Chambers in his book Lynchburg—An Architectural History. Features of this style included a stuccoed exterior, arched windows, and Spanish tile roofs, along with more traditional Georgian features such as a classical portico, doorway, and a generally symmetrical exterior. Two of the best examples are seen in the Marcellus K. Duerson House at 3002 Rivermont Avenue, where some even vaguely Mayan-influenced decoration is used, and the Clinton deWitt Jr. House at 2301 Rivermont Avenue, a slightly smaller version of the house he designed for James R. Gilliam, Sr. in Garland Hill. Other residential commissions were in the more traditional Georgian Revival style. The Ella H. Ford House, built in 1915 at 2601 Rivermont Avenue, although incorporating a tile roof, is imposing and symmetrical, with a prominent portico and much Georgian-style woodwork. This building currently serves as the Randolph College Office of Institutional Advancement. By the 1920s, Johnson, who had left McLaughlin Pettit & Johnson by this time, had firmly established himself as a master of the Georgian Revival style.

The Georgian and Colonial Revival styles were also enthusiastically adopted by a number of other prominent architects practicing in Lynchburg during this period. One of the most prolific architects during this period was Pendleton Clark. Two of Clark’s most notable works are his own residence at 104 Lee Circle (built 1930) and the C. Raine Pettyjohn House at 3115 Rivermont Avenue (built 1931). The latter is traditional Georgian Revival at its best and is inspired by the 18th-century plantation houses along the James River. Clark’s own house is more in the Virginia vernacular mode, with a more formal front façade extended to the rear by several gable-roofed additions. Other examples of Clark’s work can be seen at 2233, the Joseph Oppelman House, and 2313 Rivermont Avenue, the Herbert A. Wells House, both designed in the early 1920s.

By the 1920s, a number of planned subdivisions within the Rivermont neighborhood had emerged. Among the two most prominent were those situated along Lee Circle and Oakwood Place, both at the far western edge of Rivermont Avenue. Both subdivisions are given dignity by their prominent entrance gates along Rivermont Avenue. Here, properties are even larger than those found along most of Rivermont Avenue, with consequently larger houses. The many well-to-do residents of these areas commissioned expansive homes in a wide variety of architectural styles, mostly by Lynchburg architects Stanhope Johnson, Pendelton Clark, and Craighill and Cardwell. One exception is the Norman-influenced house at 105 Lee Circle (not listed in the Rivermont Historic District), which was designed by the New York society architect Penrose Stout in 1924.

Several apartment houses were built during this period, although these were concentrated almost exclusively in the area west of the college. Stanhope Johnson’s Woodstock Apartments (2934 Rivermont Avenue) of 1919 was among the first to be built and was a well-executed Georgian-Revival building. The Parkmont Apartments at 2910 Rivermont Avenue were designed in 1915 by Charles Bossom and continued the tradition of brick apartment houses. Several much larger complexes face it across the street, including the Mayflower Apartments at 2921 and the Cavalier Apartments at 2925-35 Rivermont Avenue, built in 1931 and 1930, respectively. They are domestic in scale as well as in their decoration and do not resemble the large-scale apartment houses built during this period in larger Virginia cities.

IIC. Domestic Architecture 1945-present

Several large modern apartment complexes were built along western Rivermont Avenue in the 1960s and 1970s, replacing a number of older Queen-Anne style residences that had either deteriorated or had been converted to apartments long ago.

 IIIA. Commerce 1865-1914

Because the planned subdivision was to be linked to Lynchburg’s Main Street and central business district via the Rivermont Bridge, Rivermont itself was not envisioned as a commercial center. Rather, only small business enterprises were projected to cluster along Rivermont Avenue to serve the surrounding residential community. One of the oldest buildings in the Rivermont community is the small one-story brick store at 400 Rivermont Avenue. Built in 1891, it served variously as a grocery store and warehouse; it was remodeled for use as an office in 1991. The current occupant is the Brown Exterminating Company.

A larger commercial group developed along both sides of the 1200 block of Rivermont Avenue, east of the Rivermont Avenue Baptist Church at 1301-05 on the Avenue. Many of these buildings date from the early 1900s after this area was annexed by the City of Lynchburg; builders were forced to follow previous regulations regarding setback and size of buildings. A typical store building was the former Rivermont Pharmacy (demolished) at 1208 Rivermont Avenue, a two-story frame structure dating from the early 1900s. Its original location is completely obscured by the addition of sveral later buildings.

IIIB. Commerce 1914-1945

Small-scale businesses continued to serve the Rivermont neighborhood during this period. Grocery stores, bakeries, and confectioners occupied a number of the other buildings on the closely built up 1200 block of Rivermont Avenue. These include the Sunlite Bakery built in 1915 at 1222 Rivermont Avenue (now the Dominion Living Fellowship Hall and Fishes and Loaves Ministry Store). The former was designed by the firm of Clark and Crowe. The same firm was possibly the architect of the Jesse A. Kennedy Confectionary built in 1915 at 1224 Rivermont and the Rivermont Electric Shoe Repair built in 1924 at 1226 Rivermont. Both of these buildings are now Fishes and Loaves God's Choice Cafe.

Another commercial area was developed along the 2400 block of Rvermont Avenue adjacent to Randolph College. The shops in this block catered mostly to college students, faculty, and the nearby neighborhood of single-family residences and apartments. The most notable building on this block is the former A&P Grocery/College Pharmacy at 2494-96 Rivermont Avenue, a handsome brick building with Georgian/Spanish Colonial Revival features designed in the late 1920s by architect Stanhope Johnson. Both addresses for this building are currently Mangia Italian Wine Bar. The former College Shop Drugstore was located to the west at 2920 Rivermont Avenue. This one-story brick building from the 1920s now serves as the Cavalier Restaurant.

The Piedmont Business College building at 307-11 Rivermont Avenue was built in 1903. In 1928 it was remodeled to serve as the Fauber Funeral Home. Its handsome portico was added at that time. It presently is the Piedmont Center. The W.D. Diuguid Funeral Home was housed in a rambling Georgian-Revival style brick building at the corner of Fitzhugh Place and Rivermont Avenue (1016 Rivermont Avenue), designed in 1930 by architects Clark & Crowe. The company is successor to the G.A. Diuguid Company, which established undertaking and cabinetmaking facilities in Lynchburg in 1817, making it the city’s oldest continuously operating business and one of the oldest in the South. The Duiguid Funeral Home moved to 1016 Rivermont from its longtime place of business at 616 Main Street. The building is the current home of Davis and Turner Funeral Service.

IIIC. Commerce 1945-present

The commercial areas on Rivermont Avenue have changed over the last 30 years and many of the buildings have suffered a loss of architectural integrity. Two former grocery stores at 1200 and 1300 Rivermont Avenue have been demolished. The commercial buildings on the 2400 block are either modern or have been refaced with brick over the years, although they generally preserve the scale and setbacks of the original buildings. A small, one-story Georgian-Revival brick bank building at 2477 Rivermont Avenue dates from 1954 and was designed by architect Pendleton Clark. It is currently the BB&T Bank.

IVA. Religion (Churches and Houses of Worship) 1865-1914

With the rapid development of the Rivermont neighborhood in the 1890s and 1900s, and its emergence as an area of stable, homeowning middle-class families, several older inner-city congregations established mission churches in the neighborhood. A number of these congregations eventually moved to new and larger church buildings along Rivermont Avenue, often sited at strategic corner lots or bends in the road.

After its establishment in 1880 in a small structure on Daniel’s Hill, the Rivermont Methodist Church purchased a lot in 1893 on Rivermont Avenue for a new and larger structure (Wiley, 1986, p. 6). The Romanesque-style brick church at 1018 Rivermont Avenue was completed in 1897 to the design of local architect Edward G. Frye. Rivermont Methodist Church later merged with Centenary Methodist Church and built a new church at 1501 Rivermont Avenue in 1925. The 1893 building was later used by Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, now located at 1000 Langhorne Road. From 1959 until 2001, the building was occupied by the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite Temple.

The Rivermont Avenue Baptist Church had its beginning in 1886 when a mission chapel was established on Cabell Street by t,he Young Men’s Missionary Society of First Baptist Church. A lot on the corner of Rivermont and Bedford Avenues (1301-1305 Rivermont Avenue) was purchased by the fast-growing church in 1908 (Wiley, 1986, pp. 31-32). The design for the church was prepared by the architectural firm of McLaughlin, Pettit & Johnson, with the drawings probably prepared by the young Stanhope Johnson. The modified Gothic style Rivermont Avenue Baptist Church is an early example of Johnson’s work, executed before he settled into the Georgian Revival style as his preferred period style. The church, reputedly built at a cost of $50,000, was completed in 1911 and enjoys an impressive site along Bedford Avenue.

IVB. Religion (Churches & Houses of Worship) 1914-1945

The period after World War I was a period of increased church building activity in the Rivermont neighborhood as existing religious groups outgrew their buildings and new congregations were formed. An example of the former was the two Methodist congregations that merged in 1922, retaining the name Centenary Methodist Church. In 1923, the congregation commissioned architect Stanhope Johnson to design its church and Sunday school buildings at 1501 Rivermont Avenue. The latter was completed first in 1923; the church building was not completed until 1926. Centenary United Methodist Church, designed by Stanhope Johnson and patterned after James Gibbs’ St. Martin-in-the-Field Church in London, is the most prominent church building in the neighborhood. Its bell tower contains the bell formerly used at the Third Street Methodist Meeting House, the mother church of Methodism in the city. The Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church also outgrew its building on Rivermont Avenue at Cabell Street. In the early 1920s, a lot was bought on Rivermont Avenue at Quinlan Street (2424 Rivermont Avenue) for the purpose of erecting a new church. Completed in 1925, the Georgian Revival church building was designed by the well known Lynchburg architectural firm of Craighill and Cardwell.

IVC. Religion (Churches & Houses of Worship) 1945-present

Church construction continued into the post-World War II period in Rivermont. The First Church of Christ-Scientist congregation, established in Lynchburg in 1898, worshipped at the old Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on Victoria Avenue between 1920 and 1953. In 1955, they moved into a new building of Georgian Revival design at 2901 Rivermont Avenue. A new Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, built of native Virginia greenstone and designed by architect Preston Craighill, was completed at 1000 Langhorne Road in 1955. First Christian Church was built in 1955 at 3109 Rivermont Avenue.

Recently, a number of small houses of worship and related religious institutions have joined the older churches on Rivermont Avenue. These include Ebenezer Worship Center at 1203 Rivermont Avenue, the Connecting Point (part of Rivermont Avenue Baptist Church) at 1216 Rivermont Avenue, and the New Word Ministries International at 1218 Rivermont Avenue. Associated with the latter house of worship are Dominion Kidz Child Development Center at 1220, the Dominion Living Fellowship Hall at 1222-A, Fishes and Loaves Ministry Store at 1222-B, and Fishes and Loaves God's Choice Cafe at 1224 and 1226, all on the 1200 block of Rivermont Avenue.

VA. Education (Schools and Libraries) 1865-1914

One of the most unusual features of the Rivermont neighborhood as originally planned by its developer, the Rivermont Land Company, was the provision for a woman’s college located prominently on Rivermont Avenue. Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (now Randolph College), established in 1891, was funded by the Rivermont Company and by private subscription. Negotiations between Dr. William Waugh Smith, president of Randolph-Macon College of Ashland, Virginia, and the Rivermont Company resulted in the creation of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in 1891 on 19.8 acres donated by the development company. The company pledged $100,000 for the college with the proviso that an equal amount be raised to match the gift. Through the efforts of Dr. Smith and others in the Lynchburg community, that amount was raised in a month’s time (VHLC, 1979, p. 7). The college’s building committee chose William M. Poindexter of Washington, D.C., as its architect and instructed him to visit other American woman’s colleges, including Goucher and Vassar colleges (Chambers, 1981, p. 306). His observations convinced him to design a single dormitory and classroom building that could be expanded in the future. His proposed design was a picturesque yet unified Queen-Anne style brick composition adapted for the demands of a collegiate institution. This building, known today as Main Hall, was erected over a 20-year period between 1891 and 1911 (VHLC, 1979, p. 3). The central entrance tower and eastern wings were constructed between 1891 and 1983; two additional wings were added to the west in 1896. With the erection of the final wing to the west in 1899, the building was completed according to the original Poindexter plan. In 1911, an annex was added to the north of the entrance pavilion, and East Hall (built in 1903) and West Hall (built in 1906) were connected to Main Hall by arcades.

One of the most important monuments in the intellectual and artistic history of Lynchburg is the Jones Memorial Library at 434 Rivermont Avenue, a gift of George M. Jones’s widow, Mary Jones. George Jones, one of the organizers of the Rivermont Land Company, was also instrumental in the establishment of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in 1891. By early 1900, Jones took up the cause of establishing a public library for Lynchburg with the ambition of making it one of the finest in the South. The only other public library in Virginia at that time was one in Norfolk established by Andrew Carnegie. Although Jones died in 1903 before the building could be started, the project was continued by his widow Mary who commissioned the local architectural firm of Frye and Chesterman to design the memorial library. The firm’s design, built between 1905 and 1908 in the monumental Beaux Arts style, was an important addition to the city’s literary and educational life, although it functioned as a private library for public use for most of its history. Reflecting its benefactor’s hopes that it be a “temple of learning,” the library featured elaborate stained glass windows representing the “nine grand divisions of human expression.” Planned for a capacity of 50,000 books, it also contained children’s rooms, open and closed stacks, as well as periodical and magazine rooms. The grounds feature a rather idealized statue of Jones wearing the uniform of a Confederate general sculpted by Solon Hannibal Borglun (1868-1922); a copy of this statue still stands on the campus of Randolph College (Chambers, 1981, p. 366). The Jones Memorial Library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On a much smaller scale was the Piedmont Business College at 307-11 Rivermont Avenue, established in Lynchburg around 1888. In 1903, it moved into a handsome brick Georgian-Revival style building at the west end of the Rivermont Bridge. The school offered courses in commercial and shorthand studies, and claimed in 1913 to have educated over 11,000 students (Weaver, 1913, p. 29). “Thoroughly modern and practical, worthy of the confidence, esteem and patronage of the general public,” the school closed at this location in the 1920s and the building was remodeled.

VB. Education (Schools & Libraries) 1914-Present

Continued growth in both the reputation and student enrollment at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in the early 20th century led to the erection of other academic and residential buildings on the grounds of the college (Chambers, 1981, pp. 437-438). Smith Hall was built at the southwest corner of the campus in 1920-1923 and marked the introduction of classical design to the college’s architecture. It was designed by architect Stanhope Johnson, with the noted Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram serving as consulting architect. (Cram served as the architect for Sweet Briar College in nearby Amherst County from 1901 until his death in 1942.) The serenely classical Presser Hall, designed as a music auditorium by Stanhope Johnson in 1929-1930, stands at the southeastern edge of the campus.

Mention has already been made of Stanhope Johnson's Garland-Rodes Elementary School, built in 1921 at 2244 Rivermont Avenue (see section IB).

In addition to this public school, several private schools were also established on Rivermont Avenue. The Virginia School of the Arts occupied the aforementioned Garland-Rodes Elementary School building from 1995 until it closed in 2010. The Virginia School of the Arts also had a dormitory at 1919 Rivermont Avenue (previously the Charles Scott Adams House) and facilities at 2001 Rivermont Avenue (originally the George A. Kerr House). Previous to the Virginia School of the Arts, 2001 Rivermont Avenue was home to the Seven Hills School from 1959-1995. The P.A. Krise mansion, Kriselea, at 3021 Rivermont Avenue became Villa Maria Academy from 1952 until 1987.

VIA. Health Care and Medicine 1865-1914

Another major institution that would serve as a cornerstone to the Rivermont neighborhood was established at the western end of Rivermont Avenue at 3301 with the founding of the Virginia Baptist Hospital in 1916. The Virginia Baptist General Association named a committee in 1916 to recommend a “suitable place for the location of the Virginia Baptist Hospital” (Virginia Baptist Hospital, 1974, p. 3). Sites were considered in Lynchburg, Bedford, and Charlottesville, with the former city selected in 1919. In 1920, the hospital’s first Board of Trustees purchased the 26-acre property of Walter Jones on Rivermont Avenue for $25,000. By the 1920s, the Rivermont neighborhood, although nearly fully developed, was considered an ideal location for this much-needed hospital serving Lynchburg’s growing population. Its elevated location, good streetcar transportation, and lack of unhealthy industrial complexes nearby were considered important advantages. In a report recommending the Jones property location, Mr. Henry A. Christian imagined an “ideal hospital with extensive graded grounds of much beauty and great value to the patients. Such a hospital will not merely be a hospital, but a sanatorium and health center, a place to prevent, as well as cure sickness” (Virginia Baptist Hospital, 1974, p. 3). In 1921, the Board decided to consult Dr. Winford Smith, superintendent of Johns Hopkins Hospital, on the design and layout of the ideal hospital. On the advice of Dr. Smith, the Board decided that the style of buildings was to be “a low rambling style, with central building four or five stories high, connected to other proposed buildings two or three stories in height by terraces or bridges. These types of buildings were particularly desirous due to the fact that in this climate the patients should be kept out of doors as much as possible, about eight months of the year” (Virginia Baptist Hospital, 1974, pp. 3-4).

Lynchburg architect Stanhope Johnson was selected as the designer for the new hospital, with C.W. Hancock and Sons serving as building contractors. Johnson’s design, somewhat altered in its final form, envisioned a series of buildings arranged on a single east-west axis. The building, like many of Johnson’s architectural commissions during these years, was in the Georgian Revival style. The Main Hall was the first to be built and opened its doors on July 12, 1924. The hospital was soon recognized as a superior facility and was classed as A-1 standard by the American College of Surgeons.

Building activity continued throughout the 1920s. Hospital Board President O.B. Barker donated funds for the construction of a nurses’ classroom and dormitory building; the Barker Building was completed in 1925, with Johnson again serving as architect. The first graduating class of nurses in 1927 consisted of ten girls, many of whom stayed on at the hospital. A large addition to this building was erected to the south in 1948-1949 (Virginia Baptist Hospital, 1974, p. 8).

VIB. Health Care and Medicine 1914-1945

Virginia Baptist Hospital continued to expand to provide hospital services to the growing city in the second half of the 20th century. Other buildings added over the years have more than tripled the size of the original 1920s complex. The Krise Building was added in 1956, the Ford Wing in 1968, and the English Building in 1978. Numerous renovations have been carried out in the older buildings as well, maintaining the hospital’s reputation as a modern and up-to-date medical facility. In addition, the hospital has done an excellent job of maintaining the attractive park-like appearance of the front landscaping, one of only a few significant green spaces still largely intact along Rivemont Avenue.

 VII. Social/Recreation/Arts

The Oakwood Country Club was founded initially as the Oakwood Gun Club (Chambers, 1981, p. 414). It was devoted solely to trapshooting, guns, and horses. Later, a tennis club and bowling alley were added to the fifteen-acre tract on Rivermont Avenue near Rivermont Park. When members decided to build a golf course as well, they sold their property and moved to 3409 Rivermont, a larger 100-acre parcel at the western terminus of the avenue (Chambers, 1981, p. 414). In 1914, the architect J.M.B. Lewis produced designs for a large Bungalow-style frame and stucco building, which still stands today with only a few alternations. The golf course has since been developed into The Preserve at Oakwood, a neighborhood of custom-built homes

As Lynchburg continued to grow into a modern Southern city, its need for cultural and recreational amenities also increased. In 1921, a small group met in the rooms of the Lynchburg Woman’s Club to discuss the possibility of establishing The Little Theatre in Lynchburg (Woodson, 1928, p. 8). This group presented light comedies and spoken drama, rather than the more commercially popular musical numbers of the day. By 1928, the group had purchased a lot at the corner of Rivermont Avenue and Rodes Street and obtained the donated services of the architectural firm of Clark and Crowe and landscape architect A.A. Farnham (Woodson, 1928, p. 9). The large brick building at 421 Rivermont Avenue was completed in 1931 and has served as a theatre for small dramatic groups. The Little Theatre group became the Lynchburg Fine Arts Center, which in turn merged with the Academy of Music to become the Academy of Fine Arts on Main Street. In addition to The Little Theatre, this building was the home of the Hill City Lodge of Masons. It is currently The Ellington, a performance venue specializing in many types of music.

Rivermont Park at 2931 -35 Rivermont Avenue was part of the original plan developed by the Rivermont Land Company in the 1890s. It was common for residential developers to include a green space, complete with entertainments, as part of their plan. These parks were often placed at the boundary of the residential communities. This was the case with Rivermont Park. The Rivermont Land Company envisioned Randolph-Macon Woman's College (now Randoplh College) as the main attraction at that end of their community. They chose a site for the park just a few blocks beyond the college. Rivermont Park was, at the time of its construction , the terminus of the Rivermont trolley line.

In 1922, Rivermont Park was closed and its Casino sold and dismantled; the surrounding area had become too valuable and the land was soon developed for residential use. Recognizing the need for recreational facilities to replace those lost by the closing of Rivermont Park, the city authorized that a new facility, known as Riverside Park, be laid out at 2238 Rivermont Avenue. It opened in 1922-23. The 47-acre tract, shown on historic maps of the area as intended for park use as early as 1891, was originally the site of the city's old smallpox hospital (Chambers, 1981,p. 437). Winding paths were constructed, along with a swimming pool, and a popular "Alpine Walk" including a rock overlook running along the bluffs overlooking the James River. In 1924 a stone bandstand and bath house were built and the park was greatly improved with ornamental shrubs and flowers (Annual Report, 1927, p. 66). In 1936, the Miller-Claytor House, Lynchburg's oldest dwelling, was moved to Riverside Park from its original site at Eighth and Church Streets, in honor of Lynchburg's 150th anniversary celebration.

VIII. Transportation

Transportation has played a vital role in the growth and success of the Rivermont neighborhood throughout its history. From the beginning, the neighborhood has been linked to the rest of Lynchburg by a vehicular bridge, making Rivermont an integral part of Lynchburg's transportation network. Rivermont Avenue was served by streetcars owned by the independent Lynchburg & Rivermont Street Railway Company from 1892 to 1901, and then as a line of the citywide Lynchburg Traction and Light Company from 1901 until 1938. The only physical reminder of this era is the 1927 Lynchburg Traction and Light Car Barn (currently Reggie Phelps Auto Service) at 401 Rivermont Avenue. In 1938, the Rivermont trolley line became the first of the city's streetcar system to switch over to bus service. By 1941 there was not a single trolley left in Lynchburg. Buses have served the Avenue since 1938 and are currently run by the Greater Lynchburg Transit Company.

By World War I, the trolley was sharing the road not only with buses, but also with automobiles. During the 1920s, most of the Rivermont area's streets were paved and family-owned automobiles were becoming quite common in Lynchburg. Resources associated with the automobile include two historic gas stations. A one-story stuccoed brick gas station, for many years owned by the Rivermont Oil Company, was built in 1926 at the west end of the present Rivermont Bridge at 306 Rivermont Avenue. Although currently vacant, this building has recently been Seaboy and The Aquarium seafood restaurants. At 1201 Rivermont Avenue is the Watts Super Service Station, another stuccoed brick gas station, built in the mid 1920s with a few Art Deco and Spanish Revival architectural touches. This building is currently Touch of Class Car Wash. These two classic gas stations were joined in 1954 by the current Miles Market at 1112 Rivermont Avenue and, in 1980, by the Exxon Service Station at 1221 Rivermont Avenue.

IX. Landscape Architecture

To complement their 1920s and 1930s houses on Rivermont Avenue, several home owners commissioned the Richmond, Virginia landscape architect Charles Gillettte to lay out their gardens. Gillette is known to have worked on nearly fifteen separate commissions in Lynchburg in the 1920s through the 1950s. These include the grounds at Kriselea at 3021 Rivermont Avenue, the Charles R. Shumate/Perkins House at 3116 Rivermont Avenue, and the gardens surrounding the Miller-Claytor House when it was moved to Riverside Park at 2238 Rivermont Avenue in 1936. He is also thought to have consulted on several planting plans for Randolph-Macon Woman's College (now Randolph College) at 2500-2800 Rivermont Avenue.

X. References

The majority of this text is from Historic Architectural Survey: Rivermont Avenue Neighborhood, Lynchburg, Virginia, prepared by Dames and Moore for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the City of Lynchburg, August 1995.

The narrative has been updated by The Friends of Rivermont Historical Society, August 2012.



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Gerard Sherayko

Department of History

Randolph College
2500 Rivermont Avenue
Lynchburg, VA 24503