Born at Virginia Baptist Hospital in 1931, Annie Robertson Massie spent most of her 83 years in Lynchburg. Her father was a lawyer who grew up in the Diamond Hill neighborhood, while her mother was raised on Daniel’s Hill. Though it is hard to believe today, when Annie’s grandparents were born, there was only one home past Point of Honor (now owned by the Lynchburg Museum System) where what is now the Rivermont neighborhood.  That home, located on F Street, is named Rivermont and it that house that inspired the name for the entire area. When the Rivermont Land Company built the Rivermont Bridge to connect to both Church Street and Main Street, the planning of a residential area commenced. Annie’s maternal grandfather purchased 1700 Rivermont around 1902.  Built by R. Taylor Gleaves, Chief Engineer of the Rivermont Land Company, the house was designed by Edward G. Frye.  Later, around 1915, Annie’s grandfather, using designs by Stanhope Johnson, significantly altered the house to the appearance we are familiar with today.

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Much of Alex and Adgie Dirom’s story has occurred on or near Rivermont Avenue.  Alex was born in Lynchburg, Adgie came to go to college here, but for over sixty years, with one hiatus, Lynchburg has been their home and Rivermont their passion.

Alex was born in Lynchburg in 1934, and spent his earliest years in a house his parents rented from Randolph-Macon located at the corner of Quinlan and Norfolk (torn down in 1985) and attended Garland-Rodes Elementary School.  He has vivid memories of riding the streetcar as a very young child, and then the buses when they came in around 1940.  He, like so many Lynchburgers of his generation, remembers when Norfolk Avenue would be closed for sledding and that a large bonfire would be built to keep everyone warm.  Though his parents would later move a bit further afield from the Avenue, he always had a connection, for 2315 Rivermont was the home of his grandparents, who had moved there in 1917.  Though his grandfather has passed away before Alex was born, the house stayed in the family.  Divided into a main house and an upstairs apartment, his aunts from Scotland, the “Dirom widows,” would live on the top floor for years.

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Katie Cyphert bought her house in Lower Rivermont in 2003. The house was built in 1903 by Benjamin C. Smoot, who was a contractor. The house was the first on the block and takes up three lots. The house was made into a duplex in the 1980s when the owner’s grandchildren moved in and the upstairs was made into a separate apartment. In 1982 aluminum siding was added and all the decorative woodwork was taken off.

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Ann Reams lived most of her life on or near Rivermont Avenue.  Ann was born in her grandparents’ home at 227 Warwick Lane and grew up across the street at 226.  Her parents later moved to 3 Riverview Place before moving onto the Avenue at 2132.  She recalled 2132’s big rooms, including two large parlors, and a porch then went along the entire back of the house.  She had vivid childhood memories of taking the trolley to Garland-Rodes Elementary School and attending May Days and Greek plays (performed in Greek!) at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. Downtown was a special place growing up, whether it was going to the movies at the Paramount, the Isis or for westerns at the Academy, eating at the White House Restaurant, or having a root beer at Craighill and Jones Drug Store. For penny candy, she could always stop by Thornhill’s Grocery Store on Rivermont.  When she was a bit older she would attend dances at Oakwood Country Club.  After the dances the Texas Inn was a popular place for the younger crowd.

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In March of 1968, Louise Dodgion and her husband, Waverly, moved into 2214 Rivermont Avenue (built in 1926) and she has lived there ever since. On Sunday drives with her husband, Louise admired the 2 ½ story American Foursquare-style house designed by Stanhope Johnson. They originally thought of making the house into an apartment building, but they decided against any alterations because they liked the house’s appearance so much. Throughout the years, the Dodgions and their son, Michael, established many friendly relationships with their neighbors, especially the McDaniels who formerly resided at 2216 Rivermont. Louise and Michael praised the positive quality of living, as well as access to local shops on the Avenue and downtown.  They both clearly love living on Rivermont and cannot imagine a better place to live in the Hill City.

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In 1986, Carl and Deanna Hester moved to Lynchburg from Germany where Carl had been teaching at the University of Tübingen to take a position in the Religion Department at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. When they bought their house at 1607 Rivermont, it required the repairs that all owners of older homes are familiar with, such as the removal of many old layers of wallpaper and the application of plenty of fresh coats of paint. That being said, the house itself was still quite remarkable with its large rooms, coffered ceilings, and original, and therefore antique, light fixtures. Though they had traveled widely and had lived in New York City and overseas, the Hesters loved Rivermont, especially because of the access to local produce, the proximity of Riverside Park, musical events at the Ellington, and the welcoming atmosphere of the neighborhood. Though she did not attend the college, one of Carl and Deanna’s daughter would even get married in the Dell on the campus of R-MWC.

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Gerard Sherayko

Department of History

Randolph College
2500 Rivermont Avenue
Lynchburg, VA 24503