When Muriel Zimmerman Casey was inspired to leave New York City by her older cousins to attend Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (R-MWC) in 1949, she could only imagine the brilliant future that lay ahead. Her first year at Randolph-Macon was characterized by the myriad of activities one would expect from attending college at the time, including being rushed by a sorority in the first week after arriving on campus.  Though some college social aspects were certainly restrictive by today’s standards including no consumption of alcohol within twenty miles of Lynchburg, no cars on campus until the second semester of the senior year, signing in and out when leaving campus, and being allowed off campus only three weekends per semester, she didn’t view these as burdens at the time. Rather, she took full advantage of the college experience, including immersing herself in various athletic events at the old gymnasium (located where the Bell residence hall is now), performing in Twelfth Night in the Smith Hall Theater, and attending readings by poets such as Robert Frost and Dylan Thomas.  Beyond the red brick wall of the College, she would often take the bus downtown (or people would offer you rides, such was the nature of the neighborhood at the time) to go to the movies at the Paramount, Warner, and Isis theaters.

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Flo Traywick’s family moved to Lynchburg from Chicago when her father came to Lynchburg to teach at the Piedmont Business School located at 307-311 Rivermont.  Growing up at 859 Belmont Street near the Jones Library, she has fond memories of Rivermont Avenue from her earliest days.  As a young child who would ride on her tricycle up and down the Avenue, sometimes as far as the fire station at 1210 Rivermont.  Impressed by the beauty of Rivermont from a young age, she was particularly fascinated by the magnificence of the well-landscaped exterior of the Jones Library. When inside, she enjoyed access to plentiful children’s programs and piles of interesting books. When going downtown with her parents, she regularly rode the trolley, which she was able to do through her senior year at E.C. Glass High School. Flo recalled the woven cane seats of the trolley that could be flipped depending on the direction of travel. Many Lynchburg residents like Flo were heartbroken when the trolley cars were replaced by buses, but as they were told at the time, it was a necessary change to improve the flow of traffic on Rivermont Avenue.

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Born in Nashville, TN in 1913, Dr. William Quillian contributed much to his adopted home town in the many decades he spent in Lynchburg.  When he arrived at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in 1952 to become the President of that storied institution, he would start a movement to create change to better provide a more “modern” and inclusive education for R-MWC students.

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Though Harriet Whitten was born in Norfolk Virginia, she knew of the Hill City from her earliest days. As a child Harriet would travel to Lynchburg to visit her grandparents where she thought it was a “totally different world” compared to Norfolk – unlike people coming and going in the navy town of Norfolk, people seemed to stay in Lynchburg, and many would have their extended families nearby in a town where it seemed like “everyone knew everyone else.”  

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Bob McDaniel was born in 1936 at Virginia Baptist Hospital and raised at 2216 Rivermont Avenue. As he grew up in the 30s and 40s, he attended Garland-Rodes where the McDaniel housemaid, Emma Winbush, would walk him to school every day. Emma, whose parents were born slaves, developed a loving relationship with Bob. Years later, his affection for her was evident, as he repeated more than once that it was really Emma who raised him.  In his free time, Bob would regularly frequent the Jones Library, which had a sensational children’s section, as well as Riverside Park. Bob and his friends commonly saw Mr. Hurt of Cabell Street walk across the train trestle near the park to get to his farm daily, though it was very dangerous to do so. When he was up to no good, Bob and his friends dared each other to get close to or enter a haunted house on Daniel’s Hill – a married couple was said to have abandoned the house after arguing with each other.

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Frances Harriss came to Lynchburg during WWII to work in the office of the Craddock-Terry factory where she earned $12.00 a week. She initially lived at the YWCA downtown, “the safest place for a girl to live in those days.”  During the war she remembered ration lines were long, power blackouts were a regular occurrence, the city would fill with soldiers from Camp Pickett, and there was a shortage of nurses.  Given that, later during the war, she worked as a nurse’s aide at the old Lynchburg General Hospital located at Federal Street and Hollins Mill Road.  After she was married she moved with her husband into an apartment on North Princeton Circle and then, in 1955, they moved into 2703 with her mother-in-law. They had an apartment built onto the back to live in until her mother-in-law passed away. She and her husband then moved into the main house and started renting out the apartment in the back.  Over the years she often had professors from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College as renters, including Chemistry Professor Muriel Dahlgard and German Professor Linda Thomas.  Passionate about art though not an artist herself,  she was a long standing member of the Lynchburg Art Club at 1011 Rivermont Avenue, enjoyed many performances and exhibitions at R-MWC and Randolph right across the street from where she lived, and owned Virginia Handcrafts located at the Farm Basket for forty years.  As she thought back about her role in the final successful effort to establish the Rivermont Historic District she ended her interview with this statement: “I think getting Rivermont designated as a historic district is one of the most important things I ever got involved in and I’m glad I did.”

Interviewed 6/15/2010


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Gerard Sherayko

Department of History

Randolph College
2500 Rivermont Avenue
Lynchburg, VA 24503