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Staunton, Virginia
—  City  —
West Beverley Street
Nickname(s): Queen City of the Shenandoah Valley
Location of Staunton, Virginia
Coordinates: 38°9′29″N 79°4′35″W / 38.15806°N 79.07639°W / 38.15806; -79.07639Coordinates: 38°9′29″N 79°4′35″W / 38.15806°N 79.07639°W / 38.15806; -79.07639
Country United States
State Virginia
Incorporated 1871
 - Total 19.7 sq mi (51.0 km2)
 - Land 19.7 sq mi (51.0 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 1,417 ft (432 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 23,853
 Density 1,210.3/sq mi (467.3/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 24401-24402
Area code(s) 540
FIPS code 51-75216[1]
GNIS feature ID 1500154[2]

Staunton (pronounced /ˈstæntən/) STAN-tən is an independent city within the confines of Augusta County in the commonwealth of Virginia. The population was 23,853 as of the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Augusta County[3]. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Staunton (along with nearby Waynesboro) with Augusta county for statistical purposes.

It is known for being the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th U.S. president, and the home of Mary Baldwin College, a women's college featuring a number of unique programs, including the Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership and Program for the Exceptionally Gifted. The city is also home to Stuart Hall, a private preparatory school for girls, as well as the older of two campuses for the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. (The newer campus is in Hampton.)

Staunton is the larger of the two principal cities of the Staunton-Waynesboro micropolitan statistical area, which covers Augusta County and the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.[4] The micropolitan area had a combined population of 108,988 at the 2000 census.[1]



Bird's-eye view c. 1910

The area was first settled in 1732 by John Lewis and family. In 1736, William Beverley, a wealthy planter and merchant from Essex County, was granted by the Crown over 118,000 acres (478 km²) in what would become Augusta County. Surveyor Thomas Lewis in 1746 laid out the first town plat for Beverley of what was originally called Beverley's Mill Place.[5] Founded in 1747, it was renamed in honor of Lady Rebecca Staunton, wife to Royal Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Gooch.[6] Because the town was located at the geographical center of the colony (which then included West Virginia), Staunton served between 1738 and 1771 as regional capital for what was known as the Northwest Territory, with the westernmost courthouse in British North America prior to the Revolution.[7] It served as capital of Virginia in June 1781, when state legislators fled Richmond and then Charlottesville to avoid capture by the British.

Located along the Valley Pike, Staunton developed as a trade, transportation and industrial center, particularly after the Virginia Central Railroad arrived in 1854. Factories made carriages, wagons, boots and shoes, clothing and blankets.[8] In 1860, Staunton Military Academy was founded. During the Civil War, the town became an important Shenandoah Valley supply depot for the Confederacy. On June 6, 1864, Union Major General David Hunter arrived with 10,000 troops to cut supply, communication and railway lines useful to the rebellion. The next day, they destroyed the railroad station, warehouses, factories and mills. Shops were looted and supplies confiscated. But Hunter spared the rest of the town, which is why so much of Staunton's Federal and Greek Revival architecture survived the war unscathed. It was incorporated in 1871, and through the following decades experienced an economic and building boom.[8]

Staunton played a peculiar role in African American history as the site from which the Consolidation Coal Company of Iowa hired large numbers of African American workers as strike breakers in 1880. Hiring large numbers of African Americans as industrial laborers was, at the time, unprecedented.[9] This move proved a success, and for years to come, Consolidation's workforce and mining camps were dominated by an African American majority.

On July 10, 1902, Staunton became an independent city.[10] In 1908, it was the first city in the world to adopt a city manager form of government, an outgrowth of the Progressive movement, and repeated in many locations since.[11]


Western State Hospital

Staunton is also home to the former Western State Lunatic Asylum, a hospital for the mentally ill, which originally began operations in 1828. The hospital was renamed Western State Hospital in 1894.

In its early days, the facility was a resort-style asylum. It had terraced gardens where patients could plant flowers and take walks, roof walks to provide mountain views, and many architectural details to create an atmosphere that would aid in the healing process.

Western State vacated the property in the 1970s when the hospital moved to its present site near Interstate 81. The facility was then converted to the Staunton Correctional Center, a medium-security men's penitentiary. The prison closed in 2003, and the site was left vacant for several years.

The site is currently being redeveloped into a mixed-use neighborhood called The Villages at Staunton. The multi-phase process is expected to take several years to complete. The first building to be renovated is The Bindery, which holds residential condos. The development team consists of Frazier Associates of Staunton, Folsom Group of Charlottesville, Miller & Associates of Richmond, and The Arcadia Land Company of Wayne, Pennsylvania .[12]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.7 square miles (51.0 km²), all land. Staunton is located in the Shenandoah Valley in between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains of the Appalachian Mountains. It is drained by Lewis Creek.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 23,853 people, 9,676 households, and 5,766 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,210.3 people per square mile (467.3/km²). There were 10,427 housing units at an average density of 529.1/sq mi (204.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.29% White, 13.95% Black or African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.46% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.52% from other races, and 1.55% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.11% of the population.

There were 9,676 households out of which 24.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.4% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.4% were non-families. 34.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the city the population was spread out with 19.8% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 27.8% from 25 to 44, 24.1% from 45 to 64, and 18.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 89.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,941, and the median income for a family was $44,422. Males had a median income of $30,153 versus $22,079 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,161. About 7.7% of families and 11.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.9% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Coffee On The Corner building, with Blackfriars Playhouse and the Stonewall Jackson Hotel behind
The Masonic Building, formerly the town hall

With five separate historic districts, Staunton is a popular tourist destination. It is home to the American Shakespeare Center, a theatrical company centered at the Blackfriars Playhouse, the only existing replica of Shakespeare's Blackfriars Theatre. The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library is open for visitors, as well as the Museum of American Frontier Culture, an insider's look at life in early America.

Staunton is also home to the Statler Brothers, country music legends who until 1994 performed free concerts at the annual Fourth of July celebration, accompanied by other greats of country music. The city is where Statler Brothers band members Don Reid, Harold Reid, and Phil Balsley grew up and still reside.


The city maintains strict building codes in the historic downtown, which makes the city attractive as a location for period films. Downtown Staunton and Sherwood Avenue were used in the American Civil War film Gods and Generals. The local Shenandoah Valley Railroad as well as a number of nearby houses were used in filming of Hearts in Atlantis. In 1993, The Showtime production of Assault at West Point: The Court-Martial of Johnson Whittaker was filmed here. In the summer of 2006, some scenes for the movie Evan Almighty were also filmed in Staunton.


Staunton is home to nearly 200 buildings designed by architect Thomas Jasper Collins (1844–1925), who worked in various styles during the Victorian era. His firm, T. J. Collins & Sons, is still in business.[13]

The city was once home to about ten hotels. One of them that is still in operation is the Stonewall Jackson Hotel. It was completely renovated in the early 2000s, and is now in operation as a hotel and a conference center. Some of the hotels that are no longer in operation are The Virginia Hotel, the Eakleton Hotel, the Valley Hotel, and the American Hotel. All of these buildings are still standing except for the Virginia Hotel, which was demolished in 1930 to make way for a planned addition to the Stonewall Jackson Hotel which was never built. The New Street Parking Garage now stands on the site.


  • The Staunton Braves of the Valley Baseball League are a collegiate summer baseball team which consists of college baseball players that play in various summer wood bat leagues throughout the United States.

Parks and recreation

Giant water can in the median of US 11-250, a local piece of novelty architecture.
  • Betsy Bell Wilderness Park — a 70 acres (280,000 m2) mountaintop park with a 1,959 feet (597 m) observation platform
  • Gypsy Hill Park — a 214 acres (870,000 m2) multi-use facility with a golf course, football and baseball stadiums, gymnasium, lake, two playgrounds, three youth baseball fields, public swimming pool, volleyball court, horseshoe pits, tennis courts, the Gypsy Express mini-train, the Duck Pond, a skatepark,[14] a bandstand and several pavilions
  • Montgomery Hall Park — a 148 acres (600,000 m2) multi-use facility with softball and soccer fields, tennis courts, disc golf course,[15] playgrounds, picnic shelters, hiking and fitness trails and a swimming pool. The offices of the Department of Parks and Recreation are at the Irene Givens Administration building, which also includes a kitchen, activity room, and conference room which are available for public use.
  • Booker T Washington Community Center
  • Nelson Street Teen Center


Staunton operates under a council-manager form of government, and was in fact the first city to define the position of city manager, though Sumter, S.C., was the first U.S. city to implement the council-manager form. Staunton, however, is often touted as "Birthplace of the Council-Manager Government."

Staunton is part of Virginia's 6th congressional district.






Staunton Amtrak station


Amtrak provides service to Staunton under the Cardinal route. The route serves Staunton's downtown train station. It also serves as the closest station for Harrisonburg, Virginia.

The city is located very close to the intersection of I-81 and I-64. VA-262 provides a partial beltway around the city. US-11 passes through the city.

The nearest commercial airport is Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave, Virginia.


Notable residents

President Woodrow Wilson

Sister city

Flag of Romania.svg Vişeu de Sus, Romania

See also


  1. ^ a b c "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ MICROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENTS, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
  5. ^ "Chapter 3: From the First Court to the First Indian War - Page 52, Waddell's Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871". Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  6. ^ Room, Adrian (1989). Dictionary of World Place Names Derived from British Names. Taylor & Francis. pp. 168. ISBN 9780415028110. 
  7. ^ "Augusta County, VA : History". Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  8. ^ a b History of Staunton, Virginia
  9. ^ Report: Contested Election Case -- J. C. Cook vs. M. E. Cutts, United States Congressional Serial Set, Washington, DC, Feb. 19, 1883.
  10. ^ "Virginia: Individual County and Independent City Chronologies". Retrieved 2006-12-26. 
  11. ^ "City Manager History". Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  12. ^ "The HooK: ON ARCHITECTURE- Historic treatment: Staunton commits to Western State". 2006-02-02. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  13. ^ "Eye candy: Staunton cures visual blues". The Hook (newspaper). 2006-01-05. Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "PDGA Disc Golf Course Details | Professional Disc Golf Association". Retrieved 2009-06-14. 

External links


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