Historic Properties

Ashland Baptist Church

The following information has been taken from an email from Rosanne Shalf, President of the Ashland Museum. Note that many of the buildings that she refers to will be destroyed if a Third Rail is put through town.


The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will be coming to Ashland on November 1 at the Ashland Theatre and will tour the town. They will have a meeting, not a public hearing, about their plans for the fast rail. It is important that as many well-behaved, friendly citizens as possible are at the meeting and also strolling the streets, eating outside, etc. so they can see our relationship and proximity to the rail right of way.  Please make no reference to the western bypass. We need to be united. See Jim Foley’s letter.

The Federal Rail people have to take into account any historic properties that might be in the path of the proposed rail.  The way they do that is to do a “Section 106 Study” that identifies the historic properties that any proposed route would affect.


“Contributing structures” within a historic district are ones that fit within the timeframe and architectural styles of the particular district. “Non-contributing structures” are ones like brick ranchers or other 1950s and later buildings or buildings that have been so altered that they don’t have the architectural elements of the period. I’ll point some out below.

“Historic Landmarks” are single buildings that are designated because they have some special significance because of people associated with them or because of their special architecture.

“Historic Districts” are large areas and neighborhoods that have a collection of mostly “contributing structures” of a particular time period. That’s us.

Our Districts

First, Ashland has two National Historic Districts and they contain over 200 buildings that are historic and considered “contributing structures” to the district. Most of the buildings on Center St and Railroad Avenue are within the district.  You can count on your fingers the non-contributing ones—Brock Gym, Ashland Coffee and Tea, and some mid-century homes along there or recently constructed homes. They are obvious, but there aren’t many “non-contributing”.

District #1

RANDOLPH-MACON HISTORIC CAMPUS, designated in 1979, the three oldest buildings that face the tracks built in the 1870s.  It is these that would be negatively affected by the proposed station improvements, to say nothing of having the campus split in two.  There are no non-contributing structures in this district.

District #2

ASHLAND NATIONAL HISTORIC DISTRICT, designated in 1983, contains over 200 buildings most of which are “contributing structures.” The date timeframe for our current district is pre-Civil War (Macmurdo House, The Center, Chopper Dawson’s house) to the 1930s, and “contributing structures” are those built in that time-frame that have not been so altered, especially the front facades, that they are no longer representative styles of their time. Most of the buildings on either side of the tracks are in the district from almost to Patrick St. on the north to Early Street on the south. They include but are not limited to the following, and this is a really rough breakdown. You can see the addresses in the attached file.

Historic Downtown Business District south of Rt 54, including the old Hughes Drug Store (1900), Tiny Tim’s (1901), Caboose (1870s? 1890s?), Iron horse (1913) — all the buildings on the west side of that block except for Bell Book and Candle.  On east side of that block, Cross Brothers, Shear Power, and possibly McCardle Insurance (under the permastone).  On the east side of the block farther south Fin and Feather and Chopper’s house (1858) and storefront (1871).

Historic Downtown Business District north of Rt. 54, including the old Hanover National Bank Building (1919) and the Ashland Train Station (1923). Even Homemades’ building itself was built as the USPO and Barnes Drug Store before the turn of the 20th century.  It has been modified a lot, so it might not be considered “contributing.”

Residential District South of Rt 54, including S Center St: the homes from the 300 block all the way down to Early Street and the Hendrixson’s house.  Some of those are not “contributing structures” such as the Sutton house, the house next to the Dyers that was so modified that it would no longer qualify, and the little brick cape cod on the east side of the street next to the Paces that was built in the 1950s.  The apartments next to The Center are also outside the district’s timeframe. The map extends also to much of Howard Street, part of Race Course, and part of James Street on the west and parts of Virginia St and Maple St on the east.

Residential District North of Rt 54, including the former residences along the tracks that RMC now owns, some of the other college buildings built between 1900 and 1930, such as Mary Branch and Thomas Branch dorms, Peele Hall, the security building on Caroline, the three brick homes on Caroline, the houses on College up to Louisiana St. The houses on Henry Clay Road from the Martins all the way to a couple of houses past Dewey Street. (there are some, maybe 4 or 5, brick 1 1/2 story homes in that area that are not contributing).


Ashland VA railroad tracks 1918
The Tracks in 1918


If you would like to see our estimate as to the impact of this proposed Third Rail please visit Impact of the Third Rail.

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