The City of Staunton is independent of Augusta County, yet it is surrounded by the County. Although today many County offices are actually located in the town of Verona, the City of Staunton is officially the County Seat of Augusta County.
The City boundaries enclose 20 square miles, with 0.1 square mile in water. The Census of 2010 listed the population of Staunton at 23746 people; the population density was 1,200 people per square mile.
Southern Living Magazine described the City as “the perfect place to base any exploration of the valley. Staunton was also listed as one of the top 10 small towns of the Capital Region. The Wharf area was cited in particular where “preserved buildings from the town’s 1860s railroad boom house restaurants, antique shops and boutiques. “ The buildings, which embody historically important architecture, are divided among five National Historic Districts.
Nicknamed the Queen City of the Shenandoah Valley, Staunton is probably best known today as the birthplace of President Woodrow Wilson (28th President of the United States) and the location of his Presidential Library. It is also known as the location of Mary Baldwin College (historically a women’s college, of Stuart Hall (a private co-educational prep school), and the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.
The first settlers in the area were John Lewis, and family, who arrived in 1732. In 1736, the Crown granted William Beverley (a wealthy planter and merchant) 118,000 acres. By 1746, the first town plat had been created. The City was founded in 1747, and called Beverley’s Mill Place. It was renamed Staunton in honor of Lady Rebecca Staunton, who was the wife of the Royal Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Gooch.
From 1738 until 1771, Staunton was a regional capital for what was then known as the Northwest Territory. At the time, Augusta County included land that became West Virginia and Kentucky, which made Staunton the geographical center of the Virginia Colony. During this period, Staunton became one of the leading “remote trading companies in the backcountry.” The city managed the flow of locally harvested grain and tobacco that was exported to Britain. The City then became important in the growth of the colonial economy, which contributed to their success in the American Revolution. Staunton also became the capital of Virginia in 1781, when officials fled both Richmond and Charlottesville in search of safe haven from the British forces.
Staunton’s location on the Valley Pike led to its economic development as a center of trade and transportation, as well as an industrial center. This role grew when the Virginia Central Railroad reached the City in 1854. As an industrial center, Staunton produced carriages, wagons, boots, clothes, shoes and blankets. In the years leading up to the Civil War, two newspapers were published in the city – one was pro-secession and pro-slavery, the other was pro-secession and pro-slavery.
During the civil war, Staunton became a military staging and supply location and manufacturer of goods needed by the Confederacy. In 1864, Union forces captured the City, cut supply and transportation lines, destroyed the railroad station and other buildings used to supply the Confederacy, and even looted stores and warehouses.
In 1902, Staunton became an independent city. Six years later, they adopted the city manager form of governing the City and hired Charles E. Ashburner as the first city manager in the country.
Staunton is also home to Western State Hospital, which opened in 1828 under the name Western State Asylum. It was renamed Western State Hospital in 1894.
Staunton’s role in manufacturing, education, and health care has continued to the present. The top industries in which people are employed in and around Staunton are Government, Manufacturing, Health Care, and Retail Trade. According to a City report of 2015, the top employers in Staunton are:
- Western State Hospital
- Staunton City Schools
- Mary Baldwin College
- City of Staunton
- Alpha Staff
- Fisher Auto Parts
- Virginia Department of Transportation
- Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind
- Home Instead Senior Care
Staunton is served by the Augusta-Stanton Memorial Hospital, by a number of practitioners, and by other nursing and rehabilitation homes and centers, in addition to the top employing companies. The leadership of these facilities and the practitioners in the City are people dedicated to helping and healing others. No matter how much we would like to believe otherwise, health care is provided by human beings, and human beings sometimes make mistakes or overlook information. In addition, we have all heard stories from nursing homes and hospitals across the country about physical and emotional abuse of patients or neglect.
If you, or a loved one, are harmed by the mistakes, negligence, or abuse of a health care institution or individuals employed by them, you may have a right to seek justice in the form of financial compensation. Typically, this compensation is intended to cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs of your injury. Should this happen to your family, call Altizer Law, P.C. Bettina and her team have been representing clients in medical malpractice cases for more than twenty years.
Arts and Culture
Since the City’s early days, visitors expected good food and good entertainment, and the people obliged them with music, dance, and works of art. Today, residents and visitors enjoy theatrical presentations at the American Shakespeare Center and its Blackfriars Playhouse, which is a replica of Shakespeare’s own Blackfriars Theatre.
In 2012, the Heifetz International Music Institute came to town. It is named for violinist Daniel Heifetz is a summer music school and festival devoted to artistic and career development. It draws some of the best emerging classical musicians.
The Statler Brothers grew up in Staunton and some still live there. Until 1994, they performed at the annual July 4 celebration, along with other country music performers.
Staunton is also the home of a large number of art schools and art galleries. These include the Dwell Collective and the Beverley Street Studio School.
Staunton is also the home of the Hypnagogia Film Collective, a group of experimental filmmakers. Several top box office motion pictures were partly or entirely filmed in the City.
Folksinger Phil Ochs attributes part of the reason he became a singer to his years in Staunton while a student at Staunton Military Academy and to the country music he heard there.
Citizens of Staunton have made a concerted effort to preserve the historically important architecture of an earlier age. There are nearly 200 buildings in the City that were designed by architect Thomas Jasper Collins. He designed buildings in several styles during the Victorian Period. At one time, Staunton boasted 10 hotels. One, the Stonewall Jackson, is still in operation as a hotel and conference center. One was destroyed, and the remaining eight are still standing. Many of these structures are now used for other purposes. In addition, homes from the three centuries and multiple architectural styles have been preserved. Some are open to the public. Many homes, such as the Oaks and Waverley Hill are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Part of the effort to preserve the architecture for future generations , the city created five historic districts: Gospel Hill, Beverley, The Wharf, Stuart Addition, and Newtown. Repairs and modifications to the homes, buildings, fences, walls, and other site details in these areas are regulated by Section 18.85, Historic Preservation District of the Staunton City Code.
Not only have the citizens of Staunton preserved the stunning architecture of previous centuries, they have also collected, preserved and restored many artifacts that are on display in the many museums, historical sites, and exhibits.
Among the museums and other displays are:
- Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library
- Museum of American Frontier Culture
- Antique Fire Engine Museum
- Camera Heritage Museum
- The Wilderness Road
- Civil War Battlefields
- Confederate Breastworks
- Staunton National Cemetery
The City of Staunton is surrounded by the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Spectacular vistas can be enjoyed from the surrounding mountains. Augusta County offers many opportunities for outdoor sports and activities, ranging from walking tours to hiking and biking trails, rivers and streams for outstanding fishing, fishing and hunting in the George Washington National Forest, as well as trails for bird and wildlife viewing.
The greatest treasure in the City of Staunton is the people who live there. Open to a variety of artistic genres and styles, they appreciate and seek out the best musicians. They are knowledgeable of the City’s history and committed to preserving and interpreting the history and ideas that were foundational to a City that remained vital for more than three centuries. They continue to offer warm hospitality to visitors.
Call Altizer Law, P.C.
If you, or a loved one, are injured in a car crash, are harmed by medical malpractice, nursing home abuse or neglect, or harmed by defective or dangerous products or premises, we hope you will call us. For more than 20 years, Bettina and her team have been helping people like you to win justice and fair compensation for their hurts and harms. We are known for our compassionate care for our clients and our ability to fight relentlessly for them.