It may very well take a whole lifetime to visit all of Virginia’s historical landmarks. The Old Dominion has accumulated lots of history in the 400-plus years since Jamestown became a settlement. From battles, to speeches, to social movements, this land has bore witness to a lot. Through preservation, we’re able to visit many of these places where such history was made. The following historical landmarks are a must-see for Virginia residents and visitors alike.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Mount Vernon
Eight miles due south of Alexandria stands the gorgeous home of our Nation's first president. It may stand to reason that Washington was seldom home, seeing as he spent his days leading the Revolution, fighting in the French and Indian war, and surveying land. Washington's family owned the land situated over the Potomac River since 1674. Tours of this breathtaking estate are offered daily.
2. Arlington National Cemetery
Here lie over 400,000 active duty servicemen, veterans, and their family members. This cemetery is nationally significant in its representation of service to the country. Arlington conducts nearly 7,000 services per year. Some notable grave sites include that of John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft. This is also the location of the Arlington House, a 19th-century mansion that was originally built as a memorial of George Washington.
3. Manassas National Battlefield
Located in Prince William County is the battlefield where two important Civil War battles took place: the first and second battles of Manassas (also known as the first and second battles of Bull Run). What stands today as a lush countryside was the site of killing and bloodshed on a scale that had never been witnessed in the U.S. at that point. This first Battle of Manassas was also the first major battle of the Civil War.
4. Edgar Allan Poe Museum
Although Poe never lived in this building, it stands to commemorate the poet's time in Richmond. The museum stands in the "Old Stone House," which was built sometime in the 1740s and is the oldest cited building in Richmond. It opened as a museum in 1922 by a group of Poe enthusiasts whose request to put up a Poe monument on the historic Monument Avenue was denied.
5. First Landing State Park
Christopher Newport and the settles of the Virginia Colony landed near this Virginia Beach state park in April of 1607. This is where the first elective government was established before the settlement was then moved to Jamestown. In addition to historical markers, there are plenty of trails and wildlife varieties to enjoy.
6. A.P. Carter Museum
A.P. Carter's old general store was turned into a museum honoring the musical Carter Family. Southwestern Virginia is said to be the true birthplace of country music, and that is largely due to hits such as "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and "Keep On the Sunny Side," both written by the Carters. The museum in Hiltons contains show clothes, photographs, books, and items donated by June Carter and Johnny Cash.
7. White House of the Confederacy
Located on E. Clay St. in Richmond, the White House of the Confederacy served as headquarters to Jefferson Davis, the sole President of the Confederacy, who lived there from 1861-1865. It was viewed as the counterpart to the White House in Washington, D.C. The house was built in 1818 and in the later 19th-century was converted into a museum.
Just outside of Charlottesville lies Thomas Jefferson's famous plantation home. Whereas Washington was the father of our country, Jefferson was the father of invention, and touring his home will prove it. The president designed his house with neoclassical principles outlined by the Italian Renaissance. He believed furniture took up unnecessary space, and inside you can see the innovative placement of beds, tables, and storage spaces.
9. St. John's Church
This National Historic Landmark became a symbol of American patriotism when Patrick Henry declared "Give me liberty, or give me death!" inside the church during his famous speech of 1775. Months later, shots were fired at Lexington and Concord and the American Revolutionary War began.
10. Humpback Bridge
Covington's Humpback bridge is the oldest surviving covered bridges in the state. What makes this landmark even more fascinating is its curved shape. The bridge dates back to 1857 and it stretches over 100 feet.
11. Yorktown Victory Center
The Yorktown Victory Center marks the site where the British surrendered to the combined American and French allied forces under the command of George Washington in 1781. Today, outdoor living exhibits, films, and timelines outline the path to American freedom from Britain.
12. Lee Chapel
Lee Chapel is located on the campus of Washington & Lee University in Lexington. Its construction took place under request of Robert E. Lee, who served as the University's president during that time. When Lee passed away in 1870, his body was buried in the chapel and has remained there. In the basement of the chapel is a crypt where many of Lee's family members have been buried.
13. Bacon's Castle
Bacon's Castle is located on a 40-acre historic site in Surry. The mansion was constructed in 1665 by Arthur Allen and is the only example of Jacobean architecture that remains in the entire country. The mansion is named for Rebel Leader Nathaniel Bacon. Today, guided house tours are offered March - November.
14. Booker T. Washington Monument
This national monument pays tribute to the life of Booker T Washington. At this site in Hardy, Virginia, Washington was born and raised. It was on this tobacco plantation, in fact, where his thoughts on slavery and emancipation were formed.
15. Jamestown Settlement
See where it all began at the Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century culture. Historical reenactments, three English ships, re-creations of Powhatan villages, and a colonial fort will take you back to colonial America.
16. Peyton Randolph House
The Peyton Randolph house can be found in Colonial Williamsburg and dates back to 1715. It once served as the home to the first President of the Continental Congress, Peyton Randolph. During the Civil War, the house was used as a hospital for Confederate soldiers. Due to its lengthy history, the house is considered to be one of the most haunted in the entire country.
17. Appomattox Court House
The Appomattox Court House is where the Civil War officially ended when General Lee surrendered to Grant in April 1865. The McClean House is where the surrender took place. This building as well as many others in the National Historic Park have been preserved and maintained.
This list just barely scratches the surface of all the historical sites that exist in Virginia. What are some of your favorite places to learn more about our state’s history?