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Published: April 23rd 2022
Our objective for this trip was the town of Farmville, Virginia, home to Longwood University. One of the traditions of Senior Year for American high school students is the College Road Trip—a chance for the student and parents to check out prospective universities and their programs of study. This day, Susan and I would be taking Julia to investigate Longwood University, a state-supported university in south central Virginia. Almost by definition, a college trip is a road trip—and a road trip brings with it all the attendant possibilities for new experiences and discoveries. The road would take us south to Richmond and then into the countryside of the Southside region of Virginia. It’s an area replete with the history of colonial Virginia plantations, events immediately leading to the end of the Civil War at Appomattox, and happenings in more modern times.
Our trip began with the usual route south—down the “back way” via Occoquan to pick up Interstate 95 south of the congestion around Springfield. We left at 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon. (We knew we had to be on our way before 3:00 p.m. to avoid rush hour traffic.) Traffic was moderate for a Thursday afternoon in summer. We
The Randolph Warehouse dates from early 20th century. The Old Warehouse building in Farmville houses Greenfront Furniture and Charley's Waterfront Cafe.
"One-story early-twentieth-century brick warehouses with a minimum of stylish detail are seen at the old Randolph Warehouse on Mill Street ..."
Contributing resource, Farmville Historic District. National Register of Historic Places 89001822. P1050206p1
reached Richmond by 4:10 p.m. How now to proceed? Richmond does not have a complete “beltway” (circumferential highway) on its west side. (It does on its East side, to permit traffic for Williamsburg, the Virginia Peninsula, and the beaches to bypass the city.) Susan had mapped one route while I had mapped another. Well, I decided to take my route for the “outbound” journey. It was rush hour now in Richmond, anyway, and I thought we should not try to go through the city. Nevertheless, mine was a roundabout route: from I-95 south to I-295 west to I-64 west one exit to Virginia 288 south. VA288 is a new outer bypass expressway. It has the appearance of going from nowhere to nowhere. (I suppose its purpose is to foster development in the outer Richmond suburbs.)
VA288 did lead after about 20 miles (34 km) to US Highway 360, the road to take us to Southside. The intersection was a bustling with recent development. New housing and commercial zones and all sorts of restaurants and “big box” stores lined US 360 here. But it soon came to an abrupt end, with farmland opening up beyond. Now began an approximately 50
mile (84 km) drive to Farmville. The route is lined with numerous historical markers describing Virginia’s expansion in colonial times and chronicling the retreat of the Confederate Army to Appomattox after Union forces captured Richmond and Petersburg on April 1, 1865.
We arrived in Farmville at 6:00 p.m. after taking the scenic route to get there. (We followed US 360 all the way to the junction with US 460 rather than take a shortcut.) I hadn’t known quite what to expect. Farmville is the largest town in south central Virginia between Richmond and Lynchburg. The town was founded in 1798, laid out by the Randolph family from land from their estate called Bizarre. (With a name like that, you know there has to be a story. More on Bizarre in tomorrow’s blog.)
We checked in to the new Hampton Inn on Third Street (US 460). This area, on the outskirts of Farmville, has a new multiplex cinema, shopping center, and apartment complexes. For dinner, we went to at Charlie’s Waterfront Café in the old industrial section of town. Several large brick textile mills and tobacco warehouses have been restored and converted to retail and commercial spaces. After dinner,
Craddock-Terry Shoe Company
Former Craddock-Terry Shoe Company warehouse in Farmville, VA. The brick structure was once a tobacco warehouse. 400 North Main Street.
"The most prominent examples--the warehouses of the Dunnington Tobacco Company and Central Virginia Processing, Inc. on First Street, the former Craddock-Terry Shoe Company on North Main street, and the former Cunningham and company tobacco prizery (now the Farmers Cooperative, Inc.) on West Third Street--represent one of the best turn-of-the-century tobacco warehouse complexes in Virginia".
Contributing resource, Farmville Historic District. National Register of Historic Places 89001822.
we took an evening drive around the Longwood University campus before our tour the next day.
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