lexington has a charming downtown historic district with a number of shops and restaurants. lexington's downtown historic district is listed on the national register of historic places. a great place to visit for those interested in architecture, shopping, and dining. see the attached web site for information on the attractions of downtown lexington.
the stonewall jackson memorial cemetery is the final resting place of famous confederate general thomas "stonewall" jackson as well as two virginia governors, and 144 confederate veterans. jackson was originally buried in his family plot about 20 yards west of this statue. for those interested in civil war history the stonewall memorial cemetery is worth a look when in downtown lexington.
famous confederate general thomas "stonewall" jackson lived in lexington prior to the civil war. this brick and stone federal style house was the only house that jackson owned. the thomas jackson house has an excellent collection of jackson's furnishings and personal relics. for those interested in civil war history the thomas jackson house is a must see site in lexington. for admission and times see the attached web site.
washington & lee university began as the augusta academy in 1749. in 1776 the academy was renamed liberty hall and in 1782 moved to it's present location in downtown lexington. in 1796 george washington made a large donation to the school and liberty hall was renamed washington academy. in 1824 the group of buildings which became known as the colonade were constructed. today this group of buildings is the focal point of the university campus. after the civil war confederate general robert e. lee became the school's president from 1865 to his death in 1870. in 1870 the school was renamed washington & lee university. the campus of washington & lee university is a designated national historic landmark. for those interested in architecture the washington & lee campus is a nice place to visit in downtown lexington.
the virginia military institute also called VMI is the oldest state supported military college in the united states. VMI was founded in 1839 and is nicknamed the "west point" of the south. famous confederate general thomas "stonewall" jackson was a professor of natural and experimental philosophy at VMI prior to the civil war. in june 1864 union general david hunter destroyed the VMI campus. the interesting castellated gothic buildings you see today were built after the civil war. famous alumni of VMI are general george marshall and eight other four star generals. the VMI campus is an interesting place to visit to see castellated gothic architecture and to view military parades. the VMI campus is listed on the national register of historic places.
after the civil war confederate general robert e. lee became the president of washington college in lexington. in 1867 lee requested the construction of a chapel on the grounds of the college. the chapel was designed by thomas williamson and was completed in 1868. lee attended services here until his death in 1870. today you can see the massive crypt of robert e. lee sculpted by famous virginia sculptor edward valentine. the chapel also houses the graves of lee's father "light horse" harry lee, robert e. lee's wife and children. in the basement of the chapel is a museum with exhibits of general lee and his family. the lee chapel is a national historic landmark. for admission and times see the attached web site.
a good first stop on a visit to lexington is the lexington visitor center. here you can get a map of the downtown historic district and information on lexington's historic attractions. also at the visitor center you can get information on lexington's restaurants and hotels.
Here in the middle of Lexington are the graves of many famous people, in addition to Thomas Jonathan 'Stonewall' Jackson [body minus Arm], including 144 Confederate veterans, and two Virginia governors.
Others (in alphabetical order):
John White Brockenbrough - the founder of Washington and Lee Law School
John Mercer Brooke - Confederate States Naval Commander, Inventor, and Professor.
William Gilham - the author of a popular book on military drill and tactics.
Mary Anna Jackson -Widow of General Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson who wrote his memoir.
George Junkin - the founder of Lafayette College in Easton, PA; the founder of the University of Miami in Oxford, Ohio (Miami of Ohio); and the President (1846-1861) of Washington College (present day Washington and Lee University ) in Lexington, Virginia. He was also the father of Eleanor Junkin, the first wife of Confederate Civil War General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.
John Letcher - Virginia Governor, US Congressman. the editor of the Democratic “Valley Star” from 1839 to 1850
Elisha Franklin 'Bull' Paxton - Civil War Confederate Brigadier General.
Alexander Swift 'Sandie' Pendleton - Civil War Confederate Army Officer. Historians today call him the most capable staff officer in the whole Confederate army
John Thomas Lewis Preston. - founder of the Virginia Military Institute and his wife
Margaret Preston - Author ot "Silverwood, a Book of Memories," "A Rhyme of the War," and "Old Songs and New."
Absalom Willis Robertson - Major, World War I, 1917-1919; United States Representative from Virginia, 1933-1946; United States Senator from Virginia, 1946-1966; father of televangelist Pat Robertson.
Francis Henney Smith - the first Superintendent of Virginia Military Institute.
Henry St. George Tucker - US Congressman.
Edwin Parker 'Cy' Twombly - Major League Baseball Player. He was a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox in 1921.
In the center of the cemetery, the statue of Stonewall Jackson was sculpted by Edward Valentine
Thomas Jonathan Jackson is probably much more widely known as Stonewall Jackson. A graduate of West Point, he was a professor of Natural Philosophy at VMI for the ten years preceding the Civil War, where he was known as Major Thomas Jackson. He was quite active in the Lexington community where he attended the Presbyterian Church, where he also taught Sunday School. He married and was widowed and married a second wife. He was involved in several private business activities including being a director of the local bank.
The Jackson House which was the only home that he ever owned was built in 1801 but was only his residence for just over two years, from early 1859 until he rode off to war on 21 April 1861. He returned in May of 1863 after being wounded in the Battle of Chancellorsville and taken to Richmond where he died a couple days later. He was only 39 when he died but may be the second most famous of the Confederate generals, after Robert E. Lee.
His home is a Registered National Landmark and was restored in 1979 by the Historic Lexington Foundation. Many of the items currently furnishing the home were actually used by the Jacksons.
Guided tours are available every half hour or you may tour the house and gardens at your own pace. There is also a gift shop which specializes in gifts, artwork, and other items from the Civil War-era.
Photography is prohibited in the house.
In many ways, the Virginia Military Institute is the heart and soul of Lexington and Rockbridge County, VA. It is the single most imposing physical feature of the town and attracts more tourists and students than any other single site.
November 11 is a date that most Westerners relate to. It is the date that World War I ended and the day Americans, and some Europeans, celebrate as Armistice or Veterans Day in honor of those who have served their countries in time of war. But 79 years before the end of World War I, November 11 became historical for another reason. It was the date in 1839 that the nation's first state supported military college opened at the site of the Lexington Arsenal. The early objective was to train military leaders while they also served as soldiers at the arsenal.
Since that modest beginning, it has educated a wide array of military and civilian leaders, with perhaps its most distinguished graduate coming from the class of 1901, General of the Army (that is five stars) George C. Marshall who later became US Secretary of State and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The George C Marshall Museum is on the VMI campus.
On campus there is also a VMI Museum and several other sites of historical significance. If you are an avid fan of military history, you could literally spend days learning on the VMI campus. Do not under any circumstances try to get a taste of the entire campus in less than half-a-day. Please see my travelogue eentitled, "Walking Tour of the VMI Campus."