Virginia’s back roads and rural areas are dotted with traces of once-thriving communities. General stores, train depots, schools, churches, banks, and post offices provide intriguing details of a way of life now gone. The buildings may be empty or repurposed today, the existing community may be struggling to survive or rebuilding itself in a new and different way, but the story behind each community’s original development is an interesting and important footnote to the development of Virginia and the United States.
Lost Communities of Virginia documents thirty small communities from throughout the Commonwealth that have lost their original industry, transportation mode, or way of life. Using contemporary photographs, historical information, maps, and excerpts of interviews with longtime residents of these communities, the book documents the present conditions, recalls past boom times, and explains the role of each community in regional settlement.
Lost Communities of Virginia sets down short, engaging stories of 30 spots off the beaten track throughout the state. It is a dream book, inlcuding photos of buildings that may or may not still stand. Part of the authors' purpose in writing the volume was to embrace these fading towns and "record both their architecture and the lives of their citizens." They also have hopes of revitalizing them.
[R]eading Lost Communities of Virginia made me wish that I had gone to Virginia Tech...I would have gotten involved in the Community Design Assistance Center and the Lost Communities of Virginia Project....I am still pretty jealous of the Hokies who got to perform all the research and write the beautiful book that is Lost Communities of Virginia.
This volume is readable, informative, and beautifully illustrated, all reasons to spend quiet time with it.
Terri Fisher is Outreach and Programs Coordinator at the Community Design Assistance Center at Virginia Tech, Executive Director of the Giles County Historical Society, and author of two pictorial histories of Giles County, Virginia. Kirsten Sparenborg is a member of the studio of Sottile & Sottile Urban Analysis & Design in Savannah, Georgia. She works as an artist and designer in the field of preservation in Washington, DC.