2021 Candlelight Tour Neighborhood History
Strategically located at the falls of the Rappahannock River, Fredericksburg was established as a town in 1728 by an act of the House of Burgesses, to serve as a port town for the Piedmont. The 1728 Act decreed that 50 acres of land from the John Royston and Robert Buckner tract should be surveyed and laid out in streets and town lots. The original 50-acre tract fronted the river and was bounded by Wolfe Street on the south and Lewis Street on the north, with the rear or western boundary located halfway between Princess Anne and Charles streets. [If you look closely, there is a boundary marker on the south side of Lewis Street. Stay on the sidewalk, and you will see it halfway between Charles and Princess Anne streets.] In 1759, the town boundaries were expanded by the Assembly to include present-day Dixon, Winchester, and Canal streets. The area developed slowly, and it was almost rural in nature until the mid-nineteenth century. Mary Washington House (construction date 1759) and 1114 Charles (constructed date circa 1785) are some of the earliest homes in the area. While some building activity occurred in the neighborhood before the Civil War (307 Lewis Street was constructed in 1815), the war years and ensuing reconstruction stunted growth considerably. It was not until the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that the most extensive development took place, evidenced by the construction dates of 1893 for 1108 Charles and 1894 for 1112 Charles.
On December 11, 1862, the era of relative peace and prosperity came to an abrupt end. The violent clash of Union and Confederate forces turned the area of this year’s tour into a battlefield—the scene of some of the bloodiest urban fighting of the entire Civil War.
Each of the properties on this year’s tour, in its own, unique way, promotes HFFI’s mission of “working to preserve, protect, and revitalize the distinctive historic environment and cultural resources of the Fredericksburg area.” In the 1950s, a nationwide preservation movement began work to preserve historic areas. The local Fredericksburg League of Women Voters began work on the creation of a Fredericksburg historic district. In 1955, “a group of local citizens alarmed by the destruction of several architectural and historical landmarks in the city” created the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation. [For more information on the creation of HFFI and the Candlelight Tour, please read (purchase) Homes for the Holidays: Historic Fredericksburg’s Candlelight Tradition.]