by Professor Michael Spencer, Department of Historic Preservation, University of Mary Washington

Born in September of 1863, in Wilkes-Barre township in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, Andrew Curtain Garrison is perhaps one of Fredericksburg’s the more colorful builders.[1] Throughout the later-19th century he worked as a carpenter in Luzerne, Pennsylvania, gaining valuable experience in the construction industry.[2] On November 5, 1887, he married Carrie E. Bogart.[3] The couple and their first son, Leslie, moved between 1895 and 1896 to Washington Township in Montgomery County, Iowa. Shortly afterward, the family welcomed their second son, Forest. While in Iowa, Garrison continued to work as a carpenter.[4]

The family moved back in Virginia by 1903, at least, as Garrison began selling real-estate.[5]  Unfortunately, Garrison was arrested in 1905 for “doing business in Fredericksburg by selling farms without a license.” Unable to pay the fine, Garrison was jailed.[6]  By 1910, the family was living in Caroline County and Garrison was still noted as working in real estate, specifically the sale of farms.[7] However, by 1913, Garrison was undertaking carpentry work and is noted as making repairs to the Hopewell Church in Caroline County.[8] Yet the family appears to be moving around quite a bit as the 1920 census shows them living in Chesapeake, Virginia, where Garrison is noted as a carpenter.[9]

The following year, the family is again found residing in Caroline County, and Garrison is noted as building homes near the Home Builders section of Fredericksburg near the north end of  Charles and Prince Edward Streets.[10] It seems likely that Garrison was anticipating future development in what would eventually become the Home Builders, Inc. subdivision, formally platted in 1922.[11] Priced between $3,000-$4,000, these houses would be some of the costliest dwellings constructed by Garrison in Fredericksburg during his career.[12]

While its highly unlikely Garrison had any formal design training, he advertises providing “expert architectural designs” and the ability of a client to “build ’em like you want them.”[13] This design-and-build business model was likely used during Garrison’s construction of 1415 Prince Edward Street in 1922 for Home Builders, Inc. and at 1406 Prince Edward Street, completed shortly thereafter in 1923.[14]

Figure 1: 1406 Prince Edward Street, constructed by Garrison as part of the Home Builders Inc. neighborhood in 1922-1923. Note the attic window casing with the small pediment as well as the band board separating the attic from the second story, both features of Garrison’s frame buildings.

Assessed at $2,400 and $2,000, respectively, the houses were geared towards “people of moderate means”.[15] Emphasis was also placed on modern conveniences, with the new homes being electrified and plumbed for bathrooms. While the development company, Home Builders, Inc., dictated the size and price point for these homes, Garrison appears to have had some input into their design.

Several aspects from his houses on Prince Edward Street are later incorporated into dwellings he constructed in the neighborhood of College Terrace, including the near full-width, one-story porches and front-facing gables. Another repeated feature is the placement of smaller windows within the front-facing gables for both 1415 and 1406 Prince Edward Street. Three windows are grouped together at 1415, with the central window being slightly larger, vaguely reminiscent of a Palladian window. The house at 1406 has paired windows within the gable and a window casing that incorporates a half-width pediment at the top. Wood shingles add further ornament to the gable and are separated from the second floor by a band board—both of these design elements were incorporated into subsequent Garrison dwellings.

The houses Garrison constructed at 1410 and 1412 Charles Street between 1923 and 1924 greatly influenced his design approach throughout the rest of the 1920s and into the 1930s.[16] Smaller in scale, Garrison describes these buildings as “common sense house[s] with all modern improvement[s]”.[17]

While smaller, these homes still utilized a side-passage plan and incorporated some of the gable details at 1406 Prince Edward such as the shingles, pedimented window casing, and band board. Additional details, notably the scroll work on the tails of the rake boards, were added. The roof at 1412 Charles further incorporates a small cross-gable–a more effective design for attic access.

Figure 2: 1412 Charles Street, constructed in 1923. Note the similar attic window casing to 1406 Prince Edward Street as well as the wood shingles and band board. This house would serve as the model for Garrison’s “1929 model” home.

Figure 3: 1412 Charles Street showing the rake board tail detail.

Nearby, 409 Pitt Street was built by Garrison in 1923 and is his most high-style Craftsman design. Here he further enlarged the front-facing cross-gable to accommodate a full-height second floor.[18]  At this time, Garrison began to develop a since of showmanship, advertising this new Home Builders, Inc. development where his homes were constructed as “Wonderland”. His ad goes on to say it’s “where the most marvelous works of man are taking place” and that the area will be “transformed into one of the best residential sections of our city”. Interestingly, Garrison refers to himself not only as the builder but also the wrecker, perhaps in reference to the buildings on “Stonebraker’s Row” that he demolished to make way for the new development.[19]

His salesmanship would continue throughout the 1930s as he began building a significant number of homes on Blocks 149 A and B within the College Terrace neighborhood. While platted in 1917, College Terrace appears to have only had a few homes prior to 1924.[20] However, from 1924 to 1940 Garrison constructed at least 20 homes in blocks 149 A and 149 B, primarily along Sunken Road, Monument (Pennsylvania) Avenue, and Franklin Street.

The first Garrison-built home in College Terrace appears to have been 1417 Sunken Road constructed in 1924. No longer extant, this building was assessed at $700 and quickly purchased by Edward C. Thacker.[21] Built for affordability the building’s design was simple. The roughly square, wood-framed, one-story building likely had a central entry flanked on either side by windows. A small, one-bay, gable front porch likely covered the entry with its roof intersecting with the house just under the boxed eaves of the hipped, almost pyramidal roof. The interior was also simple, consisting of four to six rooms and a bathroom.[22]

Garrison liked this design as he constructed three more houses shortly after: 1415 and 1416 Franklin Street as well as 1407 Sunken Road.[23] While 1407 Sunken Road is likely a copy of 1417 Sunken Road, both 1415 and 1416 Franklin Street have slight alterations to the hipped roof ridge, which appears to be flat or low pitched and accommodates a central chimney. Despite some later alterations, these three houses provide additional information about Garrison’s limited use of applied aesthetic, notably the rake boards of the porches which have scroll work at the tails, similar to those seen at 1412 Charles Street.

Figure 4: 1407 Sunken Road, likely similar to Garrison’s first building in College Terrace. Note the near pyramidal roof. Close inspection also reveals scrolled rake board tails.

Enough progress had been made on these initial buildings by November 21, 1924, that Garrison felt comfortable inviting the public to “follow the procession to the Magic Section of the city” and “visit wonderland”—a phrase he had used a year earlier to describe the Home Builders Inc. neighborhood.[24] Although Edward Thacker quickly purchased 1417 Sunken Road soon after its completion in 1924, it took time to for him to sell the remaining three. Willie Hiltner purchased 1415 Franklin Street in June 1926, for example.[25]

Figure 5: 1928 image (cropped) showing Franklin Street with houses annotated. (UMW Special Collections, Centennial Image Collection).

Lackluster home sales appear to have impacted Garrison’s ability to continue developing the area for another year. In an effort to get the College Terrace development back on track, Garrison advertised his farm in Guinea for sale “at a sacrifice price” asking only $7,500—$2,500 less than what Garrison believes its worth.[26] Apparently, Garrison was able to cobble enough finances together to continue building in College Terrace and, by 1926, has two more homes under construction, 1404 and 1406 Franklin Street.[27]

The one-and-one-half-story, three-bay, central-entry, wood-frame house at 1404 Franklin Street follows the roughly square form used by Garrison a little over a year earlier, however there are some significant differences. For instance, the porch is larger, nearly full-width and instead of a hipped roof a jerkinhead roof, somewhat of a rarity, is used. Because the building is over a single-story Garrison also employs a band board between the first floor and half-story. The use of a band board to distinguish between the living floors and the attic space on the exterior is also seen at 1410 Charles Street. The ends of the rake boards are also detailed with similar scrollwork to previous buildings.

While 1404 Franklin Street borrowed elements from previous Garrison buildings, 1406 Franklin Street is almost an exact copy of 1410 Charles Street, albeit a little smaller. The rake boards are nearly identical and the attic window set within the front gable has the same unique casing design as both 1412 Charles Street and 1406 Prince Edward Street. This same basic design, with some variation in fenestration, would be employed by Garrison the following year in 1927 when construction began on three additional houses; 1414 Franklin, 1410 Franklin, and 1418 Franklin.[28] The exception being 1417 Franklin, which was also begun in 1927.[29]

While progress was being made in building the new College Terrace Neighborhood, Garrison was increasingly frustrated with the city’s lack of support for new streets. This came to a head with the condition of Sunken Road between Monument and Grove Avenues with Garrison apparently taking matters into his own hands and re-grading the road during the latter months of 1928. Unfortunately, the road never settled property before frost set in and, after complaints by three residents, Garrison was arrested and ordered to restore the road to its present condition.[30] These complaints may have in part been fueled by a lawsuit brought by Garrison against Willie Hiltner a few years earlier to obtain the last payment on Hiltner’s house at 1415 Franklin Street. Ultimately the suit was dismissed.[31]

By spring of 1929, Garrison temporarily moved his attention away from Franklin Street, and turned instead to nearby Monument Avenue (previously identified as Pennsylvania Avenue). By the beginning of summer 919, 921, and 923 Monument had all been constructed with A.B. Brown purchasing 919 shortly after it was finished.[32] These three buildings also shared similar designs to the buildings constructed along Franklin Street between 1926–1928 and were referred to by Garrison as his “1929 model” homes.[33] However, the use of a pebbledash application to the elevations at 919 is a noteworthy difference. Pebbledashing as an exterior surface application was popular in the late-19th century with notable architectural firm McKim, Mead and White using the technique at the Samuel Tilton House in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1881-1882. The finish consisted of a lime mortar or a Portland cement matrix which was mixed or embedded with gravel, pebbles, or in the case of 919, glass.

Construction along Monument Avenue continued with ground being broken for 917 Monument in July. An announcement by Garrison in the newspaper at that time entitled, “Skyscraper to be Constructed at College Terrace,” noted that the structure was “practically four stories high…” with the basement story to be “of reinforced concrete [and] the second and third stories in frame”. Garrison goes on to note that the “fourth story will be decorated with Portland Cement and glass, the very finest design that brains can produce”.[34]

This design is the first by Garrison to use a gambrel roof and serves as the template for his “1930 model” which he applies to three other buildings.[35] One of these buildings is 915 Monument, which began shortly after 917. While smaller in height, it has many of the same features as 917. Any use of pebbledashing for the exterior of the attic floor here is unknown as the original surface is currently covered with newer siding.

Figure 6: Initial referred to by Garrison as a skyscraper, 917 Monument (left) originally had a pebbledash finish on the attic exterior wall, it has since been covered. 915 Monument (right) was built shortly after 917 in 1929. Garrison later refers to the gambrel roof designed buildings as the 1930 model home.

Figure 7: 919 Monument was considered Garrison’s first 1929 model home and clearly shows the use of the pebbledash finish. Note also the attic window casing.

Even with colder months approaching, Garrison continued construction along Monument Avenue with ground being broken on October 3, 1929, for “a row of modern homes”. Never one to be modest, Garrison described the homes as being the “last word in architectural designs” with some having brick veneers and others frame.[36] In reality, the “row” consisted of just 907 and 909 Monument Avenue. While the designs of these two houses closely followed the 1930 model, they were both slightly larger than the other buildings constructed at this time and were assessed at $1,350 and $1,800 respectively.[37] The house at 907 also incorporated pebbledashing into its exterior aesthetic.

With so much building taking place along Franklin Street, Monument Avenue, and Sunken Road, Garrison complained again to the City about its infrastructure, notably the lack of curbs and gutters in the neighborhood. In May 1929, he penned a letter to the City inquiring as to why Marye Street, which at the time had only the beginnings of one house, already had curbs and gutters while his development had none but was almost a completed block.[38] Whether the letter worked or not, the City was scheduled the to install curbs and gutters in July 1929, with city water and sewage set to follow shortly thereafter. Even a searchlight was to be installed at the corner of Franklin Street and Monument Avenue.[39]

Although Garrison’s houses were considered affordable, the timing of those constructed along Monument Avenue could not have been worse with Black Monday occurring on October 28, 1929. Whether the stock market crash spooked potential homebuyers or not, Garrison had difficulty selling many of the homes as these properties consistently appear in unpaid tax listings throughout 1931–1932. These financial issues likely explain why the brick veneer house at 1413 Franklin Street marked the end of his public building career. This house was supposed to be part of his “row of modern homes,” and was designed in a similar fashion to 919, 921, and 923 Monument, as well as the earlier buildings at 1410, 1414 and 1410 Franklin Street.[40]

Garrison appears to have retired after he completed 1413 Franklin Street and eventually sold the vacant lots remaining in the row. He did, however, construct the house at 911 Monument Avenue for his son, Forest Garrison in 1936 and employed a popular Colonial Revival aesthetic.[41] Assessed at $3,200, this was dwelling was more was among the more expensive houses Garrison constructed during his career.[42]

The last building ever constructed by Garrison was his own home at 1407 Franklin Street completed in 1940.[43] Garrison would live there until his death on December 3, 1949.[44]

Figure 8: 1407 Franklin Street, constructed in 1940 was Garrison’s personal home and the last he constructed.

While not as prolific as some contemporary builders Frank Stearns or Elmer “Peck” Heflin, 24 of the 25 houses identified or attributed to Garrison still survive today (Table 1). More important than the durability of his houses, are Garrison’s customized designs, which create the distinctive architectural character of the 1400 block of Franklin Street and 900 block of Monument Avenue, providing both locations with a unique sense of place.


[1] “Virginia Death Records, 1912-2014,” digital images, (, accessed June 2024) entry for Andrew C. Garrison (December 3, 1949); citing Virginia Department of Health, Certificate of Death, Spotsylvania, VA., Fredericksburg, No. 26438, Reg. Dist. 2880.

[2] Wilke-Barre City Directory 1895, (, accessed June 2024).

[3] “Pennsylvania, U.S., Compiled Marriages, 1852-1968.” digital Images,, 2024, entry for A.C. Garrison, 31 October 1887

[4] 1900 U.S. census, Washington Township, Montgomery Co, Iowa, population schedule, page 8, dwelling 151, family 151, A.C. Garrison; .

[5] The Free Lance, December 10, 1903, p 3: 2.

[6] The Free Lance, June 8, 1905, p 3: 3.

[7] 1910 U.S. census, Caroline County, Port Royal Magisterial District, Virginia, population schedule, page 1, dwelling 10, family 10, A.C. Garrison;

[8] The Free Lance, November 20, 1913, p 2:5.

[9] 1920 U.S. census, Elizabeth City, Chesapeake Magisterial District, Virginia, population schedule, page 7, dwelling 137, family 144, A.C. Garrison;

[10] Daily Star, May 17, 1921.

[11] Fredericksburg, Va., Deed Book 54: 350.

[12] Daily Star, May 17, 1921.

[13] Free Lance-Star, June 7, 1929, p 4:6.

[14] Daily Star, October 3, 1922, p 1:6; Fredericksburg, Va., Deed Book 55: 95; Fredericksburg, Va., Deed Book 55: 317.

[15] Fredericksburg, Va., Land Tax List, 1925; Daily Star, October 3, 1922, p 1:6.

[16] Daily Star, January 16, 1924, p 3:3; Fredericksburg, Va., Deed Book 56: 405; Fredericksburg, Va., Deed Book 57: 59.

[17] The Free Lance, March 27, 1924, p 1:6.

[18] Daily Star, January 16, 1924, p 3:3.

[19] The Free Lance, May 5, 1923, p 7:5.

[20] Fredericksburg, Va., Deed book 50: 323.

[21] Fredericksburg, Va., Land Tax List, 1925.

[22] The Free Lance, May 21, 1925, p 3: 4.

[23] Fredericksburg, Va., Land Tax List,1925; The Free Lance, May 21, 1925, p 3: 4; Free Lance-Star, February 15, 1955

[24] Daily Star, November 21, 1924, p 1:6.

[25] Fredericksburg, Va., Deed Book 59: 344.

[26] The Free Lance, August 8, 1925, p 3: 3.

[27] Fredericksburg, Va., Land Tax List, 1927.

[28] Fredericksburg, Va., Land Tax List, 1927.

[29] Fredericksburg, Va., Land Tax List, 1927.

[30] Free Lance-Star, March 19, 1929, p 1:4

[31] Free Lance-Star, January 25, 1928, p 1:3.

[32] Fredericksburg, Va., Land Tax List, 1930; Free Lance-Star, July 27, 1929

[33] Free Lance-Star, March 19, 1929, p 4:4.

[34] Free Lance-Star, July 12, 1929, p 4:5.

[35] Free Lance-Star, February 12, 1930, p 4:6.

[36] Free Lance-Star, October 3, 1929, p 3:3.

[37] Fredericksburg, Va., Land Tax Book 1930, Block 149 B (

[38] Free Lance-Star, May 6, 1929, p 6:2.

[39] Free Lance-Star, July 12, 1929, p 4:5.

[40] Free Lance-Star, April 8, 1930, p 4:6.

[41] Fredericksburg, Va., Building Permits, 1936 (UMW Collection, unpublished).

[42] Fredericksburg, Va., Land Tax List, 1940.

[43] Fredericksburg, Va., Building permits, 1940, (

[44] “Virginia Death Records, 1912-2014,” digital images, (, accessed June 2024) entry for Andrew C. Garrison (December 3, 1949); citing Virginia Department of Health, Certificate of Death, Spotsylvania, VA., Fredericksburg, No. 26438, Reg. Dist. 2880.