STOP #09

1205 Dandridge Street

The unique shape of the house at 1205 Dandridge Street gives a nod to heritage conservation as a general practice, and also the millennia-old tradition of relocating and readapting existing built resources. The home is one of three, free-standing, frame buildings salvaged and repurposed from what was the dwelling of Frank Beckwith and Fredericksburg’s Alms House in the late-nineteenth century, before becoming property of the State Normal and Industrial School for Women in the early-twentieth century.[1]

The extant, two-story, frame building at 1205 Dandridge Street was the youngest of these three survivors—constructed in the early 1920s as an “annex” to the Normal School’s Faculty House (Fig. 1).[2]  The architecture of the annex reflects the hallmark simplicity and balanced proportions of the Classical Revival style—popular in both residential and collegiate buildings in the early-twentieth century. At the exterior, the house retains most of its original architectural features, including a Classical entablature that is both ornate and restrained. Two sunken rosettes in the frieze gracefully mark the transition from simple architrave to full projecting cornice. The Dandridge Street elevation historically faced into the school’s campus, looking toward the larger classroom and administration buildings, which might explain why it was so carefully designed and later repositioned to face the roadway.

A second surviving piece of the school’s early history that was also part of Fredericksburg’s Alms House is located next door at 1400 College Avenue. This building was constructed in 1883, the year after the City of Fredericksburg purchased property from Frank Beckwith for the poor house, as an addition to what had been Beckwith’s residence. [3] After the Normal School obtained the property in 1911, this addition was removed from the older structure, relocated, and repurposed to serve as faculty housing. Sometime between 1919 and 1927, an annex was made to the Faculty House. In the early-to-mid 1930s, the entire faculty building was relocated and divided into the two structures we see today positioned at either end of Lot 16 in Block 104.[4]

The third repurposed building from the Alms House property—containing the original portion of Beckwith’s circa-1877 “handsome frame residence”—served as the Dean’s house on the Normal School campus until it relocated in the mid-1930s to 1616 College Avenue.[5] This building was demolished for a parking lot in 2013?.

The house at 1205 Dandridge Street serves as an example of the importance of preservation and HFFI’s mission to inform and educate the public to the importance of saving the historic buildings that make Fredericksburg the unique city it is today. Dandridge Street is named after Martha Washington’s father, Colonel John Dandridge, who died in Fredericksburg in 1756. He is buried at St. George’s Episcopal Church.

[1] Spencer, Michael. 2012. “Alms (Dean’s) House History.” Unpublished excerpt taken from the University of Mary Washington’s (UMW) Draft Campus Preservation Plan. Copy on file at UMW Department of Historic Preservation, Fredericksburg, Virginia, courtesy of Professor Michael Spencer.

[2] The “Faculty Annex” first appeared on the 1927 Sanborn Fire Insurance Company map as an addition to an existing two-story frame dwelling, initially depicted in the 1919 Sanborn map of the Normal School campus.

[3] Spencer, Michael. 2012. “Alms (Dean’s) House History.” Unpublished excerpt taken from the University of Mary Washington’s (UMW) Draft Campus Preservation Plan. Copy on file at UMW Department of Historic Preservation, Fredericksburg, Virginia, courtesy of Professor Michael Spencer.

[4] City of Fredericksburg Deed Book 78, p. 419–421; Spotsylvania County Deed Book 109, p. 354.

[5] Spencer 2012; The Virginia Star, January 31, 1877, p. 3 col. 2.

Further Citation:  Edward Alvey, The Streets of Fredericksburg. Mary Washington College Foundation, Inc. (Fredericksburg, Virginia) 1978, p. 65.

Sponsored by:

Terrie & David James