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107 Years of the Handley Library

The Handley Library first opened its doors in a formal ceremony 107 years ago on August 21, 1913.  The invitation sent out for the event states that “the exercises will be held in the lecture hall of the Library at eight o’clock p.m. and immediately thereafter the reading rooms and books will be open to inspection.”

Winchester had been eagerly awaiting this day for a number of years.  Judge John Handley died in Scranton, PA in February 1895, leaving $250,000 to the City of Winchester to be invested until it reached $500,000, at which time it would be used to build a libr...

Blog Type: Archives
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The Strength of Women: New Display on the Suffragette Movement

In August, we remember the Suffragette movement.  Our display this month shows elements of the local fight for women’s right to vote.  In particular, the display highlights Fannie Baker Dunlap, who registered for the vote on October 2, 1920 at 56 years of age, and Mary Elizabeth Pidgeon, a member of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. 

It is just one hundred years since Virginia women won the fight for the right to vote.  In fact, Winchester’s first two women, Isabel E. Baker and Frances W. Beverly, registered to vote on August 27, 1920 – exactly 100 years a...

Blog Type: Archives Homepage
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Sacred Heart Catholic Church's 150th Anniversary

This month marks the 150th anniversary of the dedication of Winchester’s Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church.  Winchester’s original Catholic Church, known as “the old stone church,” was destroyed during the Civil War, leaving Winchester without a Catholic Church building from 1864 until 1870. During this time, the priests ministering to Winchester celebrated Mass in local homes, and even at the Red Lion Tavern.  The congregation was growing with many new converts, and a new parish became a necessity.  Construction on Sacred Heart Parish began in 1868, and the first Mass wa...

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(His)tory: John Bruce

John Bruce (1793-1855) was a man who spent over twenty years of his life finding ways to make an impact on his community. He was born in Scotland, but emigrated to the United States and settled in Winchester. Some people make impacts through teaching and preaching, some through caring for people’s well-being, but others find that they are best suited to improving the community through other means, as John Bruce did by overseeing various constructions.

Bruce must have had an eye for beauty as well as good construction, because he was the architect for the original Christ Episcopal ...

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May 25: Memorial Day and the First Battle of Winchester

Memorial Day, a day to honor and mourn those who died serving in the Armed Forces, originated in the years following the Civil War, through it did not become a federal holiday until 1971. The Civil War caused more bloodshed than any other conflict in U.S. history, claiming the lives of about 500,000 soldiers. After the war, Americans began holding tributes to fallen soldiers every Spring. Memorial Day later expanded to honor those who lost their lives in other conflicts and wars.

By coincidence, Memorial Day this year falls on May 25, the 158th anniversary of the First Battle of W...

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(Her)story: Businesswomen of Winchester

Winchester has certainly been home to many remarkable people, including many women over the decades who owned and operated their own businesses. Several in particular stand out for the unique ways they showed strength in their careers as businesswomen.

Upon the death of her father in 1926, Lucy Fitzhugh Kurtz (1874-1968) inherited not one, but two businesses: the Kurtz Furniture Store and the Kurtz Funeral Home. The two businesses were incorporated in 1947 under the name of George W. Kurtz, Inc. Lucy remained the company president until 1968, the year she died at the impressive ag...

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(Her)story: Willa Cather

Did you know that a famous classic American writer was originally from Frederick County?  When people think about Willa Cather (1873-1946), they often associate her with the Midwest (she spent her teenage and college years there, and many of her novels are set in the Midwest), but actually Cather spent much of her childhood in our neighborhood.  

Willa was born at the Boak House in Gore, and the next year moved with her family to the house known as Willow Shade, about a mile to the east.  She lived in that house until the age of nine, when her family moved to N...

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New Exhibit on Prohibition At Bowman Library

A travelling exhibit, the first in a series, will be coming to the Bowman Library on December 10th. On loan from the Library of Virginia, the exhibit is called Teetotalers & Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia, Distilled and consists of a series of informative banners on the Prohibition Era in Virginia from 1916 to 1933. It will be featured in the lobby of the Bowman Library for the next month and a companion exhibit which was prepared by our archivists will be on display at the Handley branch on the lower level outside of the Stewart Bell Jr. Archive.

Prohibition marked the ...

Blog Type: Adults
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