Historic Sites in Page County
Page County and the towns of Luray, Stanley and Shenandoah all have a place in the history of the Commonwealth of deer grazing in Big Meadow Virginia and the formation of our great nation.
Page County was formed from parts of Shenandoah and Rockingham counties by an act of the Virginia General Assembly in 1831. Luray, the county seat, was founded in 1812. Shenandoah, the southernmost town, was established in 1884 and Stanley, near the center of the county, was established in 1900.
Several National Historic Landmarks are found in the county, including the original courthouse, the 18th century Mauck Meeting House, Stevens Cottage in Shenandoah, a nineteenth century reminder of the county’s railroad heritage, and several homes dating from the mid-1700’s.
Luray Caverns, the largest and most popular in the east, was discovered in 1878. Each year, more than 500,000 visitors explore the spectacular underground wonder and the adjacent Car and Carriage Caravan of historic vehicles.
Shenandoah National Park borders the county on the east and has 500 miles of hiking trails encompassing over 196,000 acres of land. Luray is a central gateway to the 106-mile historic Skyline Drive, which offers magnificent panoramas to some two million visitors annually.
Experience for yourself this fabled land known to its earliest inhabitants as “Daughter of the Stars”. Its history, natural beauty and hospitality truly offer you a visit you will never forget!
Stevens Cottage (Shenandoah VA)
The original office of Shenandoah Land and Improvement Company during the railroad boom in the late 1800’s, later used as a printing office and private school, the cottage was purchased by Misses Mary and Edna Stevens, sisters, as a private residence in 1902. After their death, the cottage was purchased by the Shenandoah Heritage Center in 1974 and is listed on the Virginia Historic and National Historic Landmarks Registry. The cottage serves a satellite office for the Chamber of Commerce during the summer and fall months.
Calendine (Hamburg Road, Luray VA)
Built in 1840 for Townsend Young who ran a general store and stagecoach stop in the adjacent building. Calendine is best known as the residence of the renowned Barbee family. William Randolph Barbee (1818-1868) was famed as a classic sculptor whose life-sized statues were highly praised by the critics. He was commissioned to complete the frieze on the west wing of the U.S. Capitol, but, the outbreak of the Civil War interrupted his work which he was never able to resume.
William Randolph’s son, Herbert Barbee, (1848-1936) was born in Page County. Like his father, he studied art in Italy, producing various bas-reliefs, statues, and busts. After his return to America he had studios in New York, Baltimore, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Washington City, and Luray where he used the adjacent store at Calendine. His legacy to Page County is the Confederate Monument on Luray’s East Main Street. It was unveiled with great celebration on July 21, 1898.
Massanutten School (Opposite Inn Lawn Park, Luray VA)
The Page County Heritage Association purchased the property in the spring of 1988 for the restoration and development as the Page County Heritage Museum. Many items of interest are already housed there. Monetary gifts are sincerely appreciated, as are the donation, or loan, or vintage furniture, clothing, linens, books, photos, documents, or other items for display.
This school was in use from 1875-1937. The restored one-room school was moved from its original site in 1972, restored and furnished through citizens donations. Inside are sixteen original double desks; a one hundred year old cast iron stove; a handmade teacher’s desk and chair; a flag pole used during the Civil War, an 1880 school house bell; and numerous photos and displays. Open by appointment only. (Hamburg Country Store540…). The School was a donation from Page County residents, Tommy and Barbara Jennings.
Hamburg Country Store (Route 766-Hamburg Road-Luray VA)
Step back in time by visiting this refurbished country store. Experience “going to the store” of the 1940’s rural Page County. The original store was established in the early 1900’s and as the population of the community grew, so did the store. Open on Saturdays from Memorial to labor Day 10:00-4:00 or by appointment.
The White House Bridge (US Hwy 211 West, Luray VA)
The White House Bridge takes its name from the small white building which can be seen today, located immediately west of the present-day bridge on US Hwy 211. This early structure was the first home and a meeting house of pioneer Martin Kauffman, who for a time served as minister to a small Mennonite congregation. White House and White House Bridge played a critical Civil War role during Jackson’s Valley Campaign of 1862. The Bridge was burned at 4AM on June 2, 1862, just an hour before the arrival of Union forces attempting to overtake and block the forces of General “Stonewall” Jackson. General Jackson later went on to defeat both General Fremont and General Shields separately at Cross Keys and Port Republic on June 8-9. 1862.
The Mauck Meeting House ( Route 766-Hamburg Road-Luray VA)
Built for religious purposes by the “Neighbors,” mainly Mennonites from Switzerland and southern Germany. The outside of the pine log walls were covered in 1851 with white weatherboards and the structure was roofed with chestnut shingles. A central heating chimney and tin roof were installed later. Heat was provided by a large six-plate stove made at the local iron furnace and inscribed “D. Pennebacker – 1799.”
Early Mennonite ministers were John Roads; Martin, David and Michael Kauffman; Jacob Strickler and Abraham Heiston. Early Baptist ministers were James Ireland and John Koontz. Mauck Meeting House was used by the Baptists from 1790 until 1899.
The first land speculator in the Massanutten area was Jacob Stover who bought two 5,000-acre tracts from the Virginia Colonial Council and undertook an obligation to move settlers to the area as a condition of the sales. Jacob Stover was a native of Switzerland who came to Virginia by way of Pennsylvania. Stover brought his first settlers to the South Fork of the Shenandoah inOld Willow Grove Mill 1727. Jacob Stover is reported by the Page News and Courier of Luray, Va. (Sept 24, 1959 issue), to be a great-great-great grandfather of the late President Dwight David Eisenhower.
Willow Grove Mill at Old Mundellsville
Located on the west branch of the Hawksbill Creek is typical of flour mills found in this area in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The place is of special interest because Mundellsville was the birthplace of Dr. Henry Ruffner, who was the first state superintendent of schools in Virginia under the constitution of 1869.
Peter, the first Ruffner in Page County, owned the land from the mouth of the Hawksbill Creek up both sides for 6 or 8 miles. Joseph’s farm lay next to his father’s on both sides of the Hawksbill and included the north fork of the creek where the two branches unite. He had a grist mill and a saw mill. The place is now known as Willow Grove Mill. Flour was produced here from about 1885 to 1943.
Civil War Markers now Established in Page County
White House Bridge, located west of Luray on Route 211 – Stonewall Jackson’s cavalry chief, Turner Ashby, burned this bridge on June 2, 1862, to delay Federal pursuit. The battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic were fought a week later.
New Market / Luray Gap, Civil War Trails sign located at the gap in the Forest Service parking lot – Near here on Nov. 23, 1862, Stonewall Jackson announced to his staff that his Army of the Valley had become the official Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia and soon would join Robert E. Lee’s troops on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Willow Grove Mill, Civil War Trails sign located two miles south of Luray on Business 340 and Route 642 – The mill here and several other buildings in the area were burned in early October 1864 by Union troopers under Col. William Powell. The action was part of “The Burning” of the Valley ordered by Union General Philip Sheridan.
Graves’ Chapel, “Jackson’s Last Glimpse of the Valley,” Civil War Trails sign located six miles south of Luray, take Business 340 to Route 689, then east one mile on Route 689 – In late November 1862, Stonewall Jackson led 32,000 troops across the South Fork of the Shenandoah River en route to Fishers Gap. After crossing the mountains, Jackson rejoined the main body of the Army of Northern Virginia. It was the last time the famous general saw the Valley. He died following an accidental shooting at Chancellorsville in May the next year.
Burning of Red Bridge, Civil War Trails sign located one mile east of US 340, at Route 650 — To avoid Federal annoyance while making plans at Conrad’s Store (modern Elkton) in late April 1862, Stonewall Jackson ordered bridges over the South Fork of the Shenandoah River burned. In a semi-botched operation, Red Bridge was the only one burned. The events led to a rift between Jackson and his popular cavalryman Turner Ashby.
Shield’s Advance and Retreat, Civil War Trails sign located south of Luray on US 340 — Union Gen. James Shields crossed Naked Creek here June 7, 1862, in pursuit of Stonewall Jackson’s army, then camped at Port Republic. After losing to Jackson two days later, Shield’s troops halted here during their retreat.