On Sale:   
Daisy Turner's   Kin

On Sale:
The Circle
Newly Acquired  Collections
Can you help identify this photo?
Central Rappahannock Heritage Center 
A place that loses its history loses its soul
Message From The Chairman

The preservation of local history is the most important element of The Heritage Center's mission.  My message for this month addresses a project which, I believe, connects with that mission.  In the hand-written papers of the late Dr. Edward Alvey, Jr., now archived at The Center, is the history of Fredericksburg's old Alms House. The old Alms House was built in 1877, on a site which is now part of the University of Mary Washington (UMW) campus, and is currently located across College Avenue in the College Heights neighborhood.
The structure was originally built as a residence by Frank Beckwith and was subsequently purchased by the City to house a single smallpox patient in the fall of 1882.  The following year the structure was enlarged to house the City's poor.  Fast forward to the establishment of the Fredericksburg Normal School (UMW), by which the property was purchased in 1911 and moved to another site on campus to make way for the construction of the President's house. Once moved, the old Alms House served as the school's Dean's house until the mid-1930s when the house was moved across College Avenue. A detailed history of the Alms House was researched in 2012 by Michael Spencer, Associate Professor, Department of Historic Preservation, University of Mary Washington.
The Alms House has now been purchased by the Diocese of Arlington and will be demolished within the next 4 months to make way for a parking lot unless a group or organization will step forward and pay to have the structure moved and stabilized. It is being offered free of charge if a new site can be found for it, preferably within the city limits.
Fredericksburg City Councilor Dr. Tim Duffy, who represents the College Heights neighborhood, is spearheading efforts to try to get the structure moved and has reached out to various organizations in the region who are in the business of preserving our local history in one form or another. Should you, or anyone you know, be interested in more details about these efforts, please contact Dr. Duffy at tpduffy@fredericksburgva.gov , or me at mbeckett@crhcarchives.org .

Meredith Beckett
CRHC Chairman  
Welcome New Members
Gloria Sharp 
Gilbert Kenny 
Heritage Center memberships support the important work done by The Center.
The Central Rappahannock Heritage Center is a non-profit, all volunteer archives whose mission is to preserve historically valuable material of the region and make it available to the public for research. 
Please join us as part of the Heritage Center's preservation team.  As a  member, you will be helping to preserve our priceless local history.
Click here to become a member today!

Thank you for your support,
The Central Rappahannock Heritage Center
The Heritage Center Volunteers

The important preservation work of The Heritage Center would not be possible without our dedicated volunteers.

The Center currently has a staff of 53 volunteers.  If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at The Center, please contact Donna McCague at dmccague@crhcarchives.org.

It All Started with the Stearns  

Last year, the Heritage Center celebrated its twentieth anniversary.  Founded in 1997, it all started with the Stearns Collection and a small, but determined group of nine people.
The Stearns Collection was rescued as the family home at 720 William Street, was being sold.  Heritage Center founding members spent an entire summer sorting and cataloging the Stearns Collection.  There were boxes and boxes of letters, photos and business records. The Stearns, father Frank, a designer and builder, his wife Bettie, and six daughters, Corrine, Adele, Alice, Helen, Elizabeth, and Emeline were prolific letter writers who kept copies of their correspondence. There are 44 archival boxes equaling 16 linear feet of material. If you want to know what was happening in Fredericksburg, look in the letters that Emeline or one of her sisters wrote. You get a sense of the community - what was important, of interest, and the residents.

The collection contains dozens of photos.  Many of the photos are not labeled and we have no idea who is in them.  We have submitted some for the "Mystery Photo" in the Free Lance-Star, but none have been identified.  The subjects are wearing wonderful clothes and sport elaborate hair styles. Several of the women are adorned with spectacular, sometimes odd-looking jewelry.

So, what happened to the Stearns and why was all this family history unclaimed?  Only one Stearns daughter, Helen, married.  She had one son, Eugene, known as Bookie.  Bookie left Fredericksburg and apparently no one from his family was interested in this ephemera.  Elizabeth and Emeline became teachers.  Some Fredericksburg residents remember Emeline.  Her former students either loved her and thought she was an excellent teacher, or they detested her.  As the sisters died, those left became the guardians of the family papers.  Emeline was the last sister to pass.

The Heritage Center has grown exponentially since it's start in 1997.  We can all be grateful to Frank Stearns for leaving many wonderful buildings, to the family for their letters and for their contributions to our local history.

click on picture to enlarge

720 William Street, the home Frank Stearns built for his family

Beth Daly
Heritage Center Volunteer

An Appreciation In Memory of Barbara Kirby

The community and The Heritage Center lost a great friend and contributor, on February 4, when Barbara Kirby died. 

Barbara was a "come-here" like many of us, but that didn't prevent her from becoming engaged in her new home.  She first focused on Prince William County where she and her late husband, Richard, were founders of the Historic Dumfries/Weems-Botts Museum.  When the Kirbys came to Stafford, Barbara joined the Stafford County Historical Society.  She also began volunteering at the Stafford County Circuit Court.  With her love of history and preservation she brought order to long-neglected court records, even discovering some in the janitor's closets and under staircases.

Barbara served on the Stafford Historical Commission and the Cemetery Commission.  Over the years, she sent items to The Center and last fall, while getting ready to move, she donated five large boxes of material.  At The Center, we knew we could refer people seeking information on Stafford to Barbara.  She was always glad to help, happy to be off on another research project.

We will miss our friend.
Newly Acquired Collections

Acquired collections for the month include:  
  • Late 20 century city council meeting documents that include agendas and reports
  • Mid-19th century and later, family documents, correspondence, receipts, deeds, certificates, photographs, and plats
  • Booklet describing Gloria Johnson's early years in Fredericksburg
  • A series of family photographs
  • Stafford High School yearbooks, 1956 through 1959
  • 8th Annual Lincoln Birthday Dinner Brochure,  2018; a copy of a WPA report for Dr. Charles Mortimer's House
  • An ongoing collection which includes miscellaneous primary documentation, photographs, genealogy, and correspondence


John Reifenberg
CRHC Collections Manager
Can you identify this photo?
click on picture to enlarge

Lions Club Show, 1956   
Courtesy of the Frances Funk Collection
Please contact Sharon Null at snull@crhcarchives.org 
The Heritage Center gladly provides research services.  Please contact the center for rates.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 
10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.

First Saturday each month 
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. or by appointment 
900 Barton Street #111
Fredericksburg, VA
(540) 373-3704 

Click here to join the CRHC mailing list and stay up to date with what is happening at the Center!

The Circle Unbroken: Civil War Letters of the Knox Family of Fredericksburg  
On sale now at the Heritage Center 
$29.70 for members 
$33.00 for non-members  

Daisy Turner's Kin
An African American Family Saga
Jane C. Beck 
On sale now at the Heritage Center 

Central Rappahannock Heritage Center | contact@crhcarchives.org  540.373.3704 | crhcarchives.org
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