The Past & the Present: Harrisonburg Virginia, a Historical Treasure


As a city that played a significant role as an agriculturally-rich haven during the Civil War, Harrisonburg, VA, is still populated with little-known yet greatly-treasured historic homes. Although today the houses may be disguised as a charming B&B or a cozy farm-to-table-style restaurant, each of the homes’ walls still radiate with a unique story of the families, war heroes, or city leaders that once occupied them.

Joshua Wilton House– With its intricately-designed architecture, The Joshua Wilton house stands out in Harrisonburg’s downtown district. The building that is now home to five quaint inn rooms and a gourmet locally-inspired restaurant dates back to 1888 when wealthy Englishman and President of the First Virginia Bank, Joshua Wilton, purchased the land and finished construction on the home.

Virginia Quilt Museum (Warren-Sipe House)– Visitors love dropping through this landmark to view traditional and contemporary quilt exhibits, but what is now a museum once served as an informal hospital during the Civil War. One wounded warrior, “Boy Major,” passed away in the house, and his fully-uniformed ghost is said to still lurk at the top of the house’s stairway.

Hardesty-Higgins House– Now a hub for travel and visitor’s information, fresh pastries, and state-themed gifts, the Hardesty-Higgins House still charms those who pass through with its historic elements. The Visitor’s Center was once home to Harrisonburg’s first mayor Isaac Hardesty and his family, and during the war, the house was occupied by the Strayer sisters, who at one period hosted Union General Nathaniel Banks.

By the Side of the Road B&B– Passers-by may not realize it at first glance, but this beautifully-preserved and restored bed and breakfast once served as a Civil War Hospital following General Philip Sheridan’s “burning of the Valley” in 1864. The home’s interior brick walls allowed it to be one of very few buildings to survive the tragic event, and also made it a key hideout for Union soldiers.

Thomas Harrison House- With its stone structure completed in 1750 by the city’s founder Thomas Harrison, the Thomas Harrison house is officially the oldest building in Harrisonburg. Today it is taking a break from playing host to offices and a law practice as it undergoes restoration, but the historic home was long a place for lodging and hospitality for early travelers making their way through the Shenandoah Valley.

Photo courtesy: Article courtesy of Harrisonburg Tourism and Visitor Services

Renee Blodgett
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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