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Virginia officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state located in the South Atlantic region of the United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city and Fairfax County the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's population is over eight million.
The area's history begins with several indigenous groups, including the Powhatan. In 1607 the London Company established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent New World English colony. Slave labor and the land acquired from displaced Native American tribes each played a significant role in the colony's early politics and plantation economy. Virginia was one of the 13 Colonies in the American Revolution and joined the Confederacy in the American Civil War, during which Richmond was made the Confederate capital and Virginia's northwestern counties separated to form the state of West Virginia. Although the Commonwealth was under conservative single-party rule for nearly a century following Reconstruction, both major national parties are competitive in modern Virginia.
The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest legislature in the Western Hemisphere. The state government has been repeatedly ranked most effective by the Pew Center on the States. It is unique in how it treats cities and counties equally, manages local roads, and prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms. Virginia's economy has many sectors: agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley; federal agencies in Northern Virginia, including the headquarters of the Department of Defense and CIA; and military facilities in Hampton Roads, the site of the region's main seaport. Virginia's public schools and many colleges and universities have contributed to growing media and technology sectors. As a result, computer chips have become the state's leading export.
Virginia Cities and Towns
Virginia is divided into 95 counties and 39 independent cities, which both operate the same way since independent cities are considered to be county-equivalent. This method of treating cities and counties equally is unique to Virginia, with only three other independent cities in the United States outside Virginia. Virginia limits the authority of cities and counties to countermand laws expressly allowed by the Virginia General Assembly under what is known as Dillon's Rule. In addition to independent cities, there are also incorporated towns which operate under their own governments, but are part of a county. Finally there are hundreds of unincorporated communities within the counties. Virginia does not have any further political subdivisions, such as villages or townships.
Virginia has 11 Metropolitan Statistical Areas; Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and Richmond-Petersburg are the three most populous. Richmond is the capital of Virginia, and its metropolitan area has a population of over 1.2 million. As of 2010, Virginia Beach is the most populous city in the Commonwealth, with Norfolk and Chesapeake second and third, respectively. Norfolk forms the urban core of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, which has a population over 1.6 million people and is the site of the world's largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk. Suffolk, which includes a portion of the Great Dismal Swamp, is the largest city by area at 429.1 square miles (1,111 km2).
Fairfax County is the most populous locality in Virginia, with over one million residents, although that does not include its county seat Fairfax, which is one of the independent cities. Fairfax County has a major urban business and shopping center in Tysons Corner, Virginia's largest office market. Neighboring Loudoun County, with the county seat at Leesburg, is both the fastest-growing county in Virginia and has the highest median household income ($114,204) in the country as of 2010. Arlington County, the smallest self-governing county in the United States by land area, is an urban community organized as a county. The Roanoke area, with an estimated population of 300,399, is the largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in western Virginia.
While Virginia is an employment-at-will state, its economy has diverse sources of income, including local and federal government, military, farming and business. Virginia has 4.1 million civilian workers, and one-third of the jobs are in the service sector. The unemployment in Virginia in among the lowest in the nation, at 5.6%, as of March 2012. The second fastest job growth town in the nation is Leesburg, as of 2011. The Gross Domestic Product of Virginia was $24 billion in 2010. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Virginia had the most counties in the top 100 wealthiest in the United States based upon median income in 2007. Northern Virginia is the highest-income region in Virginia, having six of the twenty highest-income counties in the United States, including the three highest as of 2011. According to CNN Money Magazine the highest-income town in the nation is Great Falls, as of 2011.
Virginia has the highest concentration of technology workers of any state. Computer chips became the state's highest-grossing export in 2006, surpassing its traditional top exports of coal and tobacco combined. Northern Virginia, once considered the state's dairy capital, now hosts software, communication technology, and consulting companies, particularly in the Dulles Technology Corridor. Northern Virginia's data centers currently carry more than 50% of the nation's internet traffic, and by 2012 Dominion Power expects that 10% of all its electricity in Northern Virginia will be used by data centers. Loudoun and Fairfax counties in Northern Virginia have the highest and second highest median household income, respectively, of all counties in the United States as of 2011. Virginia companies received the fourth-highest amount of venture capital funding in the first half of 2011 after California, Massachusetts, and New York. In 2009, Forbes Magazine named Virginia the best state in the nation for business for the fourth year in a row, while CNBC named it the top state for business in 2007, 2009, and 2011. Virginia has 20 Fortune 500 companies, ranking the state eighth nationwide.
Virginia has the highest defense spending of any state per capita, providing the Commonwealth with around 900,000 jobs, and 10% of all U.S. federal procurement money is spent in Virginia. Virginia has over 800,000 veterans, more than any other state, and is second to California in total Department of Defense employees. Many Virginians work for federal agencies in Northern Virginia, which include the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense, as well as the National Science Foundation, the United States Geological Survey and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Many others work for government contractors, including defense and security firms, which hold more than 15,000 federal contracts. The Hampton Roads area has the largest concentration of military bases and facilities of any metropolitan area in the world. The largest of the bases is Naval Station Norfolk.
Agriculture occupies 24% of the land in Virginia. As of 2007, about 357,000 Virginian jobs were in agriculture, with over 47,000 farms, averaging 171 acres (0.27 sq mi; 0.69 km2), in a total farmland area of 8.1 million acres (12,656 sq mi; 32,780 km2). Though agriculture has declined significantly since 1960 when there were twice as many farms, it remains the largest single industry in Virginia. Tomatoes surpassed soy as the most profitable crop in Virginia in 2006, with peanuts and hay as other agricultural products. Although it is no longer the primary crop, Virginia is still the fifth-largest producer of tobacco nationwide. Eastern oyster harvests are an important part of the Chesapeake Bay economy, but declining oyster populations from disease, pollution, and overfishing have diminished catches. Wineries and vineyards in the Northern Neck and along the Blue Ridge Mountains also have begun to generate income and attract tourists. Virginia collects personal income tax in five income brackets, ranging from 3.0% to 5.75%. The state sales and use tax rate is 4%, while the tax rate on food is 1.5%. There is an additional 1% local tax, for a total of a 5% combined sales tax on most Virginia purchases and 2.5% on most food. Virginia's property tax is set and collected at the local government level and varies throughout the Commonwealth. Real estate is also taxed at the local level based on 100% of fair market value. Tangible personal property also is taxed at the local level and is based on a percentage or percentages of original cost.
Virginia's culture was popularized and spread across America and the South by figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Robert E. Lee. Their homes in Virginia represent the birthplace of America and the South. Modern Virginia culture has many sources, and is part of the culture of the Southern United States. The Smithsonian Institution divides Virginia into nine cultural regions. The Piedmont region is one of the most famous for its dialect's strong influence on Southern American English. While a more homogenized American English is found in urban areas, various accents are also used, including the Tidewater accent, the Old Virginia accent, and the anachronistic Elizabethan of Tangier Island.
Literature in Virginia often deals with the state's extensive and sometimes troubled past. The works of Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Glasgow often dealt with social inequalities and the role of women in her culture. Glasgow's peer and close friend James Branch Cabell wrote extensively about the changing position of gentry in the Reconstruction era, and challenged its moral code with Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice. William Styron approached history in works such as The Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie's Choice. Tom Wolfe has occasionally dealt with his southern heritage in bestsellers like I Am Charlotte Simmons. Virginia also names a state Poet Laureate, currently Kelly Cherry of Halifax County, who will serve until 2012.
Besides the general cuisine of the Southern United States, Virginia maintains its own particular traditions. Virginia wine is made in many parts of the state. Smithfield ham, sometimes called "Virginia ham", is a type of country ham which is protected by state law, and can only be produced in the town of Smithfield. Virginia furniture and architecture are typical of American colonial architecture. Thomas Jefferson and many of the state's early leaders favored the Neoclassical architecture style, leading to its use for important state buildings. The Pennsylvania Dutch and their style can also be found in parts of the state.
Fine and performing arts
Though rich in cultural heritage, Virginia ranks near the bottom of U.S. states in terms of public spending on the arts, at nearly half of the national average. The state government does fund some institutions, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Science Museum of Virginia. Other museums include the popular Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum and the Chrysler Museum of Art. Besides these sites, many open-air museums are located in the Commonwealth, such as Colonial Williamsburg, the Frontier Culture Museum, and various historic battlefields. The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities works to improve the Commonwealth's civic, cultural, and intellectual life.
Theaters and venues in the Commonwealth are found both in the cities and suburbs. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is located in Vienna and is the only national park intended for use as a performing arts center. The Harrison Opera House, in Norfolk, is home of the Virginia Opera. The Virginia Symphony Orchestra operates in and around Hampton Roads. Resident and touring theater troupes operate from the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton. The Barter Theatre in Abingdon won the first ever Regional Theatre Tony Award in 1948, while the Signature Theatre in Arlington won it in 2009. There's also a Children's Theater of Virginia, Theatre IV, which is the second largest touring troupe nationwide. Virginia has launched many award-winning traditional musical artists and internationally successful popular music acts, as well as Hollywood actors. Notable performance venues include The Birchmere, the Landmark Theater, and Jiffy Lube Live.
Many counties and localities host county fairs and festivals. The Virginia State Fair is held at the Meadow Event Park every September. Also in September is the Neptune Festival in Virginia Beach, which celebrates the city, the waterfront, and regional artists. Norfolk's Harborfest, in June, features boat racing and air shows. Fairfax County also sponsors Celebrate Fairfax! with popular and traditional music performances. The Virginia Lake Festival is held during the third weekend in July in Clarksville. Wolf Trap hosts the Wolf Trap Opera Company, which produces an opera festival every summer. Each September, Bay Days celebrates the Chesapeake Bay as well as Hampton's 400 year history since 1610, and Isle of Wight County holds a County Fair on the second week of September as well. Both feature live music performances, and other unique events.
On the Eastern Shore island of Chincoteague the annual Pony Swim & Auction of feral Chincoteague ponies at the end of July is a unique local tradition expanded into a week-long carnival. The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is a six-day festival held annually in Winchester that includes parades and bluegrass concerts. The Old Time Fiddlers' Convention in Galax, begun in 1935, is one of the oldest and largest such events worldwide. Two important film festivals, the Virginia Film Festival and the VCU French Film Festival, are held annually in Charlottesville and Richmond, respectively.
Virginia's educational system consistently ranks in the top ten states on the U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress, with Virginia students outperforming the average in all subject areas and grade levels tested. The 2011 Quality Counts report ranked Virginia's K–12 education fourth best in the country. All school divisions must adhere to educational standards set forth by the Virginia Department of Education, which maintains an assessment and accreditation regime known as the Standards of Learning to ensure accountability. In 2010, 85% of high school students graduated on-time after four years. Between 2000 and 2008, school enrollment increased 5%, the number of teachers 21%.
Public K–12 schools in Virginia are generally operated by the counties and cities, and not by the state. As of April 2011, a total of 1,267,063 students were enrolled in 1,873 local and regional schools in the Commonwealth, including three charter schools, and an additional 109 alternative and special education centers across 132 school divisions. Besides the general public schools in Virginia, there are Governor's Schools and selective magnet schools. The Governor's Schools are a collection of more than 40 regional high schools and summer programs intended for gifted students. The Virginia Council for Private Education oversees the regulation of 320 state accredited and 130 non-accredited private schools. An additional 24,682 students receive homeschooling.
As of 2011, there are 176 colleges and universities in Virginia. In the U.S. News and World Report ranking of public colleges, the University of Virginia is second and The College of William & Mary is sixth. Virginia Commonwealth University is ranked the top public graduate school in fine arts, while James Madison University has been recognized as the top regional public master's program in The South since 1993. The Virginia Military Institute is the oldest state military college and a top ranked public liberal arts college. George Mason University is the largest university in Virginia with over 32,000 students. Virginia Tech and Virginia State University are the state's land-grant universities. Virginia also operates 23 community colleges on 40 campuses serving over 260,000 students. There are 129 private institutions, including Washington and Lee University, Randolph-Macon College, Hampden–Sydney College, Emory & Henry College, Roanoke College, and the University of Richmond.
Because of the 1932 Byrd Road Act, the state government controls most of Virginia's roads, instead of a local county authority as is usual in other states. As of 2011, the Virginia Department of Transportation owns and operates 57,867 miles (93,128 km) of the total 70,105 miles (112,823 km) of roads in the state, making it the third largest state highway system in the United States. Although the Washington Metropolitan Area, which includes Northern Virginia, has the second worst traffic in the nation, Virginia as a whole has the 21st-lowest congestion and the average commute time is 26.9 minutes.
Virginia has Amtrak passenger rail service along several corridors, and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) maintains two commuter lines into Washington, D.C. from Fredericksburg and Manassas. VRE is one of the nation's fastest growing commuter rail services, handling nearly 20,000 passengers a day. The Washington Metro rapid transit system serves Northern Virginia as far west as communities along I-66 in Fairfax County, with expansion plans to reach Tysons Corner by 2013, and Loudoun County by 2017. Major freight railroads in Virginia include Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation. Commuter buses include the Fairfax Connector and the Shenandoah Valley Commuter Bus. The Virginia Department of Transportation operates several free ferries throughout Virginia, the most notable being the Jamestown-Scotland ferry which crosses the James River in Surry County.
Virginia has five major airports: Washington Dulles International handling over 23 million passengers a year, Reagan Washington National, Norfolk International serving the Hampton Roads area, Richmond International, and Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. Several other airports offer limited commercial passenger service, and sixty-six public airports serve the state's aviation needs. The Virginia Port Authority's main seaports are those in Hampton Roads, which carried 17,726,251 short tons (16,080,984 t) of bulk cargo in 2007, the sixth most of United States ports. The Eastern Shore of Virginia is the site of Wallops Flight Facility, a rocket testing center owned by NASA, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a commercial spaceport. Space tourism is also offered through Vienna-based Space Adventures.
Virginia is the most populous U.S. state without a major professional sports league franchise. The reasons for this include the lack of any dominant city or market within the state, the proximity of teams in Washington, D.C. and North Carolina, and a reluctance to publicly finance stadiums. Virginia has several minor league clubs, especially in baseball and soccer, and the Virginia Destroyers are the 2011 champions of the United Football League. Additionally, the Washington Redskins have Redskins Park, their headquarters and training facility, in Ashburn and the Washington Capitals train at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. Virginia has many professional caliber golf courses including the Greg Norman course at Lansdowne Resort and Kingsmill Resort, home of the Michelob ULTRA Open. NASCAR currently schedules Sprint Cup races on two tracks in Virginia: Martinsville Speedway and Richmond International Raceway. Current Virginia drivers in the series include Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, and Elliott Sadler.
The Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles also have followings due to their proximity, and both are broadcast in the state on MASN. When the New York Mets ended their long affiliation with the Norfolk Tides in 2007, the Orioles adopted the minor league club as their top level (AAA) minor league affiliate. The San Francisco Giants' AA team, the Richmond Flying Squirrels, began play at The Diamond in 2010, replacing the AAA Richmond Braves, who relocated after 2008. Additionally, the Nationals, Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners, Chicago White Sox, and Atlanta Braves also have Single-A and Rookie-level farm teams in Virginia.
Virginia does not allow state appropriated funds to be used for either operational or capital expenses for intercollegiate athletics. Despite this, both the Virginia Cavaliers and Virginia Tech Hokies have been able to field competitive teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference and maintain modern facilities. Their rivalry is followed statewide. Several other universities compete in NCAA Division I, particularly in the Colonial Athletic Association. Three historically black schools compete in the Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and two others compete in the Division I Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Several smaller schools compete in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and the USA South Athletic Conference of NCAA Division III. The NCAA currently holds its Division III championships in football, men's basketball, volleyball and softball in Salem.
Jamestown 2007 marked Virginia's quadricentennial year, celebrating 400 years since the establishment of the Jamestown Colony. The celebrations highlighted contributions from Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans, each of which had a significant part in shaping Virginia's history. Warfare, including among these groups, has also had an important role. Virginia was a focal point in conflicts from the French and Indian War, the American Revolution and the Civil War, to the Cold War and the War on Terrorism. Stories about historic figures, such as those surrounding Pocahontas and John Smith, George Washington's childhood, or the plantation elite in the slave society of the antebellum period, have also created potent myths of state history, and have served as rationales for Virginia's ideology.
The first people are estimated to have arrived in Virginia over 12,000 years ago. By 5,000 years ago more permanent settlements emerged, and farming began by 900 AD. By 1500, the Algonquian peoples had founded towns such as Werowocomoco in the Tidewater region, which they referred to as Tsenacommacah. The other major language groups in the area were the Siouan to the west, and the Iroquoians, who included the Nottoway and Meherrin, to the north and south. After 1570, the Algonquians consolidated under Chief Powhatan in response to threats from these other groups on their trade network. Powhatan controlled more than 30 smaller tribes and over 150 settlements, who shared a common Virginia Algonquian language. In 1607, the native Tidewater population was between 13,000 to 14,000.
Several European expeditions, including a group of Spanish Jesuits, explored the Chesapeake Bay during the 16th century. In 1583, Queen Elizabeth I of England granted Walter Raleigh a charter to plant a colony north of Spanish Florida. In 1584, Raleigh sent an expedition to the Atlantic coast of North America. The name "Virginia" may have been suggested then by Raleigh or Elizabeth, perhaps noting her status as the "Virgin Queen", and may also be related to a native phrase, "Wingandacoa", or name, "Wingina". Initially the name applied to the entire coastal region from South Carolina to Maine, plus the island of Bermuda. The London Company was incorporated as a joint stock company by the proprietary Charter of 1606, which granted land rights to this area. The Company financed the first permanent English settlement in the "New World", Jamestown. Named for King James I, it was founded in May 1607 by Christopher Newport. In 1619, colonists took greater control with an elected legislature called the House of Burgesses. With the bankruptcy of the London Company in 1624, the settlement was taken into royal authority as a British crown colony.
Life in the colony was perilous, and many died during the "starving time" in 1609 and the Anglo-Powhatan Wars, including the Indian massacre of 1622, which fostered the colonists' negative view of all tribes. By 1624, only 3,400 of the 6,000 early settlers had survived. However, European demand for tobacco fueled the arrival of more settlers and servants. The headright system tried to solve the labor shortage by providing colonists with land for each indentured servant they transported to Virginia. African workers were first imported in 1619, and their slavery was codified after a 1654 lawsuit over the servant John Casor.
Tensions and the geographic differences between the working and ruling classes led to Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, by which time current and former indentured servants made up as much as 80% of the population. Rebels, largely from the colony's frontier, were also opposed to the conciliatory policy towards native tribes. Colonists appropriated tribal land by force and treaty, including the Treaty of 1677, which made the signatory tribes tributary states. Williamsburg became the colonial capital in 1699, following the founding of The College of William & Mary in 1693. In 1747, a group of Virginian speculators formed the Ohio Company, with the backing of the British crown, to start English settlement and trade in the Ohio Country west of the Appalachian Mountains. France, which claimed this area as part of their colony of New France, viewed this as a threat, and the ensuing French and Indian War became part of the Seven Years' War (1756–1763). A militia from several British colonies, called the Virginia Regiment, was led by then-Lieutenant colonel George Washington.
The British Parliament's efforts to levy new taxes following the French and Indian War were deeply unpopular in the colonies. In the House of Burgesses, opposition to taxation without representation was led by Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee, among others. Virginians began to coordinate their actions with other colonies in 1773, and sent delegates to the Continental Congress the following year. After the House of Burgesses was dissolved by the royal governor in 1774, Virginia's revolutionary leaders continued to govern via the Virginia Conventions. On May 15, 1776, the Convention declared Virginia's independence from the British Empire and adopted George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights, which was then included in a new constitution. Another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, drew upon Mason's work in drafting the national Declaration of Independence.
When the American Revolutionary War began, George Washington was selected to head the colonial army. During the war, the capital was moved to Richmond at the urging of Governor Thomas Jefferson, who feared that Williamsburg's location would make it vulnerable to British attack. In 1781, the combined action of Continental and French land and naval forces trapped the British army on the Virginia Peninsula, where troops under George Washington and Comte de Rochambeau defeated British General Cornwallis in the Siege of Yorktown. His surrender on October 19, 1781, led to peace negotiations in Paris and secured the independence of the colonies.
Virginians were instrumental in writing the United States Constitution. James Madison drafted the Virginia Plan in 1787 and the Bill of Rights in 1789. Virginia ratified the Constitution on June 25, 1788. The three-fifths compromise ensured that Virginia, with its large number of slaves, initially had the largest bloc in the House of Representatives. Together with the Virginia dynasty of presidents, this gave the Commonwealth national importance. In 1790, both Virginia and Maryland ceded territory to form the new District of Columbia, though the Virginian area was retroceded in 1846. Virginia is sometimes called "Mother of States" because of its role in being carved into states like Kentucky, which became the 15th state in 1792, and for the numbers of American pioneers born in Virginia.
Civil War and aftermath
In addition to agriculture, slave labor was increasingly used in mining, shipbuilding and other industries. Nat Turner's slave rebellion in 1831 and John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 showed deep social discontent about slavery and its role in the plantation economy. By 1860, almost half a million people, roughly 31% of the total population of Virginia, were enslaved. This division contributed to the start of the American Civil War.
Virginia voted to secede from the United States on April 17, 1861, after the Battle of Fort Sumter and Abraham Lincoln's call for volunteers. On April 24, Virginia joined the Confederate States of America, which chose Richmond as its capital. After the 1863 Wheeling Convention, 48 counties in the northwest separated to form a new state of West Virginia, which chose to remain loyal to the Union. Virginian general Robert E. Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1862, and led invasions into Union territory, ultimately becoming commander of all Confederate forces. During the war, more battles were fought in Virginia than anywhere else, including Bull Run, the Seven Days Battles, Chancellorsville, and the concluding Battle of Appomattox Court House. After the capture of Richmond in 1865, the capital was briefly moved to Danville. Virginia was formally restored to the United States in 1870, due to the work of the Committee of Nine.
During the post-war Reconstruction era, Virginia adopted a constitution which provided for free public schools, and guaranteed political, civil, and voting rights. The populist Readjuster Party ran an inclusive coalition until the conservative white Democratic Party gained power after 1883. It passed segregationist Jim Crow laws and in 1902 rewrote the Constitution of Virginia to include a poll tax and other voter registration measures that effectively disfranchised most African Americans and many poor whites. Though their schools were segregated and underfunded, as were services, due to a lack of political representation, African Americans were able to create their own communities.
New economic forces also changed the Commonwealth. Virginian James Albert Bonsack invented the tobacco cigarette rolling machine in 1880 leading to new industrial scale production centered around Richmond. In 1886, railroad magnate Collis Potter Huntington founded Newport News Shipbuilding, which was responsible for building six major World War I-era battleships for the U.S. Navy from 1907–1923. During the war, German submarines like U-151 attacked ships outside the port. In 1926, Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, rector of Williamsburg's Bruton Parish Church, began restoration of colonial-era buildings in the historic district with financial backing of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.. Though their project, like others in the state, had to contend with the Great Depression and World War II, work continued as Colonial Williamsburg became a major tourist attraction.
Protests started by Barbara Rose Johns in 1951 in Farmville against segregated schools led to the lawsuit Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County. This case, filed by Richmond natives Spottswood Robinson and Oliver Hill, was decided in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education, which rejected the segregationist doctrine of "separate but equal". But, in 1958, under the policy of "massive resistance" led by the influential segregationist Senator Harry F. Byrd and his Byrd Organization, the Commonwealth prohibited desegregated local schools from receiving state funding.
The Civil Rights Movement gained many participants in the 1960s. It achieved the moral force and support to gain passage of national legislation with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 1964 the United States Supreme Court ordered Prince Edward County and others to integrate schools. In 1967, the Court also struck down the state's ban on interracial marriage with Loving v. Virginia. From 1969 to 1971, state legislators under Governor Mills Godwin rewrote the constitution, after goals such as the repeal of Jim Crow laws had been achieved. In 1989, Douglas Wilder became the first African American elected as governor in the United States. The Cold War led to the expansion of national defense government programs housed in offices in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., and correlative population growth. Among the federal developments was the Pentagon, built during World War II as the headquarters for the Department of Defense. It was one of the targets of the September 11 attacks; 189 people died at the site when a jet passenger plane crashed into the building.
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