Heritage in Every Step: The Figures Behind Waynesboro Street Names

Waynesboro, Virginia, is well known as the crossroads of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. An ideal launching point to enjoy the trails of the Shenandoah Valley, the city itself also holds much to explore. A look into the street signs crisscrossing the city reveals a deep and lasting appreciation for the rich history, art, industry, and musical culture that deeply infuses Waynesboro.

Wayne Avenue – At the Heart of Waynesboro

A trip down heritage lane must start, of course, with Waynesboro’s namesake, Mad Anthony himself. During the American Revolutionary War, General Anthony Wayne was a bold strategist and one of General George Washington’s trusted commanders. In addition to his moniker, Wayne is most known for leading a nighttime raid that captured the “impregnable” British stronghold at Stony Point, New York, and for leading the advance forces of the Marquis de Lafayette in the Battle of Green Spring, one of the last major land battles in the Virginia campaign. In 1792, President Washington appointed Wayne as the commander-in-chief of the American armies.

Rosser Avenue – History

Thomas Lafayette Rosser

The next famous figure was interestingly named after that same Marquis de Lafayette, a common trend when Thomas Lafayette Rosser was born in Campbell County, Virginia, in 1836. Leadership was thrust upon Rosser at an early age, when at 13 years old he led his family’s wagon train from Virginia safely to Texas. At 19 he made his way back East to attend West Point.

Over the course of his life, Rosser would continue to lead, first rising to the rank of major general in the Confederate Army and leading soldiers against Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley, and then following the Civil War, as chief engineer for the Northern Pacific and Canadian Pacific Railroads. Rosser settled in Charlottesville and invested heavily in Waynesboro’s first land-boom enterprise, becoming the President of the West Waynesboro Land Company. Rosser was briefly called back into military service in 1898 by President McKinley, this time to train United States cavalry recruits for the Spanish-American War.

To learn more about Civil War history in Waynesboro and the Shenandoah Valley, step back in time at the annual Waynesboro at War re-enactment or visit the Waynesboro Heritage Museum.

Waynesboro At War

P. Buckley Moss Drive – Art

America’s most celebrated living artist, P. Buckley Moss, has long called Waynesboro home. Moss’s passion and talent for capturing the beauty, culture, and traditions of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is matched by her devotion to children’s charities and the integration of the arts in the classroom, with a special focus on children who learn in different ways. The P. Buckley Moss Society with over 15,000 members worldwide and the P. Buckley Moss Foundation for Children’s Education further advance Moss’s charitable endeavors, and to-date donations of P. Buckley Moss art have raised over 4 million dollars for charities.

P. Buckley Moss

Described by Charles Kuralt as “The People’s Artist,” Moss hosts a Barn Show and Gallery Open House several times a year to sign and personalize artwork at her Waynesboro home and at the downtown Waynesboro Gallery .

P. Buckley Moss Gallery in Downtown Waynesboro

Lew DeWitt Boulevard – Music

Tenor. Guitar player. Songwriter.  Lew DeWitt was a musician of many skills. DeWitt was a founding member of the Staunton-based country music legends, the Statler Brothers. During his musical career with the Statler Brothers, DeWitt penned the quartet’s Grammy-winning, “Flowers on the Wall,” toured with Johnny Cash, performed three times at the White House, and recorded 25 albums.

Lew DeWitt

When he left the Statler Brothers in 1982 due to health reasons, DeWitt moved to Waynesboro. For the next five years, he performed at Waynesboro’s Summer Extravaganza. After his death in 1990, he was posthumously inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

If music moves you, get movin’ to Waynesboro. The Historic Wayne Theatre Ross Performing Arts Center, the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra, and Waynesboro Parks & Recreation’s Summer Extravaganza, Rock n’ Ridgeview, and Groovin’ at the Greenway are just the prelude for music lovers.

Rock n’ Ridgeview

Hopeman Parkway – Industry

You might not think “Navy ships” or “cruise liners” when you think Waynesboro, but Waynesboro is full of surprises! For over 80 years, the city was headquarters for Hopeman Brothers, the United States’ major supplier of maritime accommodations. Technical teams located at the 35-acre Waynesboro site supported the installation and material functions of Hopeman Brothers’ offices and warehouses in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and California. Hopeman Brothers’ engineering and installation expertise was utilized in all manner of ocean vessels, from World War II victory ships and oceanographic survey ships to drill rigs and riverboat casinos.

Maritime Reporter

The Hopeman family also had a long legacy of community engagement. You can find a number of sights and sounds dedicated in honor of the family, including the grand 50-bell Hopeman Memorial Carillon and Hopeman Engineering Building at the University of Rochester and the Albert A. Hopeman, Jr. School of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics at Grove City College. And here at home, Bertram Hopeman was influential in the funding of the Waynesboro Community Hospital.

To learn more about Waynesboro’s industrial heritage that includes everything from silk and lumber to metals and spandex, visit the Waynesboro Heritage Museum or explore the city’s historic landmarks. Be sure to swing by the Virginia Metalcrafters Historic District, which is now home to the craft brewery, Basic City Beer Co.

Basic City Beer Co.