Lexington, Virginia

Lexington is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 7,042.[3] It is the county seat of Rockbridge County,[4] although the two are separate jurisdictions. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Lexington (along with nearby Buena Vista) with Rockbridge County for statistical purposes. Lexington is about 57 miles (92 km) east of the West Virginia border and is about 50 miles (80 km) north of Roanoke, Virginia. It was first settled in 1777.

Lexington is the location of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and of Washington and Lee University (W&L).

Lexington, Virginia
Main Street, Lexington
Main Street, Lexington
Lexington is located in Shenandoah Valley
Lexington is located in Virginia
Lexington is located in the US
Coordinates: 37°47′2″N 79°26′34″W / 37.78389°N 79.44278°WCoordinates: 37°47′2″N 79°26′34″W / 37.78389°N 79.44278°W[1]
CountryUnited States
CountyNone (Independent city)
 • MayorFrank Friedman
 • City ManagerNoah Simon
 • Commissioner of RevenueKaren T. Roundy
 • TreasurerPatricia DeLaney
 • City AttorneyLaurence A. Mann, Esquire
 • Total2.5 sq mi (6 km2)
 • Land2.5 sq mi (6 km2)
1,063 ft (324 m)
 • Total6,998
 • Density2,817/sq mi (1,088/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)540
FIPS code51-45512[2]
GNIS feature ID1498506[1]
WebsiteLexington, Virginia

City Council

Position Official
Mayor Frank Friedman
Councilwoman Marylin Alexander
Councilwoman Michele Hentz
Councilman J. Patrick Rhamey, Jr.
Councilman David Sigler
Councilman Charles Smith
Councilwoman Leslie Straughan


Lexington was named in 1778. It was the first of what would be many American places named after Lexington, Massachusetts, known for being the place at which the first shot was fired in the American Revolution.[5]

The Union General David Hunter led a raid on Virginia Military Institute during the American Civil War. Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson are buried here. It is the site of the only house Jackson ever owned, now open to the public as a museum. Cyrus McCormick invented the horse-drawn mechanical reaper at his family's farm in Rockbridge County, and a statue of McCormick is located on the Washington and Lee University campus. McCormick Farm is now owned by Virginia Tech and is a satellite agricultural research center.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.5 square miles (6.5 km2), virtually all of which is land.[6] The Maury River, a tributary of the James River, forms the city's northeastern boundary.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen climate classification system, Lexington has a humid subtropical climate, similar to Northern Italy, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[7]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20167,045[8]0.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
1790–1960[10] 1900–1990[11]
1990–2000[12] 2010-2012[3]

As of the census[13] of 2000, there were 6,867 people, 2,232 households, and 1,080 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,753.8 per square mile (,064.8/km²). The racial makeup was 86.01% White, 10.38% African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.92% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander and 0.48% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.1% of the population.

There were 2,232 households of which 18.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.9% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.6% were non-families. 41.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.76.

In the city, the population was spread out with 11.0% under the age of 18, 41.4% from 18 to 24, 14.5% from 25 to 44, 16.7% from 45 to 64, and 16.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females, there were 123.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 127.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,982, and the median income for a family was $58,529. Males had a median income of $35,288 versus $26,094 for females. The per capita income was $16,497. About 8.4% of families and 21.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.9% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.


Lee Chapel
Lee Chapel

Today, Lexington's primary economic activities stem from higher education and tourism. Located at the intersection of historic U.S. Route 11 and U.S. Route 60 and more modern highways, Interstate 64 and Interstate 81. With its various connections to the Civil War, Lexington attracts visitors from around the country. Places of interest in Lexington include the Stonewall Jackson House, Lee Chapel, the George C. Marshall Museum, Virginia Military Institute Museum, Museum of Military Memorabilia, and the downtown historic district. Hull's Drive In theater attracts visitors to the area and was the first community-owned, non-profit drive-in in the U.S.

Lexington also contains a host of small retail businesses, bed and breakfast inns, and restaurants catering to a unique mixture of local, tourist, and collegiate clientele. The historic R. E. Lee Hotel, built in the 1920s, underwent extensive renovation and re-opened its doors late 2014.

Lexington has been the site for several movies. Parts of at least eight motion pictures have been filmed in the area. The first was the 1938 movie, Brother Rat, which starred Ronald Reagan. After the movie's release he was made an honorary VMI cadet. The second was the 1958 Mardi Gras, which starred Pat Boone as a VMI cadet and the actress Christine Carère. The third was Sommersby (1993), starring Richard Gere, Bill Pullman, James Earl Jones and Jodie Foster. The Foreign Student (1994), based on a novel of college life by former W&L student Phillipe Labro, also had scenes made in town.[14] Filming for parts of several Civil War films also took place in Lexington, including the documentary Lee Beyond the Battles and Gods and Generals. In Fall 2004, the director Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise filmed scenes for War of the Worlds here, with Dakota Fanning and Tim Robbins. In June 2013, filming took place for a movie titled Field of Lost Shoes about the Battle of New Market starring Luke Benward and Lauren Holly.

The city has a number of independent newspapers. The News-Gazette is a weekly community paper; it also produces a free shopper known as The Weekender. The now-defunct The Rockbridge Weekly, noted for printing police and other local crime reports, was bought by The News-Gazette in June 2012. The Rockbridge Advocate is a monthly news magazine with the motto "Independent as a hog on ice".


Flag controversy

In 2011, the city erupted in controversy after the City Council passed an ordinance to ban the flying of flags other than the United States flag, the Virginia Flag, and an as-yet-undesigned city flag on city light poles. Various flags of the Confederacy had previously been flown on city light poles to commemorate the Virginia holiday, Lee–Jackson Day, which is observed on the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.[15] About 300 Confederate flag supporters, including members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, rallied before the City Council meeting,[16] and after the vote the Sons of Confederate Veterans vowed to challenge the new local ordinance in court.[15] Previously, flags such as the Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute flags had also been flown on city light poles but the practice is now discontinued due to the city's ordinance.

Previously, a 1993 federal injunction had prohibited Lexington from barring individuals' displaying the Confederate flag.[16] The current ordinance applies only to displays from city light poles; individuals still may exercise their First Amendment rights, including displaying flags of their choice.

In 2014, a large copy of a Confederate battle flag and a number of related state flags were removed from Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University.[17][18]

Red Hen restaurant controversy

The Red Hen restaurant was the site of the June 22, 2018, precipitating event for the Red Hen restaurant controversy, in which a restaurant co-owner asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave the restaurant, citing Huckabee Sanders' role in President Trump's administration.[19] The incident sparked national controversy.[19]

Points of interest

LexingtonVA HighSchool
Lexington High School, designed by architect Charles M. Robinson and constructed in 1908, was typical of the modern public schools that cities built during the Progressive Era.

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b "Lexington". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  5. ^ Ramsay, Robert L. (1952). Our Storehouse of Missouri Place Names. University of Missouri Press. p. 16.
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  7. ^ "Lexington, Virginia Köppen Climate Classification". Weatherbase. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  8. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  11. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  13. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  14. ^ "Foreign Student" – via www.imdb.com.
  15. ^ a b Associated Press. "Va. city bans public Confederate flag displays". CBS News. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  16. ^ a b Adams, Duncan. "Rebel flags barred from Lexington poles". Roanoke Times. Archived from the original on February 1, 2013. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  17. ^ "Virginia university to remove Confederate flags from chapel". CNN Wire. July 9, 2014. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  18. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees (July 8, 2014). "Washington and Lee University to remove Confederate flags following protests". Washington Post. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  19. ^ a b Selk, Avi; Murray, Sarah (June 25, 2018). "The owner of the Red Hen explains why she asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 4, 2018.
  20. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  21. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 6/06/11 through 6/10/11. National Park Service. June 17, 2011.
  22. ^ Vine, Valerie (February 21, 2011). "William H. Armstrong". Find A Grave.
  23. ^ "Howard Drew". Sports-reference.com. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  24. ^ Davidson, Justin (November 28, 1997). "Past Her Prime at 17? : Younger violinists are fast on the heels of Hilary Hahn. But she doesn't feel the heat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  25. ^ "Ingersoll-Rand Plc: Constance J. Horner". Business Week. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  26. ^ "Virginia Governor John Letcher". National Governors Association. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  27. ^ "Lindsay, William, (1835 - 1909)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  28. ^ "West Virginia Governor William Alexander MacCorkle". National Governors Association. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  29. ^ "Sally Mann". sallymann.com. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  30. ^ "Gary Wayne Martini 1948-1967". West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  31. ^ Evans, Martin (2001). "Robert Paxton: The Outsider". History Today.
  32. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. New York, NY: J. T. White. 1967. p. 245.
  33. ^ Hill, Samuel S.; Lippy, Charles H.; Wilson, Charles Reagan (2005). Encyclopedia of Religion in the South. Mercer University.
  34. ^ Masters, Christopher (July 6, 2011). ""Cy" (Cyclone) Twombly, obituary". The Guardian. UK.

External links

Alumni Memorial Field

Alumni Memorial Field at Foster Stadium is a 10,000-seat multi-purpose stadium in Lexington, Virginia, United States. It opened in 1962. It is home to the Virginia Military Institute Keydets football team.

Cameron Hall (arena)

Cameron Hall is a 5,029–seat multi-purpose arena in Lexington, Virginia. It was built in 1981 and is home to the Virginia Military Institute Keydets basketball team. Although mainly used for basketball, the arena also holds VMI's commencement every May, as well as other large-scale events. It was named after brothers Bruce and Daniel Cameron, VMI Class of 1938 and 1942, respectively.

Clay Blair

Clay Blair Jr. (May 1, 1925 – December 16, 1998) was an American historian, best known for his books on military history. He served on the fleet submarine Guardfish (SS-217) in World War II and later wrote for Time and Life magazines before becoming editor-in-chief of The Saturday Evening Post. He assisted General Omar Bradley in the writing of his autobiography, A General's Life (1983), published after the general's death. Blair wrote two dozen history books and hundreds of magazine articles that reached a popular audience. His last book was Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted, 1942–1945 (1998), which followed Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939–1942 (1996).

Blair's history of the Korean War The Forgotten War: America in Korea, 1950–1953 (1987) is considered one of the definitive historical works on the war. His work was notable for his criticism of senior American political and military leaders. Blair criticizes President Harry S. Truman and his Secretary of Defense, Louis A. Johnson, for failing to maintain the military's readiness in the years immediately following World War II. His history, while comprehensive, primarily employs a top-down perspective, with less emphasis on individual soldiers than on larger operational issues and the perspectives of general and field-grade officers. He has also been criticized by some historians for not making sufficient use of Communist sources.Blair also wrote extensively on the submarine war of World War II, notably in the bestselling Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan (1975), considered the definitive work on the Pacific submarine war.Blair was born in Lexington, Virginia. He was for many years married to Joan Blair, who co-wrote some of his books. Prior to that marriage he was married to Agnes Kemp Devereux Blair, with whom he had seven children: Marie Louise, Clay III, Sibyl, Joseph (deceased), Kemp, Robert and Christopher.

David A. Reid

David Alan Reid (born January 14, 1962) is an American politician and retired US Navy Reserve Commander. Reid was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017. He is a Democrat representing the 32nd District, which includes much of eastern Loudoun County in Northern Virginia.

East Lexington, Virginia

East Lexington is a census-designated place in Rockbridge County, Virginia. The population at the 2010 Census was 1,463.

Harold Metts

Harold M. Metts (born October 6, 1947) is an American politician and a Democratic member of the Rhode Island Senate representing District 6 since January 2005. Metts served non-consecutively in the Rhode Island General Assembly from January 1985 until December 31, 1998 in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.

John Letcher

John Letcher (March 29, 1813 – January 26, 1884) was an American lawyer, journalist, and politician. He served as a Representative in the United States Congress, was the 34th Governor of Virginia during the American Civil War, and later served in the Virginia General Assembly. He was also active on the Board of Visitors of Virginia Military Institute.

Lee Chapel

Lee Chapel is a National Historic Landmark in Lexington, Virginia, on the campus of Washington and Lee University. It was constructed during 1867–68 at the request of Robert E. Lee, who was President of the University (then known as Washington College) at the time, and after whom the building is named. The Victorian brick architectural design was probably the work of his son, George Washington Custis Lee, with details contributed by Col. Thomas Williamson, an architect and professor of engineering at the neighboring Virginia Military Institute. General Lee, along with much of the rest of the Lexington community, attended church services at Grace Episcopal Church, a hundred yards south, at the edge of the college campus. (In 1903, that church was renamed R. E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church; in 2017, its governing board voted to change its name back to Grace Episcopal Church.)

When Lee died in 1870, he was buried beneath the chapel. His body remains there to this day, and for this reason among others, the Chapel is one of Lexington's major historical tourist attractions.

A centerpiece on the stage of the chapel—where the pulpit would be in a less secular place of worship—is a statue of Lee, in his uniform, asleep on the battlefield (the "Recumbent Lee"), designed by Edward Valentine. On the walls are two paintings: one of General Washington himself, by Charles Willson Peale, from the Washington family collections, and the other of Lee in his uniform, painted by Edward Pine. There is also a plaque given by the Sigma Society on one of the walls that honors two Sigma alumni from the classes of 1912 and 1915 who lost their lives in World War I.

In the basement a crypt (added after Lee's burial) contains the remains of much of Lee's direct family: the General himself, his wife Mary, his seven children, and his parents—Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, who had been a general during the Revolutionary War, and Anne Carter Lee. Lee's favorite horse, Traveller, is buried just outside the Chapel, where students of Washington and Lee traditionally leave coins or apples in hopes of being compensated with good fortune in their studies. In the basement of the Chapel is a museum that illuminates the history of the family of George Washington and Lee as well as that of the university itself. Lee's office has been meticulously preserved in almost exactly the same condition as it was when he died.

Chapel plays a role in the modern operation of Washington and Lee. It seats about 600 in its main area and in a small, three-sided balcony. Freshmen assemble there to hear the President of the University's student-run Executive Committee speak on the school's Honor System. Important school-wide lectures, concerts, and other notable activities are held there from time to time. On August 6, 2014, the Confederate flags in the chapel were removed after student protests. It was then agreed that the chapel's original flags, which were retired in the 1990s due to deterioration, were to be put on display on a rotating basis in the chapel's museum.Lee Chapel was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963. It is open for tours based on the following schedule:

Apr 1 - Oct 31: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays

Nov 1 - Mar 31: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays

National Register of Historic Places listings in Lexington, Virginia

This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Lexington, Virginia.

This is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in the independent city of Lexington, Virginia, United States. The locations of National Register properties and districts for which the latitude and longitude coordinates are included below, may be seen in a Google map.There are 17 properties and districts listed on the National Register in the city, including 4 National Historic Landmarks.

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted December 21, 2018.

Rockbridge County High School

Rockbridge County High School is a secondary school in Lexington, Virginia.

Thomas Chipman McRae

Thomas Chipman McRae (December 21, 1851 – June 2, 1929) was an American attorney and politician from Arkansas. He served as a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives (1885 to 1903) and the 26th Governor of Arkansas, from 1921 to 1925.

Triad (American fraternities)

The term Triad is used to designate certain historic groupings of seminal college fraternities in North America.

VMI Keydets baseball

The VMI Keydets baseball team represents the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. The team is a member of the Southern Conference, which is part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I. VMI's first baseball team was fielded in 1866. The team plays its home games at Gray–Minor Stadium in Lexington, Virginia. The Keydets are coached by Jonathan Hadra.

VMI Keydets basketball, 1960–69

The VMI Keydets basketball teams represented the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. The program began in 1908, and played their games out of Cormack Field House, nicknamed "The Pit". The Keydets were members of the Southern Conference. Their primary rival is The Citadel.

Virginia's 24th House of Delegates district

Virginia's 24th House of Delegates district elects one of 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates, the lower house of the state's bicameral legislature. District 24 represents the cities of Buena Vista and Lexington; Bath and Rockbridge counties; and parts of Amherst and Augusta counties. The seat is currently held by Benjamin L. Cline. In a Republican firehouse primary, Rockbridge supervisor Ronnie Campbell won the Republican nomination by one vote. Christian Worth won the Democratic nomination. The special election will be held December 18.

Virginia's 25th Senate district

District 25, consisting of portions of Albemarle, Charlottesville, Rockbridge, Nelson, Alleghany, Buena Vista, Lexington, Covington, Bath, and Highland, has been represented by Democrat Creigh Deeds since 2002, after he defeated Republican Jane S. Maddux in the 2001 special election to replace deceased state senator Emily Couric.

Virginia Military Institute

The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is a state-supported military college in Lexington, Virginia. Unlike any other United States Senior Military College, and in keeping with its founding principles, VMI enrolls cadets (uniformed members of the Corps of Cadets) only and awards baccalaureate degrees exclusively. VMI offers its students, all of whom are cadets, strict military discipline combined with a spartan, physically and academically demanding environment. The Institute grants degrees in 14 disciplines in engineering, the sciences, and the liberal arts.While VMI has been called "The West Point of The South", it differs from the federal military service academies in several respects. For example, VMI numbers approximately 1700 cadets and the living conditions are more austere. Also, while all cadets must participate in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) of the United States Armed Forces, VMI cadets are afforded the flexibility of pursuing civilian endeavors or accepting an officer's commission in any of the active or reserve components of any of the U.S. military branches upon graduation.VMI's alumni include a Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, 7 Medal of Honor recipients, 13 Rhodes Scholars, Pulitzer Prize winners, an Academy Award winner, an Emmy Award and Golden Globe winner, a martyr recognized by the Episcopal Church, Senators and Representatives, Governors, including the current Governor of Virginia, Lieutenant Governors, a Supreme Court Justice, numerous college and university presidents, many business leaders (presidents and CEOs) and over 270 general and flag officers across all US service branches and several other countries.

Washington and Lee Generals football

The Washington and Lee Generals football team represents Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. The Generals compete at NCAA Division III level as members of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.

Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University (Washington and Lee or W&L) is a private liberal arts university in Lexington, Virginia. Established in 1749, the university is a colonial-era college and the ninth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

Washington and Lee's 325-acre campus sits at the edge of Lexington and abuts the campus of the Virginia Military Institute in the Shenandoah Valley region between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Allegheny Mountains. The campus is approximately 50 miles (80 km) northeast from Roanoke, 140 miles (225 km) west from the state capital of Richmond, and 180 miles (290 km) inland southwest from the national capital at Washington, D.C.

Washington and Lee was originally founded as a small classical school named Augusta Academy (later renamed Liberty Hall Academy) by Scots-Irish Presbyterian pioneers, though the University has never claimed any sectarian affiliation. In 1796, shortly before the end of his second term as American President, George Washington endowed the struggling academy with a gift of stock, one of the largest gifts to an educational institution at that time. In gratitude, the school was renamed for the commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), president at the Federal Constitutional Convention meeting in Philadelphia (summer of 1787), framer of the American Constitution (1787-1788), and the first President of the United States (1789-1797).

In 1865, shortly after his April 9 surrender to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant commander of the Union Armies, former Confederate States Army General-in-Chief Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), was called and served as president of the college for five years until his death in 1870, when the college was thereafter renamed the "Washington and Lee University".

One of the oldest institutions of higher education in the American South, W&L is the second-oldest in the Commonwealth of Virginia (next to the College of William and Mary, founded in 1693).

The University consists of three academic units: The College itself; the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics; and the School of Law. The University hosts 24 intercollegiate varsity athletic teams which compete as part of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA's Division III).

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