Monday, September 14, 2009

Rosie Visits Danville's Community Market.

Saturday morning, Rosie went to Danville's Community Market, where vendors throughout Southside Virginia and North Central North Carolina come to sell fresh homegrown produce, jams, jellies, preserves, furniture, crafts, plants, tchotchkes ... you name it.
And apparently, this is the place to be on Saturday mornings.
It's right across from the old Southern Railway train station, now the Danville, Virginia, Amtrak station. Don't you just love this architecture? In 1856, the Richmond and Danville rail line reached Danville. This railroad has played an important role in the development of Danville. During the Civil War, the railroad was a vital Confederate supply point. At the close of the war, Confederate officials fleeing Richmond took the train to Danville, which has the honor of being the "Last Capital of the Confederacy." During the week of April 3-10, 1865, the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, and his government were welcomed to the home of Major William T. Sutherlin, wartime quartermaster for Danville and one of its most prominent citizens. Jefferson Davis occupied a bedroom upstairs in the Sutherlin Mansion and wrote and delivered his final proclamation to the Confederacy on April 4th, meeting with his Cabinet (with the exception of John C. Breckinridge, Secretary of War for the Confederacy) for the last time, later that day. Because of the events documented in the Sutherlin Mansion during the Confederacy's final week, Danville, Virginia, has become known as the "Last Capital of the Confederacy." The Confederate Government in Danville ended on April 10th, when news of General Robert E. Lee's surrender arrived. When I was a child, this building, the Sutherlin Mansion, was the Danville Library. Now, it is home to the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History. The museum contains both original and period furnishings along with changing exhibits of local artists as well as on loan exhibits from other museums. And yes, I have blogged about this venerable home before. Please visit here. Back to the railroad station. The original station was built in 1899 from plans drawn by noted Southern Railway architect, Frank Pierce Milburn. In 1915, the track needed to be moved 133 feet to the northeast. The station was jacked up on rollers and mules and stump pullers were used to roll the building - a move done so skillfully, that not one brick was cracked and it was reported that "pigeons nesting in the depot tower were not disturbed." A reporter from Popular Mechanics described the process: "The first step preparatory to moving was to dig down to the bottom of the walls all around and place a heavy wooden framework, reinforced with steel, underneath. By means of jacks the building was then raised up 4 ft. and set on 2-in. steel rollers. The station, which weighs approximately 1,000 tons, was then started forward, drawn by cables, which ran through blocks staked to the ground and then wound around a windlass operated by seven laborers. At first it was moved at the rate of 2 in. per minute and later at 6 in. per minute." The building was almost destroyed by fire during a raging snowstorm in January 1922. Apparently, faulty wiring sparked a fire in the roof which smoldered undetected for hours before exploding in the early morning hours of January 29. Within days of the devastating fire, the railway drew up plans for the depot's reconstruction. The building was rebuilt to original specifications, preserving the layout and character of the building, but without the original spire which had formerly graced its roof line. Later on, the building fell into disuse, due to the demise of public rail transit. Amtrak passengers had to walk through an underground tunnel to wait on a platform between the tracks. Finally, in 1993, passenger service was closed temporarily, and the City of Danville bought the building. In 1995, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places , the U.S. government's official list of districts, buildings, sites, and structures, deemed worthy of preservation, and local civic leaders sought federal funding and local contributions to renovate the station. Now, it is part of the campus of the Danville Science Center, the first satellite facility of the Science Museum of Virginia. Southern Railway was a very important feature in the economic development of Southside Virginia. There were two economic resources of Danville - tobacco and textiles. Both resources were dependent on Southern Railway's ability to ship them throughout the country. So much freight was handled that the Southern Railway Freight Station was separated from the nearby passenger station. Today, the old freight station is the home of the Danville Community Market. End of history lesson. Sorry. I got carried away. And here's the Danville Community Market last Saturday.
I bought a red pepper, a jalapeno, and a cucumber for dinner at Maxine's.
Align Center
Some people have waaaaaay too much time on their hands.
My favorite offering? The tomb toppers for $39. These were selling like hotcakes.
Where else but Danville?
Leaving the warehouse district and railway station and the Danville Community Market. When I was a child, I heard the trains throughout the night rumbling down the tracks, about a half mile from the safety and comfort of my bedroom. Tonight, at Maxine's, I hear a train right now, maybe 50 yards away. It's a comfort to me. And I will hear probably 3 - 4 more passing trains during the night. And I will sleep well.


Marilyn said...

Thanks for a guided visit to your home town.

Debbie said...

I also live in Virginia but have never been to Danville. It looks so nice!

Ken said...

I miss hearing trains at night--I grew up in a railroad town and it really is a comforting, soothing sound.