Freeman Store and Museum Added to the National Register of Historic Places!

The National Park Service has named the Freeman Store and Museum to the National Register of Historic Places.  After a multi-year application process involving Historic Vienna, Inc. and the Town of Vienna, together with HistoryTech, a consulting firm hired to do additional research and prepare the actual application documents, the structure was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register by  the Virginia Department of Historic Resources in fall of 2011.  In April, 2012, the plaque commemorating the Virginia designation was unveiled.  And we waited.  The process is extremely exacting and information is checked, re-checked and then checked again, with questions about the structure itself and the history of the building’s use.  Every detail has to be documented, every fact cross-checked, to ensure that the application is accurate and to maintain the integrity of the application process, as well as the significance of the designation.

The Freeman House was built in 1859 by Abram and Susan Lydecker as a store and residence, the traditional “living above the store” structure.  It was advantageously located on the town’s main commercial street – Church Street – as well as being adjacent to the railroad line.  In May 23, 1861, the Lydecker’s store was one of the polling stations at which Fairfax County’s citizens cast their ballots on whether to secede from the Union.  Vienna voters, voted 77 to 44 against secession, one of only three precincts to do so.  During the ensuing war, both Union and Confederate troops occupied the house, which served as a hospital and military headquarters.  Post-war, the store passed to the Lydecker’s daughter and son-in-law Anderson Freeman and subsequently to their son Leon.  In addition to operating the business, Leon Freeman founded the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, with a horse-drawn chemical pumper (which can be seen today at the new VVFD building on Center Street), became a Director of Vienna’s first bank, and served as Mayor and as a member of the House of Delegates.

In 1929, the store closed.  The structure was in disrepair when the Town of Vienna purchased it in 1969 and formed a committee of interested citizens to plan and advise on the restoration and future use of the building.  This committee became Historic Vienna, Inc. in 1976 and the restoration was celebrated as a National Bicentennial Project by the Town.  Today, the Town continues as the owner, while Historic Vienna, Inc. owns the interior furniture, collections and fixtures and operates the Freeman Store and Museum.  The first floor Freeman Store maintains the ambiance of a late 1800s general store, complete with pot-bellied stove and an ever-ready checker board.  The second floor has a parlor and dining room with period furnishings, together with an exhibit space where HVI’s volunteer Museum Committee has mounted exhibits using our own collections (“From Our Attic”), traveling shows from the Virginia Museum (“Jamestown”) and items on loan from other organizations (the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department) and individuals (“Vienna Remembers World War II” and the current “Vienna Awakens To War: 1861 – 1865”).   There are also mini-exhibits using the downstairs hallway and permanent collections of documents and descriptive materials on display.

Special thanks are due to both individual HVI Board members and to Town staff – each of whom insist that they were “only doing their job.”  At the least, they did those jobs in exemplary fashion and will leave a legacy of success:  The Freeman House is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources Landmark Register.  A ceremony to unveil the National Plaque is being planned for Spring of 2013.

 

The Freeman Store and Museum’s National Register Plaque Dedication!

Historic Vienna, Inc. and the Town of Vienna invite you to celebrate the unveiling and dedication of a plaque recognizing the addition of the Freeman Store to the National Register of Historic Places.  The ceremony will take place on Saturday, April 6, on the front porch and side lawn of the Freeman Store at 2 pm, with a variety of events on-going throughout the day.

  • The Freeman Store and its exhibit rooms will be open from 10 am to 5 pm
  • The Little Library will be open from 10 am to 5 pm
  • Guided tours will be available of the Freeman Store and Little Library at 11 am and 12:30 pm
  • There will be games and activities for children (such as butter churning, making lavender sachets, relay races, the Virginia reel and games from 12 noon to 2 pm
  • Music during and after the dedication ceremony will include the Town of Vienna Band, James Madison High School Madrigals, and the Old Tyme Machine

Following the presentation of colors and welcoming remarks by Vienna Mayor M. Jane Seeman, speakers will include Delegate Mark Keam, State Senator Chap Peterson and Congressman Gerald Connolly.  A reception will follow on the side lawn of the Freeman Store.

The Freeman Store was built in 1859 by Abram and Susan Lydecker and has played many roles in Vienna’s history.  Notably, it was one of the polling stations at which Fairfax residents in 1861 cast ballots on the issue of secession from the Union and registered 77 to 44 not to do so. In addition to its primary function as a store and residence, the Freeman Store has been a military headquarters and hospital and a post office.  The Freeman’s grandson Leon Freeman not only continued the family business but also served as a director of Vienna’s first bank, Mayor of Vienna and member of the Virginia House of Delegates and, notably, founded the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department.  Purchased by the Town in 1969, the structure was restored as a National Bicentennial Project.  It is leased to Historic Vienna, Inc., which owns all of the interior furniture, collections and fixtures and whose Storekeeper and volunteers operate the Freeman Store, maintain the collection of artifacts and mount educational exhibits.  The Store was placed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in 2012 by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

All of the activities associated with the unveiling and dedication ceremony are free and open to the public.  For more information, please call (703) 938-5187 or (703) 255-6360.