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HVI’s Country Store Exhibit Celebrates Our Heritage

Visitors to the Freeman Store often comment that they feel as if they have “stepped back in time” or found themselves in “another era,” with the wood floors, wood and glass display cabinets, merchandise displayed on open wood shelving, and goods-for-sale nearby to museum displays featuring bolts of cloth, millinery and crockery.   On a wintery day, the wood stove with a rocker and checkerboard close by gives a feeling of warmth and coziness, while the vintage chest Coke cooler is a welcome sight during warm summer afternoons.  One of several general stores located in Vienna before the days of chains and “big boxes,” the Freeman Store remains a slice of living history.

Using the Freeman Store as backdrop, HVI has a new exhibit, “The History of the Country Store,” open now during Store hours (Wednesday thru Sunday, 12 noon to 4 pm).  On entering the store, visitors will immediately see that the exhibit has made use of the store itself for staging and presenting artifacts, examples of merchandise which would have been offered  in bygone days.  Continuing on through the second floor exhibit rooms are displays and explanatory materials giving a full picture of the role of the country store, including general mercantile (pots and pans, horse collars and school books), voting precinct, dry goods (clothing and shoes for the whole family), feed, grain and seeds, all manner of hardware from farm implements to hand tools and nails, and in many cases (including the Freeman Store) a post office and general gathering place.  The general store served as a grocery, including canned goods, eggs, fresh meat, and seasonal local produce.  Purchases could be made by cash, a credit “tab,” or by barter, a frequent method of purchase for local farmers, who would bring in garden produce or dairy products in exchange for commodities such as sugar, salt or other store merchandise.  Health concerns were addressed as well, with “medicines” guaranteed to cure everything from headache to baldness, toothaches to forgetfulness.

Abraham Lydecker potrayed by HVI Board Member Jon Vrana
Abraham Lydecker potrayed by HVI Board Member Jon Vrana
Abraham Lydecker 2014
Abraham Lydecker 2014
Coffee Mill 1898
Coffee Mill 1898

 

photo 3

Opening of Country Store Exhibit
Opening of Country Store Exhibit
Country Store Exhibit #1
Country Store Exhibit #1
Country Store Exhibit #2
Country Store Exhibit #2
Country Store Exhibit #3
Country Store Exhibit #3
Country Store Exhibit #4
Country Store Exhibit #4
Country Store Exhibit #5
Country Store Exhibit #5
Country Store Exhibit #6
Country Store Exhibit #6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End Of An Era: On Mayo Stuntz’s Passing

Mayo Stuntz portrait

Historic Vienna Remembers Local Historian Mayo S. Stuntz
by Laine Hyde, Historic Vienna Inc. Secretary

Among the small number of video histories collected by Historic Vienna, Inc. is a tape of a one-hour interview with Mayo Stuntz.  Despite a career in government and private enterprises, Mayo – he was one of those “one name suffices to identify him” people – was usually known primarily as  Historian.    Together with his wife Connie, he produced numerous books on Vienna and other local subjects; primary among these was “This Was Vienna, Virginia: Facts and Photos,” considered an invaluable historical resource.

Mayo was born in the heart – the very heart – of the Town, in a home at the intersection of Old Courthouse Road and Maple Avenue.  This would explain not only why in recent years a “Happy Birthday, Mayo” sign would appear in October in front of JiffyLube but also how he came to know from personal, life-long experience, the history of his home town.  He was there.  He went to Vienna Elementary, walking home for lunch.   The family moved all the way to the edge of Vienna and he spent most of his life living in that home, eventually raising a new generation there.  A list of “served on” would include the Fairfax History Commission and the little group which advised the Town on the restoration of the Freeman House and eventually became Historic Vienna, Inc.  He lived to see the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.  Throughout his life and most particularly in retirement, he was always willing – enthusiastically willing – to share his memories, his experience and his love of history with groups or individuals.

Mayo Stuntz died on May 9 at the age of 97.  His contributions live on.

Official Obituary: Mayo S. Stuntz, Sr. (Age 97)
Passed away on May 9, 2013.  Born in Vienna, VA in 1915, attended Cornell University, served in the U.S.Army in the Pacific (Lt. Col, Ret.), had a 25 year career in the Central Intelligence Agency, and was a well-known local historian and co-author.  Beloved husband of 66 years of Constance Pendleton Stuntz.  Father of Anne (Brad Swanson), Reid (Linda), and Mayo Jr. (Elizabeth).

Grandfather of Allison Schulte (Ben), James (Mollie O’Rourke), Katie, Joe (Michelle), Grace, Jay Swanson, Charles Swanson and Steve Swanson.  Great Grandfather of Audrey Rose Schulte.
The family will receive visitors on Wednesday, May 15 from 2-4PM and from 6-8PM at the Money and King Funeral Home in Vienna, VA. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, May 16 at 1PM at the Vienna Presbyterian Church.  Interment will be at 4PM at the Flint Hill Cemetery, Oakton, VA.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The Vienna Presbyterian Church or Historic Vienna, Inc. in Vienna, VA.

A Snapshot Of 1897: Farms and Village Homes in Fairfax County

The following text is an extract from a pamphlet entitled “Farms and Village Homes in Fairfax County,” Published in January 1897 by O.E. Hine.

VIENNA

Vienna is a regularly laid out village of four hundred inhabitants, situated on the Washington & Ohio railroad, fifteen miles north from Alexandria, and about the same distance west from Washington.  Is near the centre of the county on one of the most public roads leading to the city.  It is incorporated under a most liberal charter, governed by nine councilmen, three of whom are elected annually by the people.  Already a comprehensive system of improvements has been inaugurated, and from present indications is designed to improve into a beautiful village, and a considerable business and manufacturing centre.

Already it has a planing mill, two grist mills and two saw mills, two lime kilns, shoe and harness shop, meat market, stores, blacksmith and wagon shops, canning factory, &tc., &tc.  White and colored schools are maintained here; the white a first-class graded school.  It is connected with the county seat five miles distant by a stage twice a day; with Washington by four trains each way, and with the whole world by telegraph and an electric road has been chartered to this place.  Is the centre of a fine dairy region, settled most entirely by northern farmers, many of whom are engaged in sending milk to the city.  Over five hundred gallons are sent daily from this neighborhood, averaging the farmer at his door 7 ½ to 10 cents per gallon in summer and from 12 to 14 in winter.

Recently one hundred acres of high rolling land adjoining the station has been handsomely laid out in building lots, streets graded, sidewalks laid, and shade trees planted, making one of the most attractive subdivisions near the city.  These lots average of $100 each to persons contemplating building, but none are offered to speculators who do not intend to build.  A handsome map will be furnished on application.

Lots in Vienna

2 Acres.  Seven room house in good condition; well at door, young orchard of peaches, apples and cherries, excellent garden land, stable and hen house.  Situated one mile from station.  Price $2,000.

 

Farms and Village Homes Jan 1897 O.E. Hine Vienna VA

 

112 Images of Vienna on the Library of Congress’s Digital Collection

The Library of Congress offers print, pictorial and audio-visual collections and other digital services on their AMAZING website.  The link below will take you to the Library of Congress  digitized collection relating to Vienna Virginia.  We at Historic Vienna have been fortunate to use some of these rare images for our exhibits.

You can find the whole collection of images of Vienna on the Library of Congress’s website!

If you have old photographs of Vienna and want to share copies with Historic Vienna, please contact David Shelby at (703) 965-7003.

 

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.

 

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