Throughout Vienna’s history the Freeman Store has been a store, home, train depot, hotel, hospital, officers’ quarters, fire department and historic site – the building is on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. In 1859, Abram and Susan Lydecker, New Jersey merchants who had nine children, purchased land in Vienna, Virginia and built a large combination dwelling and store next to the newly built railroad tracks at the corner of what is now Church and Mill Street. The lower level of this building became the town’s first general store. The railroad brought goods, gave access to distant markets and made commuting possible. In 1859 and 1860 Lydecker had a license for an ‘ordinary’ – a place where meals can be served to travelers- and house of private entertainment.
After the 1950s, the Freeman Store became unoccupied and the property fell into disrepair. It was purchased by the Town of Vienna in 1969 and restoration work began in January 1975. The building was dedicated and reopened to the public on June 26, 1976, under the auspices of the Freeman House Advisory Committee. This group later was reorganized under the name Historic Vienna Incorporated which continues to work towards historic education and research.
Today Historic Vienna, Inc. operates a historic country store selling Virginia crafts, Vienna souvenirs & pottery, notecards by local artists, local history books, old-fashioned toys and candy. The former living space on the second floor contains a late 1800s merchant or middle-class family parlor and dining room, and a museum room for changing exhibits. The Book Cellar, an ongoing used book sale, is featured in the basement. All proceeds from sales at the Freeman Store support the activities and programs of Historic Vienna, Inc.
Click the link below to read more about the Freeman Store & Museum
On September 22, 2011, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) accepted Vienna’s application and placed the Freeman Store and Museum on the Virginia Landmarks Register. The Freeman Store and Museum is the only structure in Vienna to hold this highly sought after designation.
The effort to gain official recognition of the Freeman Store and Museum’s historic importance began in January 2011, when Vienna’s Town Council approved our proposal to undergo the rigorous application process. The Freeman Store and Museum earned a place on this elite list based on its association with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history, including events related to commerce, military, politics and government. In addition to serving as the site of historically influential events, the Freeman Store and Museum is associated with the lives of significant persons in Vienna’s past, including Leon Freeman, who served as the first president of Vienna’s Volunteer Fire Department.
The timing of the Freeman Store’s designation as a historic structure is fitting, as 2011 marked the beginning of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. Built in 1859 and originally known as Lydecker Store, the Freeman Store and Museum operated as a general store until the late 1920s, after which it served as a residence until 1955. The building also operated as a post office and served in various capacities for both the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. In 1969, the building was was sold to the Town of Vienna by Leon Freeman’s daughter, Dorothy. In 1976, the Town of Vienna restored the building to its earlier appearance as a United States Bicentennial project. Since then, the Freeman Store and Museum has been operated by volunteers.
“The State’s recognition for this property is most welcome. Historic Vienna, Inc., board members have been working hard on this project for quite some time and are pleased with the outcome and the significance of this designation to the community as a whole,” said HVI President Anne Stuntz at the time of the designation.
On May 15, 2012, the National Park Service approved the Freeman Store and Museum’s application and listed the building in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).Support HVI
To view the Town’s application, visit www.dhr.virginia.gov/registers/Counties/Fairfax/153-0002_Freeman_Store_2011_NRHP_Draft.pdf.
To view photos of the building nomination, visit www.dhr.virginia.gov/registers/Counties/Fairfax/153-0002_FreemanStore.Photos.html.
For more information on the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, visit www.dhr.virginia.gov/registers/register.htm.
A special thank you goes out to the Town of Vienna and to Kirstyn Barr, Public Information Officer, for sharing a version of this article and the linked resources with Historic Vienna, Inc.