The assemblage of 19th- and early 20th-century residential, commercial, and church buildings forming this Piedmont community reflects the vicissitudes of a Virginia railroad town. It was named for Nathaniel Gordon, a late 18th-century innkeeper here, whose tavern was frequented by such prominent statesmen as Thomas Jefferson and Major General the Marquis de Lafayette. The hamlet exploded into a thriving transportation hub with the arrival in the 1840s and early 1850s of two railroads and two major turnpikes. Dr. Charles Beale, Gordons' son-in-law, foresaw the arrival of the railroad and essentially planned the Gordonsville of today.
During the Civil War, Gordonsville was of vital importance to Robert E. Lee and his Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the transportation of troops and supplies. In 1862, Major General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson had his headquarters at the old Gordon Tavern for several days. Wounded soldiers were brought to Gordonsville to be cared for at the Gordonsville Receiving Hospital (centered around the Exchange Hotel) and in churches and private homes.
Gordonsville's growth, which reached its peak after the Civil War, ended suddenly with completion in the early 1880s of a north-south railroad bypassing the town to the west. The district centers on a 3/4-mile stretch of Main Street leading south past tree-shaded 19th-century residences and churches to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway overpass. The solid row of brick commercial structures forming the town's business district were built up following fires in 1916 and 1920.
The Gordonsville Historic District is bisected by Rte. 15 in Gordonsville. Call 540-672-1653 or visit the website for further information.