From John Hennessy (read the first post on the St. George’s steeple shots here; download the entire panorama, stitched together, here [patience, it's a large file]. Pardon the imperfections in the Photoshop work–there are gaps in the images that I stitched together to create this panorama):
Last week we introduced the series of panoramic photographs taken from the steeple of St. George’s in 1888–as well as my attempt to stitch the images together into a single image. After looking into the heart of the town last time, let’s turn our attention westward, between George and William Street, for what I think is the most interesting part of the series, for here are two of Fredericksburg’s most important lost buildings.
To the left is George Street, off the camera to the right is William, and in the far distance is Marye’s Heights The roof immediately below the camera is what was during the war the Farmer’s Bank–the home of the slave John Washington and perhaps the most important Civil War building in Fredericksburg, which we have written about here. Beyond, easily seen, is the Masonic Cemetery, certainly the moodiest burial ground in town and an important landmark during the Battle of Fredericksburg.
There are two supremely important lost buildings in this view worth pointing out–indeed, for one of them, this is the only clear image of it I know about. In the upper left edge is a church standing on the SW corner of George and Charles.
This is the Methodist Church South, during the war one of two Methodist churches in Fredericksburg. The building gains significance for two reasons. First, it is a direct manifestation of the pre-war debate over slavery, for the congregation that built this church broke away from the more liberal thinkers in what became known as the Methodist Church North, which stood on the site of the present Fredericksburg United Methodist Church on Hanover Street. The rub between the churches: slavery. We wrote about this in another post (find it here), but it is worth reiterating that Fredericksburg was no monolith when it came to slavery. This photograph shows the now-abandoned church in the last year or so of its life. It was shortly torn down. Today, a modern bank (BB&T) stands on the site.
To the right in the larger image above is another lost building: Scotia. (Pardon the distortion, but the building appears at the junction of two of the nine images taken that day in 1888.)
We explored some wartime images of Scotia over at Mysteries and Conundrums (click here), and this place on Charles Street has been the subject of some good detective work by Noel Harrison and John Cummings (the wartime photos of Scotia were for decades mis-identified). But this image clearly shows the carefully tended back plots in the back yard and the streetside dependency to the left of the house. The demolition of these buildings in the 20th century represents one of Fredericksburg’s greatest losses.
Here is how this facade of Scotia looked during the war. The women on the portico include abolitionist and nurse Abby Hopper Gibbons.
Look beyond Scotia and the Masonic Cemetery and you can see open ground beyond Prince Edward Street.
This is the former Corporation Burial Ground, now known as Hurkamp Park. The city ordered the site cleaned up in 1874, but the contract only included the removal of headstones and other visible features. The graves remained, and they remain today too, though I suspect few who frequent the place for lunchtime frolics or romantic moments know that….
And finally, in the distance is the Bloody Plain, looking still largely unchanged since the war (that would change rapidly in the coming years).
Brompton is at right, and the Stratton House still stands solitary in the middle of the plain, with both Martha Stephens’s House and Innis also visible. A few houses have been added, but not much.
In our next piece on the St. George’s steeple images, we’ll take a look into Fredericksburg’s 19th Century back yards.