Voted by Smithsonian Magazine to their 2012 list of The 20 Best Small Towns in America, Staunton epitomizes the phrase “back to the future”. Staunton’s relocation attraction is its connection with the past—in fact the last two centuries.
Staunton, VA was first settled by an Irish immigrant, John Lewis in 1732. Lewis and his family settled to the Shenandoah Valley, and established their home on the banks of a creek two miles east of present-day Staunton.
Shortly after, in 1736, William Beverley, a wealthy planter and merchant from Essex County, convinced Lieutenant Governor William Gooch to grant him over 118,000 acres in what would become Augusta County. William Beverley aptly named the settlement Beverley’s Mill Place.
In 1747, surveyor Thomas Lewis (John Lewis’s son) laid out the streets and plots for Beverley’s Mills Place—re-named Staunton in 1749 in honor of Lady Rebecca Staunton, wife to Lieutenant Governor William Gooch.
Staunton has played a major role in United States history. From the early frontier, to a center for the Confederate Army, birthplace of Woodrow Wilson (28th U.S. President), to the home of Stuart Hall, a private co-ed preparatory school and the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind, Staunton remains a jewel in the Shenandoah Valley.
A 1913 promotional brochure by the Staunton Chamber of Commerce said it best:
“There is nothing speculative about Staunton. The best estimate of a city’s future may be made by reference to her past. Staunton has not only a glorious past but a prosperous present and a bright future.”