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The latest additions to the Virginia Landmarks Register, announced last week, include more than 4,000 acres of northeastern Grayson County.
The Spring Valley Rural Historic District recognizes the community as a center of farming and commercial agriculture in Southwest Virginia.
The district also will be considered for the National Register of Historic Places.
The application for historic landmark status was prepared by Hill Studio in Roanoke, on behalf of Spring Valley property owner Donald Philen, who privately sponsored this project.
The application writers credited Philen's “wisdom and foresight and love of this intimate farming community,” and they commend “all of the hospitable and caring property owners of Spring Valley who opened their doors and hearts to this project.”
The Spring Valley community was settled in the 1760s, long before Grayson County was formed in 1792. William Bourne and his wife, Rosamond Jones Bourne, were among the first to settle in the area.
One of the oldest homes still standing in Spring Valley is the Bourne's circa-1790 house, known as “Walnut Hill,” a one-story frame structure with a log side extension.
The former Knob Fork Primitive Baptist Church (circa 1800) is perhaps the earliest standing log building in the district, the application writers note.
Over time, the community near Fries grew and became an agricultural center of the county. Today, its architectural features and farming heritage proved significant enough to earn landmark status from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which met earlier this month.
The Spring Valley Rural Historic District was eligible for landmark status due to its agricultural and architectural significance. “The district illustrates the evolution of local agricultural practices from ca. 1800 to the present with a rich aggregate of buildings and landscape features, including intact farmhouses, dairies, barns, springhouses, granaries and corncribs,” according to Hill Studio.
Close to 200 structures are in the district, including schoolhouses, old general stores, churches and cemeteries.
Hills and ridges, which form the valley’s watershed, bound the district. The 3,600-foot Iron Mountain and Jefferson National Forest lie to the north, the 3,200-foot Briarpatch Mountain to the south. The bottomlands of Knob Fork Creek cut northwest to southeast through the valley to the New River.
The main road that traverses the valley, Virginia 805, follows Knob Fork.