Friday, December 16, 2011

White Post

White Post - Marker T-7 in Clarke County, VA (Click any photo to enlarge)Marker No. T-7
Clarke County, VA

Marker Text:  The crossroads village of White Post grew up around the white-painted marker that Lord Fairfax had erected in the 1760s to point the way to Greenway Court (south), the nearby estate from which he managed his vast proprietary holdings including Battletown, now Berryville (north), Berry's Ferry (east), and Stephen's City (west). The post that gave the town its name has been replaced several times, but its form has been maintained as a village landmark and symbol of community identity for more than two centuries. Bishop William Meade was born at White Post and later led the remarkable revival of the Episcopal Church in the decades following the War of 1812.

Location:  On U.S. Route 340 (Lord Fairfax Parkway) at Route 658 (White Post Road) in White Post Village Park, south of U.S. Routes 50 & 17.  Erected by the Department of Historic Resources in 1997.

White Post column at center of town, plaque seen on column  Traveling around the U.S., I frequently encounter towns with odds names. Many towns are named after some notable individual who might have founded the community or the name may have derived from some natural formation or interesting feature of the terrain. Today's marker is about a town in Virginia named after a white post in the center of the town. Of course, this is no ordinary post according to the plaque on the post it was placed here by George Washington at the direction of Lord Fairfax who made his home near here in Greenway Court.

  White Post is a small crossroads village located in southwestern Clarke County at the intersection of state routes 658 and 628 near where U.S. Route 340 (Lord Fairfax Parkway) by passes the town. Marking the midpoint of these roads, the post is a white-painted, octagonal wood column that rises eleven feet in height and is sixty-four inches in circumference. A small lantern rests on top of the post, below which radiate four directional pointers labeled: Battletown (north); Greenway Court (south); Berry's Ferry (east); and Stephens City (west).

White Post marker T-7 in the White Post Village Park

  Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax had the post erected in 1750 (according to the plaque on the post) to point the way to Greenway Court, his nearby estate where he managed his vast proprietary holdings in northern Virginia. The white post has been a conspicuous landmark for the village for over 250 years and a symbol of community identity. The post replaced several times over the years has maintained its original form, the post serves as the inspiration for the name of the town. Though I have heard local stories that parts of the original post may still exist within the current post.

Plaque located on the White Post Column  Today the post is at the intersections of Routes 628 and 658. These roads are historic traces of earlier colonial roads. The east/west road went east to Berry's Ferry (located where U.S. Route 50 crosses the Shenandoah River) and west to Stephens City (called Newtown at the time). The north/south road went north to Battletown (now Berryville) and south to Greenway Court, Lord Fairfax's home. This road going south eventually leads to Front Royal, VA.

Wide angle of the White Post column

White Post column looking north toward location of the marker.

  Colonial travelers, as well as later travelers, obtained water from a public well, an old pump which remains and is still operable on Lot 16 on Berry's Ferry Road. During the 18th century, the village accommodated visitors in a small cluster of public buildings that included a substantial tavern and store, neither of which survives. The tiny village of White Post served in the 19th century as a small commercial center for many of the tidewater style estates that existed in Clarke County.

Directional signs on top of White Post column  With the coming of automobile travel, White Post survived as a crossroads village until the construction of the main highway, U.S. Route 340 (Lord Fairfax Highway) which by-passed the town and this crossroads, which begun the decline of the town as a commercial center. The buildings of White Post now are generally residential with a few abandoned commercial buildings. The town retains much of rural character as a landmark for the county, a position it has maintained for generations.

  The sole surviving structure from the 18th century is Meadea, a simple log dwelling built by Colonel Richard Kidder Meade as the first residence on his newly acquired plantation known as Lucky Hit. Meadea is a one story log structure covered in weatherboard with an exterior end stone chimney at each gable end. Situated along Berry's Ferry Road at the northeast outskirts of the town. Colonel Meade, a close associate of George Washington and officer on his staff during the Revolutionary War, along with other distinguished Tidewater gentlemen, moved to this part of Frederick County (now Clarke County) following the Revolution and established substantial plantations in Clarke County of which many still survive today.

Meadea House, Birthplace of Bishop William Meade  White Post's most notable citizen was R.D. Meade's son, William, who served from 1829 until 1862 as the third bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Meade was born in Meadea and lived here for several years prior to completion of the brick house, Lucky Hit, by his father in the early 19th century. Bishop Meade is credited with the extraordinary revival of the Episcopal Church in Virginia.

  Following the death of Bishop Madison in 1811 the church was nearly destitute and its parishes devastated by confiscation of church property by the state and the strong presence of Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians in Virginia. In response to this crisis, the newly ordained Meade persuaded the charismatic Richard Channing Moore to serve as bishop of the Virginia Diocese, while he himself traveled throughout the state as an enthusiastic evangelist to revitalize the parishes. Meade always called White Post his home and served as rector of Old Chapel at nearby Millwood until his election as bishop.

Bishop Meade Memorial Church in White Post, VA  The most prominent and impressive building in White Post is the Bishop Meade Memorial Church, built circa 1875 by local craftsmen, an unusually ornate late 19th-century Gothic Revival church.

  Today's marker replaces a previous marker also numbered T-7 placed 400 yards further South on White Post Road at one of the corners nearer the post, which read, “The original white post on this spot was erected by Lord Fairfax as a guide post to Greenway Court, about 1760.”  When looking into historical information, one often discovers conflicting information. Both state markers (current and prior) text, list the 1760's as the date of the erected of the white post and the plaque on the post states 1750.

3 comments:

  1. A correction.

    Meadea is two stories. There are two large room upstairs.

    I live in Meadea and am a direct descendent of R.K.Meade.

    I believe the left side was constructed first with a kitchen straddling a two sided stone chimney. The chimney has a fireplace for cooking, now on the outside of home. I believe the left side of Meadea was already built when Richard bought a large parcel of land the included "all structures and orchards". I believe Richard added the right side mirroring the left side with equal sized rooms and a central hallway. The house remains very original just with modern plumbing and kitchen worked in. The House is on the National and Virginia Historical Registry.

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  2. Thanks for your additional information about the Meadea home. I hoped this type of interaction would happen with my blog and people would add to its historical value. Thanks again.

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  3. I am very interested in local history also.

    John

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