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Mission & History
Who are we? For more than half a century, the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation has been a steward to the historical fabric of one of America's most historic cities.
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Image of the Lewis Store in 2004

The Historic Fredericksburg Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary by moving its headquarters into the historic 1749 Lewis Store, built by Washington's brother-in-law and apparently the oldest extant retail building in America. Founded in 1955 as a non-profit (‘501c3') organization, our mission is to preserve, protect and revitalize the distinctive historic environment of the Fredericksburg area. We accomplish this through education, advocacy, and financial support.

Recent activities have included restoration of the 1749 Lewis Store and members activities like a tour of archeological work at Ferry Farm, boyhood home of George Washington, and a field trip to the USS Monitor. A public panel in August on “How They Did It: Preservation and Development in Other Historic Towns” put representatives from Richmond, Alexandria, Staunton, and Annapolis together with local municipal leaders. The Foundation has spoken out this year on issues like Wal-Mart's encroachment on the protected banks of the Rappahannock, the design of the municipal garage, and the ‘standing' of Historic District residents to appeal city decisions.

The Historic Fredericksburg Foundation has a broad citizen backing with 400 members and a solid financial base of a modest endowment, two buildings, and established fund-raising activities – the best known of which is the Christmastime Candlelight Tour of historic homes, now coming up for its 37th edition.

The foundation's first project, undertaken in 1956-57, was the restoration of the kitchen dependency at 900 Princess Anne Street. The foundation subsequently restored the eighteenth-century Silversmith's Shop at 813 Sophia Street, which is now the headquarters of the Fredericksburg Center for Creative Arts, and moved the historic Gravatt House to prevent its demolition. "The Chimneys," an eighteenth-century landmark on Caroline Street, has also benefited from the restoration work and stewardship of the foundation. Within the past decade, the foundation secured the long-term future of the Doggett House, the finest and best-preserved Federal townhouse in the city.

The foundation's easement program protects thirty-six historic properties, and the organization provides technical assistance for the restoration and maintenance of historic properties. The foundation also conducts a widely praised Marker Program, establishing the historic character of a growing number of buildings. The program has researched and marked over 180 buildings to date.

The foundation also plays an active advocacy role. In 1971, the foundation succeeded in its campaign to have a forty-block area of the city designated a National Historic District by the United States Department of the Interior. In 1972, the foundation was instrumental in the adoption of a municipal historic zoning ordinance that protects one of the country's largest inventories of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century buildings. The foundation was instrumental in persuading the Fredericksburg City Council to adopt a tax abatement program for rehabilitated properties. In 1996, the foundation led the national campaign to preserve the childhood home of George Washington.

The foundation established the first Fredericksburg regional museum, and was instrumental in establishing the now independent and nationally-accredited Fredericksburg Area Museum, which occupies the former Fredericksburg Town Hall, a distinguished Federal style building on Princess Anne Street. In 1996, the foundation launched an annual Journal of Fredericksburg History to provide a forum for scholarly research on the city's rich past.

Our Mission in Fredericksburg

As part of its mission, Historic Fredericksburg Foundation actively owns, restores, and protects properties in Fredericksburg. The foundation currently owns the 1748 Lewis store, whose recent restoration is a proud accomplishment. HFFI has in the past contributed to the preservation of such Fredericksburg landmarks as the Old Stone Warehouse, Old City Hall (now the Fredericksburg Museum), the Gravatt House, an historic kitchen dependency, Chimneys, the Silversmith Shop, and the Doggett House. The Foundation maintains protective easements on 39 sites in the city. As part of its educational mission, the foundation publishes the annual Journal of Fredericksburg History. Our Marker Program researches historic buildings and orders bronze plaques for interested property owners. The Oral History Program has produced transcriptions of interviews with nearly 100 local citizens. Our research room contains a photograph collection as well as books and other resources for the researcher.


Preserving, protecting and revitalizing
the character of Fredericksburg
Copyright 2005, Historic Fredericksburg Foundation
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