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In 1739, Joseph Tees acquired a 465-acre tract of land from William Beverly, marking the humble beginnings of what would later become the City of Waynesboro. Over time, a settlement emerged and by 1797, it was known as Waynesborough, paying homage to Revolutionary War hero General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. The Virginia General Assembly officially recognized the town in 1801, with full incorporation granted in 1834.

The town endured its share of historical turbulence, notably during the Civil War when it was raided by Union forces in 1864. The pivotal Battle of Waynesboro on March 2, 1865, marked the last major conflict in the Shenandoah Valley, resulting in the defeat of Confederate General Jubal Early’s forces.

Post-war, Waynesboro experienced periods of growth and transition. In 1874, it was reincorporated, and in 1881, the establishment of Basic City at a strategic railroad junction nearby spurred further development. For thirty-two years, Waynesboro and Basic City coexisted until they merged in 1923 under the name Waynesboro-Basic. The subsequent year saw the town officially renamed Waynesboro, ushering in an era of industrial expansion bolstered by the east-west railroad and completion of the Crozet tunnel through the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1854 and 1858, respectively.

Waynesboro attained first-class independent city status in 1948, further solidifying its position as a regional hub. Annexations in 1948 and 1986 provided the city with the necessary space for expansion, shaping it into the Waynesboro we know today.

Despite its historical evolution and industrial progress, traces of Waynesboro’s past remain evident in its architectural heritage. Notable landmarks include the Plumb House, now a seasonal museum, and the Coiner-Quesenbury House, dating back to 1806 and believed to be the town’s first brick residence, still standing proudly on Main Street.

In the present day, Waynesboro stands as a testament to resilience and adaptability, seamlessly blending its rich historical legacy with the demands and aspirations of contemporary life. The city’s charming downtown area, adorned with historic buildings, quaint storefronts, and a dozen local restaurants, serves as a focal point for community gatherings, cultural events, and local commerce. Residents and visitors can explore the city’s vibrant arts scene, with a Street Art Trail featuring street art, sculptures, and art installations, multiple galleries like the Shenandoah Valley Art Center showcasing the works of local artisans, performers gracing the stages of the historic Wayne Theatre and plenty of music venues featuring local and national acts.

Beyond its cultural offerings, Waynesboro boasts a diverse array of recreational opportunities, inviting outdoor enthusiasts to explore its scenic parks, hiking trails, and waterways. From leisurely strolls along the South River Greenway to adrenaline-pumping adventures in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, there’s something for everyone to enjoy amidst the city’s natural splendor.

Waynesboro remains deeply connected to its surrounding region, serving as a gateway to the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. As it looks towards the future, Waynesboro remains committed to preserving its heritage while embracing progress and innovation. With a dynamic blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, the city continues to inspire and captivate all who visit and call it home.

Local Events

While there are currently no events listed specifically for City of Waynesboro, search the VA250 Statewide Calendar of Events for a comprehensive listing of programs across the state.


Stephanie Duffy

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