Former Civil War hospital partially collapses in Lynchburg

On Wednesday (February 1), the  News & Advance of Lynchburg, Virginia reported:

Former Civil War hospital partially collapses in Lynchburg

A building that local historians said was once used as a Civil War hospital is set to be demolished after a partial collapse earlier this week.

A wall of the 612 Dunbar Drive structure collapsed Monday night according to neighbors, although no one reported it to the city, Lynchburg Fire Battalion Chief Paul Ginther said….

He said neighbors reported it to a nearby business, which in turn contacted the owner, who lives in South Carolina. The owner contacted a construction company, which agreed to take down the entire structure. Ginther did not know when that could happen.

This Civil War-era tobacco warehouse was one of many in Lynchburg that found itself pressed into service as a hospital during the war, according to local historians.

Only two survived, this building and the current Morris Construction building on 12th Street, which has been refurbished and played host to some historical re-enactments.

“You hate to lose something like this,” said Doug Harvey, director of the Lynchburg Museum System. “It’s a definite loss.”

During the war, dozens of local buildings were converted into hospitals, including 19 tobacco warehouses. In Virginia, Lynchburg was second to only Richmond in its number of Confederate hospitals…. (more here).

Later on Wednesday, the News & Advance reported officials had scheduled the building for demolition, fearing a full collapse.  They ended the update with this note:

Although it was believed to have been a hospital and bore a Civil War Trails marker, it was not listed on the National Register of Historic Places, city officials say. Ginther said the building was braced years ago, but has been deteriorating from leaks in the roof and general lack of upkeep.

The News & Advance offered more details on Friday.  The collapsed structure was the Miller warehouse.  The adjacent Knight warehouse is still intact.  The Civil War Trails marker mentioned in the first article covers all of Lynchburg’s Civil War hospitals but mentions the Knight and Miller tobacco warehouses by name.  Contradicting earlier statements that the building must be demolished, in Friday’s report the owner of the Miller building said he was looking at options after an engineer surveyed the damage.

Troubling though:

Thursday, a steady stream of history buffs, engineering enthusiasts and just plain curious folk filed past the property, surveying the damage, taking pictures and sometimes asking officials for a souvenir brick.

Onlookers could be seen walking under the caution tape without hesitation. At some point, someone stole a historical marker on the building that had been presented by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The Lynchburg Police Department was called in and will closely monitoring the property until the situation is resolved, officials said.

Sad that someone feels the need to “steal” a piece of history.

The positive side to this, is the attention given to the Knight building, preserved by Morris Construction:

“One neat thing about this building is, every five or six months, the doorbell will ring and it will be someone whose traced their ancestor back to the war and back to here,” said Crystal Morris, adding they always are happy to let people upstairs to see the old hospital rooms.

“It seems to help them make a real connection,” she said. “To be where their ancestors were.”


Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

One thought on “Former Civil War hospital partially collapses in Lynchburg

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