5 Lawyers Row

Posted on Oct 6, 2020

5 lawyers Row is a three-story, four bay building with a two-story single bay addition on the south end. The building is constructed of brick it and topped with a shed roof. The R.R. Smith Center provides a view of the standing seam metal roof and four chimneys. An overhanging eave with elaborate bracketed cornice tops the facade. A brick stringcourse creates a horizontal band below the brackets. One over one double hung sash wood windows with wood sills fill the window openings. A review of the façade indicates a Flemish bond brick pattern for the first two stories with narrow tooled mortar joints. A masonry watercourse accentuates the foundation. The Collins and Hackett architecture firm designed the upper story in 1891 as documented in file number 1827B. A view of the upper North side of the building reveals remnants of the older unpainted Flemish bond brickwork including glazed headers.

The entry utilizes a classical motif reflecting Federal period architecture. The entry includes engaged columns topped with erns, a wood paneled door with upper light and transom and stone steps. The Mutual Assurance Society records indicate the original building included a portico toward the south end facing the courthouse. Today, the first window south of the main entry indicates patched brickwork extending to the ground aligning the location indicated on the maps.

The rear of the building is three stories plus a basement and is five bays wide. Unpainted, original brickwork is found on this east façade. One over one double hung sash windows with wood sills fill the window openings topped with a flat brick header. The building rest upon a native lime stone foundation. Two covered entries and a single two over two window are located at the ground level. Historically the rear of the building included a two-story portico facing east toward New Street.

The architectural inventory form lists the date of construction between 1870 and 1877. During the 1976 survey, the basis for dating buildings was to compare historical maps held at Historic Staunton Foundation. This did not always uncover building history dating before 1870.

The University of Virginia’s Valley of the Shadow project conducted an extensive study utilizing historical primary sources about Staunton. In the online archives are the Virginia Mutual Assurance Society maps indicating mid-nineteenth century policies for Staunton buildings. Between 1850 and 1860, the descriptions and maps indicate a policy for George M. Cochran at this location. The records indicate the same building standing today without its 1891 third story addition or narrow southern addition.