About Historic Staunton Foundation

Historic Staunton Foundation is celebrating 50 Years of Historic Preservation.  In 2021, Staunton enjoys an extraordinary degree of architectural integrity throughout six historic districts and more neighborhoods beyond.  Staunton’s historic buildings and landscapes embody period styles and vernacular forms representing the three-century architectural evolution of this small beautiful city.

Historic Preservation becomes the solution to Urban Renewal

Staunton’s central community declined dramatically in the 1960s and 1970s.  The citizens of Staunton soon recognized that poor planning, ongoing demolition, and proposed road projects threatened the very function of the community and much of its historic architecture. Surrounding the downtown, once cohesive neighborhoods of single-family and purpose built multi-family homes became poorly maintained areas of disinvestment.

In 1971 a strong movement of historic preservation and community planning took root and a group a forward-looking citizen founded Historic Staunton Foundation to act as a catalyst to protect and revitalize the City’s distinctive and historic built environment.

Staunton has emerged as a nationally celebrated historic preservation success story, where adaptation and reuse of historic architecture is central to community planning. Today Staunton is a small city with an excellent sense of place. Staunton’s historic built environment is where you rehab a house, grow a business, raise a family, walk, explore, and participate in vibrant community activity.

Founded in 1971 by visionary citizens, HSF has continuously promoted historic preservation through:

  • Saving the historic Sears House by creating a showcase home
  • Conducted architectural survey and facilitated designation of five historic districts
  • Supported rehabilitation of downtown storefronts through façade improvement design services
  • Providing walking tours highlighting Staunton’s history and architecture
  • Spearheaded the local adoption of the Main Street Program
  • Partnering with the City to establishing preservation zoning and providing advisory services to the Historic Preservation Commission
  • Continued design and technical rehabilitation support for property owners
  • Advocating for and assisted rehabilitation projects utilizing the National and State Historic Tax Credit Programs
  • Development partnership creating and managing the R.R. Smith Center for History & Art
  • Educational programs addressing historic rehabilitation and neighborhood revitalization
  • Celebration of historic homes through annual holiday tours
  • Advocacy for community policies that reinforce Staunton’s authentic historic character and careful adaptation of the traditional form and function of the City

Historic Staunton Foundation is located in the R.R. Smith Center for History And Art

The Center for History and Art includes galleries, classrooms, archives, conference space, a garden, and offices for nonprofit cultural organizations. Located in Staunton’s Beverley Historic District, the building is an 1894 hotel designed in the French Second Empire style by Staunton architect, T.J. Collins.

Managed by the R.R. Smith Center Foundation, the Center was developed and operates as a collaborative project of three leading organizations:

In addition to the Center operators, the administrative offices of the American Shakespeare Center are located on the fourth floor.

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