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Warsaw

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U.S. 360 and VA 3

Warsaw has been the seat of Richmond County (formed 1692) since about 1730. The town's original name was Richmond County. The obvious confusion with the far larger city of Richmond led the citizens in 1845 to choose the unlikely name of Warsaw as an expression of their sympathy with the Polish fight for freedom from the Russians. A small courthouse and farming town, it remains oriented to the main highways, U.S. 360 and Virginia 3, which pass through it.

At the center of town on U.S. 360 is the third Richmond County Courthouse (1748–1750; restoration, 1877, T. Buckler Ghequiere; later additions). Landon Carter of Sabine Hall had it constructed on the site of a 1730 courthouse. Carter commissioned a rectangular structure with four bays of arcades on its two longer sides, which served as porches and gave access to the courtroom, oriented perpendicular to the entrance. Blind arches at the ends of the arcades gave the appearance of two additional bays to a side. In 1877 Baltimore architect T. Buckler Ghequiere remodeled the structure by enclosing the arcades and inserting an entrance at the north end. Ghequiere published a short article on the courthouse in American Architect and Building News (June 23, 1877), which is one of the first notices about Virginia's colonial past from an architectural point of view. The courthouse complex also includes the clerk's office (1816–1818) next door, which is now the county museum. This building was erected under the supervision of John Tayloe of Mount Airy. Like Mount Airy and Menokin, it is built of local sandstone and stuccoed above the water table. The stone base has galleted joints. The old jail (1872), a plain brick three-bay structure with two interior chimneys, has an attractive brick cornice. Across from the clerk's office stands a lawyer's office (c. 1800) that is unusual in its size—two stories—and in its three-bay facade.

The former post office, now the Northern Neck State Bank (c. 1937, Public Works Administration, Office of the Supervising Architect, U.S. Treasury Department, Louis A. Simon in charge; later alterations) is across U.S. 360 from the courthouse. It is classic Art Deco in style, with wonderful ornamental touches. Such fashionable architectural idioms are rare in the Northern Neck.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
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Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Warsaw", [Warsaw, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-PE18.

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 337-337.

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