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Rapidan

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VA 615
  • Flour mill ruin
  • Mill house
  • Schoolhouse and library
  • Southern Railway Depot (former)
  • Southern Railway Freight House (former)
  • Post office
  • Rapidan Trading Post
  • Waddell Memorial Presbyterian Church
  • Schoolhouse and library
  • Rapidan Trading Post
  • Waddell Memorial Presbyterian Church

Rapidan, a small farming community on the Rapidan River, contains the ruin of a large concrete flour mill (c. 1910). Across from the mill ruins are a vernacular mill house (c. 1774) and a one-room schoolhouse and library (1887), a pretty Queen Anne/Gothic structure. North, across the river and in Culpeper County, is “Lower” Rapidan, which contains several Victorian structures including the former Southern Railway Depot and Freight House (c. 1893 and c. 1853). On the small cross street are two structures of note: a foursquare brick post office (c. 1905) and one of the best-preserved country stores in the Piedmont, Rapidan Trading Post (c. 1880), a two-story wooden structure with cast iron columns for the singlestory porch. The major feature of the town is the Waddell Memorial Presbyterian Church (1872–1874, John Buchanan Danforth; later additions; 7133 Rapidan Road [Virginia 615, 6.3 miles north from Orange]). The architect signed the drawings (owned by the church) “J B Danforth, Amateur,” and his obituary, from 1875, claimed that he “often drew plans for public and private edifices.” For many years Danforth was chief clerk for Richmond's Mutual Assurance Society. He also served as an elder in that city's prominent Grace Street Presbyterian Church, which undoubtedly played a role in his obtaining the commission for this church, erected in memory of James Waddell, the “Blind Preacher” of Orange. The structure as erected was a slightly subdued and reduced version of Danforth's design but still is an exuberant example of Carpenter's Gothic with board-and-batten siding. A virtual forest of spires sprouts from the exterior. On the interior, cast iron columns support the clerestory. That Presbyterians could by the 1870s accept the Gothic indicates how much the taint of “Romanism” had fallen away from the style. A parish house addition (c. 1930) is to the rear.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
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Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Rapidan", [Culpeper, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-PI9.

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 125-126.

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