Wytheville has a surprisingly rich array of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century architecture. This is due in part to its location on the Wilderness Road that led to the southwest territories of Tennessee and Kentucky. The county government's role in this mountain community's development was supplemented by strong commercial, religious, educational, and recreational activity. Wytheville's healthy climate also made it a popular summer resort in the years after the Civil War.
The town's wide Main Street, the site of almost all its commercial and residential development before 1850, suffered from fires in 1838 and 1839 that destroyed about fifty buildings, but fortunately, the fires did not reach a number of log houses. Most of Wytheville's early buildings were of wood—log or frame—with limestone foundations and end chimneys, but a modest number of buildings were constructed entirely of the local limestone. When the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad arrived in 1854, wealthier townspeople began building in brick. By 1857, John Sexton's Wytheville Foundry on W. Spring Street produced iron railings and cast-iron window and door frames, and from the late 1860s, J. B. Barrett's South-Western Virginia Iron Works was turning out railings, columns, stoves, iron fronts, and window and door frames. Today, Wytheville's location at the junction of I-77 and I-81 makes it a center for the many scenic attractions and recreational opportunities in the area.
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