Lincoln declared to the nation in an address to Congress that we cannot
escape history. Why try, when the genius of Thomas Jefferson, the fascinating
life of Booker T. Washington, and the gracious lines of the Avenel mansion
are at Bedfords feet? Visit Bedford, and you will witness the sacrifices
of the men who participated in the invasion of Normandy in 1944, the heartbreak
of slavery, the triumph of freedom and the celebrations of
a strong nation.
Avenel, circa 1838, was the focal point of a 200-acre plantation that
has served as the centerpiece in the social, cultural and political life
of Bedford for over 150 years. It has played host to many distinguished
visitors including General Robert E. Lee and Edgar Allen Poe. The unique
and original architectural features of the house make it one of the regions
treasures. Avenel is listed in the National Register of Historic Places
and the Virginia Landmarks Register. Tours
or functions scheduled by appointment. (Bedford Area Chamber members receive
a 15% discount on rental).
Avenel Avenue, Bedford, VA 24523
in 1930, this Classical Revival building features an Ionic-order porch,
Corinthian columns and Flemish-bond brickwork. The massive triangular
pediment has an unique design incorporating symbols of the local crops
of corn and tobacco and the official crest of the fourth Duke of Bedford,
John Russell. Encircling the grounds like silent sentinels stand monuments
to veterans of the American Revolution, Civil War and World War II.
Main Street, Bedford
museum is housed in a 1985 Masonic Temple in Centertown Bedford and is
Bedfords only example of Romanesque Revival architecture. The exhibits
trace the history
of the area, from early Native American culture, through the Civil War
and into the mid-twentieth century. It is also the headquarters for the
Bedford Genealogical Society and Library. The museum is open Monday through
Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. except holidays.
E. Main Street, Bedford, VA 24523
Historic District/Walking Tour
The Historic Bedford Walking Tour is a self-guided adventure through Centertown
Bedford which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Explore
the unique craftsmanship, interior and exterior, of the 21 stops on the
tour. Tour and informational maps are available at the Bedford Area Chamber
of Commerce and the Bedford Visitors Center. To order the walking tour
brochure online, visit www.bedfordmainstreet.org.
interesting Greek Revival structure was built in 1838 as the first meeting
house for Methodists in Liberty. In 1886, it was reconsecrated as St.
Phillips Episcopal Church and became a place of worship for former
slaves and a day school for their children. It was restored by the Bedford
Historical Society in 1970 and is listed on the National Register of Historic
places as well as the Virginia Landmarks Register.
Booker T. Washington National Monument
This monument honors the life and legacy of African-American
Leader, Booker T. Washington. Born into slavery on this tobacco plantation
in 1856, Washington rose to prominence as an educator, orator, and founder
of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. This historic site interprets Washingtons
life through exhibits, film, a living history farm, guided tours, and
special events. The park is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission
to the park is free.
12130 Booker T. Washington Highway (Virginia 122)
a grassy hill overlooking Bedfords historic streets stands the nations
only retirement facility for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
While an impressive and interesting site all year round, it is at its
best when the grounds are set ablaze with the brilliant colors and lighted
displays of the Christmas Holiday season that draws visitors from around
country. The Elks National Home was featured in the hit
film, "What About Bob?" starring Bill Murray and Richard
National D-Day Memorial
Located in the community suffering the highest percapita D-Day
losses in the nation, The National D-Day Memorial honors the Allied forces
that participated in the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. With its
stylized English Garden, haunting invasion tableau and striking Victory
Plaza, the Memorial stands as a powerful permanent tribute to the valor,
fidelity and sacrifice of D-Day participants. The Memorial and gift shop
are open from 10 AM 5PM daily (some inclement weather closings
possible). Parking fees apply, mobility assistance is available. Guided
tours and school programs are available.
3 Overlord Circle, Bedford, VA 24523
Jeffersons Poplar Forest
historic octagonal home and beautiful plantation was built by President
Thomas Jefferson as his personal retreat. It was a place he could escape
with his family and find solitude and inspiration. When speaking of Poplar
Forest and Bedford County, Jefferson is quoted as saying, "In point
of soil, climate
good neighborhood, I think it the finest part of Virginia." Poplar
Forest now offers an unique experience, allowing visitors to see the restoration
of the homes interior and wings as well as archaeology in progress.
Open April through November daily (except Thanksgiving) 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,
with hands-on activities available in the summer. Special events are held
throughout the season, including Independence Day.
O. Box 419, Route 661, Forest, VA 24551,
Longwood and Oakwood Cemeteries
Longwood Cemetery is one of the earliest cemeteries in Bedford and provides
visitors with a glimpse of the unique people who settled this land and
created new homes. It
the Monument of Valor that marks the final resting place for Civil War
Veterans. The Oakwood Cemetery features
the Elks National Cemetery. Both are located off Longwood Avenue.
chartered as a private boys school in 1795, the New
London Academy was attended by Thomas Jeffersons grandson, Francis
Eppes. The building now houses an elementary
school and a museum.
Turnpike (US 460)
River Restored Canal Lock
Creek Lock #7 is part of the 19th-century James River and Kanawha Canal
System that was the main artery of
trade between Richmond and the western valleys. Built in 1849, the lock
was restored in the mid 1960s and has been a
favorite site of history lovers ever since.