Our stroll through the Sunnyside neighborhood today is an initial overview of its very rich history.
Though there are no books (yet) written about this part of Staunton, we fortunately have the
memories of some of its inhabitants as well as references in court records, the early city
directories and books about other parts of the city,. As a historically African American
neighborhood, there is less surviving written material about this section of town than some
others. Though there were, over its history, 3 African American newspapers in Staunton, very
few pages of these survive and are available. But there are those with deep memories who can
help us explore the story of this remarkable neighborhood.
We begin at the old Coke Bottling plant, once site of “Gallows Town” and the Staunton Theater
and “Colored Dance Hall”. From there we look south on Augusta Street toward the churches, a
very important center of spiritual and cultural life of the community. This street was rich with
African American businesses of all sorts and these are noted on our maps, which Amy
Arnold has created for us.
From here we head east on Sunnyside St. with references to the dwellings on southern New
Street, many of which were built in the earlier part of the 20th
century by John Harden, a
community leader and past president of the Staunton NAACP. Further up we stop at the “House
of Prayer”, which was the original Booker T. Washington school in the city. Long forgotten, this
handsome building was designed by Collins & Son. We recently searched and discovered that
we have the full set of architectural drawings in our collection at the Smith Center! Here, we’ll
learn a little about local African American schools of the period from Laten Bechtel, whose book
about the topic is referenced on this handout. We’ll also hear a few memories from Clinton Davis
who actually attended this institution when it was later renamed D. Webster Davis.
Further on we note an example of one of the families of the neighborhood. We hear a bit about
Stuart Tate, the gentleman who came out of slavery and later bought a home here. In this home
at 219 Sunnyside lived brick masons, builders, teachers, an athlete who broke color barriers, a
Tuskegee airman and Clinton, the great grandson of Stuart Tate who shares some of his family
and neighborhood stories with us. From here we move to the corner of Rose St. where we look
up Sunnyside toward the site of Stuart’s brickmaking facility beyond Tams Street.
We turn west on Rose to enter “Baptist Alley” and hear about this very close-knit
neighborhood, complete with a “Club” and women who looked after all the children as their own.
Memories of those days survive from Charlie Calloway, who tells us about growing up on the
“alley” and some of his observations about integration. We then head west on Caroline St. to the
corner of Augusta and our last stop at Marino’s, originally an African American store, Charles
Booker T Washington School on Sunnyside Street,
later renamed D. Webster Davis School.
Historic Staunton Foundation | 20 South New Street, Staunton, VA 24401
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.historicstaunton.org
Historic Staunton Foundation’s
Preservation Brown Bag Series
April 1, 2016
Marriage license of Stuart Tate, born a slave in Augusta County.Early owner of 219 Sunnyside Street and
brickyard. Credit: Clinton Davis, great-grandson of Stuart
Pannell’s Inn. 1940’s-era ads described as a “Home for Colored Tourists. 613 North Augusta Street
Many thanks to Clinton Davis,
Charlie Calloway, and Laten
Bechtel and others for their
contributions to the tour!
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