The village of Brownsburg, VA is a short, 15-minute drive from Steeles Tavern but in some ways, it seems like light years away. Brownsburg was established in 1793 and the structures and size of the town have changed very little since late 19th century. The town prides itself on its historic heritage and authenticity. The museum is a real gem and has been called “first class” by the Lexington News-Gazette.
The town’s position on the main stagecoach route between Lexington and Staunton, caused the village to be an important center for commerce, trade, and even education. The village boasted nearly twenty homes, blacksmiths, three general stores, two mills, tailors, a saddle maker, and churches The town continued to grow and more businesses made their home there. By the mid-1800’s, there were cabinet makers, wheelwrights, a tanyard, carpenter, and a hatter added to the list of businesses in the village. There were also two Taverns in the village – Lavelle’s Tavern and Nicholas Spring’s Tavern – so weary travelers had accommodations on their long trips. It was quite the hub-bub of activity!
One of the oldest homes in the area was a log and stone structure built by Samuel Wilson in 1790. It remained in the Wilson family until sometime in the 1930’s. The house was purchased by the current owner in 1979 for 250 bales of hay! The home still has the original doors and hardware.
Brownsburg saw action in the Civil War too. The Shenandoah Valley was a supply route for General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, so Ulysses Grant ordered that the route be blocked. Union troops camped at Brownsburg on their way to Lexington.
In 1880, the “Iron Horse” track was built through the Shenandoah Valley and it bypassed Brownsburg. When US 11 and I-81 were built, they two passed by, rather than through the town. As a result, the village remains untouched by truck stops and fast food restaurants. But what remains is a quaint town with an awesome museum!
The Brownsburg Community Museum (BCM) may be small but it is packed with many irreplaceable articles that have been entrusted to the BCA. The museum plans to preserve, catalogue, and display historically significant items so that future generations can learn of the importance of this small village.
The museum has a permanent collection of 18th, 19th, and 20th century regional memorabilia, and works on special exhibits from time to time.
The latest special exhibit, “Grain Into Gold”, highlights the importance and prosperity that grain farming, mills, and distilleries brought to Brownsburg. One of the street names in the village is “Still Alley”, so you can understand that stills played a role in the town’s life. Hays Creek was the water source that powered the mills for the area.
Visit the historic town of Brownsburg and the museum to get an indepth glimpse at life in the Shenandoah Valley in the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum is open every Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Sundays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm from April through November. Admission is free (donations are appreciated!).