Main Births etc
Lexington, Virginia
—  City  —
Downtown Lexington
Location of Lexington, Virginia
Coordinates: 37°46′59″N 79°26′43″W / 37.78306, -79.44528Coordinates: 37°46′59″N 79°26′43″W / 37.78306, -79.44528
Country United States
State Virginia
 • Mayor Mimi Elrod
 • City Manager T. Jon Ellestad
 • Commissioner of Revenue Karen T. Roundy
 • Treasurer Patricia DeLaney
 • Total 2.5 sq mi (6 km2)
 • Land 2.5 sq mi (6 km2)
Elevation 1,063 ft (324 m)
Population (2012)
 • Total 6,998
 • Density 2,817/sq mi (1,088/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 24450
Area code(s) 540
FIPS code 51-45512[1]
GNIS feature ID 1498506[2]

Lexington is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 7,042.[3] It is the county seat of Rockbridge County,[4] although the two are separate jurisdictions. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Lexington (along with nearby Buena Vista) with Rockbridge County for statistical purposes. Lexington is about 55 minutes east of the West Virginia border and is about 50 miles north of Roanoke, Virginia. It was first settled in 1777.

Lexington is the location of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and Washington and Lee University (W&L).


Lexington was named in 1778. It was one of the first of what would be many American places named after Lexington, Massachusetts, known for being the place at which the first shot was fired in the American Revolution.[5]

The Union General David Hunter led a raid on Virginia Military Institute during the American Civil War. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are buried here. It is the site of the only house Jackson ever owned, now open to the public as a museum. At the Sam Houston Wayside is a 38,000 pound piece of Texas pink granite commemorating the birthplace of Sam Houston, governor of both Tennessee and Texas. Cyrus McCormick invented the horse-drawn mechanical reaper at his family's farm in Rockbridge County and a statue of McCormick is located on the Washington and Lee University campus. McCormick Farm is now owned by Virginia Tech and is a satellite agricultural research center.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.5 square miles (6.5 km2), virtually all of which is land.[6] The Maury River, a tributary of the James River, forms the city's northeastern boundary.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Lexington has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[7]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1970 7,597
1980 7,292 −4.0%
1990 6,959 −4.6%
2000 6,867 −1.3%
2010 7,042 2.5%
Est. 2012 6,998 1.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
1790-1960[9] 1900-1990[10]
1990-2000[11] 2010-2012[3]

At the 2000 census,[12] there were 6,867 people residing in the city. The population density was 2,753.8 per square mile (,064.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.01% White, 10.38% African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.92% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander and 0.48% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 4.1% of the population.

There were 2,232 households of which 18.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.9% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.6% were non-families. 41.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.76.

The age distribution, heavily influenced by the city's two colleges, was 11.0% under the age of 18, 41.4% from 18 to 24, 14.5% from 25 to 44, 16.7% from 45 to 64, and 16.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females there were 123.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 127.2 males. The unusual sex distribution can be partially explained by the presence of VMI, which did not admit women until 1997 and remains overwhelmingly male today.

The median household income was $28,982 and the median family income was $58,529. Males had a median income of $35,288 compared with $26,094 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,497 (estimated at $17,016 in 2009). About 8.4% of families and 21.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.9% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over. However, traditional poverty statistics can be misleading when applied to communities with a large proportion of students, such as Lexington.


Lee Chapel

Today, Lexington's primary economic activities stem from higher education and tourism. Located at the intersection of historic U.S. Route 11 and U.S. Route 60 and more modern highways, Interstate 64 and Interstate 81. With its various connections to the Civil War, Lexington attracts visitors from around the country. Places of interest in Lexington include the Stonewall Jackson House, Lee Chapel, the George C. Marshall Museum, Virginia Military Institute Museum, Museum of Military Memorabilia, and the downtown historic district. Hull's Drive In theater attracts visitors to the area and was the first community-owned, non-profit drive-in in the U.S.

Lexington also contains a host of small retail businesses, bed and breakfast inns, and restaurants catering to a unique mixture of local, tourist, and collegiate clientele. The historic R. E. Lee Hotel, built in the 1920s, is currently undergoing renovation and, after falling into disrepair for many years, is scheduled to re-open as a hotel in early 2014.

Lexington has been the site for several movies. Parts of at least seven motion pictures have been filmed in the area. The first was the 1938 movie, Brother Rat, which starred Ronald Reagan. After the movie's release he was made an honorary VMI cadet. The second was the 1958 Mardi Gras, which starred Pat Boone as a VMI cadet and actress Christine Carere. The third was Sommersby, starring Richard Gere, Bill Pullman, James Earl Jones, and Jodie Foster. Filming for parts of several Civil War films also took place in Lexington, including the documentary Lee Beyond the Battles and Gods and Generals. In the fall of 2004, director Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise filmed scenes for War of the Worlds here, with Dakota Fanning and Tim Robbins. Most recently, filming took place in June 2013 for a movie tentatively titled Field of Lost Shoesabout the Battle of New Market. The movie stars Luke Benward and Lauren Holly.

The city is also home to a number of independent newspapers. The News-Gazette is a weekly community paper; it also produces a free shopper known as The Weekender. The Rockbridge Weekly, was noted for printing police and other local crime reports. It was bought by The News-Gazette in June 2012 and shut down. The Rockbridge Advocate is a monthly news magazine with the motto "Independent as a hog on ice."

Flag controversy[]

In 2011, the city erupted in controversy after the City Council passed an ordinance to ban the flying of flags other than the United States flag, the Virginia Flag, and an as-yet-undesigned city flag on city light poles. Various flags of the Confederacy had previously been flown on city light poles to commemorate the Virginia holiday, Lee-Jackson Day, which is observed on the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.[13] About 300 Confederate flag supporters, including members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, rallied before the City Council meeting,[14] and after the vote the Sons of Confederate Veterans vowed to challenge the new local ordinance in court.[13] Previously, flags such as the Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute flags had also been flown on city light poles but the practice is now discontinued due to the city's ordinance. Through July 2013, attempts to overturn the ordinance have failed.

Previously, a 1993 federal injunction had prohibited Lexington from barring individuals' displaying the Confederate flag.[14] The current ordinance applies only to displays from city light poles; individuals still may exercise their First Amendment rights, including displaying flags of their choice.

Points of interest[]

Lexington High School, designed by architect Charles M. Robinson and constructed in 1908, was typical of the modern public schools that cities built during the Progressive Era.

  • Washington and Lee University
  • Virginia Military Institute
  • The George C. Marshall Foundation
  • Robert E. Lee grave site, found in Lee Chapel on the W&L campus.
  • Traveller (Lee's horse) grave site, found along a walkway just outside Lee Chapel.
  • Stonewall Jackson grave site, found at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery
  • Sam Houston place of birth (nearby)
  • Cyrus McCormick Farm, birthplace and museum (nearby)
  • Kappa Alpha Order International Headquarters
  • Omicron Delta Kappa National Headquarters
  • Sigma Nu International Headquarters
  • Boxerwood Gardens
  • Chessie Nature Trail follows the former C&O railway bed along the Maury River
  • Natural Bridge (nearby)
  • Foamhenge replica created by artist & sculptor Mark Cline and featured on the Travel Channel
  • Virginia Horse Center (nearby)
  • Safari Park (nearby)
  • Natural Bridge Zoo (nearby)
  • Natural Bridge Speedway (nearby)
  • Hull's Drive In, the first non-profit drive-in theatre in the U.S. (nearby)
  • Lee Hi Travel Plaza/Berky's Restaurant, featured on Travel Channel's Truckstop Paradise (nearby)
  • Gems of the Rockbridge Geocaching trail
  • Located near Lexington are a number of properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including:[15][16] Anderson Hollow Archaeological District, Cedar Hill Church and Cemeteries, Chapel Hill, Church Hill, Clifton, Hamilton Schoolhouse, Liberty Hall Site, Lylburn Downing School, Maple Hall, John Moore House, Mountain View Farm, Margaret E. Poague House, Springdale, Stone House, Sunnyside, Tankersley Tavern, Thorn Hill, Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church, and Willson House.
  • Lexington Carriage Company

Notable people[]

  • William H. Armstrong, children's author and educator best known for his 1969 novel Sounder, which won the Newbery Medal.[17]
  • Hilary Hahn, classical violinist.[18]
  • Constance Horner, public official in the Reagan and first Bush administrations; independent director of Pfizer, Prudential Financial, and Ingersoll Rand; resident of Lexington[19]
  • John Letcher, 34th Governor of Virginia.[20]
  • William Lindsay, U.S. Senator from Kentucky.[21]
  • William A. MacCorkle, ninth Governor of West Virginia.[22]
  • Sally Mann, photographer.[23]
  • Gary W. Martini, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Vietnam War.[24]
  • Robert Paxton, political scientist and historian.[25]
  • William N. Pendleton, Confederate general, longtime artillery adviser to General Lee.
  • Pat Robertson, founder and chairman of Christian Broadcasting Network.[26]
  • Cy Twombly, artist.[27]

See also[]

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Lexington, Virginia


  1. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  5. ^ Ramsay, Robert L. (1952). Our Storehouse of Missouri Place Names. University of Missouri Press. pp. 16. 
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  7. ^ Climate Summary for Lexington, Virginia
  8. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  12. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  13. ^ a b Associated Press. "Va. city bans public Confederate flag displays". CBS News. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Adams, Duncan. "Rebel flags barred from Lexington poles". Roanoke Times. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  16. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 6/06/11 through 6/10/11. National Park Service. 2011-06-17. 
  17. ^ Vine, Valerie (Feb 21, 2011). "William H. Armstrong". Find A Grave. 
  18. ^ "Great Performances - Hilary Hahn". PBS. Retrieved October 2013. 
  19. ^ "Ingersoll-Rand Plc: Constance J. Horner". Business Week. Retrieved August 1, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Virginia Governor John Letcher". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 2013. 
  21. ^ "LINDSAY, William, (1835 - 1909)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 2013. 
  22. ^ "West Virginia Governor William Alexander MacCorkle". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 2013. 
  23. ^ "About Sally Mann". PBS. Retrieved October 2013. 
  24. ^ "Gary Wayne Martini 1948-1967". West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved October 2013. 
  25. ^ Evans, Martin (2001). "Robert Paxton: The Outsider". History Today. 
  26. ^ Hill, Samuel S.; Lippy, Charles H.; Wilson, Charles Reagan (2005). Encyclopedia of Religion in the South. Mercer University. 
  27. ^ Masters, Christopher (July 6, 2011). ""Cy" (Cyclone) Twombly, obituary". The Guardian. UK. )

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