Historic Fincastle, Inc. was incorporated in 1968 as a non-profit organization devoted to protecting and preserving the historic town of Fincastle, Virginia. Its parent organization, The Council for the Beautification and Preservation of Fincastle, was formed in 1967.
The town of Fincastle has been described as a virtual museum of 18th. and 19th. Centuries American architecture with some dwellings dating back to the late 1770’s. The town’s historic district is comprised of approximately 100 buildings. It received both state and national designation in 1969 and updated in 2012.
Historic Fincastle, Inc. (HFI) has contributed thousands of dollars and volunteer hours towards fulfilling its mission. A summary of contributions is as follows:
1. 1968 – Planned and held the first “Fall Festival.” Proceeds used to restore the 1897 Old Jail as a Library.
2. 1969 –Spent $16,000 to restore an 1809 building in the Court House Complex that was later used by the County as office space.
3. 1969 – Applied and received designation for the Town of Fincastle as a historic district in both the state and national registers of Historic Places.
4. Early 1970’s -Coordinated the underground placement of utility wires around Court House Square with Appalachian Power Company, Roanoke & Botetourt Telephone Company, the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors, and the Fincastle Town Council.
5. 1976- Restored the Crowder House on Church Street (returned it to the original 1781 log house) at a cost of $8,000.
6. 1977 – Purchased the Douglas House on Main Street (now the Court House Café) with protective covenants for $19,000, then contributed another $6000 to the owner to restore porches in 1989.
7. 1978 – Assisted in the restoration of the blacksmith shop in cooperation with the Wysong family.
8. 1979 – Built a reproduction Gazebo at the Big Spring Public Park at a cost of $ 3,500.
9. 1981 – Purchased Hayth’s Hotel from County Board of Supervisors then sold it with protective covenants.
10. 1982 – Received a $25,000 grant from the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission to restore the James Matten Early Cabin. It was completed in 1987 with an additional $ 53,000 contributed by HFI.
11. 1983 – Purchased and restored the Saddler’s Shop on Church Street for $ 30,000.
12. 1990 – constructed a new Blacksmith Shop located behind the Wysong Black smith Shop Museum – now used as the HFI Office.
13. 1999 and yearly – HFI Scholarship Program has awarded over $12,000 through 2011 in scholarships monies to college and high school seniors to assist students in pursuing college degrees.
14. 2004 – September 25 and 26 marked the 36th year for the Fincastle Festival, which began in 1968.
15. 2005 – received Department of Historic Resources matching grant and conducted an architectural survey of town and surrounding area.
16. 2006 & 2088 – Held community worships about historic districts in conjunction with APVA Preservation Virginia and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
17. 2007 – Participated in the Jamestown 400th Anniversary Celebration by organizing Fincastle Heritage Home & Garden Tour and Marketplace, Heritage Days in Fincastle, and Gather to Gavel 2007 Art Auction in Fincastle.
18. 2007 – Received a Virginia Foundation of the Humanities matching grant to conduct an Oral History Project with middle school students interviewing town elders.
19. 2008 – 2nd printing of HFI publication, “Around Town: A Pictorial Review of Old Fincastle, Virginia”.
20. 2008 – held first Ladies Luncheon and Forum.
21. 2008 – Fincastle Holiday Home Tour and Marketplace.
22. 2009 – 2nd Heritage Days held in Fincastle.
23. 2009 – Lifetime Awards for dedication to HFI and volunteer work were presented to: Angela Coon, Peggy C. Davis, Pat Simmons, Paige Ware, and Mary Westerman.
24. 2010 – placed historic plaque at James Matten Early Cabin in memory of Dottie and Harry Kessler.
25. 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2015 – HFI Holdiay Home Tour & Marketplace held
26. 2010 & 2011 – replacement of James Matten Early Cabin Roof by volunteers and small skilled tradesman, funds for roof raised at “Raise the Roof” event and through corporate and private donations. Click this link for the story and photo: Early Cabin
27. 2012 & beyond – Accepted the donation of the Dottie Kessler historical documents and began archiving these documents using PastPerfect software. Click this link for story and photos: HFI Archives Committee Kessler Documents
28. 2012 & 2013 – HFI supports efforts to add Fincastle to the National Park Service Eastern Legacy Trail with the Lewis & Clark Connection to Fincastle. Click this link for the story: NOAA Disc Fincastle 2012
29. 2013-placed historic plaque at the Wysong Blacksmith Shop in honor of the Wysong Family
30. 2013 HHT&M Participants: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church , Botetourt Co. History Museum, J.H.H. -Figgat Home , Price Home , Thomas G. Godwin /Morris Home , Solitude , Godwin Cottage , Aspen Hill, Critzer Home , Glencoe Home, Godwin Cemetery . Tour theme was the based on the Botetourt Historical Society publication, “Dearest Nannie- Yours devotedly, Charlie”
31. 2014-The Board of Directors voted to name the archives room in the James Matten Early Cabin in honor of Dorthy Simmons Kessler. A plague was installed on the door.
32. 2014- Elizabeth and Israel Christian Scholarship is awarded for the 14th year to Christopher Halsey (LBHS) & Lucas Arney (JRHS).
33. 2014-Fincastle Sidewalk Grant Project is completed by the Town of Fincastle with the installation of new brick sidewalks and street lights on Main Street. HFI honors Scott Crizer for his dedication to this project since 2007.
34. 2014 HHT&M Participants: Botetourt County Historical Museum, Bolton Bungalow, Kyle House, James Matten Early Cabin, Weigandt Home, Stoner House, Peck Cottage. Fincastle United Methodist Church.
36. 2015 – HFI announces the addition to its scholarship program The Pat Simmons and Sally Eads Volunteer Scholarship. The scholarship will start in 2016 for local high school students.
37. 2015 HHT&M participants: First Baptist Church, The Saddler House, The Crowder House, the Kyle House, Church Street Condo, Artist Shop/Gallery, Botetourt Historical Museum, and Wysong Blacksmith Shop. The Marketplace was held at Fincastle Baptist Church with over 40 vendors.
38. 2015 – Harriet Little donated a Harold Little etching as a fundraiser for the 2015 HHT&M.
39. 2015- HFI and the Town of Fincastle are awarded $3500 from the Botetourt County Incentive Grant Program and $4000 from the Helen S. and Charles G. Patterson, Jr. Charitable Foundation Trust to assist with the construction of the gateway sign.
40. The 2015-16 historic home plaque program committee received agreements from five homeowners for installation of the plaques on their homes.
41. 2016- The Historic Fincastle Gateway Sign was completed at the intersection of Main Street and Route 220. The sign was constructed on limestone from the former African-American Odd Fellows Lodge on Hancock Street. Stone donated by James E. Hickenbotham.
42. 2016- “Virtual Tour” (searchable, interactive town map) online of Historic Fincastle was created and launched by Robert Beatty, GIS Specialist for Botetourt County.
43. 2016- Botetourt County Historical Society honors HFI with the Emily Gordon Honts Award for involvement with BCHS and for work in preservation, archives, tours, genealogy research and other activities on behalf of Fincastle and Botetourt County.
44. 2016 – Abigail Rigatti(LBHS) Rebecca Theimer(JRHS) were the recipients of the Israel Christian Scholarship. Alexandra Lesniak(LBHS)
Zachery Keith(JRHS) were the recipients of the Simmons/Eads Scholarship.
45. 2016 – HHT&M participants: Ferguson Tiny House, Martin Tiny House, The Boarding House, Godwin Gottage, The Bliss Guest House, 25 E. Main Street B & B, Botetourt County Historic Courthouse, Botetourt Historical Museum. The Marketplace was held at Fincastle Baptist Church with over 40 vendors.
46. 2017 – “Historic Fincastle, Inc. – Historical Document Collection: 1770’s to Present is launched online. The collection is based on documents donated to HFI by Dottie Kessler’s family. Future documents will be added as donations are received by HFI.
47. 2017 – HFI Town Tour Guide is updated and reprinted. In addition, with a donation from a generous donor, HFI will produce and print the Fincastle Timeline as a brochure insert.
48. 2017 HHT&M Participants: Clear Dawn, Israel Christian Home, Broad Oaks, Rustic Lodge, Neighbors Farm, and Botetourt History Museum(Doll Collection).
49. 2017 HFI Scholarship Winners: Elizabeth and Israel Christian Schorlarship: Nate Brinkley(JRHS) and May -Hannah Jackson(LBHS); Pat Simmons and Sally Eads Volunteer Scholarship: Riley Marshall(JRHS) and Machenzie Oesterreich(LBHS).
50. 2017 HFI installed an appreciation plaque for James Higgenbotham for donation of the stones for the Fincastle Gateway Sign.
51. 2017 HFI Volunteers repaired and stained the siding on the James Matten Early Cabin.
52. 2018 HFI Scholarship Winners: Elizabeth and Israel Christian Scholarship: Lydia Sydnor(JRHS) and Claire Seibel(LBHS); Pat Simmons and Sally Eads Volunteer Scholarship: William Fowler(JRHS) and Katherine Farris(LBHS).
Each year HFI Board of Directors approves a plan of action for the year.
The HFI logo was drawn by Harold Little, a Fincastle resident and long-time HFI supporter and well-know regional artist. Harold died in 2011. The logo features six steeples in town, including: The Botetourt County Courthouse, The Fincastle Presbyterian Church, The Fincastle Methodist Church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, The Fincastle Baptist Church, and First Fincastle Baptist Church.