Historic Fincastle Inc., – Historical Document Collection: 1770’s to Present

Over the course of her lifetime Dottie Kessler researched and collected a large volume of information about Fincastle history and culture.   When her family carried out her request that her historic archives be given to Historic Fincastle, Inc. it was with the understanding that HFI preserve, archive, display and distribute her notes, writings and photographs of the town and county in a manner that honors her love for her town and county.  The members of the Archives Committee were determined to be good stewards of this treasure trove of Fincastle information. Now, through the web-based museum software, PastPerfect, researchers may explore these documents and photographs of local historical significance.  Please visit (no www. in the address).



In appreciation…

The image to the left is a plaque for James E. Hickenbotham’s donation of the native stone that was used in the Fincastle gateway sign.HickenbothamPlaque

Botetourt County Historical Society honors HFI with the Emily Gordon Honts Award


The Botetourt County Historical Society (BCHS) honored Historic Fincastle, Inc. with the 2016 Emily Gordon Honts Award at their recent Founder’s Day Dinner in Fincastle.  This year’s dinner celebrated the 50th anniversary of BCHS.  Angela Coon announced that this award would be given to multiple local organizations for their work with BCHS and for work in preservation, archives, tours, genealogy research and other activities on behalf of Fincastle and Botetourt County.   HFI was honored to receive the award and wishes to thank all our members and friends for their support over the years.  Also, congratulations to BCHS for 50 years of  serving the citizens of Botetourt County and all the visitors to the this area.

Installation of Historic Fincastle’s Gateway Sign and New “Virtual Tour” Interactive Online Map


On Tuesday, October 11, 2016 Historic Fincastle and the Town of Fincastle unveiled two projects aimed at bringing visitors into this historic town. The Town, located 20 mile north of Roanoke on Route 220, was established in 1770. Incorporated in 1772, today the quiet and quaint village is a virtual museum of American architecture from the late 1770’s through the 21st century. With its historic courthouse, blacksmith shop, Big Spring Park, James Matten Early Cabin, five historic churches and numerous other structures and residences, the Town is alive with history.


Carol Brenner, President of Historic Fincastle, Inc. (HFI) spearheaded the projects aimed at bringing folks in to see what the Town has to offer. The first project was the construction of a new gateway sign. The sign is located on HFI property at the corner of Route 220 and Main Street. The goal of the sign, simply, is to draw people off of busy Route 220 into the historic downtown district and neighborhoods close by. HFI worked closely with the Town of Fincastle and its Tourism Committee, comprised of Alan Brenner, Patty King, Hal Bailey, Kip and Lynn Burton, Town Council member Meredith Shelton and Fincastle Town manager David Tickner, to locate and design the sign. The stone for the sign itself  came from The Fincastle Lodge No. 3708, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows and the Household of Ruth No. 976 (Women’s Auxiliary) — an African American organization  —  known as “The Hall” — located in the Town of Fincastle on  Hancock Street. Deeded on March 3, 1896, the Odd Fellows Hall was used for African American primary grade children and also a cafeteria at the Academy Hill School.  This property is now owned by James Edward Hickenbotham and he generously donated the native stone for the sign. The stone work for the sign was done by local mason Chris Nichols. A plaque will be erected detailing the significance of the stone.


During the construction of the sign, Brenner was able to secure funding from a number of sources. These included Historic Fincastle, Inc., the Town of Fincastle, grant money from the Helen S and Charles G Patterson Charitable Trust Foundation and Botetourt County Recreational Incentives Fund program funding and private donations from local citizens. Without the collaborative effort, the sign likely would not have been completed. The sign was completed on Monday, October 10 with the installation of the sign by Blue Ridge Sign.


The other project unveiled was the creation of a “virtual tour” of the numerous historic structures in town. While HFI has volunteers who occasionally conduct tours through town, many visitors utilize the brochure created by HFI for a self-guided tour. In keeping with the times, the Tourism Committee and members of HFI worked with Botetourt County GIS Specialist Robert Beatty to develop a GPS-based application to be used on a smartphone. The app locates the user and directs him or her to the various structures of significance in town, providing information about each. Visitors can access the virtual tour from the HFI web site at or


Both projects are steps towards a bright and successful future for this historic town.  In addition, HFI plans to launch the Fincastle Historic Document Archives Collection online in 2017.



Cathy Goad Wins Harold Little Etching

HFI would like to thank Harriet Little for her generous donation of a Harold Little signed etching for the 2015 HFI Holiday Home Tour & Marketplace Silent Auction.  The print donated was “Hilltop View of Fincastle”, 1977, which includes Academy Hill (Bolton’s Hill).  Harold generously created and drew the HFI logo and both he and Harriet are great supporters of HFI.   The lucky winning bidder was Cathy Goad of Fincastle, VA. 

 Harold Little Pring-001

Flashback to 1965! Labor Day Weekend Bluegrass Festival

Be sure and visit this web page for a wonderful collection of sights and sounds from the 1965 Labor Day Weekend Bluegrass Festival held at Cantrell’s Horse Farm, Fincastle, VA.  Click on the images below to take a walk down musical memory lane through rare audio and film recordings, as well as photographs of the event!




Photos from the 2014 HFI Members and Friends Open House at Santillane, December 6, 2014

PicMonkey Collage2 PicMonkey Collagesantillane1santillane2


Photos courtesy of Beth Pappas
(Click on any group of photos for an enlarged view.)

Historic Fincastle, Inc Recognizes Scott Critzer for his tireless work on the Fincastle Sidewalk Project

Critzer HFI

The Board of Directors of Historic Fincastle, Inc (HFI) voted to recognize Scott Critzer for his tireless work on the Fincastle Sidewalk Grant project.  HFI presented Critzer with a plaque noting his leadership and perseverance on the sidewalk project at its annual Membership Open House held at Santillane.  Critzer spent countless hours on the sidewalk project starting in 2007 and continuing through 2014 when the project was completed.  The 2007 Fincastle Town Council, under his leadership, started looking at renovating the town’s aging sidewalks. Mayor Critzer led the council and citizens through a series of community meetings to gauge public interest in the project.  The town council applied for grant funding with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for renovation to its sidewalks through a program called TEA, or Transportation Enhancement Act, which offered an 80 percent matching grant, and the remaining 20 percent being the responsibility of the Town of Fincastle.  In the spring of 2008, VDOT notified the Town that it would be eligible for funding for the project in the neighborhood of $1 million.

Mayor Critzer continued to spend hours working on  committees with the engineering firm to design and plan the sidewalk paths, meet with concerned citizens, find solutions for infrastructure issues, identify impacts on the homeowners, explore and make materials choices and control overall costs of the project. A construction contract was awarded to Virginia Carolina Paving in December of 2013.  An unforeseen obstacle occurred in January of 2014, when VDOT noticed that the street configuration of this historic town would not meet current Federal traffic lane and parking area width requirements.  Thus Critzer and many other citizens spent time considering the impact of one-way streets on the town.

Scott Critzer worked from 2007 to 2014, seven years, to see this project come to fruition.  HFI and its members recognize him for his dedication to this project and the town of Fincastle.  The sidewalks have enhanced the town and its historic character for many years to come.

Christmas lights are hung with care

Christmas lights are hung with care by “The Society to Keep Fincastle Lit”

20131204_182455_LLS“The Society to Keep Fincastle Lit” has once again worked magic with the help of Lumos and volunteers. On Sunday and Monday, Nov. 17 and 18 volunteers tested bubs and festooned the streets of Fincastle with lights and festive pole decorations.

The result of these efforts is the Town of Fincastle will be aglow with strands of red, yellow, blue, green and orange light bulbs and lighted wreaths, snowflakes and trees. The little town lights up after Thanksgiving through New Years. It is decorated with 60 strands of lights and the average strand has 30 bulbs. That makes a grand total of 1,800 working bulbs not counting what goes into the decorative wreaths, snowflakes and trees.

One of the toughest jobs is carrying the decorations down from where they are housed in the off season in the old jail. Lights, cumbersome wreaths and very heavy metal snowflakes and Christmas trees had to be carried down three flights of narrow metal steps in the old jail building.

20131204_182648The color configuration is the same through out the town. the sequence is RYBGO (red, yellow, blue, green orange) bulbs that go in the strands. The RYBGO lights are the size of a standard household light bulb; the other bulbs vary in style from the size of 25 watt bulbs, chandelier bulbs and night light bulbs.

Each of these fixtures must be plugged in and burned out bulbs must be replaced with a bulb of the proper size and color. The 60 strands of wires that hold the light sockets are stored in white pillow cases that are marked with the location where that strand is to be hung. The strands are of various lengths, so exact location is key.

Volunteers file all over the town with the RYBGO bulbs and start screwing the bulbs in the sockets of each strand making sure they are in red, yellow, blue, green, orange order.

20131204_183030Bucket trucks are an important in “Keeping Fincastle Lit.” Again this year, Lumos donated the use of two bucket trucks and four employees for a day. Those employees met up with citizens on Monday, November 18 and actually hung the RYBGO strands and light fixtures in one day due to the good weather conditions.

Keeping Fincastle Lit can only continue with financial contributions from the public. The organization holds no fundraisers. Please consider being a part of keeping this holiday tradition alive. Contributions may be mailed to: Keep Fincastle Lit, P. O. Box 250, Fincastle, VA 24090.

Thanks to Terry Tucker and Dave Tickner for contributing light facts to the story! Nov. 2013

Ron Lucas Award

Whereas the Board of Directors of Historic Fincastle, Inc desires to recognize members who have volunteered their time and resources to help our organization fulfill its mission to support the preservation of the historical, physical, cultural, and natural resources of Fincastle, Virginia, and its surroundings.

Whereas Ron Lucas was a resident and community leader of the Town of Fincastle since 2001 and with Valerie lovingly restored his family home, Prospect Hill, to reflect its true grandeur and historical past.
Whereas Ron’s achievements as a family man, husband, father, grandfather, dog owner, and historian were a reflection of a kind, creative, and generous spirit embodied in a man who lived large, laughed roaringly, and enjoyed the finer things in life.

Whereas Ron continually contributed time, talent and business expertise towards Historic Fincastle, Inc serving as President leading the Board of Directors and association members with enthusiasm and determination through deeds and efforts too numerous to count. Ron fiercely protected the integrity of Historic Fincastle, Inc. and on occasion “went to battle” on its behalf and showed his unwavering dedication during regular office visits entering the room with “and what’s the mighty town of Fincastle up to today?”

Whereas Ron championed the preservation of Fincastle’s historic buildings, many of which bear his personal renovation and restoration talents including Prospect Hill, Solitude, and Academy Hill. Ron’s attention to detail and appreciation for craftsmanship are evident in these beautiful homes.
Whereas Ron’s vision helped all remember that the town had to be protected and cherished to keep the small, untouched community preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Now Therefore Be It Resolved that the members of Historic Fincastle, Inc. would like to recognize Mr. Ron Lucas for his service to this organization and that the Board of Directors of Historic Fincastle, Inc. does hereby present this Proclamation of Appreciation to his wife, Mrs. Valerie Lucas, in honor of Ron for his years of dedication to Historic Fincastle, Inc., the Town of Fincastle, Virginia, its citizens, and for making Fincastle a better community.

Be it Further Resolved that a copy of this proclamation will be kept with 2013 HFI minutes as a permanent testament to Mr. Lucas’ dedication to Fincastle.

This the 07 day of December, 2013

Carol S. Brenner, Co-President
Marni Jones, Co-President

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