and Earth never agreed to frame a better place for man's habitation."
50 years ago, the town of White Stone covers one action-packed square-mile
with a population of 358. It is a business hub in 350-year-old Lancaster
County, where the scenic beauty of the Rappahannock River and the Chesapeake
Bay is as ripe today as it was four centuries ago when explorer Captain John
Smith wrote “heaven and earth never agreed to frame a better place for
officials and Virginia Department of Transportation engineers cross
the White Stone gateway intersection during a walk-through review of
the town's Main Street project.
Lore has it that White Stone was named
after a large millstone landmark. The legendary stone is nowhere to be seen
today, but another much larger landmark is here — the steel-trussed Robert
O. Norris “White Stone” Bridge.
Built in 1957, the bridge connects Route 3
from Virginia’s Middle Peninsula to the southern half of the Northern Neck
Peninsula between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. Its two-mile span
offers an unforgettable crossing 100 feet above the Rappahannock with the
Chesapeake Bay unfolding in the distance.
than a mile past the bridge is White Stone, the Northern Neck gateway to
Stone mayor Lloyd B. Hubbard, Jr., is a fixture of the civic and
business community of the town. His family history in the White
Stone area dates back to the 17th century.
estimated 12,000 vehicles pass daily through the Main Street intersection of
Rappahannock and Chesapeake drives during summer, which matches the county
population. For the last two years, added appeal and traffic safety along
the Main Street corridor have been a town priority.
“We’ve taken a proactive position to
enhance our town for ourselves, the businesses here, and the many visitors
who travel to this part of the Northern Neck,” says Mayor Lloyd B.
Hubbard, Jr. “Through our Main Street project, we’re working to showcase
our gateway community.”
the direction of the engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB),
the town’s $1.2-million Main Street project includes landscaped traffic
buffers, brick-paved sidewalks, and underground utilities at the gateway
intersection. It also includes a traffic roundabout as a replacement for the
intersection traffic signal system, which would make the roundabout the
first approved for a Virginia primary highway if it is given the green
light. Unlike a traffic circle, the roundabout does not use stop signs to
regulate incoming traffic.
Lancaster Players present dinner theater in White Stone at the
Lancaster Playhouse, where musical performances are also staged.
got a lot of reservation about it,” Virginia Department of Transportation
resident engineer of Warsaw Joseph Staton says of the roundabout. “But the
concepts that VHB have come up with show that it will work.”
Bridge of Business
the intersection changes dramatically or not, the future and past are
bridged by the role of the town as a business center, which predates the
opening of the first town post office in the 1830s. The town’s business
history is rooted in the neighboring farming heritage and ties with more
than a century of water harvesting for blue crabs, Virginia oysters, and
other Chesapeake Bay fisheries. Whereas transportation to the town was once
served by steamboat and ferry service, the opening of the White Stone bridge
ushered in the modern era of the town’s history.
businesswoman Jean Robertson displays ton and local history at her
Ceramics Etc. store.
businesswoman Jean Robertson rode in one of the 5,579 vehicles that crossed
the bridge the day it opened in 1957.
“The feeling was a wonderful feeling,”
she says of her historic trip. “A ferry boat is nice and it’s fun to
ride a ferry boat, but no one likes to wait for a ferry. The bridge has done
exactly what the bridge should have done.”
The bridge has helped create a workforce
that rivals the town population. Robertson’s ceramics store is one of the
many specialty shops today in a business community that encompasses a range
of professional and commercial services from real estate agencies, law
offices, and banks to construction companies and equipment rental.
its history as a business center, White Stone has a longstanding tradition
of community activity.
White Stone Volunteer Fire Department stages the premier town events
each year--the White Stone Country Fair and the Rappahannock River
White Stone Volunteer Fire Department, formed in 1947, is the primary
responding unit to calls for emergency service in town and the surrounding
area. Besides meeting emergency needs with its all-volunteer force, the
department also stages the town’s showcase events.
the past 25 years, the fire department has held the Rappahannock River
Waterfowl Show, which is the major annual fundraiser for the department. The
waterfowl show has earned the distinction of being designated a “Top 20
Event in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society. Every third
weekend in March, the event transforms the town with crowds that come for
the showcase of waterfowl and Chesapeake Bay artwork.
carver William Bruce and his wife Pat organize the Rappahannock
River Waterfowl Show in White Stone. Thousands of visitors attend
the event every year.
crowds have increased a lot since the first show,” says waterfowl carver
William Bruce, who has organized the event from its start. “In the past 10
years, we’ve maintained a crowd of 2,500 to 3,000, and a lot of our
exhibitors have been here for years and years. We’ve got some of the
nation’s best waterfowl artists, carvers, and sculptors.”
The waterfowl show is held in the former
White Stone High School, now owned by fire department affiliation. The
weekend after the show, the community building holds the White Stone Bridal
Showcase, which features a bridal fashion show and wedding vendor services.
The fire department also stages the White
Stone Country Fair annually. September 20 will mark the 30th year for the
festivities, which include a parade, entertainment, lots of food, and
During the Christmas season, the fire
department teams with the White Stone Business Association for breakfast
with Santa and a children’s gift shop. The business association itself
sponsors more festivities during the year, including the illumination of the
town’s Christmas tree and outdoor “Fridays by the Rivah” gatherings in
The White Stone religious community is
also an active presence. The White Stone Baptist Church, Mount Vernon
Baptist Church, and White Stone United Methodist Church all predate the
incorporation of the town itself by more than a half century. The White
Stone Church of the Nazarene has its own ministry center in town and holds
worship at the former White Stone High School community building.
other religious organizations, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the
Rappahannock and New Hope Christian hold their services at the White Stone
Woman’s Club, which itself was formed in 1928 and has maintained a student
loan fund since the 1960s.
Scouts parade in front of the firehouse for the White Stone Country
Fair--a town tradition for 30 years.
Stone remains anchored by its town government of mayor, seven council
members, town attorney, treasurer, town manager, and police chief. Past
councils were led by mayors George W. Sanders, Jr., Lloyd B. Hubbard, Sr.,
Harmon C. Treakle, and Lloyd B. Hubbard, Jr. Town coffers have grown
primarily through state sales tax and bank franchise fees without taxing
resident or business property.
Enid Sullivan Somers was there from the
start as treasurer and served in that position for 35 years in addition to
being a council woman for nine years. Her husband Pete served with the first
council and she recalled the excitement of the time of incorporation.
“It was very exciting because we felt
like we were going places,” she says. “Everybody was interested in the
town being improved. One of the things we wanted to do was get the
stoplights at the intersection. Traffic was getting heavier in town because
of the bridge.”
What was true half a century ago remains
true today for a town steeped in history and tradition, as it meets the
challenge of its 21st century future with excitement.