in PDF Format
fine art to motorsports, this Southside Virginia community has something
town of South Boston has enjoyed a renaissance. The downtown
section is the commercial hub of Virginia's fourth-largest county.
If you read some headlines, it might
appear that Halifax County and the town of South Boston face irreversible
But Virginia’s fourth-largest county
features rewards for discriminating travelers, gracious hospitality, and
underappreciated historical sites.
The Prizery is a budding gem of vital
artistic and cultural contributions in downtown South Boston. Halifax
County has two excellent state parks — Staunton River State Park, and
the Staunton River Battlefield State Park,
Prizery is a budding gem of vital artistic and cultural
contributions in downtown South Boston.
which is a joint venture between
Halifax and Charlotte counties and part of Virginia’s Civil War trails.
The Staunton River Battlefield State
Park recalls the heroism of the Civil War, and is part of the Wilson-Kautz
Raid driving tour. History buffs can relive June 25, 1864, when a
Confederate army of old men and young boys stopped advancing Union armies,
winning the only battle fought on Halifax County soil.
Their sacrifice, and the cost of freedom
throughout the nation’s history, is celebrated at the majestic War
Memorial in the town of Halifax. The memorial lists the names of all known
Halifax County dead from military conflicts in U.S. history.
Doug Powell, an eminent local historian,
explained, “I found there was a story behind each name, and tried to
collect as much of that material and data as possible. I hope someday to
make it available to the public, so that people can not only see the names
on the memorial, but
historian Doug Powell finds a story behind every name listed at
the Halifax County War Memorial.
have a way to see the story behind those
The South Boston-Halifax County Museum
of Fine Arts and History is worth a visit, with a theme of “Moving into
the future, with an appreciation of the past.”
You can enjoy the Halifax County Little
Theater, which offers its interpretation on recognized plays and musicals.
Halifax County appreciates a good (and
safe) party, topped by the delicious tastes associated with the Virginia
Cantaloupe Festival. The annual mid-July event honors the world-famous
Halifax County cantaloupe.
The county also features the Virgilina
Summerfest, the Scottsburg Fourth of July Festival and the North Halifax
Volunteer Fire Department marathon. South Boston has several popular
annual events, including the Holiday Living Show, the biennial Prizery Art
Show; the Southern Heritage Festival; and the C.H. Friend Antiques Show.
The annual Noland Country Fair Day in
May celebrates the restoration of an early crossroads community at
Art lovers will appreciate the eclectic
works of Bob Cage and his imaginative Sculpture Garden.
Visitors can stroll through the
tranquil, picturesque historic Mountain Road district in Halifax. The
residences cover a range of periods, from early 19th-century institutional
buildings to Greek, Georgian and Colonial Revival, Queen Anne and
South Boston’s Washington Avenue homes
feature an architectural range from Victorian and Tudor to modern Arts and
Halifax County has lovely plantation
homes, luring architectural and history buffs. River Road, once a major
transportation link, features historic homes, Carter’s Tavern and the
Brooklyn Tobacco Factory.
Recreational opportunities abound, from
the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, to hunting, fishing, and
horseback riding and walking trails.
Canoeing and boating are popular
diversions on three major Halifax County rivers. The Float on the Staunton
Day is a headline event. There is considerable local pride in the
inclusion of a portion of the Staunton River on the state’s list of
designated Scenic Rivers.
The Halifax County Fair showcases rising
country music stars.
Volunteers host district and state
softball and baseball tournaments. South Boston has the Mason Day, Jr.,
and C.H. Friend baseball facilities. Halifax has a refurbished Mary
Bethune softball complex. The annual Halifax County-South Boston Sports
Hall of Fame is a highlight of the spring calendar.
There are antique shops with unexpected
discoveries. Bed-and-breakfast operations offer serenity.
Falkland Farms draws visitors from
across the nation to its bed-and-breakfast/hunting plantation.
NASCAR 2002 Daytona 500 champion Ward
Burton is establishing a nature preserve for education and the protection
The town of Halifax has been the county
seat of Halifax County since 1777. Portions of General Nathaniel
Greene’s troops were here in February 1789, after escaping Corwallis’
forces and crossing the Dan River. George Washington passed through the
region in June 1791.
Town Manager Carl Espy IV notes, "The pace of life is
certainly relaxed, and especially if one enjoys the
The present-day courthouse is a
classical Greek Revival structure, built in 1839 by Dabney Cosby, Sr., one
of Thomas Jefferson’s master builders, Town Manager Carl Espy IV said.
The town has its own unique charm.
“The pace of life is certainly
relaxed, and especially if one enjoys the outdoors,” said Espy. “The
town of Halifax has a great small-town feel to it. It is still a
village-quality living place that has quaint shops.
“Everything is within walking
distance,” Espy commented.
Powell explained, “Halifax County has
some key historical attractions that can be a destination for tourists.
“We have a Revolutionary War campaign
that is like a sleeping giant as far as what it could do for the community
if we promoted it. The War-Between-the-States efforts, and particularly
the Battle of Staunton River Bridge, are much better documented now due to
the site becoming a state park, but there’s still opportunity there.
“The key role the county played in the
expansion to the West, to the Frontiers, during the French and Indian War
period is another area that many people do not know about,” Powell said.
Court records here are proving an
increasingly valuable resource to learn more about the expansion of the
nation westward from the Tidewater area of Virginia.
“Many of the central and western
states contain many, many families who passed through Halifax County on
their way West. We’re key in the exploration of information by these
people who are searching for that kind of thing,” said Powell.
Renewal in South Boston
The town of South Boston has enjoyed a
Vest, South Boston's community development coordinator, says the
town has recently seen interest in new restaurants, specialty
shops and entertainment businesses.
Tamyra S. Vest, the community
development coordinator, explained, “The core shopping district and
tobacco warehouse area in South Boston are both experiencing a revival of
interest based on renewed appreciation of their historic qualities and
anticipated spin-off opportunities presented by the Prizery and Southern
Virginia Higher Education Center initiatives. The town has recently seen
interest in new restaurants, eateries, specialty shops and entertainment
The Visitors Center includes a Tobacco
Heritage Exhibit, highlighting the planting, growing, harvesting, curing
and prizing of tobacco.
The National Tobacco Festival permanent
exhibit remembers when South Boston and Halifax County welcomed Hollywood
celebrities during its seven-year run. The festival drew 165,000 people at
The Prizery will include an
auditorium/theater, banquet hall and art and music classrooms.
One of the finest examples of Greek
Revival architecture in Virginia, Berry Hill, was recently closed to the
public. Economic development officials are seeking new partners in the
business/tourism sector for the mansion.
International Raceway has drawn rave reviews from spectators and
competitors from all over the world.
South Boston Speedway has been home to
some of the biggest names in American stock car racing.
General Manager Cathy Rice said, “I
think it’s one of the best short tracks on the East Coast, or anywhere,
because of the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series.”
The Speedway produced three modern-era
Winston Cup regulars (Jeff and Ward Burton and Elliott Sadler) and other
drivers have had successful seasons in Busch and truck racing.
Richard Petty and the late Dale
Earnhardt raced here. “South Boston Speedway has such a history,” said
Virginia International Raceway has drawn
rave reviews from spectators and competitors from all over the world. Cal
Frye, the track’s general manager, said, “The popularity grows because
it’s sort of an undiscovered venue. It is easily the most beautiful
road-racing facility in North America, but you won’t know that unless
you visit it.”
Tourism a Major Industry
Textiles and tobacco are declining, but
tourism is more important than ever.
is becoming increasingly important to the South Boston and Halifax
County region, according to tourism director Linda Shepperd.
Linda Shepperd, the local tourism tsar,
said, “We are just on the verge of seeing a tremendous growth in
tourism. With our changing economy, we are looking to new avenues in ways
that we can make this area grow.
“The community is finally starting to
be aware of what we’ve got, and that other people are coming here and
thinking, ‘this is neat. I like it here.’ They have things that other
places don’t have,” said Shepperd. “We’re going to do a better job
of marketing that.”