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There aren’t many neighbors in Hurt, just friends.
And that’s the main
reason 1,600 people make the small town in
Pittsylvania County their home.
It’s a town almost specially designed for
down-to-earth folks who enjoy the company of others and know first names.
Town Hall, which sits off Pockets Road, is also home to the Hurt
“Hurt is a very close-knit, family-oriented
community,” says Mayor Bobby Krantz, sitting behind his desk in Hurt
Town Hall. “The people are concerned about their fellow man. It’s a
good place to live.”
It’s the reason Krantz and his wife, Jewell, have
called Hurt home for 30 years.
“Because, mainly, of the people,” he says, with a
smile. “It’s just a great bunch of people. It’s a caring bunch of
Mayor Bobby Krantz thinks it's friendly people who make the town
Krantz and six other council members govern the town.
The council meets the second Tuesday of each month.
Town manager and treasurer Mike Hill and clerk Rhonda
Parsons handle the day-to-day business at town hall, which sits off Pocket
Hurt Police Department, which includes Chief Brian
Marr and two patrolmen, also has an office in town hall. With relatively
low crime, Hurt is also a great place to raise a family.
A Rich History
Established as a community in 1748 and incorporated
as a town in 1966, Hurt has a rich history.
Captain Benjamin Clement founded Hurt in 1748, while
settling land he earlier patented along Sycamore Creek. He built a home on
Clement Hill and grew tobacco.
Clement also set up the first weaving operation in
the area. Years later, Burlington Industries, once the county’s largest
employer, set up a clothing plant on land purchased from John L. Hurt Jr.,
who is credited with giving the town its start.
When Clement died, his property, which made up most
of what is now Hurt, passed into the hands of Maj. John Lynn Hurt, who
married Clement’s daughter, Sally.
Hurt worked hard to increase homeowners in the area,
while increasing his land holding to nearly 5,000 acres. The area was
known as “Hurt’s Community.”
Hurt’s nephew, John L. Hurt Jr., later inherited
his uncle’s estate and his dream of making the area into a town.
Hurt sold lots for as little as $200, but placed
restrictions on the type of homes and people that occupied the land.
“When Mr. Hurt was living, he would sell a piece of
land to an individual, then he would tell them how the house had to be
built,” says Krantz.
town council now includes (from left) Dennis Nichols, Lillian
Gillispie, Dixie Shelton, Mayor Bobby Krantz, Kathy Keesee, Sue
Blackstock, and Jason Lovelace.
Hurt held the right to buy the home back, if it was
not properly cared for. He also donated land for churches and other worthy
causes. “He has given a lot of land and property to the town of Hurt,”
the mayor says, describing Hurt as a good man.
“In looking back at the history, they would ask him
why he would stand outside in a line to eat at a restaurant and he would
say, ‘Because if it’s a line, you know it’s good and it’s
fresh,’” he remembers with a laugh. “He was a fine gentleman.”
In his will, Hurt agreed to give Clement Hill, which
was around 200 acres, to the then Village of Hurt if the village became an
incorporated town within three years.
One hundred and seventy acres of the property were
referred to as “The Town Farm,” on which the current town hall now
Voters elected the first council, which included
Mayor Henry Winston, R. Neil Eckard, Charlie Arthur, Oadie Rowland, Clyde
McCrickard, Madeline Key, and Sam Cothran.
first town council included (seated, from left) Clerk-Treasurer
Mabel Arthur, Mayor Henry Winston, Jr., Vice-Mayor Neil Eckard,
Madeline Key; (standing, from left) town attorneys James and
Gordon Kent, Clyde McCrickard, Samuel Cothran, Oadie Rowland, and
The first council met in John L. Hurt Elementary
School, before moving into Hurt’s old personal office on Church Street.
The office was used as Hurt’s first town hall, before it was moved to
the current building in 1970.
Additional portions of Hurt’s estate went to Hurt
School to create a playground and beautiful gardens. He also left funds to
maintain the gardens, hire a full-time librarian, and supplement the
The school was renamed in honor of its kind
The wonderfully kept gardens still grace the
school’s front lawn today, offering splashes of bright spring flowers
against lovely greens.
Close to Everything
Hurt, which borders Altavista in Campbell County,
provides the perfect down-home feel, with convenient shopping just a quick
Although it doesn’t boast a large array of
restaurants and shops, the town does have a few stores in Staunton Plaza,
a shopping center on U.S. 29 business. Dr. Guy Walton, DDS, also has a
dentist’s office in the plaza.
Hurt is home to Central Virginia Family Physicians, a
large medical center, offering quality health care and a rehabilitation
Altavista, minutes from the town, includes a variety
of restaurants and shops. Hurt is also 30 miles or so from two large
cities — Lynchburg to the north and Danville to the south.
Altavista has two hotels, Comfort Suites and Holiday
Inn Express, and numerous bed and breakfasts.
elementary school is named for the town's patriarch, John L. Hurt
Jr. "He was a fine gentleman," says Mayor Bobby Krantz
of Mr. Hurt. Portions of Hurt's estate went to Hurt School to
create a playground and beautiful gardens. The gardens still grace
the school's front lawn today.
John L. Hurt Elementary School, the town’s public
school, provides a good learning environment and caring teachers for
kindergartners to fifth-graders.
Middle and high school students attend public schools
in Gretna, which is 10 miles from the town.
The town is also home to Faith Christian Academy,
which offers preschool to high school programs.
Founded by Curtis and Louis English, the school is a
definite drawing card in luring new residents, says Krantz.
Christian Academy, founded in 1989, offers programs for preschool
to high school.
“The Christian academy is a big plus for us.
Personally, I feel like people are looking for something like that,” he
says of the school, which is led by Administrator Lisa Moore.
The town also has two parks. The Roosevelt Mattox
Park, which sits beside town hall, includes a creek, pavilion, and grassy
areas, perfect for cookouts and family gatherings.
Wayside Park offers a unique lure — a swinging
bridge. It also has picnic tables, a wonderful view, and adequate parking.
Hurt also offers varying denominations of churches,
from Methodist to Baptist. St. Victoria Catholic Church, one of the
area’s few Catholic churches, sits off Pocket Road behind town hall.
Volunteer Fire Department offers fire protection and an ambulance
service to the community.
Hurt’s lifeblood is its volunteers, with Hurt
Volunteer Fire Department leading the way. The department, which also
offers an ambulance service, has a two-story firehouse on School Road.
The dedicated volunteers spend countless hours
answering emergency calls, maintaining the equipment, and attending
training classes, all in the name of helping the community.
“We have an excellent fire department,” says
But not everything is rosy in Hurt. Recently, the
town has faced some uneasy economic times.
Its lone grocery store, Winn-Dixie, closed its doors
last year, leaving a huge portion of Staunton Plaza vacant.
Uncertainty has surrounded Burlington Industries for
several years, culminating in the business filing for Chapter 11
bankruptcy protection three years ago. A New York investor has since
However, the town continues to worry about the
The town’s future, though, is bright, says Krantz.
He is holding out hope that the town can continue to
groom a large portion of land off Pocket Road into Key Industrial Park.
“It would be nice if we could do that,” he says.
“‘It would give people some jobs and security.”
Park offers a great place for picnics and other gatherings, such
as Boy Scout cookouts. From left are David Grzenda, Hunter Layne,
Dustin Queener, leader Steve Rigney, John Little, William Oakley,
and Ian Rigney.
Krantz knows as long as the town continues to be home
to caring folks, it will always prosper.
With affordable housing, the town is the perfect
place to lay down permanent roots, he says. “Everybody is laid back. You
can yell across the fence at each other. The people look out for each
other and look out for their welfare,” he says.
As far as neighbors go, that’s all anyone can ask
Jonathan Parker is the editor of
the Altavista Journal. He is active in West End Church of Christ and
A Glance ...
area: 2.73 square miles
FACT: The land surrounding the Hurt area was originally part of a land
grant made by King George II to Benjamin Clement in 1741. Clement
resided at Clement Hill, where gun powder was made during the
Revolutionary and Civil wars.