New Market Virginia

Tour curated by: Shenandoah County Library and New Market Historical Society

A tour of historic sites in the town of New Market.

The first Europeans arrived in New Market in 1727. They flocked to the area due to an abundance of fertile land, wild game, and minerals. Many of these individuals were Germans of the Mennonite and Lutheran faiths. Later they were joined by an influx of Scotch-Irish immigrants.

Originally the community was known as Cross Roads since the main north-south and east-west roads in the area joined here. When it was established on December 14, 1796 by the General Assembly, the name was changed to New Market. This most likely reflected the growing importance of the area’s agricultural markets.

In 1806 the German immigrants, notably the Henkel family, established a printing business in the town. Over the next century this would be the country’s major German cultural publishers. Other commercial, industrial, and agricultural interests also grew and by 1835 the town boasted a population of over 700.

During the Civil War, the town was a center of activity. The presence of the Valley Pike and agricultural abundance meant the area was strategically important to both sides. On May 15, 1864, the historically significant Battle of New Market took place in which 257 cadets of Virginia Military Institute (VMI) were pressed into service by Confederate General John C. Breckinridge. This effort resulted in a Confederate victory and delayed Union efforts to march on Richmond. That battle is reenacted each year in mid-May, on the grounds of the Virginia Museum of the Civil War in New Market.

In 1972, the Town of New Market was designated a Historic District by the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission and registered as a Virginia Historic Landmark. The same year the Historic District was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places, which is maintained by the National Park Service.

Locations for Tour

Around 1808 John Strayer constructed the front portion of this building at the corner of the Valley Pike and what was then the Sperryville Turnpike. The structure held both his home and mercantile business. During the Civil War the site was visited…

In 1793 the Davidsburg Church, a Union Church consisting of Lutheran and Reformed congregations, built a log church on this site. It is currently marked by four stone markers engraved with the letter “D.” The Union Church continued to operate…

In 1905 Charles D. Zirkle, who was on his deathbed, donated 45 acres of his property to the Virginia Conference of Seven Day Adventist to build a school. Two years later construction began on the main building of what was then the New Market Academy.…

On March 16, 1857 the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church in New Market purchased a 1/4th acre lot on the Valley Pike to build a new church building. This new church, finished in 1861, replaced their previous structure that dated to 1832 and…

The congregation that became Emmanuel Lutheran Church began in 1790, when Reverend Paul Henkel founded the Davidson Lutheran Church in New Market. In 1820 Samuel S. Schmucker, a Yale Graduate became the church’s new minister. Soon afterwards the…

The Smith Creek Baptist Church was formed on August 6, 1756. The area that is now known as New Market was called Crossroads because it was at the intersection of the area’s major north-south and east-west roads. A community had emerged around this…

As part of his 1864 campaign, Union General Ulysses S. Grant ordered Federal forces under General Franz Sigel to march through the Shenandoah Valley and destroy the railroad and Confederate Army’s base of supplies. This 9,000 man force began to…

Established in 1955, Southern Kitchen is probably New Markets most iconic restaurants. The restaurant prides itself on serving delicious meals, ranging from fried chicken to peanut soup, with 1950s flair. Southern Kitchen has an upstairs dining…

In the late 1940s a Gulf Station opened in New Market at the intersection of Routes 11 and 211, two of the region's major highways. Before the introduction of the Interstate Highway System, this area would have been filled with cars travelling…