N Central Avenue Corridor Timeline

1732 - First Settlers Arrive to Staunton

1801 - Staunton Incorporates

1861 - Virginia Succeeds from the Union, Staunton plays a major roll in trade and logistics for the Confederate Army during the war.

1865 - Following the end of the American Civil War and the emaciation of all black slaves in America, white Virginia leaders enact laws collectively called, “black codes” designed to ensure the availability of black labor.

1900’s - At the turn of the century, the downtown corridor and surrounding neighborhood along N Central Avenue, North Augusta Street, and the neighborhood of Sunnyside become a thriving economic and residential community center for Black Stauntonian’s.

1902 - A Amendment in the Virginia’s constitutions makes racial segregation required by law.

1936 - 1966 - The Negro Motorist Green Book - Click to Expand

“The Negro Motorist Green Book” became a staple among Black American’s traveling throughout the Segregated South. Three locations in Staunton, A hotel, travelers Inn, and restaurant, all located in the N Central/N Augusta Corridor were listed in the Green Book for over 20 years as safe places for black tourists while in the Queen City.

1961 - 1962 - Urban Renewal Reaches Staunton - Click to Expand

1961 - 1962 - The newly formed Redevelopment and Housing Authority proposes the N Central Avenue downtown corridor as the project area for the “Central Avenue Urban Renewal Project.” On September 11, 1962, the federal government approves the project and awards the City the grants to begin demolition.

1964 - The Civil Rights Act is enacted making segregation illegal in the United States. In the same year, the Staunton Redevelopment and Housing Authority green lights the Central Avenue Urban Renewal Project. After a brief delay during the hearing by the Virginia Supreme Court to consider halting the project, the first wrecking ball and bulldozer’s begins demolition on N Central Ave. Dozens of predominately black residents and businesses are displaced through city designated eminent domain. The proposed shopping mall complex would never come to fruition leaving a now nearly 3 block area along N Central Avenue are completely empty and leveled, nothing left but dirt for years.

1970’s - The Reshaping of N Central Ave - Click to Expand

Seen in the series of photos, N Central Avenue goes from a thriving, mix-use zoned, densely populated downtown district, to a row of single use commercially zoned buildings with massive parking lots, disrupting the historical charm, visibly out of place among the surrounding preserved buildings that draw in present day visitors to the remaining historic districts in the city.

1977 - The Pannell's Inn meets its End - Click to Expand

The Pannell's Inn, a black owned hotel touted as a “Home for Colored Tourists.” located at 613 N Augusta St., was one of the last standing businesses and buildings listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book. In 1977 it was demolished. During demolition,. It was realized that the Pannell Inn was the last of the original log cabins in the city built before 1840.

1990 - Hispanic/Latino’s start moving to the Valley - Click to Expand

The 1990 US Census data begins to show that a Hispanic/Latino population is beginning to grow in Staunton following a decade of increased immigration from South & Central America and Mexico.

2010 - Hispanic/Latino numbers triple - Click to Expand

US Census Data shows the Hispanic and Latino population in Staunton nearly triples in two decades. Nearby Harrisonburg, Virginia becomes a epicenter of immigrant and refuges from all parts of Latin America following two more decades of extreme poverty, natural disasters, political corruption, military conflict, and increased drug and gang related violence in their home countries.

2010 - 12.1% A Shrinking Black Community
The black population between 1990 and 2010 sees a brief influx, only to lose their numbers again, dropping to 12.1% in 2010 from 14.0% ten years earlier.

2015 - 2019 - In a succession of openings. five Latino/Hispanic owned restaurant’s and food trucks open along N Central Avenue. The representation among the owners is diverse painting of the Latin American influence in the United States. Mexican-American, Peruvian, Uruguay, Puerto Rican, and El Salvadorian all begin calling the N Central Avenue corridor home, making it the most visible concentration of Hispanic/Latino businesses in Staunton.

2020 - US Census Data - Click to Expand

The 2020 US Census shows yet another increase in Hispanic/Latino population in Staunton undoubtedly connected to over 30 years growth of Latin American migrants that have come to the Shenandoah Valley to work the fields, work in our factories, or to live with family members who have escaped crime, corruption, and extreme poverty in their home countries.

2020 - The 100 Year Flood

August 8, 2020 - A “100 year” flash flood ravishes portions the city of Staunton, setting back many businesses and residences even further in a already strenuous year during the global COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide lock down.