Chestnut Hill History

 

THE STORE: 

      Chestnut Hill Hardware [CHH] was officially opened in 1950 though prepatory work started a bit earlier. An early owner of Chestnut Hill Hardware was George Douglas Miller Cary born in 1912. The son of Senator Hunsdon Cary and his wife, Mary who raised George in Richmond, VA. George attended Saint Christopher’s School, Episcopal High School and graduated with a B.S. degree from the University of Virginia. In 1936, he won the Southern Conference Boxing Championship at UVa as did his team. George joined the Army and served five years during World War II as a first lieutenant. George met his soon to be wife while stationed at Fort Knox, He became a paint salesman for Pee Gee Paint Co. that granted him a territory in Lynchburg. He then later purchased and remained owner/operator of Chestnut Hill Hardware for 35 years.

 

     Another notable early owner was J B. Forehand, Sr. who founded Coldwell Banker Forehand & Co. Born in North Carolina, JB and his wife, Ethel Ford Forehand eventually relocated to Lynchburg, VA and opened a ladies ready-to-wear on Main Street. Because of his failing eye sight, Mr. Forehand starting buying and renovating property. Mr. and Mrs. Forehand opened a building construction business named, J. B. Forehand, General Contractor in 1945. Mrs. Forehand became his "eyes, ears, and right-hand man. They owned and managed Chestnut Hill Hardware for a number of years.

 

The City:

     New Comers and Visitors ask questions about the origins of the name "Chestnut Hill" as there is a noticeable absence of chestnut trees. The name is often attributed to the head of the Lynch family, Irishman, Charles Lynch. Charles and his wife were Quakers whose first residence in the area was called "Chestnut Hill." The Family had a son, John Lynch who in 1757, at age 17, started a ferry service across the James River. The Ferry was key to the rapid growth ofthe town that eventually was named Lynchburg. John Lynch & Family members are buried at the cemetery located adjacent to the historic South River Meeting House (now the Quaker Memorial Presbyterian Church), built on land Charles Lynch donated and which is just a short distance from Chestnut Hill Hardware.

 

     Others believe the name, Chestnut Hill, came from the fact that the area was once covered with Chestnut Trees which were second only to tobacco in sustaining the areas economy. American chestnut trees once once numbered some 4 billion across the eastern United States. America used to produce billions of chestnuts until a blight imported from Asia attacked trees in New York. The disease spread quickly, and between 1904 and 1940, the trees were nearly wiped out. The blight's peak coincided with the Great Depression, meaning the loss of a cash crop, food source and a source of timber used for everything from telephone poles to furniture.

 

     The trees that remained were either not blight-resistant or too few and widespread to produce healthy offspring to sustain the species, whose healthiest specimens grew to 100 feet tall. The trees' absence had a trickle-down effect on wildlife that foraged for chestnuts. Some experts say the panther's disappearance from this region can be traced to the trees' disappearance, because the rodents that were panther prey lost a key food source.

 

     Americans spend $20 million a year importing chestnuts from Europe and Asia; the meaty nuts are gluten-free, cholesterol-free and a lot less fattening than other nuts; chestnuts make a terrific beer; chestnut tree devotees.

Chestnut tree devotees formed  whose goal is to restore the American chestnut tree to the eastern woodlands of the United States thus benefiting the environment, wildlife, and society. Chestnut Hill Hardware commends this organization and it's goals.

     

      A good start for more history, facts, services and all sorts of useful city information is the Lynchburg City Website. Be sure you check out the "Citizens First" offerings.

 

      Although not included in Lynchburg's official historic district Chestnut hill is not lacking in historic Civil War era sites, all blocks from Chestnut Hill Hardware

The American Chestnut Foundation

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