How did Farmville get its name? The area was known as “the Farmlands” when it was part of a once-prominent tobacco plantation named Bizarre. The plantation was owned by members of the powerful Randolph family who were embroiled in a 1790s scandal and trial – with 56-year-old lawyer Patrick Henry enlisted for the defense and Thomas Jefferson’s daughter appearing as a witness – that would rock the South. As for the name “Bizarre,” nobody seems to know where that came from. Bizarre, indeed.
The town of Farmville was formed in 1798, making it almost 220 years old – one of the older towns in the United States.
Farmville is one of the oldest two-college towns in the country. It’s home to both Hampden-Sydney College and Longwood University. Founded in 1775, Hampden-Sydney is the 10th-oldest college in America. Established in 1839, Longwood University is the third-oldest public university in Virginia.
Farmville is home to a National Historic Landmark, the R. Moton Museum. Previously a high school, the Moton Museum tells the story of a 1951 student strike that helped ignite the Civil Rights era. On April 23, 1951, Barbara Johns, a 16-year-old student, led her classmates in a strike to protest the conditions at Robert Russa Moton High School, claiming they were “vastly inferior” to those attended by white students at nearby Farmville High school. The strike got the attention of NAACP lawyers and, in 1954, the Farmville case was one of five reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v Board of Education.
Did you know High Bridge is the longest recreational bridge in Virginia and one of the longest in the United States? Built in 1853, High Bridge was created to continue the South Side Railroad through Farmville, which demanded the crossing of the Appomattox River. Armies from both North and South crossed the bridge in the closing days of the Civil War. In 2006, Norfolk Southern donated the abandoned rail to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the “rail to trail” conversion began. The 31-mile trail, with High Bridge as its centerpiece, officially opened in 2012 and is now one Farmville’ most popular attractions. High Bridge is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
First opened in the mid 1960s, Green Front Furniture is one of the nation’s top-100 furniture resellers. Green Front comprises 12 buildings, three of which are renovated 1840s tobacco warehouses, filled with traditional furnishings and eclectic finds from around the world. Green Front is a popular destination not only for Virginians, but also for customers up and down the East Coast!
Vince Gilligan, the creator, head writer and executive producer of the groundbreaking television series “Breaking Bad,” grew up in Farmville and attended a laboratory elementary school run by Longwood. Before Breaking Bad, Gilligan was a writer and then a producer on “The X-Files.”
Yes, there’s something in the water. In the late 1800s, Lithia Springs, located in Farmville, was known for its “healing mineral spring water.” The springs were said to “cure” gout and kidney stones amongst other things. Investors bottled “Farmville Lithia Water” from 1884 to 1901, and it was sold in the U.S. and abroad. Lithia Springs water contained the following minerals: magnesium, chalybeate, iodine and alum (no lithium).
Founding father Patrick Henry served as governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and again from 1784 to 1786 – after which he moved to Farmville. Over a century later, Phillip Watkins McKinney, an honors graduate of Hampden-Sydney College who served as Virginia governor from 1890 to 1894, retired with his wife to Farmville. He died in 1899 and was interred at Farmville Cemetery.