Lexington, Virginia

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Lexington, Virginia
Main Street, Lexington
Main Street, Lexington
Lexington is located in Shenandoah Valley
Lexington is located in Virginia
Lexington is located in the United States
Coordinates: 37°47′2″N 79°26′34″W / 37.78389°N 79.44278°W / 37.78389; -79.44278Coordinates: 37°47′2″N 79°26′34″W / 37.78389°N 79.44278°W / 37.78389; -79.44278[1]
CountryUnited States
CountyNone (Independent city)
 • MayorFrank Friedman
 • City ManagerJim Halasz
 • Commissioner of RevenueKaren T. Roundy
 • TreasurerPatricia DeLaney
 • City AttorneyLaurence A. Mann, Esquire
 • Total2.52 sq mi (6.54 km2)
 • Land2.50 sq mi (6.47 km2)
 • Water0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)
1,063 ft (324 m)
 • Total7,042
 • Estimate 
 • Density2,979.59/sq mi (1,150.32/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)540
FIPS code51-45512[4]
GNIS feature ID1498506[1]
WebsiteLexington, Virginia

Lexington is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 7,042.[5] It is the county seat of Rockbridge County,[6] although the two are separate jurisdictions. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Lexington (along with nearby Buena Vista) with Rockbridge County for statistical purposes. Lexington is about 57 miles (92 km) east of the West Virginia border and is about 50 miles (80 km) north of Roanoke, Virginia. It was first settled in 1778.

Lexington is the location of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and of Washington and Lee University (W&L).

City Council[edit]

Position Official
Mayor Frank Friedman
Councilwoman Marylin Alexander
Councilman Charles Aligood
Councilman Dennis Ayers
Councilman David Sigler
Councilman Charles Smith
Councilwoman Leslie Straughan


Lexington was named in 1778. It was the first of what would be many American places named after Lexington, Massachusetts, known for being the place at which the first shot was fired in the American Revolution.[7]

The Union General David Hunter led a raid on Virginia Military Institute during the American Civil War. Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson are buried in the city. It is the site of the only house Jackson ever owned, now open to the public as a museum. Cyrus McCormick invented the horse-drawn mechanical reaper at his family's farm in Rockbridge County, and a statue of McCormick is located on the Washington and Lee University campus. McCormick Farm is now owned by Virginia Tech and is a satellite agricultural research center.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.5 square miles (6.5 km2), virtually all of which is land.[8] The Maury River, a tributary of the James River, forms the city's northeastern boundary.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen climate classification system, Lexington has a humid subtropical climate, similar to Northern Italy, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[9] Average monthly temperatures range from 34.9° F in January to 75.2° F in July.[10] The hardiness zone is 7a.[11]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)7,446[3]5.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
1790–1960[13] 1900–1990[14]
1990–2000[15] 2010-2012[5]

As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 6,867 people, 2,232 households, and 1,080 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,753.8 per square mile (,064.8/km2). The racial makeup was 86.01% White, 10.38% African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.92% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander and 0.48% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.1% of the population.

There were 2,232 households, of which 18.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.9% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.6% were non-families. 41.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.76.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 11.0% under the age of 18, 41.4% from 18 to 24, 14.5% from 25 to 44, 16.7% from 45 to 64, and 16.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females, there were 123.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 127.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,982, and the median income for a family was $58,529. Males had a median income of $35,288 versus $26,094 for females. The per capita income was $16,497. About 8.4% of families and 21.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.9% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.


University Chapel

Today, Lexington's primary economic activities stem from higher education and tourism. With its various connections to the Civil War, Lexington attracts visitors from around the country. Places of interest in Lexington include the Stonewall Jackson House, Lee Chapel, the George C. Marshall Museum, Virginia Military Institute Museum, Museum of Military Memorabilia, and the downtown historic district. Hull's Drive In theater attracts visitors to the area and was the first community-owned, non-profit drive-in in the U.S.

Lexington also contains a host of small retail businesses, bed and breakfast inns, and restaurants catering to a unique mixture of local, tourist, and collegiate clientele. The historic R. E. Lee Hotel, built in the 1920s, underwent extensive renovation and re-opened its doors late 2014.


The News-Gazette is the weekly community paper; it also produces a free shopper known as The Weekender. The now-defunct The Rockbridge Weekly, noted for printing police and other local crime reports, was bought by The News-Gazette in June 2012. The Rockbridge Advocate is a monthly news magazine with the motto "Independent as a hog on ice". The Ring-tum Phi, student newspaper of W&L, has been published since 1897 (with a suspension for World War II).[17]

Lexington is the city of license for radio stations WIQR (88.7 FM), WMRL (89.9 FM), and WLUR (91.5 FM)[18] on W&L campus.


Lexington is located at the intersection of historic U.S. Route 11 and U.S. Route 60 and more modern highways, Interstate 64 and Interstate 81. RADAR Transit operates the Maury Express, which provides local bus service to Lexington and Buena Vista.[19] The Virginia Breeze provides intercity bus service between Blacksburg and Washington, D.C., with a stop in Lexington.[20]

Motion pictures[edit]

The 1938 movie, Brother Rat, which starred Ronald Reagan, was shot in Lexington. After the release, Reagan was made an honorary VMI cadet. The 1958 Mardi Gras starred Pat Boone as a VMI cadet appearing with actress Christine Carère. Sommersby from 1993 starred Richard Gere, Bill Pullman, James Earl Jones, and Jodie Foster. Foreign Student, released in 1994, was based on a novel of college life by former W&L student Phillipe Labro with related scenes made in town.[21] In Fall 2004, the director Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise filmed scenes for War of the Worlds here, with Dakota Fanning and Tim Robbins. In June 2013, filming took place for a movie titled Field of Lost Shoes about the Battle of New Market starring Luke Benward and Lauren Holly.

Filming for parts of several Civil War films also took place in Lexington, including the documentary Lee Beyond the Battles and Gods and Generals.


Flag controversy[edit]

In 2011, the city erupted in controversy after the City Council passed an ordinance to ban the flying of flags other than the United States flag, the Virginia Flag, and an as-yet-undesigned city flag on city light poles. Various flags of the Confederacy had previously been flown on city light poles to commemorate the Virginia holiday, Lee–Jackson Day, which is observed on the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.[22] About 300 Confederate flag supporters, including members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, rallied before the City Council meeting,[23] and after the vote the Sons of Confederate Veterans vowed to challenge the new local ordinance in court.[22] Previously, flags such as the Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute flags had also been flown on city light poles, but the practice is now discontinued due to the city's ordinance.[citation needed]

In 2014, a large Confederate battle flag and a number of related state flags were removed from Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University. The flags were moved to a rotating display at the Lee Chapel Museum.[24][25]

Red Hen restaurant controversy[edit]

The Red Hen restaurant was the site of the June 22, 2018, precipitating event for the Red Hen restaurant controversy in which a restaurant co-owner asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave the restaurant by citing Huckabee Sanders' role in the Trump administration.[26] The incident sparked national controversy.[26]

Points of interest[edit]

Lexington High School, designed by architect Charles M. Robinson and constructed in 1908, was typical of the modern public schools that cities built during the Progressive Era.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Lexington". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  5. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  7. ^ Ramsay, Robert L. (1952). Our Storehouse of Missouri Place Names. University of Missouri Press. p. 16. ISBN 9780826205865.
  8. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  9. ^ "Lexington, Virginia Köppen Climate Classification". Weatherbase. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  10. ^ https://prism.oregonstate.edu/explorer/
  11. ^ https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/InteractiveMap.aspx
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  13. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  14. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  15. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  16. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  17. ^ "Ring-tum Phi Archives". Washington and Lee University Digital Archive. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  18. ^ "Radio stations in Lexington, Virginia - Radio Lineup". www.radiolineup.com. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  19. ^ "Maury Express – RADAR – Paratransit and Senior Transportation Services, Roanoke VA". Retrieved 2020-01-20.
  20. ^ "The Virginia Breeze: Bus from Blacksburg to Washington, DC". The Virginia Breeze: Bus from Blacksburg to Washington, DC | DRPT. Retrieved 2020-01-20.
  21. ^ "Foreign Student" – via www.imdb.com.
  22. ^ a b Associated Press. "Va. city bans public Confederate flag displays". CBS News. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  23. ^ Adams, Duncan. "Rebel flags barred from Lexington poles". Roanoke Times. Archived from the original on February 1, 2013. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  24. ^ "Virginia university to remove Confederate flags from chapel". CNN Wire. July 9, 2014. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  25. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees (July 8, 2014). "Washington and Lee University to remove Confederate flags following protests". Washington Post. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  26. ^ a b Selk, Avi; Murray, Sarah (June 25, 2018). "The owner of the Red Hen explains why she asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 4, 2018.
  27. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  28. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 6/06/11 through 6/10/11. National Park Service. June 17, 2011.
  29. ^ "Howard Drew". Sports-reference.com. Archived from the original on April 18, 2020. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  30. ^ Davidson, Justin (November 28, 1997). "Past Her Prime at 17? : Younger violinists are fast on the heels of Hilary Hahn. But she doesn't feel the heat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  31. ^ "Virginia Governor John Letcher". National Governors Association. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  32. ^ "Lindsay, William, (1835 - 1909)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  33. ^ "West Virginia Governor William Alexander MacCorkle". National Governors Association. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  34. ^ "Sally Mann". sallymann.com. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  35. ^ "Gary Wayne Martini 1948-1967". West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  36. ^ Evans, Martin (2001). "Robert Paxton: The Outsider". History Today.
  37. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. New York, NY: J. T. White. 1967. p. 245.
  38. ^ Hill, Samuel S.; Lippy, Charles H.; Wilson, Charles Reagan (2005). Encyclopedia of Religion in the South. Mercer University. ISBN 9780865547582.
  39. ^ Masters, Christopher (July 6, 2011). ""Cy" (Cyclone) Twombly, obituary". The Guardian. UK.

External links[edit]