The Buena Vista Hotel

Thomas Akers

Buena Vista, United States

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Artist's Description

The Blue Ridge Mountains hold the town of Buena Vista like a gently cupped right hand. Atop the tapering ridge that would be its curving fingers sits the old Buena Vista Hotel overlooking the town below like a matronly chaperone at a proper dance.

Buena Vista came into being during the “land boom” of the late 1880’s. The area used to be know as “Green Forest and Hart’s Bottom”. 50 by 100 foot lots on a grid pattern of streets, with rear alleys for coal and ice delivery were sold to Richmond’s wealthy so they could escape the miasmas and yellow fever of the City’s summers in the clean air of the mountains, There was also a huge hotel constructed with double and triple wrap around verandas that spared no expense for its patrons and their comforts.

Rich iron deposits were discovered in that cupping hand and soon a mining operation commenced. The covering forest were cut and ricked for charcoal creating a year round smokey haze. The clear river, later to become the Maury provided abundant water for a large tanning operation and a paper mill a little further up and the river ceased to run clear. A brick works was developed to make bricks of the heavy clay and a glass works was added. All the industry gave the town the name of “Little Pittsburgh of the South”; and the mountain air was not so clean anymore.

The ore deposits were soon exhausted and the financial crash of that era put an end to everything else. Like Carl Sandburg’s “Grass”, nature repaired the scars of man’s behavior and his tattoos of greed on the landscape. The old Hotel became a genteel school for young ladies with a steeplechase and a well regarded equestrian program that was known as the Southern Seminary, and locals still refer to it as “The Sem”.

Today it is part of the campus of Southern Virginia University, a co-ed school and it is on the National Resister of Historic Places and is a Virginia Historical Landmark; a grand old gal brooding over her front yard.

Acrylic on stretched canvas 48×36 inches.

Artwork Comments

  • Judith Oppenheimer
  • Rod  Adams
  • gypsygirl
  • BarbBarcikKeith
  • Woodie
  • Karen Checca
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