Houses at Hanover and George Street

From Hennessy:  [Note: click on images to enlarge them.]

There is a persistent and oft-repeated local belief that the famous photograph below  is NOT in fact of buildings at the junction of Hanover and George Streets.  I have had probably a dozen people argue that the photo is someplace else.  To put that to rest, I offer up a couple of images that prove, I think conclusively, that the image is indeed of houses at the junction of Hanover and George Streets–Sandy Bottom, as it was known.

Most importantly, the steeple on the right edge of the image is without question the steeple of St. George’s Episcopal Church, which still stands at the corner of George and Princess Anne Street.  More proof comes from an equally famous photograph taken about 200 yards to the right of this image–the famous panorama of the Fields in front of Marye’s Heights that we have used as our banner image, above.  I post below a detail from that image.


This image was taken from in front of Federal Hill on Hanover Street, looking westward across what we have come to call the “Bloody Plain” in front of Marye’s Heights.  Look closely at the building on the left of the row of buildings at the junction of Hanover and George.  It matches precisely the nearest building in the banner photograph: the corner is gone, the pattern of windows is the same, etc.   While the pile of bricks in the close-in view is gone in the Federal Hill view, there can be little doubt that we are looking at the same set of buildings in both images.

By the way, at least two of the buildings in Hanover/George image were owned by Peter Goolrick, the man who in 1860 owned more property in Fredericksburg than anyone else.  An Irish immigrant who arrived in Fredericksburg at age 17 and built a fortune, his house still stands at 723 Caroline Street–at the corner of Hanover and Caroline.  Today the building houses, ironically, Irish Eyes, a specialty shop.

6 thoughts on “Houses at Hanover and George Street

  1. The name Goolrick is still around today. William Barber Goolrick was in the army of the Confederacy.
    After the war he returned to Fredericksburg and opened Goolrick’s Pharmacy. Other names connected to the Goolricks is William Jones Lacy who married Williams’ daughter.

    • Thanks Joyce. In the furtherence of history, and not to toot my own horn…but I just finished an article on Peter Goolrick for the Journal of Fredericksburg History, which will be rolled out on April 18. Goolrick was an interesting man and, as you note, produced some accomplished offspring. William Barber Goolrick was in many ways the lowest profile of them all (the others were doctors and lawyers, William “just” a pharmacist), but of them all William’s legacy has persisted longest and most obviously in the form of Goolrick’s Drugstore.
      – Hennessy

  2. Another interesting fact is that the damage to the houses in theoriginal photo could have only come from Marye’s Heights. The other sides of the houses, shown in the other photo, seem untouched. It appears that it wasn’t just the dastardly Yankees who shot up the town. As a matter of fact, some accounts say that the Confederate bombardment was worse than the Union bombardment.

    • Yes. The “Goolrick-Caldwell House” at 211 Caroline was the original home of the first Goolrick in Fredericksburg, Professor John Goolrick, a surveyor, teacher, and mathemetician who arrived from Sligo, Ireland, about 1800. Peter Goolrick was John Goolrick’s nephew.

  3. The first photo was actually cropped, with a ghostly image of Federal Hill on the right hand side. This would place the image as being the Hanover and George street intersection.

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