The Mystery Cupola


From Hennessy:  Most of what we find in historic images is easily identified.  But occasionally they produce something that’s a bit of a mystery.  Case in point.

The steeple of the Baptist Church on Princess Anne Street is obvious enough, but look just to the right of the church, just above the branch of the tree.  That cupola, prominent, appears to fairly dominate the north end of town.  The same feature appears more prominently in this image of the upper pontoon crossing in 1863 (after Chancellorsville).

You’d think something as obvious as that building would be well-known.  In fact, there are no known references to what it is.  But, plotting the angle of the image on our 1860 map of Fredericksburg, we can come up with a likely location:  just north of the Mary Washington House on Charles Street, at the corner of Fauquier and Charles.  Today this is a large, gray duplex, its date unknown (at least to me, so far).  In 1860, it was the residence of two families. But one wonders if at some point it hadn’t been a school.  This section of town was spattered with schools, including Jane Beale’s, only 100 yards away.

In any event, the identity of this cupola remains something of a mystery, and thus a curiosity.

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3 thoughts on “The Mystery Cupola

  1. These are fascinating posts.

    For what it’s worth: The 1886 and 1891 Sanborn Maps record dwellings on three of the corner lots at Fauquier and Charles.

    According to the maps these were 2 story or 1 and 1/2 story structures, but it does not say anything about a cupola. Perhaps it was gone sometime between the 1863 photo and the 1886 map? Just a thought

  2. Pingback: Fredericksburg’s Mystery Building « Mysteries and Conundrums

  3. Here’s another piece for you to consider John. Look at the far right side of the Keyser sketch of Chatham. Just to the right of the smokehouse, I think I see your cupola on the far side of the river.

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