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The Georges

History: 
    The Georges
 in LexingtonHistory: 
    The Georges
 in Lexington

History

The Georges occupies two of downtown Lexington’s oldest surviving structures, the Washington Building and the Marshall Building.

The Washington Building
What is refer to as the Washington Building was historically called the Alexander Withrow House. It took its name from two historic owners: William Alexander, one of the area’s earliest settlers and first postmasters, who built the house in 1789; and the Withrow family, who owned the building from 1875 to 1969. The Georgian-style building at the corner of Washington and Main was one of two left standing after a 1796 fire that destroyed much of Lexington. In 1851, when the city lowered the streets 10 feet, the building received a new level underpinning it; what was once the first floor was now the second. Prior to 1851, the streets leading to the center of town were so steep that at times, particularly in wet weather, it was difficult for heavily-laden horse-drawn vehicles to make the climb.

The Historic Lexington Foundation bought the building from the Withrow family in 1969 and oversaw a significant renovation to stabilize the exterior in 1970. It was bought by a couple in 1971 and turned into an inn. The building, which is on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, has five suites on its upper floors and is home to Haywood’s Piano Bar. Coincidentally, the building was home to Lexington's first piano, a gift from Caption John Leyburn to his daughter purchased on a shopping trip to Philadelphia for the store he ran out of the ground floor. Lady Byrd Johnson was rumored to stay here when she visited Lexington. Prospective Washington and Lee University presidents were interviewed in the shroud of secrecy here. On a personal note, The Georges is owned by high-school sweethearts, including a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute who checked into the Washington Building the night before beginning school and it is where family stayed when they came to visit.

The Marshall Building
The Marshall Building has served many purposes, from a residence to a jewelry store, doctor’s office, telegraph and post office, and, of course, a hotel. When owner John Lindsey added porches to the side and rear of the building in 1907, the property became the Central Hotel, a hotel and boarding house that operated for nearly 65 years. The street level was once home to Ducks aka the "Liquid Lunch" pub.

The Historic Lexington Foundation bought the building in 1971, stabilized it, and restored the exterior. It sat empty for another decade when it reopened as a guest inn. Today, the Marshall Building features 13 guestrooms and suites on its four floors, serves as the reception area for both buildings, and is home to TAPS lobby lounge. Sommersby (1993), starring Richard Gere, Jodie Foster, Bill Pullman, and James Earl Jones, was filmed on Main Street and features the Marshall Building.

The Georges
The inn and buildings were named in honor of two of Lexington’s most notable Georges, George Washington and George Marshall. According to legend, George Washington surveyed the Natural Bridge (from which the county takes its name, Rockbridge) in 1750 and carved his initials high up in the arch. In 1796, Washington endowed the struggling Liberty Hall Academy with a gift of stock valued at $20,000, at that time the largest gift ever made to a private educational institution in America. In gratitude, the school was renamed Washington Academy and then Washington College for the first United States President. In 1871, the institution was again renamed, and remains, Washington and Lee University. George Marshall, one of the most celebrated of United States soldiers and statesmen, began his military career in Lexington as a Virginia Military Institute cadet, graduating in 1901.

The Georges, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2016, dates back to 1789.


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