A WALK THROUGH HISTORY
Culpeper was established in 1759 and was known as Fairfax and Culpeper Court House before a new charter gave it the final name of Culpeper in December 1870. Culpeper has seen 18th century revolution with the Culpeper Minutemen, a gold rush, and plenty of Civil War action with a railroad at stake. In fact, the town changed hands 78 times during the war.
As you peruse the primary streets of the historic district, notice the large, Italianate building on the northwest corner of Davis and Main Streets. It was the boyhood home of A.P. Hill, the Confederate Army’s youngest Major General and battle-saver for Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain. The opposite corner is home to Frost Café, the second lunch counter to occupy the space. The first was Gayheart Drug Store and Luncheonette, which operated from 1928 to 2002. The ceiling, floor, lunch counter, and soda fountain are all original.
Another Davis and Main anchor is Pepperberries, occupying two storefronts and calling all the ladies in to check out the pretties. Upon entering, just stand and look around for a moment. The space is so light and airy, but there’s plenty of sparkle and shine for the Southern girl in your life. While speaking of Pepperberries, you might be interested to know that a March 1888 fire destroyed three buildings in that same block. Only a month later the Town Council added to the building code, stating structures must have brick or stone exteriors and slate or metal roofs.
Window shopping simply won’t do in Culpeper. The treasures hidden within deserve more than your peripheral acknowledgement. Take Harriet’s General, where you’ll find only American-made items and plenty of them. From old-school-cool stuff like Rosebud Salve and daisy dukes to soft cotton t-shirts and dainty jewelry, this is a great place to find a trendy gift or splurge on something for yourself (like I did).
Primitive is the vibe at Latchkey Mercantile, where handmade-in-the-USA candles tempt the senses, and cute country phrases adorn wooden plaques. Chances are good that you’ll find owner, Brigitte, creating something beautiful – a wreath, perhaps – in the backroom when you visit. Say hello and ask her about her unique check-out counter.
Down at Poppy + Chalk on the corner of Davis and S. East Streets, you’ll find fantastic vintage and reclaimed furniture and décor finished in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® or Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint. The space is generous and conducive to the fun painting workshops offered by the owner, Linda. Clarke Hardware occupied this portion of the 1900’s Culpeper Freemasons’ Fairfax Lodge No. 43 from 1980 to 2015. The Culpeper Freemasons date to 1794.
If you are the proud parent of a fur baby, direct your attention to Reigning Cats & Dogs. It’s your destination for everything a precious pup or clever kitty could ever want or need.
SWEETS & STUFF
Kids in tow? A trip to Lollipop Station is a must. You won’t find much in the way of electronics in this shop, but plenty of imaginative, puzzling, educational, and building fun instead. Oh, and candy. Lots of candy!
About candy … My Secret Stash is home to nostalgic sweets (licorice Scottie dogs, anyone?), gourmet chocolates like sea salt caramel balls, and gummies like German raspberries and Coke bottles. Shelves lined with glass jars filled with sweets will undoubtedly bring back memories of dime and penny candy. My Secret Stash is a fantastic multi-generational destination.
Vinosity is Culpeper’s go-to for learning what’s new in wine, craft beer, and cigars. A carefully curated selection of vino from around the world is available to you, and a healthy portion of it is $15.99 or less. The craft beer movement in Virginia is booming, and Vinosity is the place to secure a new release and build your own six-pack. Other domestics and international brews are available as well. Toke a stogie once in a while? Vinosity has premium handmade imports to choose from.
Speaking of imports, Taste is all about “fresh trumps everything” with vinegar, oil, and spices from around the world. They have 40 “taps” for you to sample and taste for yourself. Once you make your selection, a bottle is filled from the very same tank to ensure that what you tasted is what you take home.
Also importing fine goods is Frenchman’s Corner, distributor of Neuhaus Chocolates and boasting nearly the entire line. Their new macarons out this spring and they’re sure to be delicious!
Looking for something to spice up your décor? The Cameleer probably has just the thing within their collection of Aboriginal pieces, though if you’re seeking something Zimbabwean, you might find that there, too. The selection is ever evolving to introduce new products.
LOVING THE LOCAL
All natural, authentic, organic … all of those over-used adjectives apply to Moving Meadows Farm Bakery and the products they produce. From the fields come beef, pork, goat, turkey, and chicken; all humanely and lovingly raised to ensure the very best quality meat and eggs make it to you. Additionally, the use of an Austrian stone flour mill to process wheat gives you the most nutritious bread available anywhere. The slow grind method the Austrian mill affords means the grains can be immediately worked into dough and baked. There is no waiting period for the grain to cool (like other mills), which means there’s no loss of nutrients from the grain. #Winning.
While we’re talking good stuff, you have to check out Green Roost, a store dedicated to everything earth-friendly. EVERYTHING. You’ll find charity-driven products, recycled and upcycled items, and things that are simply kind to the world we live in.
What do you love most about Culpeper? Any awesome find while shopping or piece of history you’ve picked up and care to share? Leave a comment!