This Clement Hill state historical marker stands along Route 29 (Business) at Staunton Plaza in Hurt.
Like a grandparent proudly but quietly surveying a reunion of enterprising descendants, venerable Clement Hill silently watches over the industrial and commercial growth of the Staunton River Valley at Hurt, Virginia. A Virginia historical marker commemorating Clement Hill and its first owner stands along U. S. 29 at Hurt, just a few yards from the U. S. Post Office building at Staunton Plaza, and almost in the shadow of the Norfolk and Southern overpass.
Just a few short years ago the marker stood virtually alone, drawing the traveler's attention to the only building of significance nearby, the white structure crowning the hill just to the west, now behind Staunton Plaza shopping center.
The house was built by Captain (of a local militia Ranger company, organized for protection against hostile Indians) Benjamin Clement, probably in the 1770's. Clement had begun amassing land holdings in the area in the 1740's. An area which at that time had recently seen intensive occupation by local natives, the rich lands just to the south of the river sprouted Clement's own early form of industrial growth: tobacco; water-powered grist mill (he obtained permission to build one, but it is not certain whether he completed it); and, in partnership with Charles Lynch from across the river, the area's first gunpowder mill.
In The History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia by Maud Carter Clement is found reprinted Charles Lynch's 1775 letter describing his success in making salt-petre, principal ingredient in gunpowder. He states, "Without [salt-petre] we can have no powder, consequently no means of defense; but with it we shall son have both." Clement and Lynch were already manufacturing 50 pounds per day.
Nearly a century later another leading Pittsylvania name, Hurt, because associated with the property when soon-to-become-State Senator John L. Hurt bought Clement Hill (the ancestral home of his wife, Nannie Clement).
Clement Hill provides a stately and sturdy link to the 1770's with beaded clapboard siding above, massive rock walls below, and eye-catching porches which were added later.
From Hurt, Clement Hill passed to his nephew, also named John L. Hurt ("Jr." to the public), a philanthropist bent on bringing prosperity to the residents of northern Pittsylvania through industrial development. From Hurt's efforts came the growth of the town of Hurt, and to the town of Hurt he left Clement Hill, formerly home to the Clements and Hurts who made Hurt possible. In 1986 Clement Hill was purchased by Altavista attorney Harold E. Pugh, lifelong resident of Hurt, who has since beautifully restored the building.
Clement: History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Hurt: Eighteenth Century Landmarks of Pittsylvania County
Fitzgerald: Pittsylvania: Homes and People of the Past
Hurt: An Intimate History of the American Revolution in Pittsylvania County
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Copyright © 1989–2008 Henry H. Mitchell.