New exhibit features images of ordinary, functional structures in Valley, Central Virginia

augusta county historical societyGreat, striking works of architecture can bring awe and inspiration.  But the design of the everyday, functional structures that surround us are different.

The Augusta County Historical Society has filled a gallery at the Smith Center with striking images of this more common design – called vernacular architecture – from across the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia.  The display will be open to the public through August 10.

The display is entitled “Images of Our Rural Legacy: Portraits 0f Ordinary Architecture and its Regional Landscape” and features the work of Gary Okerlund, a Charlottesville architect, landscape architect, urban design consultant, and educator who has done major work in Staunton over several decades.

The opening reception for the display will be 5 pm, Friday, June 22, at the center. The R. R. Smith Center for History & Art is on New Street in Staunton between Johnson and Beverley streets.  The Center is open weekdays from 10 to 5 and on Saturday from 10 to 4.  There is no admission charge.

About the architectural display, Okerlund says, ““We can appreciate this ordinary or vernacular architecture of our recent past and its rural and agricultural landscape because, together, they can embody authenticity, provide a sense of time and place, are part of our cultural legacy, and have a story to tell.”

He says the older buildings or objects pictured, whether barns, houses, churches, stores, machinery or other things – taken in their rural or agricultural settings – have an innate appeal.  They appeal to viewers for reasons ranging from a simple appreciation of local history or a nostalgia for the old days, to serving as romantic reminders of personal experiences or as rustic remnants of a disappearing time.  Or, he notes, they may appeal simply as striking images that show the picturesque character older buildings that are fully engaged in their landscape or surroundings.

The ACHS was founded in 1964 to study, collect, preserve, publish, educate about, and promote the history of Augusta County and its communities. More information is available online at

augusta free press news