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In May 1890, the Charles Town Mining, Manufacturing, and Improvement Company was formed by seven men to make Charles Town the industrial capital of the area. Roger Preston Chew was head of this company and the other individuals were Frank Beck, Forrest W. Brown, T. C. Green, W. F. Lippitt, A. W. McDonald, and B. C. Washington. Mr. Chew was an 1861 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, who had served as a Lt. Colonel in the Confederate artillery under General Jeb Stuart, and from 1884 to 1890 served in the West Virginia Legislature.

The Charles Town Mining, Manufacturing, and Improvement Company purchased 850 acres adjoining the western and northern corporate limits of Charles Town, including a tract from the Ranson family. James Matthew Ranson, Jr. was born in Jefferson County in 1858, and was a farmer in the Charles Town District of Jefferson County in the late nineteenth century. Thus the area of Charles Town was named Ranson after the family that had owned the large tract.

The Ranson community thrived around the Belt Railroad - a spur between the Norfolk and Western Railroad; the Western Railroad and the Valley of Virginia Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

In 1890-91 a map of the Charles Town Mining, Manufacturing, and Improvement Company was drawn by D. G. Howell laying out the town. Mr. Howell was a civil engineer and landscape architect whose offices were located in the National Union Building of Washington, DC. He was assisted by D. F. Taylor whose title was “Principal Assistant Engineer”.

On February 18, 1891, a Virginia Free Press news release reported that the Charles Town Mining, Manufacturing, and Improvement Company had named and laid out streets and avenues. They included Boundary, Mineral, Lee, Forrest, and Valley Streets. In addition, there were Railroad and Park Avenues, and 1st through 13th Avenues which ran at right angles to the names streets. Fairfax Avenue (later names Fairfax Boulevard) was a one hundred foot wide street which ran on a diagonal in a northeasterly direction through the community. Lancaster Circle was located at the intersection of Fairfax Avenue, 4th Avenue, and Mildred Street.

In October of 1891 the offices of the Charles Town Mining, Manufacturing, and Improvement Company were completed at the cost of $10,700.00. This imposing three story stone and brick structure was designed by J. C. Holmes. The building was sold three years later to the Charles Town Board of Education for use as a school.

 

 



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