Winchester is the oldest city in Virginia west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Nestled at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley, the City was founded in 1744, by Colonel James Wood, and is often referred to as the “Top of Virginia”. Comprising of 9.3 square miles and a population of 25,000, Winchester is located 70 miles west of Washington D.C. It is a regional educational, medical, and employment center with a population that swells to 70,000 in the daytime. The city enjoys a diverse economy with numerous national corporations such as General Electric, Rubbermaid, Ford Motor Company, National Fruit Products, Kraft Foods, Hershey Pasta, Poly One, Hood Dairy and Trex having local facilities. It is also the home of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, which attracts over 250,000 visitors each year.
Winchester also boasts a vast history spanning over 260 years. Not only did George Washington begin his military and political career in the city, but Winchester’s past also includes such historical figures as Revolutionary War General Daniel Morgan; Admiral Richard Byrd; Former Senator and Governor Harry F. Byrd; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather; Spottswood “Spotsy” Poles, the Black Ty Cobb off baseball’ and Country Music singer Patsy Cline. Winchester played an important role in the Civil War when the city changed hands over 70 times during the five battles fought in and around the city. After the Civil War, entrepreneurs decided to re-build Winchester’s economy by growing apples and soon Winchester became known as the “Apple Capital of the World”. Throughout its history, Winchester has been blessed with strong community commitment as demonstrated by private gifts consisting of several schools, parks and fire halls, a library, city hall, and one of the first public water systems in the country. It is the home of the only privately endowed public high school and the 250 year old working farm developed by Colonel James Wood and his decedents, which now houses the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.