With the restoration of the historic Sears Hill Bridge in Staunton’s Wharf Historic District and access improved to the Sears Hill Neighborhood and Woodrow Park across the bridge, the City of Staunton commissioned the design and installation of an overlook area and interpretative signs. Frazier Associates designed the overlook and signs, as well as developing graphics and text for the signs. Historic Staunton Foundation provided content information, with editorial assistance provided by Nancy Sorrells and Katherine Brown.
The three new signs at the overlook provide a map of Staunton’s five downtown historic districts, a key with descriptive information on particular landmark buildings, and a comparative historic 1856 lithographic print by German artist, Edward Beyer of the same view of downtown.
In addition, a new sign was designed and installed to provide information about the development of the Sears Hill Neighborhood and Woodrow Park, as well as Dr. Barnas Sears for whom the hilltop neighborhood is named. Sears moved to a house adjacent to the park area in 1867, and administered an educational fund to establish free public schools throughout the South after the Civil War.
The new signs provide both historical background and orientation to residents and visitors who transverse the Bridge to take in the panoramic views of downtown Staunton. The signs were made possible by funds raised by the Friends of the Sears Hill Bridge Committee. Nearly $4,000 from the Sears Hill Bridge restoration fund was used to construct the informational signs. The funds are managed by The Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge. City Manager Steve Owen noted: “These signs provide visitors to the overlook with historical reference points that really complement this beautiful view of the city. They are a wonderful addition to the park and a fitting final piece to the community’s successful Sears Hill Bridge project.”