Imagine a day when the fastest route from Washington, D.C. to Richmond meant meandering down Princess Anne Street through downtown Fredericksburg to Lafayette Boulevard on the original U.S. Route 1.
Emily Taggart Schricker ’15 knows the history of U.S. Route 1 well, and she’s working to preserve its story.
Recently named president of the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc. (HFFI), Schricker coordinated the foundation’s fourth annual Vintage Route 1 event held in early September to celebrate Fredericksburg’s 20th-century history through the impact of U.S. Route 1. It’s her fourth year managing the event.
Almost a century ago, the options to travel between Washington, D.C. and Richmond involved muddy, bumpy roads. That all changed on May 28, 1927.
“It took over 25 years of town meetings and legislative debate to choose the path of what would become U.S. Route 1 and get it to a usable state,” said Schricker, who majored in historic preservation at UMW. “Fredericksburg was chosen over Orange or Staunton as the path to Richmond, and the decision changed our city forever.”
Jefferson Davis Highway, also known as the Washington-Richmond Highway or U.S. Highway No. 1, originally ran through the heart of downtown Fredericksburg, down Princess Anne Street and Lafayette Boulevard. The opening of the road brought an influx of visitors that sparked the historic tourism industry and bustling downtown we see today.
“You’ll notice the Carl’s Frozen Custard sign is quite large compared to downtown signs,” said Schricker, who has worked with HFFI since 2012. “Carl’s was built in the 20th century when large signs were needed to attract the cars driving by on Route 1.”
This year, the Vintage Route 1 event helped share the stories behind the buildings on Princess Anne Street, with history exhibits, a vintage fashion exhibit, classic car displays and a new tour that focused on the neighborhood around the iconic Carl’s and the George Washington Executive Center.
“I love the stories behind old buildings,” said Schricker. “By telling the stories, you create connections with people and help them understand why they should care.”
Schricker’s own story demonstrates her appreciation for history. A previous owner of a historic costume business, she worked at renaissance fairs across the country before moving to Fredericksburg to attend Mary Washington, which has one of the nation’s oldest and most respected historic preservation programs.
“We used all of Fredericksburg as a classroom,” said Schricker, who joined the HFFI events committee as a student volunteer, then was named the organization’s secretary before serving as president.
Today, she’s leading HFFI in its mission to ‘preserve, protect and revitalize’ historic downtown Fredericksburg.
Said Schricker, “I want to help retain the historic character of downtown.”