9481 South Congress Street, New Market, Virginia
Historical underpinnings of the carriage factory:
Trade and commerce looked different in the era of human-powered and animal-powered transport. Travel was slower so stopping points were closer together. The Valley Pike, though regarded as one of the nation’s better engineered and maintained roads, was unpaved and could still present challenges. Further, while wagons and carriages would have some metal components, wood and leather predominated. Travelers needed food and shelter, both for themselves and for their animals. Wagons and carriages often required repair or replacement.
New Market responded early on. An 1835 visitor, Joseph Martin, journaled that there is perhaps “no town in the state of the same size, where mechanical pursuits are carried on to a greater extent” than in New Market. Martin went on to cite a maker of threshing machines, two wheelwrights, four boot and shoemakers, four cabinet makers, four tanneries, two harness and saddlemakers, two metal works, two blacksmiths, two gunsmiths, and a number of other tradesmen. Not bad for a town of about 800 people.
The Calvert-Collins property represents New Market’s ancestral artisans and craftsmen with the Victorian-style building of the Cushman Carriage Factory. Built in the mid 1870s, the building first housed a cabinet and casket-making shop. Subsequently it was sold to the Cushman brothers, who manufactured carriages and wagons in the building and on the adjacent property. An artifact of that era is a ramp, straddling the front steps and going down to the handmade brick sidewalk. The double doors would swing open and a handsome carriage could be rolled out to the street. Bring a flashlight, and use extreme caution. Would make an amazing open-plan office space.