History & Culture

Early History
Affectionately known as the “Center of the Universe” by residents for its central location within the state, Ashland is located in the heart of Hanover County.

Developed by the railroad as a mineral springs resort, the origin of the town dates back to the late 1840s. Officially incorporated on February 19, 1858, the town was named “Ashland” after native son Henry Clay’s estate in Kentucky.

With the relocation of Randolph Macon College to Ashland in 1868, the town evolved from a railroad resort to a small college town. The construction of U.S. Route 1, and later I-95, further shaped the town character and development.

Present Day
Today, Ashland is a community of seven square miles and more than 7,000 residents who enjoy prosperity fueled by the college, a growing private sector and a strong regional economy.

Ashland is a town born of the railroad and we are proud of our history. Safe streets and an efficient police department also make Ashland a town of bicyclists, joggers, and walkers.

Continual Growth
Our town government is close to the people and we're always looking for ways to better our town for our residents and corporate citizens. In fact, should you have questions about governmental services or actions, all you need do is walk down the street and talk to your councilperson.

Through careful planning, Ashland is committed to stable growth that benefits our citizens while preserving the historic district, quaint residential neighborhoods and system of parks and trails.

Preserving Our Past, Promoting Our Future . . .
The Town of Ashland, when originally incorporated in 1858, consisted of one square mile. Today, the town has grown through several annexations to a size of 7.12 square miles, one of the larger towns in land area in Virginia.

This growth has produced a diverse collection of neighborhoods and businesses with a blend of architectural styles from large Victorian homes to modern office buildings. Therefore, as the town continues to evolve and expand, it will strive to maintain a high quality of life by preserving the diversity of the past and capturing the technologies and development of the future.

For more information on the history and culture of the town, visit the Ashland Museum at 105 Hanover Avenue. The museum is open on weekends only at this time. You may also visit www.ashlandmuseum.org.