Welcome to the
Chatham Experience

Chatham, which has been making history since 1777, is affectionately called the "Prettiest Little Town in Southside Virginia."

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All About the Town

Chatham maintains a proud community of residents. Its colorful history and heritage lure many away from other parts of the country.

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Welcome to the Chatham Experience
Chatham, which has been making history since 1777, is affectionately called the "Prettiest Little Town in Southside Virginia." Travelers on U.S. Highway 29 exit onto Business 29, which turns into our Historic Main Street. Magnificent Victorian houses with beautifully manicured lawns set back among the trees delight the eye.
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Chatham, Virginia has a rich history that extends beyond the founding of the United States. It has witnessed the Revolutionary War, the U.S. Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. Explorers, historians, and travellers will delight in nuanced bits of history found throughout the Town and Pittsylvania County.

Two walking tours, "A Self-Guided Tour of Chatham" by F.H. Hurt and "A Tour of Historic Chatham, VA" by Herman Melton are available for the historically adventurous.

Non-historical sites are also available to visit and are easily accessible from Chatham. For overnight stays and weekend get-a-ways, please check out the Accommodations and Dining in Chatham pages. All Points of Interest are family friendly.


 

1813 clerk's office1813 Clerk's Office, Town of Chatham

16 Court Place, Chatham, VA 24531

An appointment is required to visit. Please call 434-432-9515.

Located “in the backyard” of Chatham's Town Hall, the Pittsylvania County Clerk's Office of 1813 remains near the same spring that was designated by court order for its original placement. Currently surrounded by a town park, with a pavilion for picnics, a gazebo for seating and a reconstructed tobacco barn for viewing, the Pittsylvania Historical Society restored this L-shaped brick building with a Virginia Department of Historic Resources grant. Listed in 1981 as a Virginia Historic Landmark and 1982 on the National Register of Historic Places, it is now a museum containing a 1,000 local historical artifacts.

Laid in Flemish bond with dogtooth corbels for cornices with four rows of unmolded brick set at a 45-degree angle, this red brick building looks similar to Virginia's early government structures all the way across the state to the Tidewater section. Three outside entries have heavy wooden bars inside as well as shuttered windows of 18 panes. There are four fireplaces within two rooms, with chair rails, plastered walls and stone floors.

In 2007, the Society placed restrooms nearby to accommodate visitors to the county seat. The Town of Chatham owns the structure.


 

callands clerk's officeCallands Clerk's Office, Courthouse & "Gaol" (Jail)

Found on the west side of VA 969 - 1/2 mile north of VA 57, Virginia Highway Marker (Q-12a)

An appointment is required to visit. Please call 434-432-9338.

American History was created in Callands when citizens from the area elected a Committee of Safety to stand against King George III in 1775. The Clerk's Office was completed around 1771 and is available for tours with sufficient advance notice. This structure has been restored and is the center for the annual Callands Festival on the first weekend of October.


 

mars riding arenaMars Riding Arena at Chatham Hall

800 Chatham Hall Circle, Chatham, VA

An appointment is required to visit. Please call 434-432-2941.

Chatham Hall boasts the Mars Riding Arena. The facility works with all levels of riders with a focus on the American Forward System of Riding fundamentals in accordance with modern hunter and equitation styles. Riders gain from mounted and unmounted instruction, a fitness plan, best dietary habits, and sports psychology. In addition to the Arena, Chatham Hall maintains fields, including a permanent hunter trial course.

The Mars Riding Arena supports a competitive Interscholastic Equestrian Team (IEA) team. The team hosts multiple shows on campus each year, travels throughout our region, attends A-rated competitions, and routinely qualifies for Zones and National Finals. Additionally, the team hosts the Southwest Virginia Hunter Jumper Association show on campus.

Chatham Hall was built in 1894 as an all girl's preparatory school. It's beautiful campus provides a sanctuary for academic study and personal achievement. Chatham Hall has remained active since its founding and requires an invitation to tour.


 

onishi davenport aquatic centerOnishi-Davenport Aquatic Center at Hargrave Military Academy

200 Military Drive, Chatham, VA

An appointment is required to visit. Please call 434-432-2481.

The Onishi-Davenport Aquatic Center brings big city aquatics to Chatham, Pittsylvania County, and most of Southside Virginia. It features eight 50m lanes by 24 25y lanes, providing opportunities to race both the American and Olympic courses. Several U.S. Olympic Trial qualifications have been achieved in a pool designed for speed. It is not uncommon for athletes to earn 80% best times during Hargrave hosted swimming meets. The indoor pool contains almost a million gallons of water and is heated all year.

The Onishi-Davenport Aquatic Center supports two teams, a varsity cadet swimming program and a USA Swimming program. Both have successful racing histories. The USA Swimming program and other structured pool activities are available to the local community. The Onishi-Davenport Aquatic Center is open to the public at scheduled times.

Hargrave Military Academy was built in 1909 as an all boy's preparatory school. Founded as Chatham Training School, its students urged the school to adopt a military structure to support American troops in WW I. The Academy successfully combines academics, leadership training, athletics, and spiritual development into a core Hargrave focus.


 

pittsylvania county courthousePittsylvania County Courthouse, Pittsylvania County

1 North Main Street, Chatham, VA

Open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. To learn more, please call 434-432-7887.

The Pittsylvania County Courthouse is located at 1 North Main Street in downtown Chatham. It remains an active part of the Pittsylvania County General District Court, which is now a complex extending from the rear of the original structure. Built in 1853, this Greek Revival building remains Pittsylvania County's third courthouse.

The Pittsylvania County Courthouse is listed in the Virginia and National Register of Historic Places due to a landmark court case. In 1878, Judge J.D. Coles, a district judge, was arrested for violating the Civil Rights Act of 1875 by excluding African Americans from the jury selection process for grand juries and trial juries. Coles filed for release from custody on the grounds that his rights as an individual and as an officer of the state had been violated. In Ex parte Virginia, the United States Supreme Court ruled against Coles citing the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It was one of a small number of civil rights victories during the period.

The clerk's office maintains records dating to the 1770s and also provides in-depth genealogical documents and records. 


 

Educational and Cultural Center, Pittsylvania County

39 Bank Street, Chatham, VA

The Center is available upon request. To learn more, please call 434-432-7887.
 
Pittsylvania County's Education and Cultural Center was a part of the County's 2020 COVID-19 response. The center allows expansive meeting space for both county and county school board meetings in addition to a literature multimedia laboratory and classroom. An earth science lab is on hand for local public school students.

 

simpson funeral museumSimpson Funeral Museum

16 South Main Street, Chatham, VA

Tours are available by appointment. To learn more, call 434-432-1085.

The Simpson Funeral Museum provides a historical view of burial practices, especially in how they bring dignity to the deceased, and closure for the living. The museum is filled with beautiful caskets, embalming tools, forgotten interment practices, and the current state of burial rites. It is an educational journey from the time of the Pharaohs to the present.

True replica caskets for President Kennedy (JFK), Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and President Ronald Reagan are on display, as well as a selection of antique coffins, caskets, vaults, and an antique embalming room. A fumigator, designed to disinfect homes of infectious diseases, and two award winning hearses showcase.
 
The museum is located on the original site of Chatham’s first funeral home in the late 1800s. The museum is the passion of Chatham native Bill Simpson and his son, curator Scott Simpson. The Simpson Funeral Museum provides an eternal tribute to an eternal profession.
 
Admission to the Simpson Funeral Museum is free. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, donations are welcome.