Since 1783 the Lynchburg Community Market has played a key role in the development and growth of downtown Lynchburg. The first Lynchburg Community Market was located on Water Street (now known as Ninth Street) and was an important economic contributor to the growth of Lynchburg. The 1783 Market was an open-air market, and served as the central social gathering place for the city. As Lynchburg grew, the Market grew also, and was rebuilt in 1814 in the center of Water Street. The Market served as a town square for the community, with city-wide notices and speakers throughout the day and evening.
In 1872, the Market was enlarged and rebuilt on Main Street, between 11th and 12th Streets to better serve the growing population, which had grown rapidly due to the expansion of the railroad through Lynchburg. Completed in the fall of 1873, the new Market had enclosed spaces and an auditorium on site. Today, after many changes in building style and location, the Community Market and Armory stands on the corner of Main and 12th Streets, opening its doors on July 2, 1932. The market continued to play an important role in the community until the 1950’s when community markets across the United States declined due to the growth of supermarkets and suburban development. In 1987, the Market went through its final architectural renovation to date, with landscaping, new parking outside Farmer’s stalls.
With easy access to nearby neighborhoods, as well as visitors, the Market is an essential part of the revitalization of downtown. In the summer of 2004 various stakeholder groups, including City of Lynchburg staff, Lynch’s Landing and Friends of the Community Market formed a task force to plan for the future of the Market. In July, the Project for Public Spaces (PPS), based in New York, came to evaluate the Market. The PPS group spent three days meeting with citizens, vendors and staff in a series of interviews and discussions. In early October they returned with their final report. Read the PPS Community Market Report.
The recommendations of the Community Market Task Force, approved by Council in February 2005, focused on improving the management of the market; converting the parking lot to a Market Square; renovating the interior of the market; and improving the merchandising and marketing of products and vendors.
In 2006, the City hired a local firm, Calloway Johnson Moore and West (CJMW), to provide architectural services for the design of the interior renovations and the Market Square. As part of the work, CJMW, enlisted the assistance of Market Ventures, Inc., to conduct market research, develop merchandising and design concepts, conduct a financial analysis of the market, and develop management and operations guidelines. This phase of the work resulted in a detailed redevelopment plan for the Community Market. There are several conclusions from the report that drive future design decisions. Please read the report here