Lovingly known as “Lex Vegas” by community members young and old, Lexington (population 7,000) is the seat of Rockbridge County, nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. Our numerous students from Texas will know that Sam Houston was born just outside of town and many other famous figures in our nation’s history have had an impact on this quaint, little town.
First settled in 1777, Lexington’s early years were influenced greatly by the arrival of Liberty Hall Academy, in 1780; originally called Augusta Academy, the school has developed over the years to become Washington and Lee University, including the School of Law. A neighboring school was established in 1839, Virginia Military Institute, and both schools remained all male until co-educating in 1985 (W&L) and 1997 (VMI). While these two iconic higher education institutions have a major impact on the local economy, tourism provides a great amount of energy and vitality to the area.
Just off the well-know highways of I-81 and I-64, the older roads of Route 11 and Route 60 intersect in town and serve as a center of commerce for many local businesses. Just north of town, the Virginia Horse Center plays a major role, along with Stonewall Jackson Hospital, which is just a few blocks from campus. Major film directors have found the area to be well suited for certain scenes, as people may recognize scenes from Sommersby, various Civil War films and most recently War of the Worlds.
Downtown Lexington has been listed as one of the most charming areas in the country. The Lexington Historic District was listed in the National Register in 1972 and later, in 1988, was designated a Virginia Main Street Community. Students at both schools will get to know community members through arts, athletics, religion and simply frequenting the variety of shops and restaurants around the area. What will Lexington be like in 50 years? Maybe not that different, and certainly everyone expects that the unique Lexington brick prints will remain on sidewalks all around town.