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The Town of Claremont

The town of Claremont sits on land first occupied by the Quiyoughcohonack Indians. In 1607, one week before the English settlers chose Jamestown Island as the location to start a new colony, they visited this site and feasted with the local Indians. A directive from England's King James prohibited them from occupying land inhabited by indigenous people, so the decision was made to move 5 miles downriver from Claremont to the place they named Jamestowne.

The first land patent in Claremont was 200 acres granted to George Harrison in 1621. Arthur Allen purchased the land in 1656, and in 1754, William Allen built the manor house, naming it Claremont Manor in 1793. The name Claremont was generally thought to be in honor of the Royal Residence "Claremont" in the Shire of Surrey, England, birthplace of Queen Victoria.

In May 1861, Company "D" 10th Virginia Battalion of Heavy Artillery was formed and commanded by Captain William Allen, owner of Claremont Plantation in Surry County. They were sent to Jamestown Island and manned the earthworks that inadvertently covered the ruins of Jamestown settlement, by this time thought to be lost to the ages.

In 1875, William Orgain Allen died and his eldest son, also named William, decided to reside in New York and officially gave up his Claremont holdings. Joseph Franklin Mancha of Delaware bought tracts of the Claremont Manor Estate from the Allen family, from 1879 to 1882, for colonization purposes. Mancha divided the outlying areas into small tracts, selling gemerally to people from the North and Midwest. Mancha developed the land under the name "Claremont Colony." The town of Claremont was incorporated on January 16, 1886, with the idea of establishing a port city to rival Norfolk.Remnants of the old railroad piers still remain as well as many of the old homes and retail buildings.

Claremont was served by the A&D Railroad starting in 1888. The A&D ran
a narrow gauge line from Emporia to Claremont Wharf, hauling lumber to
steamships docked at the wharf. The railroad and steamship service continued into the 1930s, but was discontinued as lumber was depleted.

The first residents of Claremont were primarily from the North and Midwest where Mancha, a native of Delaware, heavily promoted his "Colony." As a consequence, Claremont had its own chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic, the first veterans' organization formed to help the widows and orphans of Northern soldiers and sailors killed in the Civil War. Claremont cemetery has a special plot and monument to Northern veterans who died there in retirement.
William Haney built this house in 1892 and is now under renovation by the present owners, Jan and Greg Schaale. Unique features of the house include voice tubes, dumb-waiter, and original knob-and-tube wiring that still exists in some rooms. An interesting note is that the home was built with electrical wiring, but Claremont would not receive electrical service until 1912, provided by Smallwood Institute, a technical and collegiate school located in Claremont to educate Black youths.
The Claremont School was built in the style of Rosenwald Schools and served the Black community for many years. It is now being renovated by the members of First Baptist Church.

Ritchie Memorial Episcopal Church
Built in the early 1880s

Stewart's Store and the
Bank of Claremont

Built in the late 1800s as the Bank of Claremont, it became incorporated in 1903 (far right in photo on right). The building burned in 1911. After it was restored (adding height to the roof with the installation of tin), it then became the People’s Bank of Claremont in 1918. Later it served as a doctor’s office, Town Hall, and was finally converted to the Claremont Library, as a welcome relief from the tiny broken-down bookmobile facility.
Claremont Branch -
Blackwater Regional Library

91 Mancha Avenue
Claremont, VA 23899
757-866-8627

See the location of Claremont on our Map page.

Claremont Town Office
4115 Spring Grove Rd
PO Box 310
Claremont, VA 23899
757-866-8427

Mayor: George Lee Edward - TownClaremont@aol.com - 757-866-8427

Town Council:
Sue W. Gilbert
Michael D. Harrison
Brigid M. Jones
Quinton T. Jones
Phillip C. Yerby IV

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