Wytheville, Virginia…There’s Only One
Wytheville (pronounced WITH-vill)
You can search the world over and not find another town with the name of Wytheville. But, the name is just the beginning of the unique experiences in this beautiful small town in Southwest Virginia.
Created by the donation of one hundred acres in 1790, the town that would later be known as Wytheville was established as the county seat of Wythe County. The name came in honor of George Wythe, a well-respected Virginia lawyer, professor, and signer of the Declaration of Independence who, interestingly, never came to the area. Perhaps first called Abbeville, then Evansham in 1792, the town would take the unique name of Wytheville (there is only one community named such in the world) after a disastrous fire left a path of destruction in 1839.
Always a transportation hub, the Great Road to the Western Frontier paralleled U.S. Route 11 and portions of the town’s Main Street. In later years, U.S. Routes 11, 21, and 52 brought opportunities for increased business and many travelers. The community’s history includes the town being an early favored location for visitors who wished to escape the heat of the deeper south for the cool mountain air and beautiful vistas. The Main Street once thrived with numerous hotels and boarding houses as well as opera houses, theaters, and other entertainment venues. Multiple tragic fires destroyed many of these vibrant structures. Rebuilding took the community in other directions with a variety of business growth that has diversified its economy. The building of Interstates 81 and 77 in the 1960s and 1970s further secured Wytheville’s history as a crossroads with these two major north-south arteries intersecting. Industrial growth followed as the community’s central East Coast position made it an attractive location. The area’s ability to produce an abundance of water further reinforced the development. A focus on preservation, drive of entrepreneurship, and spirit of hospitality secured its place as a thriving tourism destination.
The town has not been immune to tragedy. Two notable fires, in 1839 and 1924, destroyed large portions of the downtown. In the summer of 1950, the community gained unwelcomed national recognition as having the highest per capita outbreak of polio. The citizens’ resilience and community spirit in responding to an epidemic left a lasting impression for generations to come.
Wytheville and Wythe County are all about fun and experiencing incredible attractions that you will only find here in our small but bountiful part of Southwest Virginia.
Due to its stellar location at I-81 and I-77, as well as some divine cuisine, Wytheville has long been known by travelers as THE place to stop and have some great food.