This week, an old general store in Chuckatuck became the second Suffolk building since 2009 to be named to Preservation Virginia’s annual list of endangered historic sites.
The Gwaltney Store, an early 19th-century building, made the list after being nominated by a local resident. It has been cited for several code violations and condemned by the city.
It was hardly the most notable location on this year’s list — that designation arguably went to Caroline County’s Meadow Farm, the birthplace of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, which is up for auction as part of the bankruptcy of the Virginia State Fair.
However, the Gwaltney Store, like many buildings in Suffolk’s rural villages, is important to preserving the character of the village. Many folks in Chuckatuck remember working in the Gwaltney store as a young boy, going there for some flour or sugar to carry home to Mother or seeing old friends and saying hello.
The earliest known name of the store was Peck’s Cheap Goods, and it has been through quite a few owners since then. Some even believe there likely was a stagecoach, trading post or similar establishment on the village’s main corner even earlier than the early 1800s.
The store has been closed for several years, though, and the inevitable effects of time and weather have taken their toll. A building so old takes a considerable amount of maintenance just to keep it standing.
Fortunately, the Greater Chuckatuck Historical Foundation has stepped up to offer help in restoring the Gwaltney Store. It expects to be able to provide financial help to get the building in shape to house the foundation’s office, a display area for Chuckatuck memorabilia and other uses.
It is good to see a nonprofit group, as they say, putting its money where its mouth is. We look forward to seeing renovations starting soon and seeing the Gwaltney Store saved.