Corporation of Ranson, West Virginia

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Ranson (formerly Corporation of Ranson) is a city in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 2,951 at the 2000 census. Although the Census Bureau listed it as a town in 2000, it is classified (along with all other municipalities with populations between two and ten thousand) as a city by state law.[2]



The Charles Town Mining, Manufacturing, and Improvement Company played an instrumental role in creating this new town. In 1890, the company bought 850 acres (3.4 km²) adjoining the western and northern corporate limits of Charles Town and commissioned D.G. Howell, a civil engineer and architect, to lay out the town. The largest tract of land purchased was from the Ranson family. The Corporation of Ranson in Jefferson County, West Virginia, was officially incorporated in 1910 when residents decided to form their own town by a vote of 67-2. [3] It was named in honor of Dr. James Ranson, a dentist and farmer living in the area. The 2006 Census estimate claims Ranson's population is 3,957, up just over 1,000 people since 2000.[4]

The early growth and development of Ranson reflects the late 19th century boom of the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding areas associated with the rise of the railroads, mining, and manufacturing. Early photographs of Ranson show the offices of the Charles Town Mining, Manufacturing & Improvement Company and the Hotel Powhatan, along with a few residential structures nearby. The community grew north from Lancaster Circle.Some of the companies that located in Ranson early on included the Hotel Powhatan, the Goetz Saddlery, the Shenandoah Brass and Iron Works, the Elemer E. Beachley Saw and Planing Mill, the John Farrin Boiler and Machine Shop, and the Vulcan Road Machine Company.[5]

One of the most significant structures to be constructed in Ranson was Hotel Powhatan. This four-story frame Queen Anne structure was located on 3.61 acres on 3rd Avenue between Mildred and Preston. The building was designed by “Baldwin and Pennington, Architects” and was built by local contractor, Julius C. Holmes, for $46,500. The hotel opened in October 1891, but by 1900 it had become the Powhatan College for Young Women. In 1913, the college closed and in 1915 it re-opened as St. Hilda’s Hall for Girls, a Christian school opened by the Episcopal Diocese under the direction of Maria Pendleton Duval. In 1921, a dormitory was added on property across the street from the original building. This new structure was known as Peterkin Hall and currently houses the offices of Amerigas. In 1931, with the stock market crash, the school closed and was converted into apartments. The original hotel structure burned to the ground on December 11, 1937.[6]

In 1936, the town of Ranson purchased the former Charles Town Mining, Manufacturing & Improvement Company office building from Mr. Getzendauner for $3,000 for the purposes of town hall. In 2003, the City began a multi-year renovation of the entire building, bringing it into the 21st Century. By 1941, Ranson’s population was 1,171. Ranson continued to grow and by 1950, the population increased to 1,436. By 1970, the population again increased to 2,189. In 2000, Ranson had a population of 2,951. Since 2000, Ranson has experienced substantial growth and an approximate population increase of 35%. The 2006 Census estimate claims Ranson's population is 3,957, up just over 1,000 people since 2000. In the 2000’s the City Council saw a need to grow its tax and employment base after the unfortunate closings of AB&C Corporation, Dixie Narco and Kidde Fire (Badger Powhatan) and take advantage of the commercial development opportunities along the West Virginia Route 9 four-lane bypass north of Ranson. Thus, the Council annexed several thousand acres, which now host commercial, residential and agricultural uses.[7]

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