Preserving the Past for the Future

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 Welcome to the home of local history.

Situated in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley with its combination of rolling farmlands between two mountain ranges, it provided pioneers with bountiful homesteads.


Our town of Bridgewater, located on the banks of the North River, has been a center of commerce for over 175 years.

It's history began with a quiet little settlement variously known as Magill’s Ford, Dinkletown and Bridgeport.

When John and Jacob Dinkle moved to the banks of North River sometime before 1810, they established a wool carding plant, a sawmill and a grist mill. Three of the most imposing homes in Bridgewater were built by members of the Dinkle family. Two of these once were inns, and legend says that both President Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay used to spend the night here on their travels to and from Washington.

Bridgeport became the thriving community of Bridgewater. It was chartered as a town in 1835 and was the fifth town in Rockingham County to be chartered by the State Legislature.

As the name indicates, Bridgewater is a community whose destiny has been inexorable linked to the bridges that have spanned the North River.

It is the home of Bridgewater College, a Retirement Community, several major industries, historic churches, and various businesses that support the residents of our town.

Shown at the top of the page is a famous painting of Bridgewater as it was in 1905. It is a watercolor painted by Rebecca Bowman, a teacher at Bridgewater College from 1894 to 1913.  Round Hill with an orchard, several churches and various homes can be seen in the painting.

  • View Ms. Bowmans' painting
  • The building pictured here was originally a church erected in 1838. In 1856 ownership transferred to the town and it was used as a town hall. Bridgewater later constructed a modern office building and provided the old hall to the historical society and it now serves as a museum.


    The museum is open on Friday - Saturday from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM.

    Take our self guided walking tour. Get this brochure with 25 historic places to see.


     Click to read Tour Brochure

    Location: 109 South Main Street, Bridgewater, Va. 22812       Phone: 1-540-237-4017