The Rapp for Aug. 29

Our building is for sale, but the Rappahannock News isn’t going anywhere

If you’ve driven by the Rappahannock News building on Main Street in Washington, you might have noticed a For Sale sign. As newspapers around the country have fallen on hard times in recent years, many have put their longtime homes on the market. That is not what’s happening in our case.

Thanks to our loyal readers and advertisers, the Rappahannock News is a healthy business. The newspaper has actually not owned its longtime home since returning to local ownership in 2010. Now, the building’s owner has decided to sell the property and we’ve decided to invest in another office in the Town of Washington (more on this in the future).

We’re also investing in expanding our news and business operations. You might have noticed the return of a familiar byline to our pages, that of local writer and former staff reporter Alex Sharp. A new addition to our business team will also be joining the paper in the coming weeks.

Thanks for your continued support,

Dennis Brack
President, Rappahannock Media

RAAC’s first fall film

Bill Murray in “Hyde Park on Hudson,” screening Sept. 6 in Washington.
Bill Murray in “Hyde Park on Hudson,” screening Sept. 6 in Washington.

RAAC’s fall film series resumes at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6, with “Hyde Park on Hudson.” The story of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his distant cousin stars Bill Murray, Laura Linney and Olivia Colman.

The film is rated R and runs 94 minutes. Tickets are $6 and the concession stand will be open for popcorn, candy and water. For more information on this and other events, visit

Reston’s startling conclusion; hear it Sept. 13

At 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community (RAAC) welcomes bestselling author and historian James Reston Jr. as the featured speaker at RAAC’s Second Friday at the Library lecture series. Reston will discuss his just-released book, “The Accidental Victim: JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald and the Real Target in Dallas,” which presents a startling new view of the Kennedy assassination.

James Reston Jr. speaks at the Rappahannock Library Sept. 13.
James Reston Jr. speaks at the Rappahannock Library Sept. 13.

Fifty years ago this November, writes Reston, Lee Harvey Oswald took aim at his target: not President Kennedy but Texas governor John Connally. If Reston’s new reading of the evidence is correct, the president, seated next to Connally, was only an accidental victim.

Reston is the acclaimed author of 15 books on a huge range of topics, from Pete Rose to Richard the Lionhearted to Richard Nixon. The Washington Post called his biography of Galileo “brilliant” and the New York Times hailed his history of the Crusades as “splendid and thrilling.”

Reston is a Washington, D.C. resident who has ties with Rappahannock that date back to his boyhood. Over the years he has spent long stretches of time living and writing in a cabin near Flint Hill; he was married on the lawn there in 1971. He has written prizewinning novels, plays and works of history, and his writing has appeared in such venues as the New Yorker, National Geographic and the New York Times Magazine.

The cover to James Reston Jr.'s new book.
The cover to James Reston Jr.’s new book.

“The Accidental Victim” highlights both Reston’s storytelling talent and his expertise as an investigative reporter. His research led him to conclude that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone — there was no conspiracy, in Reston’s view — and he turned instead to resolving the mystery of why Oswald did it. “Sometimes attacking a great and significant historical event from an oblique angle can lead to astonishing surprises,” Reston writes in the preface to the new book. “That was my experience here.”

When the ground of history shifts under our feet, we tend to look for a fittingly grand explanation — great events must have great causes. That natural-seeming belief is one reason that conspiracy theories often pull us in. On Sept. 13, James Reston will make a case for a contrary view, and attendees will hear a new take on one of the pivotal moments in modern American history, from one of America’s leading modern historians.

Theatre season starts Sept. 15

Volunteers are stuffing envelopes as we speak, but we thought we’d give you a preview of the fall season schedule, due to arrive in mailboxes soon from the Theatre at Washington:

The season starts with a Cambridge American Stage Tour Sunday matinee performance of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” on Sept. 15, and dives directly into the political, satirical piano stylings of Mark Russell, who says he’s “retired from retirement,” on Sept. 21. There’s a Broadway-opera evening of song with soprano Jacqueline Neimat Sept. 28; an evening of Johnny Mercer and Willie Nelson music with Ben Jones, Jim Wann and Cooter’s Garage Band Oct. 12; a Gilbert and Sullivan celebration Oct. 20; piano recitals by Naoko Takao (Oct. 26) and Mikhail Yanovitsky (Nov. 10); the return of the Smithsonian at Little Washington chamber series Nov. 17, and of jazz guitar stars Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo Dec. 14.

Firnew’s Italian influence

John Berry’s “Silo Sunset” photo is among the works on exhibit at Walker Fine Arts Gallery.
John Berry’s “Silo Sunset” photo is among the works on exhibit at Walker Fine Arts Gallery.

The Firnew Farm Artists’ Circle holds a group art and photography show called Piedmont PIEMONTE at the Walker Fine Arts Gallery, Baker Gallery at Woodberry Forest School this Sunday (Sept. 1) through Nov. 2, with an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. next Saturday (Sept. 7).

The Firnew Farm Artists have had a focus on the natural landscape in Virginia’s backyard, but in May of 2012, nearly 10 years after the group’s start, 14 of its artists experienced a 10-day adventure in central Italy. From watching American-born Italian artist Lucy MacGillis mix pigments from natural ingredients, to a choral concert by Carroll University Concert Choir, no form of artistic expression was ignored.

The group was joined by fellow Madison painter Henry Wingate, who led them on a tour through the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It was here they viewed the work of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Raphael and Caravaggio. Learning from the Renaissance artists, they had a fresh appreciation for capturing a moment and creating a bridge between historical and contemporary art.

Detail of Richard Young’s “October Smiling” oil painting, part of the Firnew Farm Artists’ Circle show.
Detail of Richard Young’s “October Smiling” oil painting, part of the Firnew Farm Artists’ Circle show.

Not only did they get the opportunity to draw, paint and photograph a view vastly different from the one back home, they also acquired new techniques and knowledge from another corner of the world.

“It taught me to see the atmosphere and colors differently; and to appreciate the quality of light. It has certainly helped me to grow as a watercolorist. I see things differently now, in a new light,” said Trish Crowe.

For more information on the exhibit, call 540-948-3079 or visit

Shenandoah National Park celebrates wilderness

Shenandoah National Park honors America’s wilderness heritage during its 13th annual Wilderness Weekend Sept. 14-15, an event that also commemorates the 37th anniversary of Shenandoah’s wilderness designation in 1976.

Participate by viewing Shenandoah’s wilderness area from Skyline Drive, hiking a wilderness trail, joining a ranger program, completing the Wilderness Explorer Ranger Activity Guide or exploring a visitor center exhibit during the weekend, which is co-sponsored by the park, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) and the Shenandoah National Park Association (SNPA).

Special events include traditional tool displays and demonstrations from 9 to 4 both days at Byrd Visitor Center, where 30-minute ranger programs at 11 each day explore the history and values of Shenandoah’s wilderness, comprising 40 percent of the park’s 80,000 acres; a four-mile ranger-led hike to Rose River leaving Fisher’s Gap Overlook at 9 Saturday morning; and a film narrated by Christopher Reeve, “American Values: American Wilderness,” which screens at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Byrd Visitor Center auditorium.

For more information, call 540-999-3500 or visit

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