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Can the Internet save Virginia’s tiniest town?

Save Columbia, Virginia (PHOTO: GoFundMe.com)

Save Columbia, Virginia (PHOTO: GoFundMe.com)

COLUMBIA, Va. — An online group hopes to raise $20,000 to save a tiny town.

Nearly 50 miles west of Richmond sits Columbia, Virginia.

It is the smallest town in the Commonwealth. Less than 100 people call Columbia home.

Leaders there are considering disincorporating the town, allowing Fluvanna County to absorb it.

“If you look around, our streetscapes need updating. The only services that we really provide the citizens of the town are use of the Town Hall,” Mayor John Hammond told NBC29 earlier this month. “We pay insurance on the town hall, and we keep the lights on – the streetlights. That’s about it.”

Hammond said Columbia just does not have the money to provide services for town residents.

That is where the Internet comes in.

A group called the Columbia Foundation has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the town.

“On August 19th, the Town Council will vote to disincorporate so that the question of dissolving the Charter will be placed for referendum on the ballot this November,” the fund page stated. “Columbia needs to hear from YOU — concerned citizens, history lovers, preservationists, and more.”

The group said it hoped to raise $20,000 in 20 days to show Columbia Town Council that “many in the Commonwealth and beyond” want to save the tiny town.

24 comments

  • Jay

    When the state capital was moved from Williamsburg, Columbia just barely lost out to Richmond as the new site.
    Hurricanes Agnes and Camille both hit this place hard and destroyed several of the older, historical buildings. Lack of building codes and proper planning doomed this town. Great boat launching site across the river in Cumberland.

    • Ben

      Legend has it Columbia lost to one vote. This is a Town that can call John Smith, Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette part of its past. It even has ties to an American Catholic Saint — Katharine Drexel. Let’s hope Virginia’s will be willing to step up for the preservation of this historic place.

  • angel2

    Very interesting pieces of info, Jay and Ben…thank you. It would be nice if they could raise the money to spruce up the town. Being only 50 miles west of Richmond, it would make a nice place to get away from the rat race for a while. Perhaps a small bed ‘n breakfast there would help. Of course, they also need more citizens…but I don’t know how kindly the present residents would receive newcomers.

  • ryan

    It would be a nice place to preserve if the 100 residents were not all drunken crackheads. I drive through there everyday to come to work and it is nothing but a bunch of run down shacks and crack heads walking in the middle of the road. The best thing that can happen is to let fluvanna absorb it and fix it back up nice.

  • Jared

    It’s really only the main road that is run down because it was in the floods. There is a lady who has lived there for 80 years, plus some other famiiles that have been there 50 years or more. The history is great — hopefully people will care a little more!

  • Unknown

    There are 600K houses for sale in that zip code, the notion that anyone there needs money to save the town is pretty laughable.

  • DH

    I am going to look into the town :) I am interested and will donate definitely, I hope to not see it perish, I love seeing small towns grow vibrant <3

  • Paula

    Ryan in order for you to know there is crackheads & drunks there you must be buying cracks from them and drinking with them.

    • columbian

      Paula, Ryan is correct. I see them passed out on the street corners, hanging out the windows, and soliciting every time I pass through. You need to actually come and pass through a few times, not just once. Stop in at our local grocery store some time. Lock your car and keep the mace handy. The rats carry fewer diseases than most of the customers. I would not allow my kid to walk the street. There are some exceptionally nice residents but the largest portion are adicted to drugs, liquor and welfare, in that order, with no desire to reform. This will be an absolute WASTE of money. The only thing good that can happen in this “town” is to have another hurricane come thru and allow it to wash away.

      • Paula

        I do go through columbia but that don’t give Ryan the right to down those people. Drugs is everywhere not only in columbia. Do you tbink those people want to live that way? No they don’t. They have had some bad luck and they probably got a family that look down on them thinking they are better than they are just like Ryan thinks.

  • ryan

    First of all Paula it is called Crack. You do not have to smoke crack or drink with themm to know that they are crackheads and drunks because they are standing on the side of the road doing it. All you have to do is drive by and look out the window. Obviously you have never driven through the area. Either way have a wonderful day.

  • FlucoFan

    I’m a longtime Fluvanna County resident. Do your research on this one. This fundraising group consists of a property owner that refuses to maintain livable housing for his tenants (cause of the blight) and a county supervisor that loves the headlines but doesn’t represent the Columbia district (he couldn’t find the town on the map). Town officials applied for grants and formed a task force with the county to reverse the blight and the property owner still refuses to renovate/tear down. There are two separate issues: the town’s inability to continue to govern and property owners refusal to maintain properties. What will this group do with the money? Try to prop up the town government or pay private landowners that profit from tenants then refuse to maintain the housing?

    • paula

      I don’t know how the landlords sleep in his or her warm & cool house and take rent money from these people knowing that the place is a deathtrap. Some don’t have water that is working. Don’t dare
      say the renters damage the house. If that was true then the landlord would put them out fix the place up and rent to someone else. They don’t rush to fix up the houses but I bet they rush to pick up the rent money when it due.

  • Ashley

    Columbia is a shit hole.. Let fluvanna absorb it.. At least it’ll have the chance to clean up the dump

  • Jacob

    Previous (negative) comments are correct. I live within earshot of this town. A SlumLord is pushing this campaign. As long as Columbia is independent no one can condemn the “tenements.” That’s not my term. The local free paper, The Fluvanna Review, had an article about six months ago that described the deplorable conditions of the housing in “Mr. H’s” slums.
    He bought up the housing on 6 after the floods and has been fleecing folks in poverty ever since. Everyone around here wants this sad dilapidated mess cleaned up.
    He held up efforts from the State, The Va Historical Society, etc several years ago when they wanted to find change; because he wanted to retain his slum-weekly rent tenements. I know folks that live in them. The conditions are horrible. It’s like something out of a Dickens novel (in 2014?!) Before you are suckered into donating, take a trip out here; then find out whose pockets you are lining with your donations.
    Help save what is left of Columbia. Let the County and State help the people who live here. Get the slumlord, who has never lived here, out of town!

  • Taylor

    I checked out the GoFundMe page and had two questions: who is running this campaign and if the money is raised, what will it be used for? The needs of this tiny historic town far exceed the funding goal. This is a forgotten piece of Virginia history, and it has slipped into ruin by someone who prefers profits (aforementioned slumlord – the link posted by Jacob is worth the read – they are tenements) than preserving this tiny historical town. It’s shameful how this individual has allowed these properties to go into such a terrible state. Fluvanna County and the state can step in with the necessary funding to rehabilitate the town. It happened in Scottsville and it can happen in Columbia.

  • Angus

    Paula,
    probably got…?
    That don’t give…?
    buying cracks…?
    You write like they speak. you been smokin’ cracks with them when you pass thru? Sorry, I know people in this town. Some WONDERFUL souls live there BUT I ask, IF THIS MONEY IS RAISED, WHERE DOES IT GO AND INTO WHO’S HANDS? WHAT EXACTLY WILL IT BE USED FOR?
    Excert from Fluvanna “Times” John Hammond, Columbia’s mayor, confirmed that drug- and alcohol-related crimes are the most prevalent. “From people hanging out in the streets or trespassing in front of vacant buildings to calls to fire and rescue for alcohol-related fights and drug overdoses; the root cause always seems to be drugs and alcohol,”

  • Don

    Columbia is in Fluvanna County so what’s the big deal here ? You people post here as if Columbia was once some thriving metropolis ?? It’s just a little hamlet along the river that self incorporated. Columbia has never been a real town in the way most think of a place being a town. Is Kent’s Store a town ? Palmyra? A battle took place there during the revolutionary war and it served as a transportation junction between Richmond and points west. People who abuse drugs will do so no matter where they are living. Sadly some people want nothing more out of life.

  • Don

    Wiseman , If you consider a plantation estate, a tavern and an arsenal to be a town, then I suppose it is. The only thing is, you have to go back to colonial times when it existed. Much of the area was raided and destroyed during both the revolutionary war and civil war. All are national historical landmarks, Point of Fork Plantation, Point of Fork Arsenal and Tinsley Tavern. Of course the great flood took a huge toll on the ” town ” as well. General Sheridan used the plantation estate as his headquarters during the civil war.

  • Puzzled Yankee

    Don’t understand the fuss. If the “town” loses its charter that doesn’t mean its history is gone or that everything that’s there now will disappear. So what difference will it make? Columbia will simply be a “neighborhood” instead of a municipality. It effects only the government. I wouldn’t donate a dime.

Comments are closed.


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