Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Virginia… (Charleston, SC: William R. Babcock, 1852), 448.
Lexington, the county-seat, 146 miles from Richmond, 188 from Washington city, 35 from Lynchburg, 35 from Staunton, and 37 from Fincastle, is beautifully situated on the west bank of North River, one of the main branches of the James. It was founded in 1778, and was originally composed almost exclusively of wooden buildings, most of which were destroyed by fire in 1794. The town speedily recovered from the effects of the catastrophe. It is now quite compact, many of the buildings are of brick, and some of the private mansions – among which is that of the governor of Virginia, James M’Dowell, Esq. – are beautifully situated. A recent English traveller [traveler] says, “The town, as a settlement, has many attractions. It is surrounded by beauty, and stands at the head of a valley flowing with milk and honey. House-rent is low, provisions are cheap, abundant, and of the best quality. Flowers and gardens are more prized here than in most places.” Lexington contains 13 mercantile stores, 2 newspaper printing offices, Washington College, the Virginia Military Institute, a fine classical under the charge of Mr. Jacob Fuller, Ann Smith academy, which is a female institution, 1 Presbyterian, 1 Episcopalian, 1 Baptist, and 1 Methodist church, and about 1,200 inhabitants.