The Jones - Thompson House

The Jones - Thompson House

The home at 832 Pine Street was built about 1920 for James William Jones. Mr. Jones began his career in 1885 as a bridge carpenter for the Atlantic Coast Line. In 1891 he was promoted to bridge foreman. He became roadmaster in 1912 and held that position for the next thirteen years.  Illness, including partial paralysis, made it necessary that he retire.

He then married Hester Thompson in 1926, and when he died in February of 1931 he left her the house and an estate valued at $18,000 ($300,000 today).  Mrs. Jones continued to live in the house for another nearly twenty years.

When Hester Thompson Jones died in October of 1950, the house passed to her brother, Wiley O. Thompson and his wife, Laura. The couple had three children.  One son, Sidney, was born with disabilities.  He was placed the now infamous Lynchburg Training School.

The Lynchburg Training School opened in 1910 as the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded.  It began as an effort to separate the mentally disabled from the criminally insane. It also turned out to be an ideal home for the American Eugenics Movement – an effort to stop the transmission of “undesireable traits” through forced sterilization.

In 1924, the Commonwealth of Virginia adopted a statue that allowed for the compulsory sterilization of the intellectually disabled. Dr. Albert Priddy, superintendent of the Lynchburg facility, brought forth a petition in 1927 to find out if the new law would hold up to a legal challenge. In doing so, he presented the Supreme Court with the example of resident Carrie Buck, an eighteen-year-old patient who possessed the mental maturity of a nine-year-old, and whom he felt ought to be sterilized, along with her mother, Emma Buck, who was similarly afflicted. The example offered evidence that society would be better served by performing sterilization in such cases where “feeblemindedness” combined with promiscuity would result in producing similarly afflicted offspring, which consequences would pose “a genetic threat to society.” (It was later proved that Emma had been raped and that her commitment was the result of her adopted family’s efforts to conceal what had happened.)

The Supreme Court upheld the new statute, and Carrie, her mother, and approximately 8,000 other Virginia patients were subsequently sterilized, most of them at the Lynchburg facility, without their knowledge or consent. The statute was repealed in 1974,  It wasn’t until 1985 that the state agreed to inform the patients about what had been done to them, and to help them get counseling and medical treatment.

Sidney Thompson died at the Lynchburg School in October of 1962.  After Mr. Thompson died in 1965, Mrs. Thompson sold the house and moved to Charlottesville where she spent the rest of her life near her daughter. The house passed through two additional owners after her before the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority purchased it in 2016 and prepared it for resale.

The 2,200 square foot home is move-in ready and features four bedrooms and three baths.  See the listing.