Community Spotlight: Rocktown History

Rocktown History tells the stories of Harrisonburg's and Rockingham County's past.
Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 4:51 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, now known as Rocktown History, collects and preserves the rich history of the area.

“The bluestone and the rocks within our soil have been so important to the growth of our community, especially in agriculture, but you still see the churches, and the schools, and the homes, and the buildings. So, you know, it’s the foundational image that we use,” Penny Imeson, Executive Director of Rocktown History, said. “And Rocktown, as the county seat, was a historical name for Harrisonburg.”

The organization has been telling the stories about the community for more than 120 years.

Those stories from the past have been able to connect people and create new stories to tell today.

Rocktown History has many ways it connects the community to its past and to each other, like the genealogy library.

“You may have two visitors who do not know each other and then discover they are cousins and then they start these conversations,” Imeson said.

The organization also has thousands of old photos and objects in its expansive gallery.

“We have a set of little Mennonite figurines by a local artist, and I remember a poignant story when a class was here on a field trip, and a little girl looked over and she said, ‘that looks like the family that I lived with,’ when her mother was no longer with her. That’s the kind of connection that sill gives me a little chill,” Imeson said.

Rocktown History offers several programs and a bookstore as well.

Without a place like this, people wouldn’t be able to learn more about the place they call home.

“We can find very relevant topics, and it helps us understand how our community’s have developed, how our culture has developed, how our politics has developed. I truly believe the more we know about history, the more we know about our neighbors,” Imeson said.

But with a staff of just two, the nonprofit could use your help.

“We’re always looking for new volunteers in all aspects of the organization. It can be simple things, like helping weed flower beds or it could be researching and helping install exhibits,” Imeson said.

The more volunteers who can help, the more stories Rocktown History can have to reach an even broader audience.

If you would like to get involved with Rocktown History, you can visit their website at, or just stop by their Dayton location at 382 High St. Wednesday through Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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