The present City of Waynesboro is derived from a 465 acre tract purchased by Joseph Tees from William Beverly in 1739. As a settlement developed it acquired the name Waynesborough as early as 1797 in honor of Revolutionary War hero General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. The settlement was officially established as a town by the Virginia General Assembly in 1801 and was incorporated as such in 1834.
The town was raided by the Union Army in 1864 and, on March 2, 1865, the Battle of Waynesboro occurred. The battle, which resulted in the defeat of General Jubal Early’s Confederate forces, was the last fought in the Shenandoah Valley.
Waynesboro was reincorporated in 1874. In 1881, when the north-south railroad crossed the east-west line a new boomtown, Basic City, was established at that junction.
For thirty-two years Basic City and Waynesboro existed side-by-side, but ultimately consolidated under the name Waynesboro-Basic in 1923. The following year the town was officially renamed Waynesboro and experienced a surge in industrial development that sustained economic stability through World War II. In 1948 the town attained first-class independent city status. Annexations at the time and in 1986 gave the City the room for expansion that is now present-day Waynesboro.
Population growth to the town was slow at first. In 1810, the town had a population of 250. By 1860, that number grew to 457. The town maintained a steady stream of visitors, however, due to its position on the Valley Turnpike, which took advantage of connections through Rockfish Gap. The town flourished in the years that followed and gained greater access to major trading markets when the east-west railroad reached it in 1854 and the Crozet tunnel was completed through the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1858.
Some of the remaining buildings from this period of its history include the Plumb House (now a museum open for tours seasonally) and the Coiner-Quesenbury House built in 1806, believed to be the first brick house built in the town, which is still standing on Main Street.