History of Arcola

The Arcola Center area has a long and storied history, which will be preserved and honored in the new Arcola Center development. What is now the Village of Arcola was known in the 18th century as Gum Spring, named for a popular fresh-water spring. Gum Spring had a meeting house, distillery, small businesses, and a church. In 1832, the Gum Spring post office was moved to the home of Matthew P. Lee and renamed Arcola after Lee’s farm.

Like most of rural Virginia, the Arcola area was ravaged and impoverished by the end of the Civil War. Life under Reconstruction was difficult, and many residents left for growing opportunities in America's cities. By the late 19th century, however, many farms rebounded. Corn surpassed wheat as the major cash crop for the area, which also boasted several fruit orchards. Livestock and dairy emerged as important agricultural enterprises.

As agriculture grew, new businesses developed to serve local farmers’ needs. In the 1870’s, L.F. Palmer opened a general merchandise store on the site of the present-day Pangles Store, which is located at the corner of Gum Spring Road and Evergreen Mills Road in the Village of Arcola. Arcola was home to blacksmiths, wheelwrights, carpenters, builders, furniture makers, and doctors.