News Briefs for March 29: A request involving Dunnington Mansion

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 29, 2023

We’ve talked about the Dunnington Mansion Foundation before, and their mission to see the property restored. But now, they’re looking for a specific piece of information and are asking for help. 

Group members are searching for information about Lester Bigger. He worked for the Dunnington family in the 1950s and 1960s, while his wife worked in the education field in Farmville. Foundation members say the living Dunnington relatives have fond memories of Bigger and they hope he, or his descendants, might have more information about the mansion they could share. 

Now when we say Dunnington Mansion, we’re talking about the piece of property in Prince Edward County that’s been around since Richard Woodson built the first structure in 1748. The property was passed down through the family before being sold to Capt. John Knight in 1860. He left the mansion to his daughter and son-in-law, the Dunningtons. It was during this time, in 1897, that the current mansion was built. The Dunningtons extensively renovated the home, adding on four rooms, a massive tower and stately front entrance. This also changed the orientation of the house, switching from north/south to east/west. The front of the house now faces west.

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Anyone with information about Bigger is asked to get in touch with the Dunnington Mansion Foundation at

Date set for Toga fundraiser

Now we shift gears for a minute, to talk about the Toga Volunteer Fire Department. This year’s department raffle will take place on May 20, beginning at 7 p.m. This is one of the ways the department raises funds each year and this time, the raffle is set at a grand prize of $10,000. Second prize is $1,000 and $500 goes to the third place winner.

Tickets for the raffle are $100 each, which includes both a chance at the prizes and two free BBQ dinners with sides. Dinner starts at 5 p.m. that night, with the raffle following after. You can contact any member of the fire department to buy tickets or stop by the department itself, located at 1779 Mount Rush Highway in Dillwyn. 

Conservation District taking applications  

The Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District (PSWCD) is now accepting applications for their 45th annual Youth Conservation Camp (YCC). That’ll be held on Virginia Tech’s campus July 9 through 15.  What is YCC, you ask? It is a camp for high school students currently enrolled in grades 9-12. YCC brings together about 70 students from across the Commonwealth for a week of learning about Virginia’s natural resources from conservation professionals and faculty from Virginia Tech.

Most of the instruction is hands-on and outdoors. The PSWCD will sponsor two campers who reside in Amelia, Nottoway, or Prince Edward County with scholarships. Now here’s where the deadline comes in. Applications are due April 24. 

For more information and an application visit the Education YCC page at or call (434)392-3782 x132.

New fair popping up this weekend 

For any antique lovers reading this, it’s been an interesting few weeks. As we announced earlier this year, American Pickers will be making their way to Virginia in the spring and are currently looking for places to go. One new fair taking place this week in Prince Edward County might be a good place to start. 

On April 1, the Pamplin Depot will host an Indoor Antiques Fair, running from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. That’ll be held at the Pamplin Train Depot, located at 115 Main Street in Pamplin City. Now for this show, there’s a difference between antique and vintage. “Antique” refers to anything more than 100 years old, while “vintage” covers any items or clothes at least 20 years old. It’s free to attend, but it costs $15 if you want to set up a booth. For more information, give the Pamplin Town Office a call at