Stephens City is a small town in the lower Shenandoah Valley. Stephens City was founded October 12, 1758 as the second oldest town in the Shenandoah Valley and was originally settled by individuals of Scottish, Irish, and German ancestry. In the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth centuries, Stephens City, then known as Newtown, became prosperous as a crossroads village with a variety of small scale crafts and industries, featuring production of the renowned Newtown wagon. This prosperity peaked in the 1840s. With ravages and disruptions brought on by the town’s location in the midst of conflict during the Civil War, and with subsequent nationally-scaled changes in transportation, industry, and agriculture, Stephens City suffered. Old industries declined and disappeared. By the late nineteenth century, however, regional prosperity reemerged, and Stephens City found its place serving the local industrial base.
Stephens City is remarkable because it has retained its small-town character over two centuries of development and change. Change in Stephens City has been small scaled and accumulative. As a result, the town has a very high degree of historical integrity that will continue to be featured through renewal and revitalization.
For more information about the early days of Stephens City, visit the Newtown History Center.