Author Thomas D. Perry takes a nostalgic look at Martinsville and Henry County, Va., in a recently released collection of historic photographs.
The timing couldn’t come better for this 128-page book.
The region of Martinsville and Henry County has been hit hard with factory closings and layoffs in recent years.
Still, this book recalls a more vibrant town, when Martinsville’s textiles interests made it the “Sweatshirt Capital of the World.”
Today, the uptown Martinsville area has been re-invented with a newly opened higher education facility near the old Henry County Courthouse. New owners have also taken over old buildings. The uptown district is also home to a trail built atop an old railroad.
“Henry County, Virginia: Images of America” shows photos of old times in Martinsville, including the locomotives that once ran on that rails-to-trails path.
The book’s cover depicts the John D. Bassett High School varsity cheerleaders, pictured in the 1970 Bassett Christmas parade, holding a “Bassett Bengal” mascot.
Inside, a map shows Henry County along the North Carolina border, formed in 1777 and named for Patrick Henry. The county once stretched into parts of what are now Carroll, Franklin and Patrick counties.
Of course, a book about this region would not be complete without a shot of NASCAR’s mammoth Martinsville Speedway. While it now seats several thousand, that track opened in 1947 as a dirt track with seats for 750.