Fredericksburg by Candlelight

Historic Properties featured on the Candlelight Tour

By Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc. November 15, 2018

 How many times have we all driven around beautiful Fredericksburg and wondered about specific properties, what those homes have experienced, what they look like on the inside, and what stories the owners can share? The Candlelight Tour is your chance! 

The Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc. (HFFI) is preparing for our 48th Annual Candlelight Tour on December 8 and 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. You get the chance to tour five historic homes that are professionally decorated for the holidays. Through our guided tours, the Foundation hopes to create interest in our historic downtown and increase participation in this magical event. 

We also have an evening tour on Saturday, December 8 from 6 p.m to 8 p.m. If you purchase this ticket, it is also valid for the Cocktail Party. This year, it will be taking place at A. Smith Bowman Distillery. Want to learn more about this unique location? Keep reading!

In spring 1930, Sylvania Corporation opened a new plant on the outskirts of Fredericksburg, Virginia, in Spotsylvania County. Almost 70 years after the Civil War, the city was still recovering from the devastation that had decimated the population and ravaged the infrastructure. This new state-of-the-art facility was built to produce a marvel of the industrial world—cellophane., Sylvania began producing this translucent semi-organic product under the trade name Sylphene. It would be shipped around the world to be used to wrap packs of cigarettes, food products, and practically anything else that needed to stay fresh. This plant would become the largest of many that produced cellophane to meet an endlessly growing demand. 

The Fredericksburg Sylvania plant helped protect the area from the worst effects of the Great Depression. It ran around the clock, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, employing many locals. Through the Second World War, the cellophane that rolled off of the line at Fredericksburg helped the war effort and, in a small way, assisted in winning victories in Europe and Asia. After the war, Sylvania was bought by American Viscos Corporation (AVISCO). AVISCO continued to run the Fredericksburg plant into the early 1970s when Food Machinery Chemical Corporation (FMC) purchased the facility and renamed it FMC Film Division.

By the late 1970s, cellophane use had declined dramatically. As Sylphene was replaced by a cheaper plastic film, its manufacture became a liability for FMC. In early 1978, FMC announced it would close the world’s largest cellophane plant and Fredericksburg’s biggest employer. The 1,100 employees who were laid off by FMC were the last in a long line of Fredericksburg residents who had helped establish a relationship between cellophane and this city. For nearly 50 years, the plant had enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with the local area that directly contributed to high job satisfaction, good management-employee relations, and the overall prosperity of the city and surrounding counties. 

The building sat vacant for some time, but in 1988, the plant was repurposed as the new home of A. Smith Bowman, a microdistillery whose best-known product is award-winning premium bourbon.

Fredericksburg’s rich history offers something for everyone and we invite all to attend the Candlelight Tour and see what a wonderful community we have. It is a great way for families of all ages to share in our city’s history and to learn together. Tickets are on sale at

The proceeds of the Candlelight Tour fund the programs and projects of the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc., a non-profit membership organization that has worked to protect the historic and cultural resources of the Fredericksburg area since 1955.

The mission of the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc., is to preserve, protect, and revitalize the distinctive historic environment and cultural resources of the Fredericksburg area. The Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc., accomplishes this mission through education, advocacy and financial resources.