Virginia Main Street Communities

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    Virginia's Main Street Communities are recognized for their down home hospitality, locally-owned businesses, family-style eateries, small town heritage events and unique outdoor attractions.

    Their citizens invite you to spend an afternoon, a weekend and/or an entire week getting to know them and their Main Street way of life. Add one of these destinations to your itinerary, and change what could be a simple road trip into the vacation of a lifetime.

    Central Virginia | Southern Virginia | Northern Virginia
    Shenandoah Valley | Blue Ridge Highlands | Heart of Appalachia 

     

    Central Virginia

    Altavista

    Altavista - Billed as "A place to live, a way to live," the town was listed as a Main Street Community in 2007. Situated in Campbell County, south of Lynchburg, Altavista was incorporated in 1912, the same year as the Lane Co., a box manufacturer, was founded.

    Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia's second largest lake, is a few miles west of the town.

    Bedford's downtown with Main St. clock

    Bedford - Surrounded by the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Bedford gained worldwide recognition as the city that lost more soldiers per capita on D-Day.

    Congress later deemed the establishment of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford. If you are traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway, Bedford is at Milepost 86 at the Peaks of Otter.

    Blackstone - Located on Nottoway County, the town of Blackstone was founded as "the village of Blacks & Whites" and dates to the pre-Revolutionary War era. The village derived its name from two rival taverns - Schwartz Tavern (Schwartz is German for Blacks) and Whites Tavern at the intersection of three stagecoach roads.

    The village carried the name until 1885, when its citizens renamed it after jurist William Blackstone. The town was incorporated in 1888, and in 1914, was the 13th town in the United States to adopt the Town Manager form of government.

    Farmville - Centered in Virginia's Heartland, Farmville is the hub of economic activity in the region and boast a wealth of natural, historical, cultural, recreational and educational attractions.

    storefronts and awnings in downtown Franklin

    Franklin - A fire in 1881 destroyed all the commercial buildings in Franklin. Then in 1999, Hurricane Floyd's flood waters submerged the Franklin Historic District. What a comeback story for this dynamic Main Street community!

    Situated on the banks of the Blackwater River, it was once a major transportation center for trains and steamboats.

    Hopewell - City Point, the oldest part of Hopewell, was founded in 1613 by Sir Thomas Dale. City Point's location on a bluff overlooking the James and Appomattox Rivers has been an important factor in Hopewell's history for almost four centuries.

    Lynchburg - Lynchburg counts 500 significant buildings in its downtown, including The Academy of Music, where Sarah Bernhardt, Pavlova and Paderewski performed!

    Four impressive residential districts also encompass the downtown area and include various architectural styles. Visit the Anne Spencer House, where the Harlem Renaissance poet lived.

    The Orange Courthouse

    Orange - Orange was named for Prince William of Orange in 1734 and served as a courthouse town and railroad-stop. The courthouse architecture depicts an acceptance of exotic tastes after the Civil War. In 1908, a fire destroyed the eastern half of the town. In the 1930s, Orange became a regional center for automobile sales and services as well as a diversified manufacturing center.

    President James Madison's Museum is in Orange, too.

     

     

    Southern Virginia

    White church steeple and homes in Danville

    Danville - Danville's prosperity from the tobacco and textile trades resulted in magnificent mansions built along its Main Street.

    After the fall of Richmond, Confederate President Jefferson Davis lived in the Sutherlin Mansion, an Italian-style villa, which now is the site for the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History. 

    Danville is also known as the "City of Churches."

    Martinsville - Martinsville Speedway boasts the shortest track on the NASCAR circuit, but Martinsville is also known for its furniture industry, resulting in the building campaign of the early 1900s.

    After World War I, the textile industry caused another building boom. Today's historic district features unique shops, outdoor cafés and "The Big Chair." 

    South Boston Town Hall

    South Boston - South Boston is located on the Dan River and became the second largest bright leaf tobacco market in the USA. Today, the historic district features many old tobacco-related buildings, making the community very unique.

    During the Revolutionary War, the 1781 "Retreat of the Dan" is regarded as a turning point in the war.

     

     

    Northern Virginia

    Drugstore sign and storefronts in Culpeper

    Culpeper - The county seat town of Culpeper was founded in 1759 and grew rapidly in the mid-1900s at the crossroads of major highways. The downtown economy has evolved from five-and-dime stores and agricultural services to a vibrant mix of locally owned shops and restaurants.

    Manassas - One of five communities in the USA to win a Great American Main Street Award, Manassas was once totally destroyed during the Civil War.

    In 1905, a fire destroyed much of the town's commercial area. Today, the 1914 train depot serves as a Visitors Center, the old candy factory is an arts center, and an old opera house is a gourmet food store.

    downtown Warrenton at night with street lights

    Warrenton - This colonial village of Warrenton was home to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. A number of buildings date from the Civil War, when it was occupied by both the North and South troops.

    Today, the commercial district features more than 400 renovated buildings housing a great mixture of businesses.

     

     

    Shenandoah Valley

    storefronts and residences on a Berryville street

    Berryville - The colonial town of Berryville sits at the crossroads of two routes that linked the community's economy to trade between Winchester and Alexandria.

    The railroad brought growth to this city "on the doorstep" of Washington, D.C. See about 200 buildings that have been rehabilitated as well as the Old Clarke County Courthouse and jail.

    Lexington - Lexington was incorporated in 1841 and, almost from the beginning, its main industry was education. Both Washington & Lee University and Virginia Military Institute are located within the historic district. 

    Harrisonburg - Harrisonburg's downtown historic district is centered around Court Square with streets that intersect or are tangential to the sides of the courthouse square. Harrisonburg is the earliest known occurrence of this plan.

    The famous Virginia Quilt Museum is located in the historic Warren-Sipe House on Main Street.

    Downtown Luray

    Luray - Luray in Page County became prosperous after the construction of the Shenandoah Valley Railroad in 1881. Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive helped the town grow into the 20th century. Luray Caverns also brings many visitors.

    Staunton - The railroad changed the economic structure of Staunton in 1852. The city's Beverley Historic District includes about 150 buildings within 11 blocks of downtown Staunton, with Beverley Street being a classic Victorian Main Street. Staunton received Virginia's first Great American Main Street Award.

    Beverley Historic District in Staunton

    See the Frontier Culture Museum and Woodrow Wilson's Birthplace in Staunton.

    Waynesboro - Waynesboro can trace its roots beyond 1798, when a mill, an inn, maybe a church or two, and some other dwellings comprised the downtown area. The railroad brought more expansion to the city and set the stage for the real estate boom of the 1890s.

    Today's Main Street has no overhead power lines and is the site for many community events, such as this Blue Ridge Valley Soap Box Derby!

    man getting a haircut at a Winchester barbershop

    Winchester - Winchester was always a main center for trade, even when the Shawnees lived here. Several battles from the French and Indian, Revolutionary and Civil Wars occured here, too.

    During the early 1900s, the leading industry was glove making. Today, Winchester is one of Virginia's leading apple producers and is the site for the world-famous Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.

     

     

    Blue Ridge Highlands

    Abingdon's famous Barter Theatre

    Abingdon - "Arts of Historic Proportions," the artsy town of Abingdon is located in Washington County. It was named after the ancestral home of Martha Washington.

    The town also holds the distinction as a Virginia Historic Landmark with 20-square block Historic District. It was founded in 1778 and first named "Wolf Hills" by Daniel Boone.

    Bristol - Known as "The Birthplace of Country Music," Bristol was the location of the first country music recordings made for national distribution. And in 1998, Congress made it official! Today, country music murals and monuments line Bristol's State Street.

    Marion - Marion boomed in the late 18th century when the Wilderness Road opened and the railroad and coal industry were established. In 1905, author Sherwood Anderson purchased the Marion Publishing Co. and edited two newspapers.

    Renovations include the creation of a Mountain Dew Museum, where the popular soft drink calls home.

    storefronts, awnings and cars in Radford

    Radford - Radford — The New River City — is midway between Lynchburg and Bristol and was formerly named Central Depot during the heyday of the

    Because of Radford University, the community has expanded its commerical and intellectual life, and its historic district was listed in the National Register in 2000.

    caboose, car and building in Rocky Mount

    Rocky Mount - Iron production was the prime enterprise in Rocky Mount through the mid-19th century with two railroad lines going through the town.

    By 1898, Rocky Mount's population numbered 600, and most of the town's businesses were owned by Nathanial P. Angle until his death in 1936. Rocky Mount has since expanded its commerical boundaries in Franklin County.

     

     

    Heart of Appalachia

    St. Paul - Chartered in 1911, St. Paul is nestled in one of the most beautiful, diverse areas of southwest Virginia. Located in the southeastern corner of Wise County and the western side of Russell County, the community enjoys a caring, small town atmosphere with deep-seated heritage.

     

    This list reflects current and past "Designated Virginia Main Street Communities" per the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development 

     

Last Updated: 5/23/2014 9:21 AM
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