Clockwise from top:
Center; two examples of
Staunton Grocery’s farm-to-fork fare.
Townsfolk boast that a large part
of Staunton survives on “cultural
manufacturing”—the work of specialty
craftspeople who have launched businesses producing handcrafted products.
Around town are fabricators of local
wood furniture, clocks, guitars and jewelry. There’s even a microbrewery where
folks brew and bottle their own ale.
Rachel’s Quilt Patch on Middlebrook
Avenue has instituted a retro resurgence
of quilting, especially among hipsters.
Sunspots, a dazzling handblown-glass
studio and gallery, resides in a neighborhood called the Wharf, near the Amtrak
station, which comprises refurbished
warehouses-turned-galleries, restaurants and music clubs.
All this fresh creative energy is packaged into painstakingly restored buildings. Staunton was established in 1747
and, unlike many Southern cities, it
didn’t burn during the Civil War, so most
of its architecture dates from Staunton’s
building boom, from the mid-1800s
through 1920. Especially stunning is the
circa 1855 Trinity Church, which features
a spectacular collection of stained glass,
including 12 authentic Tiffany windows.
There is a free city trolley providing
guided tours through Staunton’s five
National Historic Registry neighborhoods—the Wharf, Beverley, Gospel
Hill, Newtown and Stuart Addition. The
full experience takes about 25 minutes
and riders are permitted to debark or
enter at any stop. But Staunton also is
walkable. Every Saturday at 10 a.m., free
guided walking tours convene at the
R.R. Smith Center for History and Art,
home to the town’s two historic organizations and several art galleries. The
tour includes the new Red Brick district,
which is filled with venerated museums,
galleries, live performance theaters,
music venues and such highbrow historic sites as the Woodrow Wilson
How long Staunton can remain so
wholesome and locally minded is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, it’s a great
secret to bear.
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