Besides being a terrifically gorgeous town, nestled in the most beautiful of American mountain ranges, Abingdon,Virginia is home to one of this nation’s most respected and honored professional regional theatre companies: The Barter Theatre! So, this particular community has been raised, for over 3/4 of a century, on a diet of both natural and performing arts excellence! And it shows in the minds, souls and generous natures of its citizens!
The Town of Abingdon, Virginia, a historic small town in Washington County, Virginia, is situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains along the Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee border. The town is the seat of Washington County and has been so since 1778. Abingdon was once the gateway to the western frontier and the largest commercial town in southwest Virginia, and was situated along what came to be called the “Great Road” that led on into Tennessee. Abingdon then primarily consisted of taverns. hotels, and supply shops.
Abingdon is a place of history, the oldest Virginia settlement west of the Blue Ridge and a stop along the great Wilderness Road, America’s great migration route. We are where the local militia mustered before marching south to turn the tide of the Revolutionary War. We were burned during the Civil War and rebuilt to regain our position as the center of commerce and government for the region.
Abingdon is a place of the arts, where the skills of frontier living formed the foundation of crafts that are as practical as they are beautiful. We traded ham for Hamlet creating the Barter Theatre where world-class performances were brought to small town America in the depths of the Great Depression. The arts in all forms flourish in our studios, galleries, and places where people gather.
Abingdon is a place of recreation, where the splendors of the mountains beckon. Thousands trek and bike here each year. Our trails are our lifeline into the vastness of the hills and valleys and where the mountains and streams are our cherished landscape.
Abingdon is real, we are the history, unbound by museum walls, that entertains our sense of place; we are the art, in all its unbridled talent, which entertains our spirit, we are our surroundings, and all of their splendor, that entertain our sense of adventure. We belong to our great mountain region, our state, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the nation, yet we are a world apart and a refuge for those who seek to have their senses entertained.
Our historic buildings and their immediate surroundings provide tangible links to our past that allow us to establish a sense of orientation about our place in time. We can learn from the past and, through preservation of historic buildings and their attendant grounds, we can continue to benefit from the accomplishments of our ancestors.
Abingdon is a place of business where the mission of the Abingdon, Virginia Industrial Development Authority is to enhance the welfare of the citizens of the Town of Abingdon, Washington County and the Commonwealth of Virginia by developing a business-friendly environment in Abingdon that facilitates job creation and retention in a community that encourages business growth through promoting and assisting the recruitment, startup, growth and prosperity of responsible, eco-friendly business and light industry and life science businesses within both Abingdon’s Stone Mill Business & Technology Park and throughout the remainder of the Town of Abingdon.
Abingdon is a place of technology where the first local telecommunications board in the Commonwealth of Virginia was approved to offer telecommunication services to the general public. In late December, 1995, a group of citizens met to discuss the potential of linking Abingdon to the rest of the world and the Internet via high-speed computer communications. Committees were formed, a plan was drawn, a Mission Statement was written and the work was begun – the Electronic Village of Abingdon (EVA) was born. The Electronic Village of Abingdon website (www.EVA.org) was also established through the efforts of dedicated volunteers. This website was designed to facilitate the connection of Abingdon businesses and community service entities with the citizens of Abingdon and the world.
Abingdon is a place of diversity where, as our motto suggests, we strive to “Understand our Past and Embrace our Future” by reaching across diverse racial and ethnic groups and by presenting the fact(s) that blacks have been in the Appalachians since the 1500s. Early Spanish and French explorers brought with them African slaves, and free persons of color were among our earliest settlers. While a plantation economy never developed in the region, many mountain elites owned slaves who worked in stores and inns, logging, and mining, as well as on farms. After the American Civil War, many freed Blacks obtained land to farm and lived rural lifestyles very similar to those of their white neighbors. To be sure, black Appalachians have endured the same kinds of racial problems which exist elsewhere. While they recognize their ties to the larger Black American population, they also have a unique identification with the region. Celebration of family heritage through the collection of family memorabilia and attendance at family reunions strengthens their unique separate identity as Black Appalachians.
Finally, we are part of a living cultural area with a culture that has stayed largely separate from much of the surrounding majority. We have unique historic sites, as well as, cultural practices and arts that attract the curiosity of tourists and provide opportunities for tourism-based economic development.
I have very warm memories of visiting my Aunt Happy Kate and Uncle Johnnie in Abingdon and feel that it is a warm welcoming place. I love Wyoming but Va and Tn hold very close seconds.
I vote for Abington, VA!