From dwelling design, to eating, to the good open air, there’s one thing for everybody.
When you sleep in a tipi (or teepee), you get up with the solar. Bright. And. Early. Not that I minded. With a mug of scorching espresso in hand, I stepped exterior to absorb a close-by subject of younger grapevines, which glowed within the morning solar. Birds chirped within the bushes throughout the meadow. A fantastic sense of peace came to visit me. It was simply what I wanted.
I’d lately caught wind of Farmville’s rising cool issue—its outside recreation, Main Street eating places and retailers, Civil War and Civil Rights historical past, festivals, even a rooftop bar. And after I heard you may sleep in a tipi, I needed to see for myself what the excitement was about.
Anchored by Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College, Farmville is a university city at coronary heart. But as I found throughout my current go to, no matter you’re looking for, you’ll discover your pleased in Farmville.
It began after I walked into the Hotel Weyanoke and felt like I used to be dwelling. I’ll admit, I’m a lodge junkie—one thing about how recent and tidy all the things is—and my spacious room, with its mid-century trendy furnishings, blonde flooring, impartial tones, plush bathrobes, and walk-in bathe, supplied the hotel-fix I wanted. Located throughout the road from Longwood and two blocks from Main Street, Hotel Weyanoke is near all the things however feels distant.
Originally opened because the Weyanoke Hotel in 1925, the posh property hosted conventions and welcomed the well-to-do in its heyday. When its reputation waned, it was transformed right into a senior residing facility and, later, a dormitory for Longwood University college students.
In 2016, the Weyanoke was purchased by Richmond buyers and reborn two years later as a boutique lodge with a brand new wing and 70 rooms. Historical components have been preserved in the course of the renovation, so right now the lodge has a recent, new look however nonetheless maintains a lot of the character of its bygone days.
Originally a grocery retailer, Green Front was owned by Richard Crallé, Sr., who purchased an adjoining constructing and commenced promoting dwelling items.
I met the supervisor, Catherine Snyder, at Catbird, the lodge’s fifth-floor rooftop terrace, which presents a lofty view of downtown Farmville and distant forests. A full bar serves craft cocktails, native beer, and wine, in addition to small plates. Over crispy Brussels sprouts ready with honey, soy sauce, and cashews, Synder defined that the rooftop bar is insanely well-liked however solely open seasonally, “So, plan a visit soon!”
Farmville is considered one of 28 designated Main Street communities, a statewide program created to strengthen and broaden present companies whereas encouraging new makes use of for downtown business areas. On Farmville’s Main Street, you’ll discover vintage shops, reward retailers, and clothes boutiques— loads to maintain a shopaholic busy. But it’s well-known for furnishings, and Hotel Weyanoke sources a lot of its décor and furnishings from Green Front Furniture, so I began there.
Now a vacation spot retailer positioned in 13 buildings all through downtown, the unique Green Front was a grocery retailer owned by Richard Crallé, Sr.; he purchased an adjoining constructing and commenced promoting dwelling items. After his son Richard (“Dickie”) Crallé, Jr. inherited the enterprise within the Nineteen Sixties, issues started to take off.
Dickie Crallé started shopping for previous malls, tobacco warehouses, and numerous different buildings downtown and filling them with furnishings, a lot of which he traveled the world to search out. Today, you actually want a map (or “Field Guide”) to search out your method across the place.
Dickie’s son, Richard “Den” Crallé III, is the present president of Green Front Furniture.
“Our trademark is rugs,” he instructed me from his workplace in Building #1. “That’s something we do better than anyone else.” Hand-knotted carpets are shipped in containers instantly from India and Pakistan, and the sheer variety of decisions is mind-boggling. The pandemic prompted Den to experiment with e-commerce, and the corporate started promoting rugs on-line. “It got off to a good start,” he mentioned.
Actually, the pandemic was nice for enterprise, Den famous. “Everyone wanted to spend money on their homes.” Outdoor furnishings additionally exploded, he mentioned. Total gross sales for Green Front Furniture final yr have been over $50 million. “It was a good year— better than anyone expected,” Den added.
Wandering by the buildings isn’t for the faint of coronary heart, although. “Sometimes it can be overwhelming,” Den admitted. “Having a designer does help.” Still, he provides, “a lot of our customers like the quirkiness of being free to choose.” Trust me, there are many decisions.
My subsequent cease was the good open air. My husband, Peter, and I loved the strolling path round Wilck’s Lake on a one blue-sky afternoon. Then there’s the High Bridge Trail State Park, a 31-mile- lengthy linear park that bisects Farmville. Once a rail line, the park opened in 2007 and is well-liked amongst hikers, runners, cyclists, and equestrians. Its namesake bridge performed a major function within the Civil War, as ranger Daniel Jordan defined whereas we stood on the newly reopened bridge. In truth, considered one of General Robert E. Lee’s final battles, earlier than he surrendered at Appomattox, befell at what’s now Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park a couple of miles away.
Jordan shared extra tales as we walked over the bridge’s recent picket decking. “Our job is to facilitate these histories,” he mentioned. “But not everyone comes out to the park for the same thing. Some people want to hike, some want to learn history, and some want to learn science.” He talked about the numerous marathons and ultra-races which have taken place throughout the High Bridge. “There’s a lot of opportunities for community engagement,” he famous.
Another outside mecca is Sandy River Outdoor Adventures in close by Rice, the place huge white tipis rise from a grassy meadow. Owners Mark and Candice Smith began Sandy River in 2012 as a result of it was at all times their dream to personal an outside journey enterprise, defined Maggie, one of many park’s staff. I couldn’t wait to peek inside a tipi, however we have been working late for the Adventure Park’s treetop ropes course.
After our group was fitted with harnesses and actually discovered the ropes, we walked the course. I used to be nervous, so I caught to the simpler yellow and inexperienced routes. It was scary at instances, however my yoga observe helped me preserve my stability. The relaxation was a thoughts recreation requiring sheer willpower to not fall—which, I’m pleased to say, I didn’t.
We have been joined by a household of 5 visiting from Columbia, Maryland. They whizzed by and appeared to be having the time of their lives. Turns out, they have been staying within the subsequent tipi, and we lastly caught up with them to ask what they considered Farmville. “We came for the experience of sleeping in a tipi,” mentioned Dr. Ada Guiselle Rodriguez, “and found there was so much more to do!”
Spending the evening in a tipi was a spotlight of our go to to Farmville. We stayed in Thunder Bird Tipi, which incorporates a king-sized mattress, a snug futon, kitchenette, air-con, and even a toilet with bathe. Sitting across the campfire watching the celebs come out made us really feel we have been again within the pioneer days. We even heard a coyote yipping within the distance.
The subsequent morning, we grabbed lifejackets and paddles for some kayaking on close by Sandy River Reservoir, a peaceable physique of water with an undeveloped shoreline. There have been just some fishing boats bobbing about as we paddled throughout a reservoir, and we noticed an incredible white heron, a blue heron, a doe and her fawn, turtles, and myriad butterflies.
My spacious room supplied the hotel-fix I wanted— mid-century trendy furnishings, blonde flooring, impartial tones, plush bathrobes, a walk-in bathe, and a balcony.
Longwood University’s campus, within the coronary heart of Farmville, can be value exploring. Founded in 1839 because the Farmville Female Seminary Association, it’s Virginia’s third-oldest public college. A stupendous rotunda anchors the historic buildings on the beautiful campus.
“Joan of Arc is the school’s patron hero,” Jennifer Cox, Longwood’s director of group relations, instructed me as we entered the rotunda. Under the dome sat “Joanie on the Stony,” as she is affectionately recognized, a marble statue gifted by the Class of 1914. Traditionally, college students rub her hand for good luck. The campus additionally boasts “Joanie on the Pony,” a bronze within the rotunda, and a brand new Joanie, put in in 2018. The 15-foot-tall statue presents “women taking charge of their own lives,” in response to Alexander Stoddart, the Scottish sculptor who solid it.
Farmville’s function within the Civil Rights motion is dropped at life on the Robert Russa Moton Museum, the positioning of a 1951 protest organized by 16-year-old Barbara Johns. Fed up with the over-crowded and dilapidated circumstances of the native Black highschool, Johns persuaded 450 college students to boycott the college till circumstances improved. This protest in the end led to the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education choice, which declared segregation in public colleges to be unconstitutional. The museum is a part of a two-mile Civil Rights Walking Tour, which takes guests to 17 websites in downtown Farmville, the place defining moments of the Civil Rights motion occurred.
A distinct type of Farmville tour is out there on the Heartland Regional Visitor Center on Third Street. The Scavenger Hunt is a sequence of clues designed to assist guests be taught concerning the city, its Main Street companies, and native points of interest. For instance, one clue is, “Fairytale creatures await below the surface.” Ask anybody concerning the trolls beneath the bridge, and also you’ll be in your strategy to finishing the Scavenger Hunt. Prizes can be awarded to those that end by Dec. 31, 2021.
Biking the High Bridge Trail State Park was final on our checklist of issues to do in Farmville. We rented bikes from Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Store on Main Street and pedaled 50 toes or so to the path. As we rode alongside, leaving the bustle of site visitors and commerce behind, Peter and I let the peaceable energy of nature take over.
“Wouldn’t it be great to retire here?” I requested. “We could buy some land and have a garden and horses and go to concerts and plays at Longwood. What do you think?”
Peter smiled. He had a cheerful look in his eyes.
Eat & Drink
Foodies will love Farmville. While the restaurant scene right here is consistently altering, these hotspots are have positively discovered their groove.
For steaks and seafood, Charley’s Waterfront Café is an effective selection. I joined co-owner Tommy Graziano for dinner on their lovely deck overlooking the Appomat- tox River. The scorching crab dip served with French bread was wealthy and creamy, as was the pasta alfredo, made with corkscrew-shaped cavatappi. Tommy confirmed me the brand new Virginia Tasting Cellar, an industrial-chic house under the principle eating space, which additionally overlooks the river. Open Friday by Sunday, the Tasting Cellar presents a wide range of Virginia wines in a single handy location.
Another well-liked spot is One19, the place bottles of tequila and mezcal line the partitions and the menu options margaritas, tacos, salads, seafood, and burgers. Owner Billy McKay renovated a former Main Street barbershop, repurposing the unique fixtures into furnishings and ornamental touches, and opened One19 in 2018. Peter and I each tried tacos: spicy jackfruit for him and tender, flavorful swordfish for me.
One of Farmville’s latest eating places, Taproot Tavern is on the primary flooring of Hotel Weyanoke. We sipped cocktails and sampled the flavorful tomato bisque earlier than having fun with an entrée of crab-stuffed shrimp with a saucy lemony risotto. Delicious.
The Fishin’ Pig, with areas in Waynesboro, Farmville, and (quickly) Norfolk, makes a speciality of killer BBQ and fried fish. I cherished their sides, too: collards, smoked beans, and luscious slaw.
Grab a sandwich at Uptown Coffee Café on Main St. earlier than you head out on the path. I like to recommend the steak and cheese.
Finally, North Street Press Club serves wonderful meals each contained in the restaurant and on their lovely patio. The Pad Thai is phenomenal, particularly if you happen to prefer it spicy! Cool down with an area craft brew at 3 Roads Brewing Company, which overlooks the High Bridge Trail.
This article initially appeared within the August 2021 problem.