The Washington Post Travel Section recently referred to Lynchburg, Va., as “fine and funky.” Bohemian even. This is not how Ms. S&C would have referred to her hometown — not the hometown where she grew up. Fourteen years later, she still wouldn’t exactly say it is “bohemian” or “funky” — it is Jerry-Falwell-conservative after all. No, it is not quite bohemian or funky, but it pretty close to “hip.” And it is definitely host to a growing number of hip places.
Ms. S&C was in her hometown last weekend for a cousin’s wedding. While there, she ventured down to Main Street (an area she hasn’t visited in years), and was totally stoked. Yes, stoked. There was a street festival (Friday Cheers), and lots of new shops and restaurants.
One would expect to find an old-factory-turned-cool-establishment in Manhattan or Chicago, but not Lynchburg. That’s what is so exciting about the Craddock Terry Hotel.
The hotel, housed in what was once the Craddock Terry Shoe factory and a tobacco storage warehouse, is one of the cornerstones of a Main Street revitalization project. And, the place is gorgeous. Exposed wood beam ceilings, nine-foot tall windows, exposed brick and stone walls, decor accented with historical artifacts (read: old shoes!) — this turn of the century shoe factory has been transformed into a lovely boutique hotel.
Ms. S&C is always one to stop and read the historical marker, so here are some points of history on the Craddock Terry Company (once a thriving and important part of Lynchburg’s economy):
- The company was at first a wholesaler of footwear. It had $311,465 in sales in 1889, and $1 million in sales 10 years later.
- Craddock-Terry began making shoes at the turn of the century. It built a number of factories and warehouses in Southside Va., St. Louis, Mo., and Milwaukee, Wi.
- The company hit hard times during the Great Depression and got rid of the plants outside of Va.
- During the Depression, Craddock-Terry continued annual picnics for all employees and their families. The picnics included beauty pageants and sports contests.
- Business picked up again during WWII, when Craddock-Terry made boots for soldiers.
- Sales peaked in 1978. During the 1980s, foreign competition was credited for declining sales, so the company was sold and filed for bankruptcy in the late 1980s.
Ms. S&C stopped by the hotel for a quick tour and had a drink at their fine dining establishment, Shoemakers. She also got word of a number of other hip places down the street, including A+ martinis at Bull Branch. Ms. S&C spent the better part of her teenage years wanting to get out of Lynchburg, — now, she can’t wait to go back.
posted by Ms. S&C