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City Feature: Lynchburg, VA

So, of course one of the best things about being on tour with Josh is passing through (and sometimes spending time in) lots of new places. We do end up going back to certain towns and cities every year, but every once in a while we take a gamble and book a show in a new town. The other day, while walking around Lynchburg, Virginia, I had the idea to write a short blog post now and then highlighting a place that maybe isn't the most popular tourist destination. In the past month we've spent time in Seattle, Atlanta, Asheville and (this weekend) Washington, DC- all great towns that we've gotten to know well, but most people are familiar with the highlights in these places, even if they've never been there. . . But there are so many unique communities in the US with cool things happening that you would never know about if you don't go there!
Admittedly, the only thing that I knew about the smallish Virginia mountain town of Lynchburg is that it's home to uber-conservative, right wing Christian college, Liberty University. As one of the largest draws to the city as well as a huge local employer, the atmosphere of LU definitely has an impact on the town, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a more open-minded facet of Lynchburg in the short time we were there.
Abe Loper is probably the best person we could have stayed with in Lynchburg. As a local businessman/ entrepreneur, teacher, advocate of "buy local" and owner of The White Hart Cafe where Josh played (and a couple other coffee shops), he was an enthusiastic "tour guide" and generous host. He told us about the history of Lynchburg, which historically was a tobacco town (like most of Virginia) and then a shoe manufacturing hub in the 20th century. Now a days there is a large percentage of the city that live below the poverty line, and this is apparent when you walk by all the empty old buildings downtown. However, like in many cities across the US, there is a growing movement of people who are moving back downtown, starting businesses, fixing up the historical buildings, and advocating a community-focused culture. Abe bought the White Hart a little over a year ago, after it had been empty for several months when the previous owners went bankrupt. It is a very charming coffee shop/ restaurant/ music venue in a large turn-of-the-century building complete with 15 foot high ceilings, a built in wooden bar, fireplaces, etc. It feels like the hub of a burgeoning downtown scene.
The White Hart

walking up to the Lynchburg Museum

this gorgeous old mansion downtown stands empty. . . Josh and I would LOVE to renovate it!

Food trucks on Main Street