A grass roots main
street revitalization in Tappahannock is gaining steam, it
seems. More than 100 people showed up last week at a
presentation on the findings of a graduate student who studied
the town and the best plans for revitalization.
The presentation was just one
part of a multifaceted effort that has been ongoing for three
years to revitalize the area of the town nestled between
Hoskins Creek and June Parker Marina.
The student, Laura Baker of
Virginia Commonwealth University, grew up in Stafford County
and had never been to Tappahannock before visiting there for
the beginning of her project about five months ago.
"I loved the town," she said.
"It seems liked a good opportunity to apply my classroom
skills to the real world."
That real world in Tappahannock
includes a history downtown that is tucked away from the main
thoroughfares. Combine that with a desire for more business
growth in the historic district and the desire to rehabilitate
several historic spaces for public use, and you have a thesis
project for Baker.
Her study included a survey in
which 231 people were polled about community and business
The presentation she made was
posted on the committee's Web site at
www.tappahannockmainstreet.org on June 9.
"My interest lies in
revitalization," she explained. She said the June 3 meeting to
reveal the fruits of her labor went “really well, we had to
pull out extra seating."
The Tappahannock Main Street
Program's acting chair is an Petersburg architect who was
drawn to Tappahannock by his nearby family. Forrest French
said that there were "a lot of people I hadn't seen before" at
the presentation last week, a good sign that the effort is
Among the priorities for the
group are continued work on the historic Daw Theatre and Beale
Sanctuary, which is slated to become a community arts
Added to those goals is a
project that could be ready for public consumption this
summer. There is a renewed focus on developing a farmers
market in the historic area, which committee member and town
councilman Peter Trible said isn't a new concept.
"There was traditionally a
farmers market on Cross Street between the Circuit Court and
the Dillard and Katona building," he explained. At some point,
those vendors and crowds were drawn away when a livestock sale
began being held on Airport Road.
"There have been discussions now
to return [a market] to Cross Street," Trible said, "and it
would probably be in the street."
He indicated that the idea had
always been on the table, but the May beginning of the Warsaw
Farmer's Market spurned the project forward by
"It's now viable because of that
success," Trible said.
As far as competition across the
river goes, he said that he thinks bigger picture in regards
to the market and overall revitalization of
"It's a win-win for all of us,"
Trible said. "We're all part of this region. We're all part of
what was originally Rappahannock County."
With a background in adaptive
reuse architecture, French said his interest in the project
three years ago was a natural extension of his desire to
revitalize the historic area of town.
French said anyone is invited to
participate in the project by attending and contributing to
the committee's monthly meetings, held on the third Tuesdays
at Water and Queen Studio.
The Warsaw revitalization project was
scheduled for an early June public