Visit Historic Abingdon, Virginia
Visit Hope’s historic hometown of Abingdon, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains in southwest Virginia and graced by the meandering Holston River. In 1760, Colonel William Byrd and his regiment cut the first road through the rugged wilderness that was part of the Cherokee nation and, a few years later, Daniel Boone camped in the area. Today you can stay in the historic Martha Washington Inn, built in 1830 as a home for Francis Preston, later serving as the Martha Washington College for Women in 1860.
In 1933, Robert Porterfield and 22 actors established the idea of “ham for Hamlet,” bartering foodstuffs in exchange for a ticket to the historic Barter Theatre. Playwrights, including Noel Coward, Tennessee Williams, and Thornton Wilder, agreed to accept ham as royalties. George Bernard Shaw, a vegetarian, bartered for spinach. Barter Theatre became the State Theatre of Virginia in 1946, with help from Eleanor Roosevelt; and in 1965 Lady Bird Johnson bartered a potted plant for a ticket. Barter’s thespian alumni include: Ernest Borgnine, Hume Cronyn, Gregory Peck, and Ned Beatty.
While in Abingdon, don’t miss the Virginia Creeper Trail that stretches 35 miles from Abingdon thru Damascus to the N.C. state line near Whitetop. The trail is a wonderful place to hike, mountain bike and horseback ride. The former rail bed passes through the backcountry of southwest Virginia, is rich in beauty and regional history.
Near the start of the Creeper Trail, don’t miss one of Hope’s favorite shops, A Likely Yarn, where owner Janet Woolwine has turned a darling house into a wonderland of yarn, many of which were spun from local Abindgon sheep.