Historic Main Street
Small Town, Big Charm
Visitors come to historic downtown Abingdon for unique shopping and dining. Walk the brick sidewalks of Abingdon's 20-block historic district and you'll find architecture spanning two centuries, from The Tavern, one of Abingdon's oldest buildings, to classic small-town American storefronts. You'll also find unique shopping, a thriving farmer's market, art galleries, and local restaurants proudly proclaiming their farm-fresh roots.
Step a few blocks off of Main Street and you can taste a craft brew at Wolf Hills Brewing, see artists at work in the Arts Depot, or view the gracious historic homes of Valley Street.
The History of Abingdon
The site of present-day Abingdon is located on a well-traveled wilderness route called the Great Road, which many pioneers traveled through the Blue Ridge Mountains on the way to settle the new American frontier. In 1748-1750, the land was surveyed by Dr. Thomas Walker, who would later be partners with Peter Jefferson – father of Thomas Jefferson – in the Loyal Land Company. According to local legend, the area was named Wolf Hills by Daniel Boone in 1760 after his dogs were attacked by a pack of wolves.
The Town of Abingdon was established by an act of the Assembly of Virginia in 1778. Two short years later, Abingdon played a role in helping the young nation gain its independence. Patriots from Virginia and North Carolina gathered at the Muster Grounds to begin a 300-mile march to Kings Mountain, South Carolina. The ensuing battle was a turning point in the Revolutionary War.
In 1860, Martha Washington College opened in a former private residence in Abingdon. The college closed in 1932, but the grand building affectionately known as “The Martha” re-opened as a hotel in 1935.
This district takes its name from the beautiful Washington County Courthouse, built in 1868. Check out the variety of unique shopping, including elegant home decor, boutiques, fine art and edible treats.
Katbird's Wine and Gourmet offers a wide selection of wine, plus perfect cheese and cracker pairings, and a coffee bar. Stop by the Abingdon Olive Oil Company and let the staff take you on a tour of dozens of varieties of fine olive oil and flavored balsamic vinegars.
The Tavern is Abingdon's most famous restaurant, but Courthouse Hill is also home to Foresta, which combines eclectic recipes with local flare, and Rain, serving up sophisticated seafood and more.
Right in the middle of downtown Abingdon, two grand old historic buildings face each other across Main Street. The four-star Martha Washington Inn & Spa sits directly across the street from the famous Barter Theatre.
Both have lobbies that are open to the public during business hours. Check out Barter Theatre's newly renovated lobby, including the wall featuring headshots of its most famous alumni, from Ernest Borgnine to Gregory Peck. Be sure to head upstairs for more historical photos from Barter's 80-year history.
At The Martha, care has been taken to preserve as much of the original architecture as possible. Visit the Round Table Library and browse the books, and don't miss the photography in the hallway, highlighting the building's past as a private residence and women's college.
Sisters American Grill is located in the lower floor of The Martha, and is open for breakfast and dinner seven days a week. Take advantage of complimentary valet parking!
Skip forward a century to the quaint brick storefronts of the Market District. This section of Main Street looks much as it did in the 1950s. Here you'll find eclectic shopping, including exquisite antiques, funky flea markets, gifts and desserts.
You'll find live music most night's at Bone Fire Smokehouse, and award-winning sweets at Anthony's Desserts.
The award-winning Abingdon Farmers Market at the Market Pavilion is open Tuesdays and Saturdays, with fresh produce, meats, eggs and cheese, plus craft vendors and southern specialties like pickled okra or muscadine wine.
Near the Market Pavilion is the Arts Depot, where you'll find artists in their studio ready to answer your questions or demonstrate their technique.