“The Rebirth of Charleston”
by Jacob McDonald
I find myself pondering the beautiful idea that Charleston, West Virginia is in the beginning stages of its renaissance. Life is in mid-conception for Charleston. Hollow, dusty shells are being returned into their former glory as booming businesses. Collectively, we have grown tired of the bleak outlook and emptiness in this valley. Many people are working to resuscitate this state, even if it means starting local and taking this rebirth one step at a time.
Niche brick and mortar stores have found their place in this city, and their owners have discovered the thirst that so many have wanted quenched for so long. When walking on Capitol street, I see nothing but creativity, art, and culture. I see fresh businesses, such as the always delicious Rock City Cake Company and the new Genesis Café, located right over on Virginia Street. I pass a gentleman with a minimalistic, yet incredibly fashionable Kinship Goods t-shirt, thanks to the trendy minds of Dan Davis and Hillary Harrison.
You can go anywhere in Charleston and discover something you will enjoy. For myself, I take advantage of any opportunity I have to head over to Sullivan’s Records on the East End and grab a few vinyls. Getting to chat with the owner, Sam Lowe, is a definite plus.
Aside from my absolutely non-exhaustive list of new local shops, there are many long-standing not-so-small businesses that have graced this area for more than a few years. Capitol Street is proof of this, and is widely considered to be Charleston’s hidden gem. You can always grab a great read at Taylor Books or walk right across the street and pick your favorite ice cream from Ellen’s Ice Cream shop. With Pies and Pints and Graziano’s, two great pizza places, and an high vibe sports bar, Adelphia Sports Bar and Grille, you do not have to look far for great local food and atmosphere.
Along with the resurgence of local businesses, the Charleston music scene is becoming an incredible force of nature that has not stopped growing. It is innate to our mountain man nature to tell the stories of our ancestors and ourselves. You can always find local talent performing during events such as the Vandalia Gathering and Charleston’s FestivALL. As a guitarist and singer-songwriter in this city, I can say with total confidence that we have more talent that even I can keep up with. You would never be able to fit all the bands and musicians this city has to offer in one venue.
The folks that carry on their passions, even though external forces may be pushing them to leave, hold firm to their mountaineer roots and the love they have for this state. These business owners and musicians demand to stay and make this city a better community for all. The men and women of June 20, 1863 would be proud of our current capital city.