Heartwood opens doors as regional gateway

Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway is now open.  The facility welcomes visitors to the region and connects lifelong residents with the artisans and musicians that surround them in the 19-county region of Southwest Virginia.

Perched on a knoll adjacent to I-81 on the campus of Abingdon’s Virginia Highlands Community College, the unique structure, by Roanoke’s Spectrum Design, should attract curious out-of-state drivers. But it’s much more than a convenient place to take a break from behind the wheel. It is the centerpiece of a regional downtown revitalization strategy coordinated by the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Commission.

The wood- and light-filled exhibition and performance space includes a retail gallery, a restaurant, a coffee and wine bar and lots of technological and personal assistance available for planning a trip around the region. Video stories of artisans, musicians and communities introduce visitors to the people and places of Southwest Virginia. And that’s just a taste of the place. For a full experience, Heartwood encourages personal explorations into the communities and their historic downtowns that make Southwest Virginia truly “Authentic, Distinctive, Alive.”

Designated Virginia Main Street Communities of  Abingdon, Marion and Radford are participating in the regional cultural heritage strategy. DHCD Commercial District Affiliates in the region are: Bluefield, Bristol, Floyd, Galax, Gate City, Haysi, Hillsville, Honaker, Independence, Jonesville, Pearisburg, Pennington Gap, Pound, Pulaski, Richlands, Saltville, St. Paul, Stuart, Tazewell and Wise.