Hinton, WV, is a town rich in railroad history is on the verge of resurrection. A 20 minute drive from its closest metropolitan neighbor, Hinton was established through the boom period of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company, in 1892. It was during this period that C&O completed construction of the roundhouse with 17 engine stalls, employing 370 men. These railroaders built homes that today reflect the eclecticism of the Victorian era and individual tastes of the each home owner. This project has been named The Round House to pay tribute to Hinton’s roots.
Today, Hinton is turning to its natural assets to renew focus in its tourism potential while reminding residents and visitors of its railroad history. The City’s natural beauty includes the peaceful backdrop of the New and Greenbrier Rivers, and a blossoming downtown historic district. These natural assets provide unparalleled outdoor adventure opportunities and offer a cleansing escape to many outside the area.
Hinton’s passionate community is uniting efforts to attract a new generation to their great City. With an eye on history, they are cultivating connections between people and the arts through a number of recent projects. Theatre, downtown revitalization, and public art will be a main facet of Hinton’s future landscape. Residents already enjoy producing music festivals, food and art shows, in addition to passenger rail excursions, and countless opportunities to interact with history. It’s this organic charm, and welcoming nature that is now allowing the city to reinvent itself through the development of a thriving cultural district. The City’s passion for using the arts to overcome community and economic development challenges is limitless.
In this regeneration process, a once bustling railroad town is now becoming a creative community where youth, and elders alike want to stay, engage, and progress. The only aspect missing from this emersion is a versatile, public friendly performance venue.
Currently, only one small venue exists and limits seating capacity to 200. While this venue is open to the public, its accommodations are very outdated and restrictive. This need, in combination with the vision of the community has resulted in the planned development of an outdoor amphitheater, The Round House. This development will allow for seating of 1,500 and include, dressing rooms, restrooms, a ticket booth as well as a concession area. That increased capacity would accommodate all three elementary schools for educational programs, high school graduations, fine arts programs, and other community ceremonies. The amphitheater will help make the vision of a culture focused community a reality. The Round House, will provide an established youth drama program a desperately needed venue in which they can perform. This program provides area youth an alternative to the challenges they meet at home and outside school. As recognized by the community, music and art programs are an extension of the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom and serve as a catalyst for creating positive school & community relations. The Round House will also create a space for community members to perform or display their art, and learn about new art forms. These programs will not only serve area residents, but will attract tourists and new generations to explore the history, arts, and culture of Hinton, WV.
A huge testament to the future success of these venture is the demonstrated investment of both the City of Hinton and the individual developers of the area. The City of Hinton recently acquired & restored the historical C&O Freight House, across from the future amphitheater site. The venue is used for festivals, local musicians, holiday bazaar, and a growing farmers market. The Freight House is an anchor of the historic district and a true reflection of Hinton’s vibrant history. Hinton plans to develop this entire area into a cultural hub to serve surrounding areas. The amphitheater, a boutique hotel, and educational kiosk, all provide a unique experience for visitors while paying tribute to Hinton’s identity. These days Hinton is taking on an all new, energized feel. In just the past few years, these areas have gone from an overgrown nuisance, to vibrant attractions for the entire county.
The investments made by both private citizens and the City speak highly of the confidence Hinton has in its own future. The groundswell of support for these efforts has come from every direction, and gathers momentum every day.
It is through the support of the ArtPlace grant, providing $350,000 in funding (toward the $500,000 project) that will enable this energetic community to harness the power of its own people to build a unique, welcoming, and vibrant future.