If I had to describe myself with one word it would be artist - a visual artist and an artist with words. My artwork is included in Ohio Online Visual Arts Registry. I'm working with various galleries in the Midwest to promote my oil paintings and abstract light photography.

 

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Nelsonville – Arts on The Square

Nelsonville – Now a Destination

©  Becky  Linhardt 2013

Nelsonville can now become a Destination town and collect the accolades that it deserves. Downtown businesses have worried that the new US 33 Bypass will take some of their business away. Maybe the Bypass is a blessing. In the past the bottleneck of truck and car traffic on US 33 through Nelsonville just made drivers anxious to get through this lovely Athens County town. Few ever turned off of US 33 to explore The Square a few blocks away. Nelsonville really deserves a leisurely visit.

Back in 1985, Nelsonville was selected as the movie location for “Mischief” a teen comedy set even further back – the 1950s. It had the right small town Midwest look – still does in many ways. The fountain still dominates The Square in the center of town. What has changed is the town’s attitude – and the mix of shops and restaurants that ring  The Square. Shops and galleries offer arts and crafts, a focus that seems natural given the town’s proximity to The Dairy Barn Arts Center and Ohio University’s Kennedy Museum in nearby Athens.

Nelsonville’s own Hocking College has a gallery on the square, near their Culinary School’s restaurant, Rhapsody. The very sophisticated décor and flavorful, seasonal menu may surprise some visitors. For about half the cost, you will find a menu selection to rival big city establishments – without the snobbery. The dress code is very casual; student servers are eager to please and knowledgeable about the menu offerings. The restaurant participates in the Athens County “loca-vore” movement’s “30-Mile Meal” program, and is very popular so call ahead for reservations. Note: Because Rhapsody is staffed by students – kitchen and dining room, the weeks of operation vary per semester.

The imposing Stuart Opera House has been restored and regularly hosts a variety of performers, bands, and events in the small theater on the second floor. Well-known regional and national acts have booked here in recent years offering big names in a more intimate venue. The Square is lively on performance nights and Final Fridays are another active gathering time for the artistic types as galleries and shops stay open in the evening, often with themed events adding an extra level of creativity.

There are also those “comfortable as a soft pair of jeans” days when visitors and locals gather on the edge of The Square at Fullbrook’s for coffee, a break from a bicycle ride, and a visit to the shop and galleries that stock locally made crafts.

Nelsonville has long been a destination for people boarding the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad excursion trains (Mystery, Fall Color, Santa, and regular) at the old depot just two blocks south of The Square on Old US 33. The now safer, quieter traffic pattern is a blessing for families visiting for a train ride or bargains at Rocky Boots Outlet also on old US 33 just two blocks from The Square and from the railroad station.

In the opposite direction, just a block north of The Square is an older residential neighborhood that is seeing a renewal and the addition of a few Bed & Breakfast establishments. The Hyde House is one 19th century Italianate home that serves the B&B clientele.

Guest rooms are simply decorated in a style that fits the period but are not “frilly.” Many of the beautiful old architectural details are visible but the private baths are new and contemporary. Hot breakfasts are served in a sunny room adjacent to the public parlor where visitors often gather in the evening to talk about their adventures. Note: All guest rooms are on the second floor, up a curved staircase.

During the warmer months guests at the Hyde House find that the front porch is a favorite place to relax in the evening after a short walk to restaurants on The Square or to a performance at the Stuart Opera House. Visitors to the Hocking Hills area will soon find that Nelsonville is worth a stop – as a place to explore the visual and performing arts or enjoy an overnight close to the natural beauty of the nearby State Parks. Nelsonville is becoming a true Destination town. See below for links to Nelsonville’s many attractions.

AthensCountyTourism: www.athensohio.com

Hyde House: www.historichost.com

Stuart Opera House: www.stuartoperahouse.org

Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad: www.hvsry.org

Rhapsody: www.rhapsodyrestaurantnelsonville.com

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        As a travel writer it is my responsibility to select the best places, events, and experiences to present to you. Most travel has been on my own though some has occurred on sponsored press trips. Travel listings here will be more informal than my published articles.

 

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