...Oh, Come on!
when we talk about historic preservation or antiques or anything else
that is old...we are talking about preserving history. Perhaps we should
be talking about preserving the environment.
Old chairs and old dressers are like old buildings. They are still around
precisely because the original builders and cabinetmakers built objects
that last. They aren't fragile. They have withstood years of use and abuse
and are still standing. The may have 10 coats or 20 coats of paint, may
be color that reminds you of your grandmother's seafoam green livingroom,
but their basic structure is solid and they are inherently friendly and
comforting, like an old pair of shoes.
Take the depot. At 144 years old, there isn't a level surface or a plumb
wall in the entire building. The floors creak. The roof ripples when the
wind blows. There are air leaks around the windows and on the occasional
very cold day, the inside surface of the window panes have a thin layer
of frost. Plexiglas storm windows, mounted on the inside, prevent the
wind from driving the temperature indoors downward, but they do little
to maintain a semi-tropical atmosphere. Well, except for the freightroom
where the wind creeps through the gaps in the fright doors. Despite its
flaws, it survived being hit by a train; survived years of neglect and
abuse; survived because the orginal builders built something that would
The building is primarily american chestnut, a bit of oak, and poplar
siding. Walk into the freight room and look up. 43 foot long, solid, center-cut
(9" x 7") american chestnut beams span the width of the building.
With the exception of a few barns and farm houses scattered around Montgomery
County and environs, you won't find the basic structural materials anywhere
else. After the flood three years ago, FEMA sent an adjuster to evaluate
the building. In his assessment, to replace the depot, build a replica,
would cost between 1.6 million and 1.8 million. Even then, it wouldn't
be built as well or be as structurally sound because the materials no
Old buildings and antique furniture do not require the use of new materials.
In most cases, their environmental footprints were fairly small, often
constructed from local materials-- the timbers and tresses, leg stock
and drawer backs came from local mills. There are exceptions of course,
Sears mail-order houses and items from the annual wishbook arrived by
rail and passed through the Depot. They have already outlived their environmental
impact. The same can't be said for new objects, especially those made
overseas with US raw material and shipped back to the US.
Places to Go....Things to Do
(Yeah...we promote places outside of Cambria as well...no
While this certainly isn't a complete list of everything
you can do or every place you can stay or eat, it provides a starting
spot for planning your next vacation. Whether your tastes run to museums
and art or hiking and kayaking, the New River Valley has something for
A list of the historic districts, sites, and structures,
with links to the National Register documentation, has been provided at
the end of the listing for each town, city, and county. Most of the sites
are privately owned and not open to the public. Those that are open to
the public are marked with an asterisk.
For more information
on the museums in the New River Valley, check out the New
River Heritage Coalition.
Cambria & Christiansburg
Depot Museum . Featuring the prototype models from The
Scale Cabinetmaker, railroad memorabilia, and Cambria history. Located
in the street-side waiting room of the Historic Cambria Depot. Corner
of Cambria and Depot Streets. Cambria Historic District, Christiansburg,
Virginia. Open Saturday and Sunday and by appointment.
Museum of Photography. Open on weekends. Cambria Street. Cambria
Historic District, Christiansburg, Virginia. Information on Earl Palmer
is available through the Archives at Virginia Tech.
Institute. Located in Christiansburg, the Christiansburg
Institute was historically located in Cambria (including mailing address),
so we've added it to our list. The original Christiansburg Institute
(also known as the Hill School) sits on the hill above the Cambria Depot.
The museum will be located in the Edgar A. Long Building, on Scattergood
Drive, in Christiansburg.
Montgomery Museum and Lewis Miller Regional Art Center. Located
at 300 S. Pepper Street in Christiansburg, Virginia. Admission is $2.00
Hosts the Fine
Arts Festival and the Heritage Days Festival.
Observatory and Museum.
Located in Dublin, Virginia (Pulaski County) and is open Friday nights
from 8:00 p.m. to 11 p.m. Call 540-641-0337 for more information.
Museum. Located in Radford Museum, the Glencoe Museum focuses
on the history of Radford and the New River Valley, including exhibits
that encourage children to interact with history.
Located on the Radford University campus in Radford Virginia.
Plantation. Located adjacent to the Virginia Tech campus, in
of Geosciences. Located in Derring Hall on the Virginia
Tech campus. The museum is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday Through Friday
and has free admission.
Museum (St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall of Blacksburg
Museum). Located at 203 Gilbert Street, Blacksburg. They are open Wednesday
- Friday, from 1 to 5 p.m. and has free admission.
has a wealth of Historic Districts, including three in Christiansburg,
two in Blacksburg, and one rural historic district (North Fork Valley)
and seven historic districts in Montgomery County. While the authors
of this website intend on providing a travelogue for the historic districts,
we are currently building the rest of this site, so the districts will
have to wait. In the meantime, we have provided links to the Historic
District and Historic Structure Nomination Forms for all of the historic
sites, including individual structures, in Cambria and environs.
Courtyard. Located on the Radford University campus in Radford
Virginia. Radford University sponsors a national sculpture competition
that brings ten new works to Burde Sculpture Courtyard each year. The
sculptures are on exhibit from May 1st through Thanksgiving. One of
the ten sculptures is purchased and installed on the Radford University
Theatre. The Lyric, a combination of Art Deco and Spanish
Colonial Revival, was opened in 1930 and restored in 1998. The Lyric
hosts a combination of community events, live entertainment, and art
films. If you are visiting the area, check the Lyric schedule from good,
reasonably priced entertainment. A note about parking in Blacksburg.
There is parking available behind the Main Street buildings on the north
side and at a parking garage on the corner of Washington and Draper.
the Mountain Craft Trail.
Farms. Located two miles south of Christiansburg on Route
8 (I-81 Exit 114). In addition to having a nature trail, Sinkland Farms
hosts the annual Pumpkin Festival (Saturdays and Sundays, October through
early November), A Chili cookoff, a corn maze, the Cottage Shoppe for
unique gifts, Christmas supplies and trees, and fresh produce from Montgomery
and Floyd Counties. It is well worth a visit, especially between September
Starlite Drive-In. One of the few working drive-in movie theaters
left. It is located on the south side of Roanoke Street, half way between
the 3B exit and the light at Depot Street.
Toys, and Cool Businesses.
Cambria Toy Station. The Cambria Toy Station specializes in
environmentally friendly toys, including wooden trains, blocks, and
puzzles, cooperative games, and other cool stuff from Maple Landmarks,
Haba, Imagiplay, Family Pastimes, Keva, Goobi, and others. Corner of
Cambria and Depot Streets, Trackside waiting room in the Christiansburg
(Cambria) Depot, Cambria Historic District, Christiansburg, Virginia.
Cambria Emporium. Unique, high quality antiques from 15 different
dealers. The Emporium is located in a three story, brick commercial
building constructed in 1908 and located at the corner of Cambria and
Depot Streets. Cambria Historic District, Christiansburg, Virginia
Ridge Heating and Air. & Crab Creek Country Store. Blue
Ridge carries a broad range of wood stoves and accessories, as well
as Joan Baker stained glass.
Etcetera. Embroidered Gifts plus embroidery, Sewing, Doll Making,
and Quilting Supplies. Embroidery Etcetera is located in the Dew Drop
Inn building (the site of the first hospital in Montgomery County) at
the intersection of Cambria and Depot Streets, in the heart of the Cambria
Automotive LLC. If you need your domestic or your foreign car repaired,
tuned up, or gandered at, this is the place to take it. Graves and the
guys are located at 615 Depot Street (at the intersection of Depot and
Cambria). They are our local experts in all things automotive and model
Main. An antique mall located on "Courthouse Square" (corner
of Main and Franklin), Christiansburg, Virginia.
Where to Stay: Bed
Oaks Victorian Inn.. An award winning bed and breakfast (a four
star rating), located in an 1889 Victorian Mansion in the East Main
Historic District in Christiansburg, Virginia. The Oaks is within easy
walking distance to downtown Christiansburg (3 blocks) and a slightly
longer walk to the Cambria Historic District.
Inn at Hans Meadow. An award winning bed and breakfast
located in a 154 year old mansion at the corner of Roanoke and Depot
Streets in Christiansburg, Virginia.
Beliveau Bed & Breakfast. North Fork Rural Historic District.
Blacksburg, Virginia (Opening, July 2007)
Bell-Capozzi House. East Main Historic District. Christiansburg,
Where to Eat: Getting
away from the Chains
Italian Restaurant. Located just north of the Cambria Historic
District on Cambria Street, Amelia's has first rate food served in a railroad
themed atmosphere. We recommend the calamari and the eggplant parmesan.
Reviews available at Urban
Spoon and Yelp.
and More. Okay, so this restaurant isn't quite in
Cambria, or even in Christiansburg, but there is a connection. The Cambria
Depot remained a working depot (until 1960 when the railroad was displace
by trucks) in large part because of the amount of produce and livestock
being produced in southern Montgomery County, including Riner, and Floyd
County. Besides, this place is terrific. They have, inarguably, the best
burgers around....and sweet potato fries...and sides....and deserts...and.....
They are located in Riner (4 miles south of Christiansburg on Route 8...going
towards Floyd) and are well worth the trip south. Check out the food review
The Roanoke Times or take our word for it....this
is a great place.
Chinese Restaurant. A Chinese restaurant in the heart of downtown
Christiansburg. Charlie's is located at 35 West Main and is known for
Sesame Chicken, General Tso Shrimp, or their tasty Crab Rangoon. Within
easy walking distance from the East Main Historic District. Check
out the reviews at Yelp
and the Urban
Depot. Located just down the street from Charlies, in Downtown
Christiansburg, and an easy trek from the East Main and Franklin Street
Historic Districts (a bit of a hike from Cambria!), the Coffee Depot combines
coffee, lunch options that do not smack of fast food, and a gallery. They
also have free wi-fi, so you can catch up on email. Check out the work
of local artists, sip a leisurely cup of coffee while reading the newspaper
or one of the books, or plan your day while watching the downtown come
alive in the early morning.
Drive-In. Located on Roanoke Street, next to the Starlite
Drive-in Theater, Dude's is the quintessential local drive-in burger joint,
complete with car-hops. By all accounts, they have great burgers and great
milk shakes. It's the kind of place reminiscent of Happy Days,
so if you are in the mood for nostalgia, this is a good place to go. For
a review, check out RoadFood.com
South Barbeque. If you like barbeque, go here. The
food is excellent, and they also have live blue grass on Tuesdays, Thursdays,
and Fridays to boot. If you are traveling through on a Wednesday, kids
eat free with the purchase of an full priced adult dinner plate, and Tuesdays
are "all you can eat." Their website includes a calendar of
events. You can check out the reviews at Urban
Spoon and Yelp.
Located on the "strip" (US 460/Rt 11), Hunan house is
a local favorite. In addition to a buffet (which is what we usually get),
you can order off the menu or have the Mongolian grill. We recommend the
hot sour soup and the sesame chicken. The service is good and the atmosphere
is reasonably low-key (not particularly garish). Into is located on the
north side of the street, and it is easy to miss if you are not looking
for it. You can check out the reviews at Urban
Spoon or Yelp.
A personal favorite. Terrific food, daily specials, and the best coffee
in town. Lucie Monroe's is comfortable, much like one's favorite blue
jeans jacket. The best way to check the doings and their "soups of
the day" is through their facebook
page (which they update more often than their website). Our
recommendation...try the curry tuna salad sandwich and any of their soups.
They have free wi-fi, so you can work while having a cup of really excellent
coffee. They are located close to the interstate and the 460 bypass, so
they are fairly easy to get to by car. Unfortunately, their location is
not particularly walkable. You can check out the reviews on Urban
Spoon and Yelp.
Summit Restaurant. One of two upscale restaurants
in town and the only one that can be described as gourmet. Located in
one of the remaining grand old houses in downtown Christiansburg, it combines
a beautiful understated atmosphere with excellent food. If you are looking
for an a restaurant for a special meal or you just like really excellent
food, this is the place to go. It is within easy walking distance of the
East Main Historic District (site of most of the town's bed and breakfasts).
Located on College Street, it is tucked away one block off Main. You do
need to make a reservation because of both its popularity and its limited
space. You can check out the reviews on
Trip Advisor and Yelp.
Shopping Small / Shopping Local
Cambria has what is these days a unique distinction. There are no big
box stores, no chain establishments. We don't have a fast food joint
(although Amelia's has a terrific lunch buffet during the week); we
don't have large stores with large advertising budgets. All of the businesses
in Cambria are locally-owned, and most are family-owned. Some of our
businesses are fairly new, but most have been here for decades (Bane
and Electrical Supply probably vie for the longevity award).
While we may be small, every business down here is known for quality
customer service. Indeed, customer service is the hallmark of small
and locally owned businesses. We not only pay taxes here and contribute
to the local economy, we live here. We volunteer our time to local organizations,
root for the local teams, and believe in the value and future of our
We believe in building relationships not only with our community,
but also with our customers. Most of us know our customers by their
first names. We take the time to get to know our customers and to get
know what they want or need.
The Cambria Business Directory
Spend some time in Cambria
and you'll be hooked...
Small central business districts are the historic hearts of communities.
Cambria, Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Shawsville, and Radford downtowns
are not different. But they thrive only if they are visited and supported.
An added plus? All of the stores in Cambria are family owned businesses.
Small shops encourage browsing, encourage looking for that one great
or unusual present that can't be found anywhere else. The Historic Cambria
Downtown fits just such a bill. We have the unusual, the unique. Whether
you plan to spend a few minutes or a few hours, Cambria is a great place
to shop for interior accents and furniture, decorative objects or hearths,
toys for play or for show, art and embroidery supplies, and conversation
- Historic Cambria Depot
- Check out the toys in the Cambria Toy Store;
- Try your hand at Keva Planks (a Virginia Owned Toy Company);
- Check out The Scale Cabinetmaker miniature exhibits
in the Dorsett Publications workshop and learn about scale modeling;
- Take a paper modeling/paper craft mini class or join in the
fray at the Friday Brown Bag lecture series
- If you are over 55, stop in on Senior Thursdays and enjoy a
cup of coffee or tea, learn a craft, or shop the Toy Store with
a special senior discount; and
- Learn about the history of Cambria and the Cambria Depot.
- Cambria Emporium
- Browse the booksellers on the first floor and find the perfect
vacation or snow day read;
- Wander through the antique booths and find hidden treasures
(these folks are always bringing new stuff, so the place is never
quite the same); and
- Check out the new "local artisans" area, which features
Appalachian crafts and fine woodworking. Note: The Emporium
is just beginning to develop the local crafts area, so periodically
check back and see who is new. Our first artisan is Trev Smih,
a craftsman from the Blacksburg area, who makes wooden bowls and
hand crafted furniture. Really nice stuff....his bowls are getting
- Amelia's Italian Restaurant
- Enjoy their lunch buffet (a bit everything on the menu...pizza,
pasta, subs, and much more. Their lunch comes with a fresh side
salad, so come hungry; or
- Stop in mid-afternoon for a drink and dessert. A good place
to go relax, have a bite, and enjoy being out of the weather.
- Crab Creek Country Store
- Check out Crab Creek Country Store. While you are there, ask
about Vermont Castings stoves and soap stone stoves and "the
Egg" (the world's best barbeque equipment), and their great
selection of candles and primatives. A terrific place to find
that unusual gift
Located in the Historic Cambria Depot (c. 1868), on the
south side of the Cambria Street railroad crossing, the Cambria Toy
Station specializes in traditional and unusual toys, toys created with
both children and adults in mind, including toys from Melissa and Doug,
Folkmanis, ToySmith, 4-M International, Maple Landmarks, KEVA Planks,
Klutz, ImagiPlay, Haba, Family Pastimes, and many other companies. We
specialize in toys that encourage children and adults to engage in active
play and active learning. We also carry a wide variety of art supplies,
craft and science kits, and our personal favorites...puppets.
Address: 630 Depot Street NE
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday,
1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Phone: 540.382.6431
Cambria Toy Station
in the Surface Block/ Lee Mercantile (c. 1908), the Cambria Emporium
is one of the oldest antique collectives (est. in 1987) in this end
of Virginia. In addition to a wonderful array of antiques, the Emporium
also features vintage and collectibles, books, and work by local artisans
and craftsmen. Starting this spring, the Emporium is opening a new area
on the first floor that specializes in the work of local artists and
artisans. Whether you are looking for a perfect gift, a great piece
of furniture, a good read, or the ideal accent, the Cambria Emporium
should be your first stop.
Address: 596 Cambria Street (at Cambria St / Depot
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Vermont Castings and Hearthstone to the best in country interior accents
and barbeque equipment and tools, Blue Ridge is the place for getting
everything to make your home warm and comfortable. A family owned company
since 1989, Blue Ridge is on the north side of the tracks on Cambria
Street in the Cambria Historic District.
Address: 925 Cambria Street NE (right across the
tracks from the Cambria Emporium...don't ask about the street numbering
Hours: 8 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 9
a.m to 1 p.m on Saturday.
Phone: 540. 382.1086
Creek Country Store
in 1963 and moved to Cambria in 1983 (located in the livingroom while
we rehabbed the Depot), Dorsett Publications, a second generation family
owned company, has long been known as one of the premier publishers
for architectural and furniture scale modeling books and for the scale
modeler's journal, The Scale Cabinetmaker. In 2010, the company
branched out and began publishing The Community Planner, a
how-to journal on government and planning (think Popular Mechanics meets
local government). Their modeling workshop and publication offices are
located in the street-side waiting room and in the freight house of
the Historic Cambria Depot.
Address: 630 Depot Street NE
Hours of Operation: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Saturday;
International Sales Office is open until 11 p.m. Monday - Thursday.
in 1997, Embroidery Etcetera is one of the new businesses in the Cambria
Historic District. Embroidered Gifts plus embroidery, sewing, doll making,
and quilting supplies. Embroidery Etcetera is located in the Dew Drop
Inn building (the site of the first hospital in Montgomery County) at
the intersection of Cambria and Depot Streets, in the heart of the Cambria
Address: 599-A Depot Street
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday
Also located in the old Dew Drop Inn/Altamont Hospital
Building, Tech-Express (founded in 1992) provides high quality graphic-related
products and services, including display hardware; display graphics;
signs, posters, and banners; offset printing; graphic design; scanning;
and photography. These guys do very cool work.
Address: 597-A Depot Street NE
Hours: 8:30 - 5:00 Monday through Friday, but they
are around most weekends and are available by email if you don't catch
them in the shop.
Pizzeria & Restaurant
A local favorite, Amelia's is a family owned Italian restaurant
and pizzaria and is the only restaurant in Cambria. It is within easy
walking distance (about two blocks) from the main business district
and is great place to go for lunch (lunch buffet is excellent and is
very reasonably priced) or for those evenings when you just can't face
Location: 1130 Cambria Street NE
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
available online from Urban Spoon
Pizzaeria & Restaurant
Electrical Supply Co.
Supply is a local institution. Started by Charles Ashworth an his sons
in 1972 , Electrical Supply is a great place to go if you need new lighting
fixtures or electrical supplies, including breakers for every panel.
594 Depot Street, next to the Cambria Emporium, at the intersection
of Depot and Cambria.
Hours of Operation: Monday - Friday, early
until 5 p.m.
Phone: 540.382. 6179
Electrical Supply Co.
The Chair Doctor
Need a chair caned or rejoined? The Chair Doctor, established
in 1980, specializes in chair upholstery and restoration. While they
are not a walk-in business, they can be contacted by phone. You will
need to make an appointment.
Address: 945 Cambria Street NE, Suite B
Main Street Auto Repair
Want to multi-task? Take a few minutes and wander around
the Cambria Business District while Graves tunes up your car. Main Street
Auto is located in the old Cambria Service Center garage at the intersection
of Cambria and Depot Streets. It is also right across the street from
a Blacksburg Transit/Christiansburg bus stop, so if you have to leave
your car, there are transportation alternatives.
Location: 615 Depot Street NE
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday