Main street mentality

Jamestown thriving through small-town living

 

The drive through Jamestown is short but scenic. From bucolic pastures to small-town storefronts, it makes up for in charm what it lacks in size. Should you decide to spend a day — or even a weekend — in this little Triad town, then you’ll find one-of-a-kind retail shops, upscale dining, outdoor adventure and colonial history, all within a few square miles.

 

Bridging the Triad

Head down High Point Road in southwest Greensboro and you’ll notice that the traffic-prone commercial district slowly begins blending into a relaxing drive past white-fenced pastures with grazing horses. On your drive, you’ll pass through a haunted underpass beneath the Southern Railway. Soon after, you’ll cross over from High Point Road onto Jamestown’s Main Street.

 

Continue your journey, and you’ll come upon quaint antiques shops and flag-lined brick sidewalks. Be sure not to blink, because Main Street quickly fades into High Point’s Greensboro Road shortly after passing Jamestown’s historic Mendenhall Plantation.

 

If it were any other town, it might simply be a provincial blip in a primarily urban county, but Jamestown offers a unique combination of history, beauty, and location that makes it a desirable place to live, visit, and do business.

 

Aanessa Reeves, owner of Faux Bella Inc., made her home in Jamestown and eventually set up shop there as well. The New York native says she loves the spot for her design studio, located just off Main Street downtown, because of its charm and convenience, since many of her clients come from throughout the Triad.

 

“Jamestown is centrally located, which is great for me,” Reeves says. “I can easily get to Winston, Burlington or High Rock Lake. It’s right in the middle of it all.”

 

Matthew Johnson, the town’s planning director, acknowledges this unique combination as well.

 

“Jamestown holds great promise in promoting its unique small-town charm amidst the convenience of the city,” he says.

 

“We are well known as a great bedroom community with access to good schools, an attractive tax rate and great public services,” Johnson adds. “Our location near major thoroughfares, interstates, and airports allows for rapid and easy access to the Piedmont Triad region.”

 

Culture and collectibles

While Jamestown certainly is convenient to Triad hot spots, it also has a lot to offer on its own terms. For example, it’s recently become a go-to destination for antiques and home décor collectables. Stores like River Twist, a home and garden store located in a renovated early 20th century gas station, and Beverly’s Down the Hill, an antique and consignment furniture store that formerly was called Beverly Hills on Main, offer unique collectables and décor that can’t be found at big-box stores.

 

“We have vintage furniture, jewelry and décor, and we have consignment furniture of all kinds,” says Beverly Foster, owner of Beverly’s Down the Hill.

 

Park your car anywhere along the town’s small Main Street district and you can easily walk from store to store, picking up fun, beautiful, unique treasures along the way.

 

If you get hungry on your shopping hunt, then make a stop at Southern Roots, a foodie’s delight that originally opened in downtown High Point. When owners Lisa Hawley and Mary Ragsdale decided to move the restaurant, they chose Jamestown. They’re also planning a coffee shop down the street.

 

A storied suburb

In the early 18th century, Keyauwee Indians roamed and hunted the area that’s now Jamestown. Visitors can explore these same grounds by way of the city’s many hiking trails — whether it’s through Gibson Park’s wooded paths or the paved greenway that meanders through Jamestown on its route across Guilford County.

 

For something more, visit City Lake Park, where you can rent canoes, pedal boats and fishing equipment. If you’d rather be in the water than on the water, take a walk up the hill to the public swimming pool and waterslides. There’s also a playground, merry-go-round and miniature train track.

 

There are several old buildings on City Lake Park’s grounds that make up a former Quaker meeting house and general store that was owned by Richard Mendenhall, a member of one of Jamestown’s first families.

 

Quakers began settling Jamestown just before the Revolutionary War. During the antebellum era, they were part of the Underground Railroad, providing several stops and wagons to the cause. Mendenhall Plantation — located across from City Lake Park — offers tours of one of these stops. At the plantation, visitors also can view restored false-bottom wagons that were used to transport slaves to safety in the early to mid-19th century.

 

Jamestown has quite a bit of history packed into its modest borders. It is home to the Jamestown Rifle, a 19th-century muzzle-loading gun now famous among collectors; Tabitha Ann Holton, North Carolina’s first female attorney; and Oakdale Cotton Mills, the longest continually operating cotton mill in the U.S.

 

Great things to come

While this town has quite a past, it also has a hopeful future. According to Johnson, commercial and residential development has continued despite the national economic downturn. The town also soon will begin work on a new park across the street from the town hall that’ll include gardens, trails, and play areas and host concerts and outdoor performances. Other enhancements to the town include new pedestrian and cycling facilities, as well as a paddle trail that will connect a kayak and canoe trail on the Deep River with other communities throughout the state.

 

This revitalization of Jamestown’s public spaces — as well as its booming downtown business district — fit the community’s character and heritage while attracting a diversity of jobs, Johnson says.

 

“Jamestown is located between two large cities in one of the state’s largest metro regions, yet it retains the character of a small town,” he says.

 

“Neighbors still know other neighbors, people smile and wave when they pass, citizens can recall several generations of families who have lived here, and folks are always ready to lend a hand to others in need,” Johnson adds. “This small-town charm is something I find inspiring in light of the fact that we are part of a larger region of more than 1.5 million people.”

 

Jennifer Sellers is a freelance writer based in Greensboro.