The Shops at Heritage Station are transforming the way people spend time in downtown Huntington.
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At the end of a long week, Thomas McChesney wants to relax. For him, that means finding the things he loves in one, cool place. These days, he and his wife, Stacy, find everything they want at Heritage Station—the historic train depot in downtown Huntington that has exploded with new shops and businesses in the last two years, thanks in part to the McChesneys themselves.
“One Saturday last fall, I was able to buy bread at River and Rail Bakery, then went over to Bottle & Wedge to pick up cheese and got my favorite beer on this planet. I went home and cracked it open and thought, ‘The effort was all worth it,’” he says, having been a longtime volunteer working to revive Heritage Station. “We have access to a lifestyle that we didn’t have before.”
Heritage Station has gone from a quiet place with many offices and little retail activity to a bustling center of one-of-a-kind stores. A plethora of local art, jewelry, furniture, craft beers, gourmet cheeses, wine, and gifts surrounds a charming courtyard where people relax with a European pastry from the bakery or a drink during one of the many weekend events, like Party on the Patio, which takes place on Fridays through September.
The Cabell-Huntington Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Greater Huntington Parks & Recreation District called the old depot home, saw potential, and launched a redevelopment project to recreate an artisan center there. The McChesneys got involved with Heritage Station as part of efforts with Create Huntington, a nonprofit group aimed at bettering the community. At the time, they also started work on market research to determine how to revive the historic space. “It really took off through the efforts of Thomas and Stacy and Create Huntington,” says Tyson Compton, president of the CVB.
Nearly all of the shops at Heritage Station are new to the area, providing services that didn’t exist before. “There’s a shop where you can build your own six-pack of any variety from something like 200 beers. It wasn’t more than a couple of years ago that you could barely get anything beyond Samuel Adams in town,” Thomas says.
Bottle & Wedge owner Blaine Crabtree opened his beer store last summer, also selling specialty wines, cheese, and other snacks. The specialty shop can also provide alcohol for weddings. “I’ve always had a passion for craft beer, and this was something Huntington was lacking,” says Blaine, president of the shopkeepers’ association.
From his post above the courtyard, Blaine sees a buzz of excitement that is new to the area. “Heritage Station is not the Heritage Station of old. It’s a vibrant and growing selection of shops,” he says. “This is a great spot to walk around with your family. It’s safe. It’s beautiful. It’s one of very few places I know where you can really feel history.”
History is part of the appeal for visitors, and all of the spaces at Heritage Station are unique. Blaine’s shop is in what was the original Bank of Huntington—robbed by the Jesse James gang in 1875. Jameson Cigar Company is another interesting space, with an open loft design and cabinets full of specialty, small-batch cigars that were hand rolled in the Dominican Republic for owner Brad Mayo. Jameson has existed as an online store for about five years, but the shop at Heritage Station is the first storefront. “Cigars are steeped in tradition. There’s a lot of history in cigars, and that fits in with this mission. This is a great space,” Brad says.