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Downtown News

Losing the Haas House: How Many More Losses Will It Take to Break the Cycle?

March 17, 2022 by Andrea Dono

Like many of you, HDR learned about James Madison University’s demolition of its 1880 historic Haas home at 741 S. Main Street from the DNR article “JMU To Tear Down Historic South Main Street House.” We are deeply disappointed about this loss and believe it should have been approached differently but can’t help but feel like it’s time for our community to choose if we want to continue lamenting the loss of historic buildings or if we want to finally put local protections in place so this pattern can finally be broken. more

Looking Back on 2021 and Forward to 2022

January 10, 2022 by Emily Winter

This year has gone by in a blur and when we look back at what we accomplished this year, it's easy to see why! Our small but mighty team at HDR had a different focus each season adjusting to a "new normal" and keeping our community members engaged with downtown and our locally owned businesses. Let's take a look back at how we celebrated and contributed to the Downtown Harrisonburg community in 2021 and see what is on the horizon for the new year! more

Friendly Faces of the Friendly City: Carl Goetz

May 1, 2020 by Katie Mitchell

Let me introduce you to your friend, Carl. You might not know him yet, but he’s your friend. He frequently announces his motto to anyone within earshot: “You have no idea how much I love you.” And he means it. He loves everyone, no exceptions. People as loving as he are few and far between. So I’m really happy, and honored, to tell you more about this long-time Friendly City resident, confirmed extrovert, river junkie, cyclist, art enthusiast, music dabbler, supporter of all things local, and devoted friend, Carl Goetz. more

The Making Space: Monthly Art and Community at the Lucy F. Simms Center

February 24, 2020 by Katie Mitchell

By Katie Mitchell / Photos by Philip Meador: Remember that Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille, the one where a rat lives inside a chef’s hat and shows the chef how to cook? The idea of rodents anywhere near my food is repulsive, but somehow I found myself loving those little scoundrels by the end of the film. The best part, of course, is when the food critic Anton Ego finally relaxes and reveals a covert truth: “In the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.” He admits, at last, what renowned chef Auguste Gusteau stated at the beginning of the film, that “anyone can cook.” Those words are a distant shout to the ordinary guy who aspires to greatness, arriving only as a barely audible yet soul-stirring whisper: JUST TRY. So often a fear of failure or criticism keeps us from trying something new. But the creators of Harrisonburg’s Making Space sincerely believe anyone can create, and they invite you and everyone you know to check your fears at the door and enjoy a couple of hours of free, low-stakes art-making. more

VISIONARIES: A Changing the Narrative Art Project

February 18, 2020 by Katie Mitchell

When you see Zaharia Ford-Byrd’s painting, currently housed in the Arts Council of the Valley’s Smith House Gallery, of a Stars and Stripes wrecking ball slamming into a bright, colorful, enlivened house, you might recall artist Hugo Gellert’s image of a strapping, muscular man wielding a sledgehammer over the quaint town beneath him. Gellert’s image, however, was used in a 1946 pamphlet titled “THIS IS IT,” generated by Norfolk’s Redevelopment and Housing Authority to promote the “creative destruction” involved in urban renewal initiatives. The simultaneous resemblance and contrast of these two images highlights an urge to conveniently blur the line between progress and violence. Hearing the voices of the urban residents on the receiving end of the wrecking ball lends the balance needed to understand the consequences of urban renewal and opens a space where it’s possible for healing to begin.  more

Friendly City Fortune

May 9, 2018 by Andrea Dono

We’re a month into our second Friendly City Fortune raffle fundraiser and we wanted to continue building excitement by sharing the projects that last year’s raffle is funding. Raffle proceeds contribute towards projects that directly benefit Harrisonburg; align with community values expressed in surveys, Idea Pop Ups, and focus groups; and create a downtown that we all love. Here’s exactly how: more