Back to list

Friendly Faces of the Friendly City: Charles Hendricks of The Gaines Group Architects

April 3, 2024 by Meghan Johnson

Welcome to the Friendly Faces of The Friendly City! In celebration of Architecture Week April 14 – 20, today’s interview is with Charles Hendricks, Principal Architect, Sustainability Director, Marketing Director, and Business Manager of The Gaines Group Architects located here in downtown Harrisonburg.

Hendricks, is dedicated to his craft, being a father, and his variety of clients. Learn more about Hendricks, and The Gaines Group’s impact on downtown in our interview below.

What do you appreciate about downtown architecture? What makes it special?

Harrisonburg’s downtown has a rich history and many of the buildings that define the spaces we live, work, and play in have stories to tell. The Depot, where my office is now located, has rich stories of successful business, heartbreak, and fire. Tinky, one of the oldest railmen in the country, died of a broken heart in the building when he was forced to retire from the railroad. We have a bench in front of our building commemorating his love of the Chesapeake Western. There have been 5 fires in the Depot and it was abandoned for 35 years before the new building owners saved it and revitalized a corner of downtown. We now get to celebrate the arts on First Fridays in our hallway gallery and celebrate the history of this short line train in our foyer. Many of our downtown buildings have been saved and given new life. This fabric from the past weaves stories through our present and future.

Living in a community that values our history and the buildings that tell that story is special.”

What do you enjoy most about working downtown?

I love being part of this community. Everywhere I go I run into friends or soon-to-be friends. We are a large enough city to have incredible diversity, rich culture, and a variety of entertainment options, but small enough that everywhere you go you run into “your people.” Having our office in downtown allows for quick shopping trips or lunch meetings during the day, allowing you to get out, enjoy some fresh air, and support your friends.

What are some recent TGG Downtown projects you’re proud of?

We have a sliding-scale daycare that is currently under construction at the corner of S Federal St and E Market St. The Harrisonburg Rockingham Child Day Care Center will revitalize an existing building and provide infant care up to 4-year-olds. This Daycare provides a vital service to our community and we have been proud to work along side of them to develop a viable renovation plan that brings more affordable daycare options for infants to our downtown community. We have also designed a hot yoga studio, studio apartments, and a variety of office spaces in downtown over the years.

What are your favorite place to eat and shop downtown?

I have a hard time picking just one favorite place downtown – I recently wrote a blog about it.

During the work week I can be found frequently at Rocktown Kitchen having a fried chicken sandwich, or Beyond enjoying their salmon, or Texas Inn getting a cheesy western, or Jack Brown’s having an Elvis, or Billy Jack’s for mac and cheese bites. The list goes on and on, there is so much good food downtown and the service is quick so you can lunch and get back to work. Shopping downtown is also a joy with places like Heartworn Vintage and Ten Thousand Village or a fresh loaf of bread from Nico at Mill Song Bakery who sets up in the Farmer’s Market or stopping in to see Sara at The Lady Jane or visiting Delaney and Barbara at Oasis Fine Art and Craft.

How has TGG involvement in Design Committee with HDR made an impact?

I have volunteered for HDR on the design committee for many years. Working with downtown business owners is such a huge reward from helping Dinamic Cuts rework the interior of their space to creating new signage we get to assist entrepreneurs that are working on their dream. I met with Mike at Mashita to help him understand the steps he would need to go through to open his downtown restaurant. As a committee member I helped fund downtown murals and facade signage. It feels good to support these downtown businesses through HDR at no cost to the business. We are such a collaborative and supporting community.

What can you tell us about April’s First Friday Art?

Our April artist, Claire Parsley, will feature Victorian cat portraits in our second-floor gallery. We are excited to kick off the 2024 First Friday season at the Depot with this particular show. We love having the opportunity to include young artists in our space and celebrate our art community. First Friday gives us a chance to invite our friends into our office space to meet local artist, see some of our work, have impromptu conversations about architecture, politics, and downtown. We invite everyone to join us for this exciting event.

First Fridays is hosted by the Arts Council of the Valley, and it is an art-focused event taking place at venues all over Downtown and Rockingham County. Claire Parsley’s exhibit will be in the Depot on West Bruce Street. The show is free, and the Gaines Group will provide refreshments. Come support local artists on Friday, April 5 from 5 – 7 PM. 

Click here for more information!  

How can we celebrate Architecture Week?

Join us for a Valley Happy Hour on Wednesday, April 10 from 5 – 7 PM at Rocktown Kitchen. All designers are welcome!