Virginia Real magazine
The real  Virginia, old and new
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Louisa, Virginia


 

Louisa: Of war, peace and po’boys

     by Clarke Crutchfield

      Louisa is a quiet town in constant motion. There’s a settled sense of stillness about landmarks such as the 1908 courthouse, the Confederate monument and the old  neoclassical bank building in the square. Yet state Route 22 seems never at rest, and the Buckingham branch railroad runs through the tracks by the C&O depot on the town’s north side, underscoring the currents of commerce and history roaring straight through this town of 1,500 between Richmond and Charlottesville.  But there are plenty of places to offer hospitality to those who pause here.

     The critically acclaimed Obrigado restaurant has steady traffic of its own – local people who come for the artisan draft beers, oyster po’boys, pizza, cornmeal-crusted fried oyster, Louisa-Anna shrimp, pizzas and, on Sunday mornings, eggs Benedict, among other delights. While you’re waiting for the next course, you can look over the local paintings for sale on the walls or take in the ever-changing streetscape across from the courthouse square.

     Next door is Floozie’s Pie Shop, eat in or take out, where you can pick up a pie,  from all-American blueberry to white Russian, and have a barbecue pork pie for lunch. And that’s just the beginning.

         You can spend time at Solid Grounds Coffee House and Reactor One (fondly named for the local nuclear plant),  or shop for antiques and collectibles.

     Visit the site of the Battle of Trevilian Station, an 1864 cavalry clash in which  then-Gen. George Armstrong Custer, one of the Union commanders,  almost met his end at the hands of Confederate soldiers a decade before Native Americans cut short his career at Battle of the Little Big Horn. 

     Want to peel back a few more layers of culture and history? Try the Sargeant Museum of Louisa County, which features exhibits on the Revolutionary and Civil Wars in the county; and the Louisa Arts Center, with performances at the Cooke-Hailey Theater. Mainstream culture flows into the counterculture in the Twin Oaks Intentional Community, a group of about 100 people of diverse beliefs who choose to live together to embody the values of “cooperation, sharing, nonviolence, equality and ecology.” (But don’t just drop in: Call first and schedule a Saturday tour at (540) 894-5126.) 

    Whether you’re driving through or staying awhile, Louisa will shake up your ideas of small-town life. That could be taken literally: The town is 7 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake Aug. 23 that caused heavy damage in the region. All the same, quakes are rare here; hospitality and a sense of history are a constant, steadying presence.

      Learn more from the Piedmont Crossroads Visitor Center, (540) 832-0555 or www.visitlouisa.com

   Clarke Crutchfield is a writer in Fluvanna County. Contact him at acrutchf@embarqmail.com

  

      

   

 


barn photo by Grace E. Pedalino


 

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