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Front Royal is a small town in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Its natural, physical attributes are beautiful—the Skyline Drive, the Appalachian Trail, the George Washington National Forest, and the Shenandoah River run through the County. Consequently, it is a magnet for canoers, campers, day hikers, and through hikers. Although the physical attributes were bountiful and beautiful, downtown Front Royal itself was downtrodden and depressed. Downtown rents were the lowest in the County, which made investing in, and improving, real estate not financially lucrative. Our clients wanted to transform the downtown, to make the buildings and businesses more viable and vibrant. They wanted to recruit new businesses, as well as help reboot the existing ones. They started the process by buying two historic buildings, the Weaver Building and the Barnhart Building, which sit on opposite sides of downtown’s Main Street.

The Barnhart Building was a collection of nondescript buildings that were added to over the years. The back (alley side) of the building was built circa 1910- 1920 as a parking garage for the nearby Afton Motor Inn. The front, Main Street side, was originally a gas station, which was operation through the 1950’s. The gas station was turned into storefronts in the 1960’s. When we began the project, the four storefronts had a tall band of yellow and white stripped vinyl. Our clients wanted each business to have its own visual identity, so each got a new façade as its identifier. The brewery wanted access and visibility from Main Street; now a new storefront leads visitors from Main Street back to the restaurant brewery towards the rear of the building. In the brewery, new glass garage doors open up onto two outdoor dining spaces. The old poured concrete parking garage structure was stripped of all subsequent walls and ceilings and now the raw space, painted black, shows off its unexpected past.


  • Builder: Whittington Construction Co., Inc., Front Royal, Virginia
  • Structural Engineer: Painter-Lewis, P.L.C., Winchester, Virginia
  • Photographer: Nathan Webb, Reader & Swartz Architects