Waynesboro rebranding itself as arts destination
Nestled in the southeast corner of Franklin County, surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Waynesboro is gaining leverage as the hub of activity for the school district's four-municipality population.
Situated just on the Pennsylvania side of the Mason-Dixon line, the town and it's three companion municipalities have all the benefits of small-town America with the advantage of being close to urban centers in both Maryland and Pennsylvania.
These vibrant communities sit among picturesque farms, fields and forests of rural Pennsylvania, offering classic small town living while still within easy driving distance of big cities like Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
While the proximity of those cities with their availability of large shopping malls, big ticket entertainment and business opportunities might be a big lure for some, many others would find shopping malls in nearby Hagerstown and Frederick to be sufficient.
Opportunities abound for those looking at post-secondary educational opportunities, with Penn State's Mont Alto campus within the school district's borders and easy commutes to other nearby colleges and universities.
Just a hop, skip and jump away in nearby Hagerstown, Md., is Hagerstown Community College. For those wishing a technical education, Hagerstown is also home to a Kaplan college campus. Wilson College in Chambersburg is but a half hour drive, or Shippensburg University is within an easy commute.
Waynesboro was once a hub of industrial activity but the latter part of the 20th century saw much of those industries downsize and even disappear. Like many small towns around the country, the town was left with a smaller population and empty store fronts.
Changing with the times, community leaders have developed a destination economy for the town, drawing on the area's rich history to draw visitors and building an active arts movement to bring visitors to town.
Downtown Waynesboro is now rebranding itself as an arts destination, filling those empty store fronts with businesses where residents can take lessons and tourists can buy local works of art. Five galleries feature art by local artists, thanks to over 200 volunteers working with the Arts Alliance of Greater Waynesboro.
With its proximity to Gettysburg and other prominent Civil War battlegrounds, the Waynesboro area is also becoming a destination of choice, or at least a side trip, for Civil War buffs visiting both Gettysburg and the Monterey battlefield.
The area is also home to several museums and parks, including the 107-acre Renfrew Institute for Cultural and Experimental Studies and its companion Renfrew Park. Both indoor and outdoor events are staples at Renfrew most of the year, but other places are also tourist draws, including a restored Victorian home located in Waynesboro, the Oller House.
Waynesboro's origins go back to the mid-18th century when Scotsman John Wallace built a cabin on Antietam Creek and laid claim to the surrounding land. His son, John Wallace Jr., later laid out the town, naming it after Revolutionary War hero Anthony Wayne. Washington Township, which abuts Waynesboro, was named after George Washington.