Staunton Stories Exhibit celebrates 20 years of Staunton Downtown Development Association

sdda logo2The Staunton Downtown Development Association hosted Staunton Stories, a one-day event to celebrate and document the people that make Downtown Staunton a dynamic and diverse community, to mark its 20-year anniversary.

The event was held at the R. R. Smith Center in March, and SDDA received almost 70 stories and items of memorabilia.

During the event, local residents and business owners were invited to bring up to three original photos or handheld items that told the story of their connection to Staunton. These items included photographs, documents, and memorabilia that relates to local families, businesses, downtown events, activities, social clubs, etc.

The data, digital images, and videos collected at the event have become part of the upcoming exhibit and an online archive housed on the SDDA website. The Staunton Stories Exhibit is being organized in partnership with the Historic Staunton Foundation, NBC Channel 29, Virginia Eagle Distributors, The Artisan Loft, FlyingWarthog Films, and the City of Staunton IT Department.

The Staunton Stories Exhibit Grand Opening is scheduled for Friday, June 17 from 6-9 p.m. at The Artisan Loft. The exhibit will run through July 31 and will consist of items collected at the March event, plus 20 years of photographs and documents depicting a history of Downtown development and SDDA accomplishments. 

“It is an honor to be part of the 20-Year Anniversary of the SDDA and to honor those people and organizations that make this community thrive,” says Julie Markowitz, director of the Staunton Downtown Development Association. “Everyone is invited to come and celebrate with us at The Artisan Loft, a new gallery space located above the Staunton Antiques Center at 19.”

The Staunton Stories Exhibit is funded by a $25,000 Downtown Investment Grant awarded by Virginia Main Street and is part of a series of activities and special promotions that not only commemorate the 20-year anniversary of SDDA but are designed to connect the Staunton Community to Downtown.

The SDDA was founded as a Virginia Main Street organization in 1996 and has been a driving force in the development of Downtown Staunton.

The idea for the March “Staunton Stories” was presented to the SDDA by Heather Cole, historian and newcomer to Staunton. Cole conducted a similar project in Massachusetts — the Massachusetts Memories Road Show — that held public events across the state to digitize family photographs and stories.

For more information about Staunton Stories, visit the SDDA website at