Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Beautiful Bethany, WV

My summer of "stay-cations" has officially begun (even though it is still spring)!  And I can't wait to tell you about Bethany, WV!  

In the magazine world, we often work on stories a year in advance. For example, we go to press in February on our spring issue, so for our articles to accurately represent the season, we have to photograph them the year before.  So, I'm working on a story about the lovely town of Bethany for spring 2010. But I'm going to give you a sneak peak, because I feel like I've discovered a hidden gem. 

Bethany has five sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places, two of which -- Old Main and the Campbell Mansion -- are also National Historic Landmarks, but it is best known as the location of Bethany College.  Now, I've been out of school for a long time, and quite honestly, I've not missed it -- that is, until my visit to Bethany College.  To call Bethany's campus picturesque doesn't do it justice. The gothic architecture of Old Main and the surrounding buildings is breathtaking--it conjures up images of European universities. The campus is one of the most serene college campuses I've ever visited--it reminded me of the St. Andrews University in Scotland. I felt smarter just walking through the courtyards!

Founded in 1840 by Alexander Campbell, an innovative educator, debater, and Christian reformer, it is the birthplace of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and it has become one of the leading liberal arts colleges in the nation.

This summer (or spring) take a drive to the Northern Panhandle. Bethany is just a short distance from Wheeling.  If you drive through the town of Bethany, past the soccer fields, you'll come to the visitor's center at the Campbell Mansion.  You'll meet Felicity Ruggiero, who is a delightful tour guide.  For larger groups, call in advance, and Felicity can organize a luncheon for your group in a private dining room at the college. Or you can grab a sandwich at Chambers General Store or head to nearby West Liberty and eat at Road Worthy Restaurant and Tavern. If you spend the night, stay at the 40-room Gresham House Inn.