Best Places to Live

Abingdon, VA

Population: 8,143
Brian McCord

When a developer wanted to subdivide land once used as muster grounds in the American Revolutionary War, the town of Abingdon, VA stepped in. The town purchased the nine-acre parcel for $800,000 in 2007 and is currently working to develop it into a national park.

There are many cultural attractions in Abingdon, a city rich with history, including Barter Theatre. The theater began as a kind of entertainment-for-food swap meet during the Great Depression. Residents and tourists enjoy Abingdon's small-town charm.

Historic preservation has become a focal point for Abingdon. They city's 20-block historic district falls under design guidelines that help protect the character of the area, which includes properties dating back to the late 1700s. In addition to federal and state tax credits, the town offers a five-year tax abatement program to property owners who renovate historic structures that meet certain qualifications. Garrett Jackson, director of planning for the Town of Abingdon says nearly 100 buildings have been saved since 1970.

"Our largest industry is tourism," Jackson says. "People come out just to look and walk through our historic district. It really gives a sense of the quality of life we enjoy here. That spreads out, like positive peer pressure and really gets to the other neighborhoods. Businesses want to locate here because of that quality of life."

Number of Properties on the National Register of Historic Places (including districts): 9

Historic Landmarks: The Martha Washington Inn (1832), The Tavern (1779), Barter Theatre (1933)