Small Town-itis

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Welcome to Lewistown, PA.  I have no doubt that most of the world has never heard of this place.  It’s my home.

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“Don’t let small town life make your life small.” – Chris Colfer

Downtown Lewistown
A view looking from near the square to the west end of Lewistown

What is it about small towns that make people want to run for the hills?  Is it the fact that there doesn’t seem to be anything to do?  Is it that everyone knows everyone’s business?  Over the years, I’ve come to realize that this attitude is probably true of every small town {or medium-sized town} in the world.  I feel like every high school graduation speech could be concluded with a phrase like, “Run for your life!” or “Get out! Go, as fast as you can!”  I think part of the mindset has to do with restlessness.  Another large part has to do with growing up and finding your own identity, apart from what you’ve grown up with and who you’ve known.

The Miller Cinema, a downtown fixture
The historic “Miller Cinema 6,” a small-town theater that has tried to keep up with the larger modern theaters over the years. Although many prefer to drive 30 minutes to see a movie in one of the bigger chain theaters, this theater offers small-town convenience and slightly better pricing.

 When I graduated from high school, I had little intention of coming back home.  By the time I finished college, I knew that I was going wherever I got a job.  Ironically, my design degree brought me back to the very same small town that I came from.  Before I moved back, I remember saying something like, “If I move back home, I’m going to have to buy every empty building in Downtown Lewistown and do something with it!” Obviously, that would require a very large purse.  One of which, I do not have.

It’s not that I don’t love my town.  It’s my home.  My family is here, and it is truly a beautiful place to live.  Sadly, like so many other small towns everywhere, our town just got stuck in a time warp somewhere between the invention of the mall and the explosion of internet commerce.  This once thriving town was {and still is} full of vacant, neglected storefronts.

A view of East Market Street. Although this side of the street has been updated and houses many thriving businesses, the opposite side still leaves a lot to be desired. Current construction has made downtown travel and business dealings difficult this year.

The good news is, someone is doing something about that.  Several “someones,” in fact. It’s not an easy task, and it’s one that has to be done on purpose. But one baby step at a time, this town is improving.  We have a Planning Commission that is working hard to secure a positive future and growth opportunity for our town, and to help ensure we don’t fall back into the rut of that doomed time warp.

Let me share with you some of the most recent notable improvements in our town.  They are a series of murals done by artist Dwight Kirkland, a local muralist with incredible talent.
{For more of Mr. Kirkland’s work including many local projects, visit his website. I think you’ll be very impressed!}

Mural at Victory Park, under the river bridge that crosses the Juniata River in Lewistown
Mr. Kirkland’s most recent work was done for the cost of materials only, and is situated just off the town square for great visibility. His art is truly breathtaking

 

I hope you enjoyed “visiting” my town through photos.  Who feels the way I do about their hometown?  Do you think it’s possible to bring these small towns back to life, when technology seems to be leaving them in the dust?  I’d love to hear what you think!

-Cherie

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