Main Street group brings craftspeople to the streets

June 30, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - In addition to the restaurants and retail shops in the lower town area of Harpers Ferry, a new offering for tourists is in the works.

It's local craftspeople at work and it's just what the public wanted.

Last year, tourists visiting Harpers Ferry were surveyed to determine what type of attractions they would like to see in town, said Linda Rago, program director for Harpers Ferry Main Street.

Tourists repeatedly said they would like to see more craftspeople, Rago said.

Main Street officials are now out to satisfy the wishes of visitors, and so far three crafters have set up shop in town.


At Melody Music, visitors will be able to see Joe Osment build dulcimers, and at Westwind Potters, they can watch Justin Parker work wonders with stained glass.

Up the street, Brian Little is showing passers-by the art of clockmaking.

The shops are along High Street, just above Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Little was living in Brunswick, Md., when Main Street officials discovered him, Rago said. Little had worked as a clockmaker in Williamsburg, Va., and Main Street officials encouraged him to give his business a try in Harpers Ferry, Rago said.

Inside his shop Sunday, cuckoo clocks hung on a wall waiting for a new home, and pieces of wood were situated around the room.

The Westwind Potters shop has been in business for 20 years, and to celebrate the milestone, owner Jane Murto brought stained glass artist Justin Parker into the mix.

Parker makes all sorts of stained glass creations, including transom windows, lamp shades and suncatchers, which are small stained glass creations that are hung in windows. Just recently, Parker began making stained glass pieces based on classic quilting designs.

Tourists can watch Parker design the creations in a corner of his shop.

Westwind Potters and Melody Music are next to each other along a set of steps that extend down from High Street toward Potomac Street.

In addition to making dulcimers at his shop, Osment said he will offer "quick lessons" to visitors to his shop.

"It's kind of amazing what you can learn in 10 minutes," said Osment, who has been building dulcimers for about 15 years.

"It's very user-friendly," Osment said, describing his shop.

Osment plans to offer kits that allow customers to build their own dulcimers, and he wants to sell small instruments that hikers passing through on the Appalachian Trail can take with them.

Osment just recently began setting up his shop, and banjos, dulcimers, guitars and other instruments already are displayed around the room.

Another attraction that Harpers Ferry Main Street wants to try is live music sessions, Osment said. In the program, dubbed "Alive after Five," musicians will jam in a courtyard outside Osment's shop.

The session, which would give tourists a chance to listen to live music, initially is being planned for Saturday evenings, Osment said.

In the meantime, Harpers Ferry Main Street officials plan to look for additional craftspeople to bring to Harpers Ferry, Rago said.

Tourists also have requested an old-time photographer, where subjects are dressed up in period attire for pictures, Rago said.

"We haven't found one yet, but we're still looking," Rago said.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people descend on Harpers Ferry to see the restored town where abolitionist John Brown made his failed attempt to take over a federal armory in 1859. It was one of the events that sparked the Civil War.

The Herald-Mail Articles