WESTON — The up-and-coming Weston Town Hub recently shined in the Mountain State’s spotlight again when the progressive space’s co-owner was recognized as a “2021 Wonder Woman” by WV Living magazine. Ashley Montgomery was honored to receive this award, acknowledging her as a “visionary” in Weston’s downtown revitalization efforts.
“You are being recognized for your work to revitalize the community of Weston. While I realize there are plenty of people behind these efforts, we selected to honor you this year,” WV Living magazine told Montgomery.
According to Montgomery, preparing for the HGTV contest “Home Town Takeover” sparked a fire in the citizens of Weston and essentially started it all. WV Living magazine contacted Jenna Whiston—who collaborated with Montgomery to create Weston’s promotional video—while they were in the process of submitting their application and gaining significant interest from the community. “Jenna and I came up with where to eat, what to do, where to stay, and they featured Weston in the magazine and titled it, ‘We can’t wait to say we knew you when,’” Montgomery recounted.
Through this process, Montgomery and Whiston created a new concept for the town seeking change—“Minutemen Collaborate.” This concept subsequently inspired Minutemen from several generations to get involved in revitalizing Weston. Montgomery explained, “It was cool that they even had heard about it and found out about it. They knew about the Minutemen Collaborate momentum—the positive progress that Weston was starting to have after being stagnant for so many years.” For Montgomery, she and Whiston felt they were simply reminding the community how lucky they are with the town’s location and superb resources like the lakes and people. “It reminded people that we are the heart of West Virginia... and so many things have come from that,” she shared with excitement.
Although Weston was eventually selected as a Top 6 Finalist out of more than 5,000 entries for the HGTV series, they ultimately did not win. But things had already started to change, Montgomery noticed, as the community was motivated and inspired to revive Weston.
Fast forward to the end of August 2020, Montgomery and husband Nick, along with another couple, Adam Burkhammer and wife, Jamie, came together to figure out “what’s next” to continue that spark—thus creating the Weston Town Hub. The two families purchased the 24,000+ square foot dilapidated building, in addition to two adjoining lots, located in the middle of downtown Weston and across from the famous Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA). The name of the space “Weston Town Hub” was very intentional Montgomery noted, as she explained, “We want everyone to be part of our town’s new space.”
At the end of October 2020, the families made their purchase and intentions for the property public. They created a video simply asking for support from their hometown and Montgomery said they have been blown away. Montgomery explained that she has people stop by every day to see what is going on or to offer help in any way. Several community members and local businesses have donated their time, resources, and items toward their efforts in reconstructing. Although it “may not look like much now,” over 30 families have asked to place their businesses within the Weston Town Hub, and the two families already have ideas of their own as well, she explained.
The Montgomery family will be opening a craft beer taproom, while the Burkhammer family intends to open a butcher shop and expand on their family’s own idea of a local market/bakery similar to one in neighboring Buckhannon. “We want local. Corporate is not in our vision,” Montgomery distinguished. As of now, they have tentative plans to incorporate three restaurants, including a pizza shop, an independent bookstore, artisan demonstrations, a local retailer, a kayak rental and tour business, a coffee and fruit smoothie bar, business office spaces, cooking classes, and more—all within the Weston Town Hub. They also intend to offer a community commercial kitchen that can be utilized for reunions, wedding catering, canning, or whatever folks need.
The two families originally planned for luxury apartments upstairs, but after receiving differing feedback, they have decided to go with a 5,000 sq/ft event center. For the five potential co-working office spaces, they will offer memberships to utilize the space. According to Montgomery, they already have people renting space at the Town Hub, as is.
Montgomery’s favorite part of the property is what is now known as the “Front Porch,” which has recently been selected for the venue of the 2021 Lewis County High School Homecoming Dance. “There was a desperate need for an outdoor space,” she expressed.
Beginning this spring, Montgomery also started the “Second Saturday Street Fair” at the Weston Town Hub. Local artists, vendors and food trucks set up shop inside and outside the property, as locals and those from surrounding counties came to shop local and check out the new Town Hub. The two families have updated the outdoor area that now includes tables and chairs, flowers, string lights, a fire pit (donated and built by Larry J. Bush) and she assurs there is more to come. Five families have already bought trees in memory of their family members to be placed at the property as well.
According to Montgomery, other Weston properties have been purchased as a result of the momentum they have sparked. “Other people are interested in Weston’s future,” she elaborated. Although the two families are eager to begin major renovations to the inside of the property, they have reportedly come to a roadblock due to the enormous 104’ wide trusses currently impeding the much-needed roof replacement. By code, they can only be 88’ and Montgomery said they haven’t found someone able to help yet. They have searched nationwide, but they’re hopeful someone will come along that is able to assist with replacing the roof soon.
Several groups and organizations are already utilizing the property, but they are also eager for the future—including the return to a two-way Main Avenue once again. In a 2015 traffic study, it was reported that approximately 3,600 people travel down Main Ave. each day. Montgomery is hopeful to make that at least 7,200 after Main Avenue becomes a two-way street again, as originally intended. Montgomery encourages community members to keep an eye out for upcoming public meetings regarding this meaningful proposition that she believes will help bring the downtown area back to life.
There are so many things in the works for this upcoming downtown, Montgomery emphasized. “What an incredible honor it is to be recognized by WV Living magazine. It’s exciting to know that the word has gotten out that Minutemen Collaborate!” she exclaimed. The previous class of Wonder Women nominate the new class and they received 205 nominations this year, Montgomery noted.
Fifty “Wonder Women” are selected from the nominees each year, and Montgomery is honored to be included in the eighth class. “Since 2014, WV Living magazine has been honoring West Virginia Wonder Women, amazing women who are raising the bar in their communities, serving as beacons of light in their industries, and forcing change for the greater good,” the publication shared. “We celebrate these Appalachian mavens proving that in a time full of uncertainty, love for one another is all we really need. No need for bulletproof bracelets or a golden lasso of truth—these women are creating a better West Virginia with their can-do attitudes and Mountain State spirit.” The WV Living Wonder Woman recognition event has been rescheduled for November 30, due to the pandemic.
To stay up-to-date with the Montgomery and Burkhammer families’ renovations to the up-and-coming Weston Town Hub, follow their Facebook and Instagram pages. If you know anyone interested in tackling the roof project, please contact them today and help continue the revitalization of downtown Weston.