Newberry has transformed itself from a sleepy Southern town into an international arts and business center, and offers a total package of events and services.
Dine elegantly downtown before walking to the Newberry Opera House for comic opera, a Broadway play, modern dance or big band orchestra. Molly Fortune, the executive director of the historic facility comes from Atlanta’s Fox Theatre and she has brought a wonderful appreciation for the Opera House and the community that surrounds it. “We’ve bought a home built in 1888 and the entire family sees this as a great adventure,” she shared. Her children love the freedom of the small town, where Mom walks to work and the kids ride their bikes.
Ms Fortune not only appreciates the historic structure, but also the people who have supported the Opera House through its renaissance. “We want to applaud those who have helped this facility,” she said.
What will this facility look like in five years? “It’s going to be your hip grandma: stately, southern, strong and very cutting edge.” The Opera House is well on its way. The French gothic structure which hosted Tallulah Bankhead and the Barrymores is now showcasing events from around the world. Folks drive from all parts of the state to enjoy performances, and stay for the wonderful downtown restaurants, shops and pubs.
Expanding on the arts, the City showcases arts programming through the Newberry Arts Center. Newberry is rapidly gaining a reputation for a well-rounded arts culture and has hosted conferences drawing in national artists. Once famous for its cotton farms and mills, the town’s grand homes give proof of its former wealth. Now, Newberry is becoming high-tech. Jobs are plentiful, and the European and Asian companies that have built here are sending their new American employees overseas for training. Likewise, Newberry is growing accustomed to the Irish, British, Italian and Korean accents heard downtown and in meetings. And to accommodate those meetings, adjacent to the Opera House, the City operates the Firehouse Conference Center. The conference center was formerly the old fire house and is another successful adaptive reuse of an historic downtown building.
The Newberry County Memorial Hospital has great new services on site through relationships with other hospitals, capital investments like their new MRI service, and an oncology clinic. The hospital’s orthopedic surgeons have been named Top 10 percent in the Nation and Best in the Midlands for Joint Replacement for several years.
Newberry College has made important strides as well. Their enrollment is up to nearly 1,100 students, and they have new course offerings and concentrations that includes forensic sciences and nursing. The college ranked among the nation’s top regional colleges in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of America’s Best Colleges.
Ms. Fortune and her family are enjoying it all. “There are so many people who have a true love of place, here,” she said. “We all need to know where we came from, to help drive where we’re headed. Newberry is a touchpoint that delights those who visit, and who, like me, decide it is the perfect hometown.
Scott Sawyer, Newberry’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director, echoes Ms. Fortune’s appreciation for Newberry. “It’s just a great place to live. We like to emphasize we’ve got small-town living with big-city amenities. We’ve had retirees and entrepreneurs alike relocate to Newberry. Downtown is ideal for someone looking to relocate or start a business. With world-class entertainment, a thriving college, walkable downtown, first-rate health care, expanding arts options and quality events, there aren’t many places better to be than Newberry.”
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