by Amy Conry Davis
Welcome to Castle Street, quirky arts district on the south side of downtown Wilmington. According to the manager of Barfield’s Barber, a fixture since the 1970s, Castle Street used to buzz with grocers, bike repair shops and fish markets between 7th and 8th Street. Since then, the street has shifted to include countless antique shops, the Cape Fear Playhouse theater and a few small cafes.
Frankie Roberts, director of Leading Into New Communities (L.I.N.C.), a community-based nonprofit that aids men and women just getting out of prison, has been operating on Castle Street for over 10 years.
“Castle Street has changed tremendously,” Roberts said noting a decrease in crime and an increase of new businesses. “I would love to see more individuals who live in the neighborhood start small businesses,” he said.
On the corner of 3rd and Castle streets, Bonnie England opened Projekte, an art gallery and lounge in July 2010 to foster creativity, host art openings and offer classes in visual art, yoga and tai chi. In addition to participating in the Fourth Fridays Gallery Walk, Projekte hosts live music and art openings on Fridays and Saturdays, a wine and beer bar and a small pastry shop.
New owner of Gypsy Gina’s, Mary Snyder, heads up this shop full of eclectic local artisan work and antiques and the teeny, tiny Just Desserts Café – with chocolate sauce to die for- tucked into the back. It’s located at 616 Castle Street.
Do not be fooled by Wilmington Wine’s bite-size wine shop on 6th and Castle streets. Home to the much-loved Friday evening wine tasting, all the wines and microbrew beers in this shop are hand-selected by owners Chrissy Absi and Kristi Fisher Reeves, who are expanding the selection.
Among these local gems, there is also Jester’s Java in the purple house serving up breakfast and lunch (607 Castle Street), the community garden on 4th Street and Working Films, a cool nonprofit organization that links documentary film with education and action for social justice (602 S. Fifth Ave.).