June 10 2016
On Saturday, May 21st, a group of Elmira College alumni and guests pulled up a chair and sat down for a cozy conversation in Agora Downtown, a coffee shop in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The event was hosted by Elmira alumnae Laurann Owsley Robertson '68 and MJ Stone '12, who also owns Agora Downtown.
“We shared stories about our experiences at Elmira College, listened to updates from Director of Major Gifts Peggy Arnesen '63, asked questions about the state and future of the College, and shared information about each other,” said Stone. “Most of us had never met before, so we enjoyed having the opportunity to bond and network with our neighbors during the event.”
Stone, who completed her Bachelor of Arts (2012) and Master of Science (2014) degrees at Elmira College, returned to her hometown region in Virginia and opened Agora Downtown.
“I have always wanted to own a coffee shop, and my younger sister Andi always wanted to own a bakery,” said Stone. “With the help of our parents' renovation skills, we turned a historic home into a commercial property and then built the coffee shop and bakery inside it. We've been open just over a year now, and while it is an incredible amount of work, it's also very rewarding and has turned into the best experience of my life.”
However, the coffee shop is far more than just a coffee shop and bakery. The shop features the work of over 50 different local writers, artists, artisans, and musicians and is also home to a used bookstore with hundreds of books in different subjects filling the shelves.Agora Downtown has become the perfect representation of Stone’s passions and talents and now provides customers, including Elmira College alumni, a space to gather and to feel at home surrounded by books, music, art, and delectable food and drink.