A charming (fictional) town in western Virginia, Averno is known for its lush landscapes, beautiful forests, and rich history. Boasting a population of 3,078, Averno is a quickly growing township that retains its small-town heart.
Generally, stories set here are grittier and darker, dealing with themes such as political corruption, religious persecution, small town paranoia, groupthink, abnormal psychology, and psychological horror.
The Town's Founding and the Turner Family
Abram Turner of Williamsburg, VA moved to Averno with his wife Laura and daughter Sarah in 1702, displacing the town's previous residents, whom they claimed were 'devil worshipers'. Abram, a pastor and farmer, founded modern-day Averno in 1703 before mysteriously disappearing.
The same year, their cousins William and Coralee Turner moved to the town with their daughter, May. William Turner, also a pastor, advertised Averno as “God’s City”, selling shares in a church community and eventually founding the state’s first megachurch.
In 1739, the church was taken over by his daughter May and her husband Charles, creating a rift in the clergy, most of whom didn’t want a woman in ministry. May took the megachurch in an interesting direction, claiming that God had told her that the Church’s mission was to make sure every member was literate. May founded a school and the town’s library, and eventually a publishing house which distributed the state’s first series of illustrated pocket bibles.
However, tragedy struck in 1760, when May’s husband and twin daughters disappeared. Unable to cope with the loss of her entire family, May died by suicide in 1761. The sudden death of the leader of the church, publishing company, school, and library (in hindsight, a potentially risky choice) led to complete economic collapse of the town. By 1770, 80% of the town’s population moved to neighboring cities of Richmond and Williamsburg. This led to a drastic rise in crime in the ghost town, and, following a kidnapping spree that resulted in 17 disappearances in the year of 1789, the US Federal Government requisitioned the now underpopulated land to build what would eventually become I-95S.
Due to the rising political tensions, bureaucracy became extraordinarily slow, and the land lay vacant for decades as zoning restrictions were being processed. In 1861, all plans halted, and most of the town was destroyed in the Civil War. It took until 1914, for the land to be privately owned again, when the state Government began selling off its holdings to prevent financial collapse. It was, ironically, bought by the descendant of another Turner cousin, who had gotten rich buying and selling cheap southern land in the wake of reconstruction-era depression. However, due to the family ties, he chose not to resell, and instead to attempt to resettle the town. Hoping to capitalize on the ideals of the “new decade” and “moving forward” that were being advertised at the time, he chose to begin the town with the chic modern Art Deco and Neo Gothic looks that were all the rage in New York at the time. This fell flat, as it turns out the South was not, at the time, all that interested in emulating the North. While half the town exhibited the new age style, the second half of the town was styled with more typical colonial architecture. Construction finished in 1928, just in time for the Great Depression. While this was not good for most, the number of farmers going bankrupt and selling their properties meant that there was a decent market for marked-down housing, and by 1940 the population of the town grew to 1200.
Since then, the Turners have, in one way or another, been involved in running the town. There have been 11 mayors, 6 judges, and 23 town council members from the (now very extended) Turner Family.
Al's Grocery- a grocery store in the town
Averno Alchemy- a shop that offers aura cleansing, psychic readings and astrology predictions
Averno Thrift- a local thrift store
Averno Town Library- the town's library
Camp Averno - A summer camp housed on the campus of A New School
Dolores' Pie Shop- a pie shop in the town owned and run by Dolores
The Keep It Down- Averno's only bar
A New School - An 18th century castle that houses the liberal arts college
Skyline Diner- a retro diner that sits on the road to A New School
Roadkill Cuts Butcher- a butcher's shop in the town owned and run by Big Eddie