Hyacinth Court
Columbia Avenue and Alden Road

Hyacinth Court was first established in the 1970s, as Shadowgard began to evolve into an increasingly liberal, tolerant community. The whole city block became home to a series of bohemian apartments, quirky little shops, small 'zine publishers and even a free clinic, coalescing into a safe haven for gays and lesbians, New Age practitioners, and other people who didn't quite fit into broader society at the time, even if they could begin to congregate without automatically becoming a target for violent bigots. Though thirty years have come and gone and things are now undeniably better, Hyacinth Court retains its quirky charm, and the Hyacinth Court Neighborhood Council still gives preference to artists, activists, witches and cultural minorities when selling or renting out space within the complex. As a result, the neighborhood remains a patchwork of strange little shops and genuinely interesting characters.

The court is a collection of old Victorian and post-Victorian houses painted in a riotous array of colors, most of which have rainbow flags, pentacles and other such things hanging in plain sight. The outer layer of buildings, lining the streets around the court, feature somewhat more subdued exteriors, and are largely residential, though a few small bookstores and offices are located streetside. Two access points, large spaces between clumps of buildings, allow entry to the inner courtyard, which is much more vibrant in its appearance and features a large variety of shops, with comparatively less residential and office space. At the center of the tiled courtyard is a large, faintly abstract sculpture of winged Apollo holding the limp body of his lover Hyacinth, with Apollo cast in copper and Hyacinth in iron; the sculpture was the final piece created by a local sculptor who committed suicide shortly thereafter. It's said that the artist -- whose name has somehow been lost in the decades since his death -- can occasionally be seen lurking near the statue late at night, eyeing his creation critically, as though still profoundly dissatisfied with his final work.

The most infamous store within Hyacinth Court is undoubtedly Featherstone, a New Age bookstore and occult supply shop that frequently represents the worst of "fluffy bunny," feel-good neopaganism. The cramped shop, located on the first story of one of the courtside Victorians, is stuffed with cheesy paperbacks promising 'THE SECRETS of MAJIKKS MOST ANCIENT!' and 'FEMALE EMPOWERMENT THROUGH WITCHCRAFT!' -- among other atrocities -- and in addition to these wildly inaccurate, often ridiculous 'magical' texts, Featherstone stocks a profusion of crystals, charms, herbs and even aerosol sprays which purport to act as sacred incense and magic potions. The owners of this shop are the sort of people who routinely mistake an Orb of Thesulah for a lovely glass paperweight and the Twilight Compendium for a book about a popular television show. Occasionally, one of the owners, employees or customers stumbles across something authentic -- a spell or artifact that somehow works even in their hands, leading to serious trouble more often than not. Most serious occult practitioners wouldn't be caught dead inside this shop, and generally speaking, genuine witches only come by when (all too frequently) they're needed to help clean up magical messes in the immediate vicinity.

Hyacinth Court's other major landmark is The Agenda, a combination bookstore and organic coffee shop catering primarily to the GLBT crowd. In addition to offering a vast array of books and magazines on everything from sex to politics to coming out, and a large selection of coffees, teas, pastries and organic sodas, The Agenda provides meeting space to a number of local interest and support groups, including SAGLeT, the Shadowgard Association of Gay and Lesbian Teens. The popular, spacious shop/café also hosts poetry readings, book signings and panels with local GLBT authors, concerts and open mike nights. The main body of The Agenda occupies the entire first story of a stately Victorian manor, with the café portion occupying the vast courtside foyer, while the bookstore and meeting rooms take up the rooms in the back two-thirds of the building.