When my husband surprised me with the news that he had booked a weekend getaway to Staunton, Virginia, and that we would be staying at the historic Stonewall Jackson hotel, I tried hard to act excited.
About ten years ago, I had stayed at the hotel while on a photo shoot and remembered it as dark and depressing. The place had seen better days. How much worse would it be now, I wondered?
last weekend of 2007 in Staunton.
When we arrived in town, I was amazed. The main street had been spiffed up to emphasize its small town charms. Fine restaurants, trendy bistros, and antique stores had replaced boarded up buildings.And, the hotel had undergone a complete renovation. It was gorgeous! You could sit by a fireplace in the lobby bar, swim in an indoor pool or work out in the fitness center. We did all three.
Next to the hotel, the Blackfriars Playhouse, the world's only re-creation of William Shakespeare's original indoor theatre, is a worth a visit from anywhere.We saw two plays. Henry V was very well done.
Taming of the Shrew was hilarious. The American Shakespeare Company makes the audience part of the show (their motto is “we do it with the lights on”) and could make a Shakespeare lover out of anyone. Really!
Located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, Staunton’s hilly terrain and church steeples create picture perfect vistas.
Because the town was unscathed in the Civil War, 18th and 19th century homes survived and have been beautifully restored and preserved. (I'll try to post more about the homes later in the week.)On Sunday, we toured the Woodrow Wilson Museum and adjacent house where Wilson was born. The Greek Revival manse is restored to the year 1856 and decorated with period furniture.Although Wilson didn’t live in Staunton very long -- his family moved when he was a toddler—he maintained strong ties to the town and locals are mighty proud of the 28th President of the United States.
Wilson bought his presidential car, a 1919 Pierce Arrow Series 51, upon leaving office and it now resides at the museum.
All Shakepeare photos by Mike Bailey