One of the things we’d had our eye on doing while here was going to the town of Staunton, VA to visit the birthplace of our 28th President, Woodrow Wilson. And, as it turns out there’s more to Staunton than just the birthplace. We found out they have the only indoor replica Shakespeare theatre with an active theatre group and plays several times per week. Well, as it was close to our 21st anniversary we chose to do both items along with lunch and anniversary dinner.
We followed our GPS which led right to the front door of the Presbyterian Manse which has parking around back. Little Woodrow Wilson was born, 1856 in this massive home on the second floor. His father was a Presbyterian Preacher and so the family lived here only a short time before moving south to Augusta, Georgia. This home and the Presidential Library and Museum next door are operated by a Foundation of the same name and therefore are private concerns. Your admission of about $8 supports the house and museum , but includes a guided tour of the home, self guided museum and soldiers stories exhibit. Guided Manse tours are at 10, 11, 12:15, 1:30, 2:45, and 4:00 It was once said, “Thomas Jefferson taught us what democracy is. Abraham Lincoln taught us how democracy works. Woodrow Wilson taught us to protect democracy at home and abroad.” In the museum, you’ll see the roll-top desk he used while he was President of Princeton University. You’ll also see the totally restored 1919 Pierce-Arrow limousine used while President of the U. S. Among other things his administration got us into WWI and out of it. We enjoyed learning about President Wilson from a well informed tour guide and at the museum.
When we finished at the Presidential Museum we walked a short distance to Main Street and found the highly recommended Pampered Palate for lunch. We found a bistro table outside on the sidewalk, which satisfied our people watching hunger. The food matches the terrific service. When we were done, we had just enough time to get back to the Blackfriars Playhouse at the American Shakespeare Center.
Housed in a “new” building since 2001 the American Shakespeare Center is now 30 years old. They entertain audiences of only 300 seats all days of the week. We chose a 2 p.m. presentation of Shakespeare’s “As you like it”. The Blackfriars theatre is copied from the original Globe Theater. Inside, we found the theater to be a new version of the “Tudor style” building of long ago. We sat on hard wood benches with an optional cushion. The cast came out and played instruments and sang for about 10 minutes. The play was fast moving, spoken in “olde English” as it was written, for the first ten minutes it was hard to understand, then our “ears got trained.” This play was wonderfully done, we came away throughly entertained. After all, isn’t that why we lay our money down !
When two hours were up and the stage went dark, we took the short walk to another recommended restaurant, Emilio’s Italian. when we arrived, we were the only couple to be seated. But soon, came couple after couple until the restaurant was full. The waiter, Scott was delightful and gifted at making us comfortable and gave us terrific service. The food was impeccable Italian.
Another day, we took the relatively short drive to the city of Lynchburg to visit Point of Honor. This early 19th century home of the Federal style was completed in 1815 for the family of Dr. George Cabell. Named, Point of Honor for the grounds here were commonly used for pistol duels. Originally, a tobacco farm of 867 acres along the James River it’s now a show palace of early 19th century homes. Dr. Cabell was the personal physician of Patriot Patrick Henry and was present at his side during his passing.
Also, not far away is Natural Bridge, a geologic wonder. Once owned by Thomas Jefferson, this 157 acre was also measured and plotted by a young, surveyor George Washington. When you hike down the trail and see the Natural Bridge the first thing that strikes you is how big, tall and massive it is. Well over 120 feet tall and 60 feet wide still has the original stream running through it that carved it in the first place. Your $8 admission lets you walk the whole trail past the bridge, following the stream to the 50 foot falls. There is also a replica Native American Indian village you can walk through, talk to the demonstrators and see how the local Indians lived in thatched huts.