Friday, July 21, 2023

Historic Williamsburg

If you know me, you know how much I love Colonial and Civil War history. And why not? I live in Virginia, after all. This weekend will see me in the very historic town of Williamsburg, which most people know for its amusement parks and water slides. But Williamsburg is much more than fun and games. Did you know that the city boasts the second-oldest college in America after Harvard? That's right. William and Mary College was founded in 1693, making it the only one of 9 colonial colleges in the South. In terms of other historical sites, Williamsburg forms one point of the "Historic Triangle" -- Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. 

Yorktown is most famous as the site of British General Cornwallis's surrender to George Washington in 1781. Williamsburg also became the capital of Virginia after the state house in Jamestown burned down. That's why the cycling and running legs of this weekend's triathlon will be held on the "Virginia Capital Trail" that runs from the Williamsburg suburbs all the way to Richmond. I've biked its 52-mile length 3 times. 

Here's something else I bet you didn't know about Williamsburg. America's first psychiatric hospital was built there in 1770. It was called "The Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds." Now that's a mouthful. The climate in Williamsburg is your typical Virginia fare: cool to mild winters, and hot and humid summers. You'll only see about 4 inches of snow each season, and not much rain during the summer. There are big breweries in the city, and who has never heard of its two theme parks (Busch Gardens and Water Country USA)? Like where I live, Willaimsburgers have a thick Southern accent. "House," for example, is pronounced "hoose." There are many historic buildings there, including the Peyton Randolph House, the Bruton Parish Church, and the magnificent governor's palace, as shown here. 

Who knows, maybe I'll get a chance to get some pictures of them this weekend. The forecast for the weekend calls for pretty nice temps and partly cloudy skies, so that's nice.

"Virginia is for Lovers," they say, and I do indeed love my adopted state. Williamsburg has a rich history and culture, and many people think it's an amazing place to live in. As with most college towns, it has a decidedly liberal bent, but the schools are good I hear. Its property taxes are lower than many other places in the country. The topography is woodsy, which I like, and there are lots of boating opportunities nearby on the James and York Rivers. 

If you are a history lover, then Virginia is one of the best places to live. Sure, the housing can be expensive in cities like Williamsburg, but that's mostly because people from Northern Virginia are retiring there and driving up the home prices. Despite its liberal bent, you will still hear "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Easter" during those seasons, and even people you don't know will greet you with a friendly "good morning." 

It will be good to get back there this weekend.